Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill

Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill


By Dr. Crystal Sissons


Engineer. 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.

A Feminist History Society Book

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About the Author

Crystal Sissons is an independent historian and works at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. She completed her Master’s and Ph.D. in history at the University of Ottawa, after finishing undergraduate degrees in history and education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Crystal is also active in a number of organizations, including the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Ottawa within BPW Canada.

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Product Information

  • Release: October 1, 2014

  • $24.95 Paperback

  • 336 Pages

  • 6 x 9

  • Adult Nonfiction

  • ISBN: 9781927583531


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


Praise for Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill

"The book 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." - Canadian Science Publishing

"[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

"As if often the way with extraordinary people, Elsie MacGill did not believe that she was exceptional; she was just an engineer who also happened to be female. But exceptional she was... Sissons deftly covers MacGill’s struggles to prevail over the lasting effects of polio, her education, her early career, and her quick rise through the ranks as a result of the Second World War." - Canada's History Magazine