Canadian Aviatrix #13 – Jeanne Genier (1902-1985)

Alice Albina Genier (who preferred to be called Jeanne) was born on 9 October 1902 in Kamloops, British Columbia, to Gilbert Genier and Adeline St Amour (French-Canadian farmers).

1901 census

1911 census

1921 census

Yale BC

Yale BC

Yale BC

Gilbert

34

44

54

Adeline

26

37

47

Aurore

8

18

-

Matilda

5

16

-

Wilfred

4

14

-

Arthur

1

10

21

Alice

-

8

-

Josephine

-

5

15

Alexander

-

3

13

Mildred

-

-

8

 

In 1921, Jeanne isn’t listed in the census with her parents, but she was still attending Kamloops High School (as Albina / Albena). In November, she started working as a stenographer at the Land Registry Office. She also acted in comedic and dramatic sketches in several revues. 

By 1928, Jeanne was living in Vancouver and met Walter Edwin Gilbert at the BC Mountaineering Club. He became one of Canada’s most famous bush pilots and was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974. On 7 March 1928, the couple were married in Toronto and spent their honeymoon in New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, New York and Montreal.

On 28 December 1929, Jeanne passed her flying test and received PPL #479, making her the thirteenth female pilot in Canada and the first in British Columbia. She was 26 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #13 - Jeanne Genier (1902-1985)

Photo: The Province (February 12, 1928)

She had plans to continue with her training and get her commercial license, but constant transfers for her husband’s work meant that it was difficult to get lessons. It was believed that Jeanne was the most air-travelled woman in Canada before the war, as she accompanied her husband across the country. In 1931, they met the Lindberghs when they visited Aklavik. In 1937, Jeanne was organizing “winter formals” for the pilots’ wives at Fort McMurray – picking their way across the snow in evening gowns and stockings!

In 1940, Jeanne took a short refresher flying course and, at the end of it, her logbook showed 25 hours dual, 22 hours solo, but hundreds of additional hours logged as a passenger. Wartime restrictions ended her training for good and she was rejected from the RCAF too.

Although not one of the original members of The Flying Seven, Jeanne occasionally joined them for special events – like the 1940 “bomphlet” raid over Vancouver.

Jeanne and Walter divorced and, by 1955, she was remarried to Russell Cole Fothergill and living in Town of Mount Royal, Quebec.

Russell died suddenly in Barbados in 1966. Jeanne died in 1985, aged 83.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots

 

 

 

 

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