Canadian Aviatrix #1 – Eileen Vollick (1908-1968)

Born Mary Eileen Vene Riley on 2 August 1908, in Wiarton, Ontario, to James Henry Riley (a labourer) and Mary Baines. James and Mary were originally from England and they had two daughters there, before emigrating to Canada in 1902. James died when Eileen was very young and Mary got remarried to George Vollick, going on to have three more children.

 

1911 census

1921 census

 

Hamilton, ON

Hamilton, ON

George (step-father)

31

39

Mary (mother)

30

39

Florence

12

-

Gladys

10

-

Eileen

2

12

Marie

-

9

Roy

-

7

Audrey

-

3


After graduating high school, Eileen worked as a textile analyst and assistant designer for the Hamilton Cotton Co.

In June 1927, Eileen started taking flying lessons. On 22 March 1928, she passed her flying test and received Private Pilot License #77, making her the first female pilot in Canada. She was only 19 years old.

Eileen Vollick

Photo: Edmonton Journal (October 19, 1929)

In March 1929, Eileen attended the dedication of Holmes Airport in New York City and met James Hopkin, who lived near her sister Gladys on Long Island.

On 23 September 1929, Eileen married James in Hamilton, Ontario. Eileen was 21 years old, James was a 29 year old steamfitter, originally from Scotland. The couple moved to Queens, New York, and had two daughters (Joyce and Jean).

 

1930 census

1940 census

 

Queens, NY

Queens, NY

James

30

40

Eileen

21

31

Joyce

-

9

Jean

-

7

Also:

-

James’ mother (Jean – age 75, widow) and brother (Robert – age 29, plumber)

 

Eileen died on 27 September 1968, aged 60, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots