Canadian Aviatrix #25 – Jessica Jarvis (1911-2005)

Jessica De Brézé Jarvis was born on 26 August 1911 to William Henry Pope Jarvis (a journalist and author of several novels) and Mary Isabelle Hoskin.

1911 census

1921 census

York ON

Hope ON

William

25

45

Mary

33

45

Alfred

4m

-

Jessica

-

9

Laurence

-

8

 

William and Mary divorced, and William remarried Emily Grace Phillips in 1936. They went on to have their own son.

Jessica attended Bishop Strachan School (a private boarding school for girls) and had a privileged upbringing. Money wasn’t an issue and Jessica easily saved up the $20 a hour she needed for flying lessons – at the time, the cost of renting an apartment for a month.

On 21 August 1931, Jessica passed her flying test and received PPL #860, making her the 25th female pilot in Canada. She was five days away from her twentieth birthday.

Canadian Aviatrix #25 - Jessica Jarvis (1911-2005)

Photo: Star Weekly (January 6, 1940)

She went to Europe for a year after getting her PPL. While in England, she joined the London Aeroplane Club and got British Empire Aviator’s Certificate #4932. Her apartment at 140 Piccadilly overlooked the gardens at Buckingham Palace and she wrote a column in the newspaper about watching Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. She also travelled in France and got her French license.

On 23 August 1934, she became the fifth woman to get a commercial license in Canada. However, she never intended to make a career in aviation. Her eyesight was too poor (she didn’t have binocular vision) and she had to wear specially ground lenses in her goggles.

Jessica was often photographed in her flying gear and, in 1940, was even on the cover of the Star Weekly.

In 1942, Jessica graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Household Science. She served as a dietician in the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRENS) during the latter part of the war.

On 4 September 1943, Jessica married Frederick Raymond Hunt (a naval officer). The couple had a daughter, but soon divorced. Jessica lived in Oakville (where she ran a bakery, then a second hand clothing store), Toronto (where she worked for the federal government), Nanaimo, and eventually Enderby, to be near her daughter.

Jessica died in 2005, aged 93.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots