Canadian Aviatrix #39 – Marsden Hall (1915-2004)

Born Eleanor Marsden Hall on 3 April 1915 in Chatham, Ontario, to Dr Frederick William Hall (Medical Officer of Health for Chatham, Kent Country coroner) and Meta Evelyn Wilson (trained as a nurse).

1921 census

1931 census

Chatham ON

Chatham ON







William W



E Marsden




Meta's mother,

Anna (age 62)

Anna (72)


Meta’s brother, Matthew Maurice Wilson (known as Sonny), was killed overseas in 1918. Around 1925, Meta took Marsden, Bill and their grandmother to visit his grave in France.

By 1934, Marsden was studying at the University of Toronto and Bill was at the Ontario Agricultural College. The two siblings were both interested in flying and purchased their own plane (an Arrow sports biplane), which they kept at the Chatham Airport.

On 26 September 1934, Marsden passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 39th female pilot in Canada. She was 19 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #39 – Marsden Hall (1915-2004) 

Photo: Torontonensis, 1937

Marsden was part of Boris Volkoff’s ballet school and, in 1936, was one of 14 dancers who travelled to Berlin to perform at the Olympic Games. Their ballets based on Indian and Inuit legends were well received and given an "honourable mention". Upon their return to Toronto, this group became the Volkoff Canadian Ballet, considered the first Canadian ballet company, but it’s unclear if Marsden continued to perform with them.

In 1937, Marsden graduated from university with a degree in Physiology and Biochemistry. She had been Head of Year in her second and third years, Head of College in her final year, and member of the Students’ Administrative Council and Women’s Athletics Directorate.

On 18 May 1940, Marsden married Dr John William Magladery (neurologist). The couple had two sons – the first born in 1941. In 1946, Marsden went into premature labour due to an attack of measles and the baby only lived for three hours. Shortly after this, John took a position at the John Hopkins School of Medicine and the couple moved to Baltimore.

By 1948, they were divorced and John was remarried. He stayed in America, while Marsden and their son, Thomas, moved back home to Chatham. Thomas was a student at Trinity College School and about to enter Grade 13 when he drowned in Lake Erie in 1958, aged 17.

Marsden was active in many associations, including the Winston Churchill Home and School Association, the Chatham University Women’s Club, the May Court Club, and the Kent Press Club, and often held an executive position. She continued to dance too – performing the can-can in 1954, a hula in 1955, and even ballet on a tightrope in 1956. She turned her hand to journalism too – writing columns and reviews for The Windsor Star.

On 30 November 1963, Marsden got remarried to John Ogburn Holt.

Marsden died in 2004, aged 88.

Note: Marsden was listed with an asterisk in No Place for a Lady – meaning the author hadn’t been able to find her. I just had “E.M. Hall” and the date of her PPL.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots


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