The Canadian Aviatrix Project (for 100DaysProjectScotland 2022)
For my third year of #100DaysProjectScotland, I celebrated the first 100 Canadian women pilots.
Canada has seen some amazing women pilots and, while some of them are well-known and honoured, a surprising number of the really early ones have been forgotten.
In Shirley Render's wonderful book 'No Place for a Lady: The Story of Canadian Women Pilots 1928-1992', she investigated the lives and careers of the female pioneers in Canadian aviation. There’s even an appendix listing the first 100 women to get their private pilot licences.
The book was written in the early 1990s and the amount of work Mrs Render must have done is staggering – trawling through archives and interviewing hundreds of people. However, there were certain women she just couldn't find and they're marked on her list with an asterisk. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to fill out the list a bit more!
I researched each woman as thoroughly as I could – looking up birth, marriage and death records, census entries, and tons of newspaper articles – then wrote up a full biography of them here. I also made family trees on Ancestry and Wikitree, so any relatives would find out about their adventurous ancestor.
For the 100 day project, I drew a picture of one pilot, wrote up a little summary of her life, and posted on Instagram.
Of the first fifty women, Shirley Render hadn’t been able to find 21 of them. Thirty years later, I’ve managed to dig up all but two (Mrs G Thomson and Miss EH Vance). However, for pilots 51-100, things are trickier. There were 31 pilots that Shirley couldn’t find and it’s looking like these sixteen will remain unknown (for now, anyway).
The project started on June 1 and I posted my final collage on August 30.
You can see all the drawings and stories on my Instagram page - https://www.instagram.com/randomlygen