Canadian Aviatrix #57 – Mary Spearing (1914-1994)

Mary Annie Spearing was born on 10 January 1914 in Simcoe, Ontario, to Walter Spearing (a farmer, then lumbermill foreman) and Mary Louisa Kitchen.

Sadly, when Mary was only five months old, her mother had a stroke and died. Walter moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, by himself and worked on his brother-in-law’s farm. He got remarried, divorced, remarried again and moved to America. In 1937, Walter and his wife were visiting Canada and arrived at her stepfather’s house to find it on fire. Walter rescued the elderly man and everything seemed fine, but he went to bed early, suffering from “indigestion”. He had a heart attack and died.

It's unclear where Mary’s older sisters (Gertrude and Ruby) are in 1921, but by 1931, they’re both married. Mary was raised by her aunt, Annie Spearing (Walter’s second youngest sister).



1921 census

1931 census


Toronto ON

Toronto ON


Drugstore clerk, 27

Homemaker, 37


At school, 7

Real estate stenographer, 17


In 1936, Annie married Charles Denis Enright. She was 43 years old. He was 47, a motorman for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and a widower with two children. Mary was a witness to the marriage and was still living with the couple in 1945. Charles died in October 1946 and Annie eight months later. Her obituary calls her the “beloved mother” of her two stepchildren and “loving aunt” of the Spearing girls.

Mary had been interested in aviation for as long as she could remember and, around 1937, she was “bitten incurably by the flying bug”, so started flying lessons and bought her own plane. She rented out her plane to a flying school and was paid an hourly fee, plus all her hangar and upkeep costs.

On 29 June 1938, Mary passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 57th female pilot in Canada. She was 24 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #57 – Mary Spearing 

Photo: Owen Sound Daily Sun Times (September 5, 1939)

Mary worked in the office of a large garage in downtown Toronto and was the first Canadian woman to drive a car in an official fuel test tun – driving a 1939 model Overland from Windsor to Toronto, at an average of 32.86 miles per gallon.

By 1940, Mary was secretary for a flying school based at Barker Airport. When the school offered free ground school courses for men who might be called upon during the war, they were inundated with interested women too. Mary and Violet Milstead helped teach and were also two of a group of Toronto women pilots who wanted to work as ferry pilots for the RCAF.

Unfortunately, it’s here that the trail goes cold, so I don’t know what Mary did after the war.

Mary died in 1994, aged 80.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots 

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