A native of British Columbia, Mary earned a B.A. (Honours) in Economics and Slavonic Studies at the University of British Columbia in 1949. She went on to complete her Masters in City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1960.
Mary was one of the first women to join the Planning Institute of British Columbia. She was also the first woman to establish a planning practice in BC, where she worked principally with municipalities in the southern part of the province until about 1970. Also during this period, Mary introduced the idea of land use studies and planning to many BC First Nations. The Kamloops Band, for instance, was the first Band in Canada to authorize a land use study and subdivision plan, the Industrial Study K.l.R. No 1 1961. Kamloops was one of nine such Band governments for whom Mary's firm consulted during the decade, ranging from small rural/recreational problems in Lytton to intensely urban concerns for the Musqueam in the Lower Mainland.
After 1970, Mary turned from the municipal focus to work on regional policy issues. This included research for the Prince Edward Island Royal Commission on Land Use and Land Ownership in 1972 and preparation of its report on Minimum Maintenance. She was a full-time Commissioner with the original BC Land Commission from 1973 to 1976, charged principally with establishing the boundaries of an Agricultural Land Reserve, administering their Act as well as the Greenbelt Act and advising governments on related issues affecting land use. She was also Land Policy Advisor to Bill Paterson, UNDP National Plan Project in Jamaica in 1972 and 1985.
Mary's pioneering streak, independence and originality is hinted at in the variety of tasks undertaken at various points in her career, the locales in which she worked, and in her occasional published writing. The latter included “The Effects of the Property Tax on Urban Development,” published by the Urban Land Institute as Research Monograph No. 4, 1961; “Subdivision Casebook,” supported by PIBC and CMHC, 1963; “Ill fares the Land: Essay on the Work of the First BC Land Commission,” published by the Ministry of Urban Affairs, Canada, 1976; "Are You Ready, Oysters Dear?", Report of the Peoples Food Commission, British Columbia Region (with Jack Warnock), 1979; and "L.D. Taylor: The Man Who Made Vancouver," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, (forthcoming: expected 2016).
Mary was Vice-President of the Town Planning Institute of Canada in 1971-72, received the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1978, and was elected a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners in1983.
Beside an abiding interest in the historical land question, Mary continues to support parallel activisms in food security, civil liberties, and peace. She lives in Vancouver.