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Portrait of Charles Edward Saunders (1867-1937) Charles Edward Saunders
Although I had obtained a degree in chemistry from the University of Toronto and a doctorate at Johns Hopkins, my true interest was in music. After a stint at teaching chemistry, I decided to concentrate on my love of music, studying the subject in Boston and New York. I then taught music both privately and at two Ladies' Colleges in Toronto, along with being music critic for the Toronto Globe. But I was not able to make an adequate living from this passion. In 1903 I therefore accepted the position of Cerealist at the Experimental Farm in Ottawa.

In this post I accomplished my most valuable work in developing new varieties of grain, most notably Marquis wheat and a few years later was named Dominion Cerealist. The lack of a fast ripening wheat meant that areas with a short growing season could not be put into production, and so these areas were not being settled. The process of cross-breeding varieties had already begun, but when I took over we applied rigourous scientific methods to the task and selected individual heads of wheat from breeding material. This led to the development of a variety called Markham but it did not produce uniform offspring. By continuing rigorous testing and selection I chose the best strain, calling it Marquis. The new wheat was also of a very high quality and made excellent bread. Using the same process, I was able to develop new strains of other grains too. The development of Marquis wheat proved to be of tremendous importance to Canada in adding to the nation's wealth and to its reputation as a producer of the highest quality spring wheat, and in the settlement of the Prairies. It was also important in supplying the extra food needed during World War I and in adding to the world's supply of high quality grain.

Ill health unfortunately forced me to resign as the Dominion Cerealist in 1922 but it did allow me to study another of my interests, the French language. I went to study at the Sorbonne in Paris for three years and on returning to Canada, I lectured both on French and on Marquis wheat. Although I was knighted in 1934, the moral support that Canadian farmers provided when I was forced to retire was even more appreciated

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