Elsie MacGill:

20th Century Engineer & Feminist – So what?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 

10:00 a.m. on ZOOM* 

* This is part of the History Interest Group's program. To join this group contact the convenor. If you are not a member of CFUW but would like to join us, email cfuwkanata.president@gmail.com  to request a link to our ZOOM meeting. We always welcome new members. 

Elsie MacGill: 20th Century Engineer & Feminist – So what?

Elizabeth Muriel Gregory "Elsie" MacGill, OC, (1905-1980) known as the "Queen of the Hurricanes", was the world's first woman to earn an aeronautical engineering degree and was the first woman in Canada to receive a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.

Elsie MacGill was Canada’s first woman practicing  engineer and a prominent Canadian feminist. So what?

  • Have you even heard of her?
  • If you have, why should you care?
  • Is her life that remarkable that it is worthy of examination?

This presentation will review Elsie MacGill’s life trajectory and use her various experiences to demonstrate that her life is worthy of note and historical study, and that it challenges us to consider our own lives in a new light. Dr Sissons will examine how MacGill has been commemorated and the value of these efforts, including her own, in weaving together the various aspects of writing a book-length biography and the process that entailed.  

Dr. Crystal Sissons

Ph.D. History - University of Ottawa

Dr. Sissons earned her Doctorate in Philosophy (History) (2008) and Master of Arts (2004) degrees at the University of Ottawa. Previously, in 2003, she earned her Honours Bachelor of History and Bachelor of Education at Lakehead University.

Currently Dr. Sissons combines a career in the Canadian public service at Employment and Social Development Canada with her ongoing historical interests as an independent historian. 

Crystal Sissons’ publication Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill (2014) is a feminist biography of Elsie Gregory MacGill (1905-1980). It is based on her doctoral studies and won the Alison Prentice Award for best book in women’s history in 2015. 

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