Honouring Elsie MacGill
Aeronautical trailblazer, champion of women’s rights, inspiration to us all. The 2023 $1 commemorative circulation coin celebrates Elsie MacGill, whose accomplishments, as well as her exemplary desire to uplift others, were driven by her unrelenting belief that we can all soar higher.
Elizabeth “Elsie” MacGill (1905 – 1980) was a person of brilliant mind and unconquerable spirit. A woman of many firsts, she led a trail-blazing career in aeronautical engineering and was a passionate and effective advocate for gender equality in the workplace and beyond.
Although her path wasn’t the easiest route to take, Elsie always persevered and demonstrated excellence despite adversity. Not one to let setbacks affect her trajectory, Elsie shot for the stars and elevated others along the way—making her one of the most exceptional and noteworthy Canadians of the 20th century.
A Soaring Start
After further studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Elsie kicked off her career in the aviation industry. In 1934, Elsie was hired by Fairchild Aircraft. At their Longueuil, QC facility, she contributed to various aviation projects including the Fairchild Super 71 (the first aircraft designed and built in Canada to feature a metal fuselage), the Fairchild 82 (a bush plane), and the Fairchild Sekani.
“Engineering in industry holds out the greatest promise for any engineer. Industry in the main is progressive; energy and initiative are rewarded in terms of salary and advancement, and advancement may be very rapid. Convention and public opinion exert little pressure.”
Four years later, Elsie was elected to the Engineering Institute of Canada and once again made history as their first woman member.