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Queen of the Hurricanes

The Fearless Elsie MacGill

A Feminist History Society Book

by: Crystal Sissons

Women’s Rights Activist 
Airplane Designer 

Elsie MacGill’s life spanned much of the 20th century, and it was a life full of firsts. While she was still a child, Canadian women won the right to vote for the first time. In the 1920s, she was the first woman to graduate in engineering from the University of Toronto and to later earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. Elsie would live to see the first person walk on the moon, and she would become the first woman aircraft designer in the world. 

Elsie’s twin passions for engineering and feminism drove her throughout her life. They inspired her to work for more than fifty years in her field and to become a tireless advocate for women’s rights. She supported women’s struggles and achievements, enshrining their rights and expanding their opportunities.

Elsie’s work during the Second World War on aircraft designs and production made her a popular cartoon character called the “Queen of the Hurricanes.” She continued her achievements into the 1970s as an activist, changing the lives of women in Canada for the better. A truly inspiring woman for the ages.

* For the full Footnotes to the book visit our Resources page

Follow Crystal Sissons on her blog 

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  • Ontario Historical Society's 2015 Alison Prentice Award for the Best Book on Women's History in Ontario


"[Queen of the Hurricanes] not only provides the most comprehensive chronicling of her accomplishments to date, but also allows Elsie to speak for herself and to tell her own story more than in any other account of her life." - Dick Bourgeois-Doyle, Secretary General of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

"[Crystal Sissons] balances being factual with being interesting, and clearly has a great amount of respect for her subject.... Queen of the Hurricanes is well-written, compelling, and digestible without being simple." - Paper Droids


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