September 19, 2021
Laurie Murison

Laurie Murison

Laurie Murison was co-director of the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station for many years. She created the Gaskin Memorial Museum in four rooms of the house in North Head, with hundreds of specimens and educational materials. This museum receives thousands of visitors a year. She curated the Gaskin Moth & Butterfly Collection to the Smithsonian Institution.

Graduate students from University of Guelph have come to the research station since 1981 to work on theses and investigate a wide range of subjects. Laurie assisted with research, conducted her own studies, both at the university level, and with Governments of Canada and New Brunswick. She coordinated many projects to protect habitats, individual species and to save injured birds and animals wherever possible. She flew aerial census surveys of Right Whales of the Bay of Fundy, and cooperated with research of Grey Whales at Bamfield Research Station, and Bowhead Whales at Isabella Bay with Kerry Finley an expert of the isolated eastern arctic population. 

Laurie Murison Whale Watching

Laurie travelled to the U.K. as a biology expert with a government of NB trade mission. When her study demonstrated that Right Whale mortality was connected to a specific geographic area in the middle of the shipping lane, she proposed that the shipping lane be moved. This seems easy but required agreement by many agencies and levels of government in both Canada and the United States and submission of a proposal to the International Law of the Sea Convention who govern changes to shipping regulations. By unanimous approval (167 countries), signatories agreed to move the shipping lane 7 km. to reduce mortality. The whales were protected and began having nearly 100 new calves over the next decade. This increased their population by almost one third. Others were quick to take credit for her ideas and she seldom took credit. GMWSRS also worked to save entangled and injured birds and marine mammals and place them in recovery facilities. 

Sea Watch Tours photo

Conserving Atlantic whales and maintaining iconic lighthouses were among Laurie Murison’s passions during her influential research and teaching career on New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island. 

Laurie taught local high school students, biology graduates and elder hostel visitors. She gave several courses at St. Andrews University, and many lectures and slide shows. Her commitment to education included creating and installing weatherproof educational panels along hiking trails. She hauled materials for the paths, painted buildings and created benches and memorial decks around Swallowtail lighthouse. Her commitment extended to sitting on the board of directors of the Grand Manan Museum, and the restoration of a number of historic buildings: Swallowtail Lighthouse, the Light Keepers duplex, the Winch house, and the elevated timber walkway and the Deep Cove schoolhouse near the Grand Manan Museum.

Laurie Murison with the Gannett Rock Light
Laurie Murison with the Gannett Rock Light. Photo by the Grand Manan Museum

She was a prolific fundraiser who made many projects possible. A fitting legacy to her tremendous energy, skill and wishes should be that those who knew her continue her many positive projects, supporting the GMWSRS, educational programs with the Grand Manan Museum, maintenance of the trails and light keepers house, and lighthouse, and assist her devoted and loving husband, Ken Ingersoll as volunteer light keeper for the five remaining lighthouses on the island. 

Laurie Murison passed away peacefully on January 3, 2021 at the Saint John Regional Hospital. She was 61.

The University of New Brunswick  posthumously awarded her an Honorary Ph.D. in 2021.

Laurie Murison Memorial at Grand Manan Museum
Photo by the Grand Manan Museum

The Laurie Murison Meadow honours her at the Grand Manan Museum and the Laurie Murison Memorial Deck was built in her honour at the Long Eddy Point Light Station on Grand Manan. 

Laurie Murison plaque at Long Eddy Point Light Station
Source: Ells Funeral Home 

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