Royal Canadian Mint honours engineering pioneer Elsie MacGill with commemorative coinEngineering News Women in Construction
MacGill was the first Canadian woman to earn an electrical engineering degree and was the first woman in North America to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.
On Aug. 1, 2023, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a new $1 commemorative circulation coin honouring Elsie MacGill, the country’s first woman professional engineer.
“Through her dedication and an unshakeable belief that there was nothing women could not do, Elsie MacGill broke the glass ceiling for Canadian women pursuing careers in engineering, and made historic contributions to Canada’s efforts during the Second World War,” said The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance upon the launch of the new coin. “I am so pleased that this commemorative coin will honour the legacy of a remarkable champion of women’s rights, and will share her story with a new generation of Canadians.”
MacGill was the first Canadian woman to earn an electrical engineering degree and was the first woman in North America to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. As the chief aeronautical engineer at Canadian Car & Foundry (CC&F) during World War II, MacGillwas in charge of all the engineering work related to Canadian production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter plane and oversaw operations at CC&F as it expanded from 500 workers to 4,500, where it would produce three Hawkers per day and a total of 1,450 over the course of just two years. 60 per cent of air victories by the Royal Air Force during the war involved this single-seat fighter aircraft.
In the 1960s, MacGill dedicated a significant amount of her time to advancing women’s and children’s rights and was named to the Royal Commission for the Status of Women in 1967, Freeland noted.
The new coin was unveiled during a ceremony at the Hangar Flight Museum in Calgary, AB, hosted by Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, and Phyllis Clark, chair of the board of the Royal Canadian Mint. Engineers Canada board director and 30 by 30 board champion, Tim Joseph, attended on behalf of Engineers Canada.