Frank Morris

Teacher and Naturalist

Frank Morris, 1869 to 1949, was a teacher and naturalist. His book, Our Wild Orchids by Frank Morris and Edward Eames was published in 1929. It remains an important reference.

Frank and Elma Morris in 1938

Frank and Elma Morris in 1938.

Francis J.A. Morris (1869-1949) was born in a parsonage near the town of Crieff, in Perthshire, Scotland. Living in the country, he developed a passion for nature very early in life, and, with his brother Charles, he enthusiastically investigated the various forms of flora and fauna in the countryside. Morris' father died when he was thirteen, and the family was forced to move to a suburb of London. There he entered Dalwich College to study the Classics and English Literature, and with his brother and a friend, continued to make excursions into the country to collect insects. Through his studies, Frank developed an interest in Darwin and the theory of evolution. Later, he continued his study of the Classics and English Literature at Balliot College, Oxford. His encounters with Wordsworth's poetry added to his own emotional feelings towards nature. In 1895, at the age of twenty-five, Frank Morris came to Canada and attended the School of Pedagogy in Toronto. There, he came under the influence of Dr. William Brodie who introduced him to Canadian natural history. In 1896, Morris joined the staff of Smith's Falls High School. There, the science teacher taught Morris some basic scientific botany and the use of identification keys. In 1899, he returned to Toronto to carry on more pedagogic study. By 1900, he had become the Classics Master at Trinity College School in Port Hope. He spent thirteen years there, during which time he married Miss Elma Walker. In 1911, he attended the University of Toronto to take a Master of Arts Degree and a Specialists Certificate in Classics. In 1913, he was appointed to the staff of the Peterborough Collegiate Institute, where he first taught Classics and later became head of the English Department. He remained in this position until ill health forced him to retire in 1936. Francis J.A. Morris passed away on December 31, 1949.

The above capsule biography is taken from material published by the Trent University Archives as is the following quoted letter:

Morris wrote many letters to his friend, Dr. Cooper Cole, and often referred in one way or other, to plants he had just seen or hoped to see. In one he says, "... Elma and I drove up through Warsaw and Gilchrist's Bay and a mile and a half down ... and there in the heart of "Cypripedium Bog" in a thicket of old cedars close to a limestone ridge, I found 23 flowering plants of Calypso... You and I have a date on together either Victoria Day or King\u2019s Birthday to see Calypso, the hidden fairy nymph in 1930".

Perhaps these orchids are from that bog.

Calypso bulbosa -- Calypso, Fairy Slipper

Calypso bulbosa -- Calypso, Fairy Slipper. Perhaps the most exquisite of Ontario's orchids. Photo by Frank Morris.

Our Wild Orchids is still considered a leading text on orchids.

Frank and Elma Morris had a strong love for and association with Algonquin Park.

frank morris and george bartlett

From left to right: Mrs. George Bartlett; George Bartlett, an early superintendent of Algonquin Park; unknown; Frank Morris; unknown; and Elma Morris (tentative identification). We surmise that this photo was taken in Algonquin Park circa 1920.