Canadian Aviatrix #90 – Laura Treble (1918-1993)

Laura Louise Treble was born on 1 December 1918 in Ontario to Charles Edward Treble (a doctor) and Violet Marion Paterson.

Charles’ parents were John Mill Treble and Mary Elizabeth Holland. Mary died in 1887, aged 37 and leaving behind four children. Ten years later, John got remarried to Lillian Frances Massey – the only daughter of Hart Almerrin Massey and part of the very wealthy Massey family.

John had been a menswear merchant, but after marriage, joined the board of directors of the Massey-Harris Company. He died in 1909 and Lillian died in 1916. When John died, his estate was worth $191,000. Lillian’s was worth $2,045,038 and she left about 75% of that to various charitable and educational purposes. She also left specific bequests to her stepchildren and their families – Charles and his eldest daughter, Lillian, each received $10,000, while the two younger girls, Marjorie and Dorothy, were each given $5,000. (Laura hadn’t been born yet.) That’s the equivalent of around $800,000 in 2024, according to the Bank of Canada’s inflation calculator.

1911 census

1921 census

1931 census

Toronto ON

Toronto ON

Windermere ON
















[Student nurse]









Ethel (aunt)




John (cousin)





Charles was a Captain in the Army during the first world war and died of heart failure in 1919. Violet died in 1923 of pulmonary tuberculosis. Their daughters went to live with Charles’ brother, Arthur, and his wife, Ethel. At the time, they didn’t have any children of their own – their daughter, Marguerite Gwyneth, had died in 1916, when she was only 19 months old. However, about a year and a half later, they had a son – John. In August 1930, Arthur died due to coronary thrombosis. Two months later, Lillian died of polio.

Laura spent the summer of 1939 abroad – sailing on the Empress of Britain in July.

On 25 September 1941, Laura passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 90th female pilot in Canada. She was 22 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #90 – Laura Treble (1918-1993)

Painting: found at auction

By 1943, she was working in the control tower at No 10 Elementary Flying Training School near Pendleton. This was a rare position for a woman to hold.

In 1957, it was announced that Laura was engaged to John Donald Tomlinson. However, a week later, the wedding ceremony was “temporarily postponed” – it never went ahead.   

Laura two main interests were dogs and bowling. She was part of the afternoon lady bowlers group and regularly won games, both individually and as captain of the Red Feathers. She owned and operated Tanhardt Kennels in Georgetown where she bred and trained dogs. She showed at many dog shows and won lots of awards. One of her German Shepherds, Kanaka, became a police dog with the Ontario Provincial Police Detachment. He was particularly good at tracking and was involved in the search for clues of a kidnapping in 1969.

Laura died in 1993, aged 74. In her honour, the Guelph & District Kennel Club award the Laura Treble Memorial Trophy annually to the winner of Best in Show on the second day’s show. 

[Note about the portrait: The wonderful oil painting above was purchased at auction decades ago, but there was no information about the subject or the artist. However, Laura’s name was discovered, tucked away on a handwritten note on the back of the frame. After I posted this profile, the purchaser got in touch and shared the picture with me. She is looking to sell the painting, so if you are interested, get in touch and I will pass your contact details on. Laura would be very happy to know that the funds will go towards vet bills for a German Shepherd!]

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

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots



  • Hi Margaret, That is absolutely amazing! I would LOVE to see the painting. I’ll drop you an email. Jen

    Jen Eggleston (author)
  • Hi. I had a portrait painting in my closet for well over 30 years. I had purchased it at an auction many years ago. Never knew why but there was something about the painting that pulled me towards it. I tried and tried and tried to figure out who the woman was. I tried to find out the artist as well. Never had any luc so gave up. We moved to Nova Scotia and the unknown woman remained in my closet. Recently, I thought of her and decided to try one more time. I happened to see on a folded back hand written ..A NAME. It was Laura Louis Treble. Sure enough, I saw your site and it IS HER. So happy to have made peace with this woman and would love to share the image with you. Maybe you would like to see it, maybe not..but would be glad to send you an image. It is actually a very well done oil portrait of this woman..Marg Frise

    margaret frise

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