Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

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Elsie MacGill

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Elsie MacGill


Elizabeth ‘Elsie’ MacGill was born in Vancouver, the daughter of a lawyer and British Columbia's first woman judge. She was known as “Queen of the Hurricanes”. She was an aeronautical engineer during the Second World War and helped make Canada a powerhouse of aircraft construction. She was also a commissioner on the Royal Commission in the Status of Women in Canada.


MacGill began studying engineering after being influenced by her mother, an advocate of women's suffrage. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1927 and was the first Canadian woman to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering. Whilst working for a firm in Michigan, she studied at graduate level, again in the field of aeronautical engineering.

Engineering Career

Four years after starting work at Fairchild Aircraft's operations in Montreal as an Assistant Engineer, she became the first woman elected to corporate membership in the Engineering Institute of Canada. She then became Chief Aeronautical Engineer at Canada Car and Foundry (CC&F), the first woman in the world to achieve such a title. During war time at CC&F with the factory rapidly expanding, MacGill streamlined operations allowing the production line to produce over 1,400 Hurricanes by 1943. This success made her famous and she later wrote a paper on mass production of aeroplanes.

Find out more about Elsie MacGill and her awards and achievements.

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