MacGill, Elsie (d. 1980)

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MacGill, Elsie (d. 1980)

Canadian aeronautical engineer and feminist . Name variations: Elizabeth MacGill; E.G. MacGill; (incorrectly) McGill. Born Elizabeth Gregory MacGill; died in 1980; daughter of Helen Gregory MacGill (1871–1947) and James H. MacGill; married in 1943 but continued to use her maiden name.


Gzowski Medal of the Engineering Institute of Canada (1941); Award for Meritorious Contribution to Engineering from the Society of Women Engineers (U.S. organization, 1953); awarded the Order of Canada (1971).

Elsie MacGill, the daughter of Helen Gregory MacGill and James H. MacGill, became the first woman to graduate in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto (1927). She was also the first woman to graduate from the University of Michigan's master's program in aeronautical engineering (1929). In 1934, MacGill was hired by Fairchild Aircraft Limited in Montreal; she then worked as chief aeronautical engineer for the Canadian Car and Foundry Company, where she designed the Maple Leaf Trainer, possibly the first airplane designed by a woman. During World War II, Elsie MacGill was the engineer in charge of Canadian production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter plane at Fort William, Ontario, with a staff of 4,500. Following the war, she started her own business as a consulting aeronautical engineer in Toronto, was a prominent member of the Toronto Business and Professional Women's Club, and campaigned on issues involving paid maternity leave, day care facilities, and liberalization of abortion laws. Elsie MacGill published a biography of her mother, My Mother the Judge, in 1955. She died in 1980.


Personal papers, dating from 1911, held in the Public Archives of Canada under #MG 31, K7.

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MacGill, Elsie (d. 1980)

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MacGill, Elsie (d. 1980)