THUNDER BAY – NEWS – At the Thursday, June 13 Special Meeting of the Lakehead District School Board, Trustees of the Board approved Ecole Elsie MacGill Public School as the name of the new elementary school to replace Agnew H. Johnston Public School and Edgewater Park Public School. Ecole Elsie MacGill Public School will open in September 2020 on the grounds of the former Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
“We are extremely proud to name our new elementary school after someone of Elsie MacGill’s stature,” says Ellen Chambers, Chair of the Lakehead District School Board. “Not only is Elsie MacGill a significant and important part of the history of our community, her story will also provide inspiration for our students today and into the future.”
Elsie MacGill Biography
Elsie MacGill was a true pioneer in Canadian Aviation and woman’s rights. Despite becoming disabled due to polio, she was Canada’s first woman graduate in electrical engineering and later became the first woman in North America, and likely the world, to be awarded a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering.
In 1942 she was hired as Chief Aeronautical Engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry (CanCar) in Fort William, becoming the first woman in the world to hold such a position and later designed and produced training aircraft Maple Leaf Trainer II. As the “Queen of the Hurricanes”, Elsie MacGill was responsible for streamlining production of The Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force during World War II, and designed solutions to allow the aircraft to operate during the winter, introducing de-icing controls and a system for fitting skis for landing on snow.
Following World War II, Ms. MacGill became the first woman to serve as Technical Advisor for International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), where she helped to draft International Air Worthiness regulations for the design and production of commercial aircraft. In 1947 she became the Chair of the United Nations Stress Analysis Committee, the first woman ever to chair a UN committee.
Inspired by her mother and grandmother’s active public service and work in the suffrage movement, she spent an increasing amount of time dealing with women’s rights. In 1962, she was elected President of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. She was later named to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada and co-authored the report published in 1970. In 1971, she was awarded the Order of Canada for her work on the Ontario Status of Women Committee, an affiliate of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
Elsie MacGill stated, “I have received many engineering awards, but I hope I will also be remembered as an advocate for the rights of women and children.”
In accordance with the Lakehead Public Schools school naming policy, an ad hoc committee consisting of Agnew H. Johnston Public School and Edgewater Park Public School students, school staff, parents, Trustees and Board Administration worked together to name the school.