By Jay Hunt, Volunteer Tour Guide Lead, Vintage Wings of Canada
During tours of the Vintage Wings aircraft, when we stop at our Hurricane MK XII restoration project we make a point of talking about how Elsie MacGill became the first female electrical engineer in Canada when she graduated from the University of Toronto and was the first woman in the world to earn a Master’s degree in aeronautical engineering and the first woman to be admitted to the Engineering Institute of Canada. We tell how she set up an assembly line at Canadian Car and Foundry in Fort William, Ontario (now part of Thunder Bay) that produced over 1,450 Hurricanes for the WWII war effort.
We neglect to mention that following the war she became a tireless advocate for women’s rights. She was a member of the Ontario Status of Women Committee (an affiliate of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women), and served as a commissioner on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada . She was awarded the Order of Canada for her work on women’s rights in 1971.
The full story of this amazing woman is now told in a new book “Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill” by Gatineau author Crystal Sissons. Crystal is a history Ph.D. graduate of the University of Ottawa who works in the social sciences and humanities field. She is an active member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Ottawa.
Please join us in welcoming Crystal to the VWC hangar on Saturday, January 31 from 1 to 3 PM. She will begin at 1 PM with a brief talk on Elsie’s life followed by a discussion. She will then sign books until 3:00 PM.