Canadian Aviatrix #32 – Isobel Secord (1902-1993)

Isobel was born on 18 December 1902 to Richard Henry Secord and Anna Ada York.

Richard was a teacher, who became a merchant, financial trader (making a lot of money through Métis Scrip speculation), then politician. A school, neighbourhood and mountain peak are named after him. He was a great-grandnephew of Laura Secord, Canadian heroine of the War of 1812.

 

1901 census

1906 census

1911 census

1916 census

1921 census

1926 census

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

Richard

40

46

50

56

61

66

Anna

34

38

45

50

55

60

Helena

5

10

15

21

25

30

Imogene

3

8

13

19

23

-

Richard

1

5

10

16

20

25

Isobel

-

3

8

13

18

22

Plus

Lodger

-

Two servants and a lodger

-

Jean's husband, George Kellie (30) and daughter Jan (1)

-

 

Isobel studied nursing in the first year it was offered at the University of Alberta – starting in 1923 and graduating in 1926, being presented with the prize for General Proficiency. The yearbook says her favourite pastime is “rushing home from the symphony concerts”. She did her postgraduate training at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, then spent a year working in a hospital on the north-east coast of Newfoundland – travelling by dogsled.

She was friends with Enid Norquay and her sister, Elizabeth, and threw engagement parties for them in 1933.

On 12 October 1933, Isobel passed her flying test and received PPL #1322, making her the 32nd female pilot in Canada. She was 30 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #32 – Isobel Secord (1902-1993) 

Photo: Edmonton Journal (July 4, 1938)

In 1938, Isobel left Edmonton for South Africa, to work at a new hospital in Cape Town. She sailed from Montreal to England and her ship (the RMS Ascania) ran aground in the St Lawrence River, Quebec. She spent her vacation time travelling across Africa, taking photos which she sold to raise money for the Red Cross. Isobel returned to Edmonton around 1946.

Richard was the Alberta representative on the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board. In 1967, he was the promoter of a monument to Canada’s bush pilots in Yellowknife. Isobel and Anna attended the unveiling ceremony with him.

Isobel skied, climbed mountains in Canada, US, Europe and Asia, toured China on foot, and in 1984, took her first hot air balloon ride.

Isobel died in 1933, aged 90.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots