Canadian Aviatrix #94 – Peggy Lang (1923-2010)

Margaret Barbara "Peggy" Lang was born on 14 February 1923 in Waterloo, Ontario, to Reinhold Anthony Lang (a businessman, from a family of tanners and financiers) and Angela Kelly.

When Reinhold was a boy, he was chosen to represent the students of St Jerome’s College and appears in a statue depicting the founder of the college.


1921 census

1931 census


Waterloo ON

Waterloo ON







Elizabeth Anne (Betty)



Angela Kelly (Kelly)



Mary Ann (Anna)



Patricia (Patsy)






Alexandra (Sandra)


[born 1934]


The family lived a privileged life – attending fancy functions, eating at fashionable restaurants, staying at the Plaza Hotel in New York, and all of the girls were debutantes. In 1919, Reinhold and Angela even received the Prince of Wales.

In 1938, Angela took her six daughters to a wedding in Ottawa and “they were so attractively dressed” that she was encouraged by friends to open up a fashion store. It operated in Kitchener for 39 years and at one point, employed 22 people. She was voted one of Canada’s Ten Best Dressed Women and was presented to the Duchess of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

Peggy went to school in Albany, New York, then attended the University of Western Ontario. In 1941, Peggy took up flying during her summer vacation. Some newspapers insisted she was doing it as a hobby, others said that she planned to make a career of it – particularly in the instructing side.

On 28 January 1942, Peggy passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 94th female pilot in Canada. She was 18 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #94 – Peggy Lang (1923-2010) 

Photo: Peggy’s commercial licence (1944)

By February, she was part of the University Air Training Corps – students who intended to join the RCAF after graduation. She was the only woman in the group. By August, she was one of two women pilots in the emergency aircraft patrol in Toronto – looking for signs of sabotage or “information useful to the enemy” visible from the sky. (Violet Milstead was the other pilot.)

In 1943, Peggy was sitting tests to become a ferry pilot for the RAF. In the UWO yearbook, she is the only woman listed as “on active service”. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944.

On 12 August 1944, Peggy became the 19th woman to get her commercial pilot’s licence in Canada.

By 1946, she’d logged 200 hours of flying time on seven types of aircraft. She was also working as assistant to the branch manager of an aviation insurance company.

In 1947, Reinhold and Angela announced the engagement of Peggy and Dr Michael Justin O’Brien (a pediatrician). They were married in June in front of 700 guests. Peggy had ten bridesmaids and carried a pearl rosary, a gift of the papal delegate.

Peggy and Justin went on to have four children. Sadly, their first son died when he was a baby and, in 1964, the family were in a serious car accident as they returned from their summer cottage. Peggy and their 11-year-old daughter were severely injured and their 8-year-old son was killed. Justin worked by the glare of headlights to save his son, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Shockingly, a newspaper printed a photo of the scene. Peggy’s cervical injury led to months of paralysis. 

Justin died in 1999. Peggy died in 2010, predeceased by her five sisters and three of her children. She was survived by her partner, Scott Montgomery.

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

Canadian Aviatrix Project

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