Nature lovers are mourning the loss of Mary Majka, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 90 after a long life dedicated to preserving wilderness and animals.

Majka became well known almost immediately after moving to New Brunswick in 1961. The social activist and naturalist was most at home when she was patrolling the shores of the upper Bay of Fundy or simply enjoying nature from the deck of her cottage.

“Nature gave her her solace, and her past and her culture were really important to her,” says biographer Deborah Carr. “They gave her strength and then there was care giving, it was her purpose.”

That purpose was also adopted by Majka’s children.

“Some of the earliest memories I have, three and four years old, are going to watch birds with my parents,” says her son, Christopher Majka.

Carr met Majka in the early1980s and their friendship quickly grew. The pair often spent evenings talking over tea. Carr thought Majka’s story should be told, and after seven years of compiling notes, she wrote a book about Majka’s life called Sanctuary.

“I think with Mary, she didn’t have great plans or goals. She just undertook things that felt really important for her at that point,” says Carr.

Majka was born in Poland and came to Canada through Pier 21 in 1951. She and her husband lived in Ontario before settling in New Brunswick.

There, she led the effort in protecting the shores of the upper Bay of Fundy, where 75 per cent of the world’s population of semipalmated sandpipers stop during their migration to and from the Arctic.

“She donated personal property to us, encouraged others to donate their land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada,” says Linda Stephenson of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Majka’s lifetime of work didn’t go unnoticed. In 2012 she was awarded the first New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence. She was also a member of the Order of Canada.

“She was a passionate advocate for the natural world for conservation, for preservation, for outdoor education,” says her son.

Majka passed away in hospital Wednesday after suffering a stroke, but her legacy of nature conservation will continue, especially along the shores of her beloved Bay of Fundy.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis