On August 1, 2023, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a new $1 commemorative circulation coin honouring Elsie MacGill, the country’s first woman professional engineer and a leading advocate of women’s rights.
“Through her dedication and an unshakeable belief that there was nothing women could not do, Elsie MacGill broke the glass ceiling for Canadian women pursuing careers in engineering, and made historic contributions to Canada’s efforts during the Second World War,” said The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance upon the launch of the new coin. “I am so pleased that this commemorative coin will honour the legacy of a remarkable champion of women’s rights, and will share her story with a new generation of Canadians.”
MacGill was the first Canadian woman to earn an electrical engineering degree and was the first woman in North America to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. As the Chief Aeronautical Engineer at Canadian Car & Foundry (CC&F) during World War II, MacGill made Canada a powerhouse of aircraft construction. She was in charge of all the engineering work related to Canadian production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter plane and oversaw operations at CC&F as it expanded from 500 workers to 4,500, where it would produce three Hawkers per day and a total of 1,450 over the course of just two years. 60 per cent of air victories by the Royal Air Force during the war involved this single-seat fighter aircraft.
She was known as the “Queen of the Hurricanes” for that unique wartime contribution.
In the 1960s, MacGill dedicated a significant amount of her time to advancing women’s and children’s rights and was named to the Royal Commission for the Status of Women in 1967.
The artwork appearing on the reverse of the 2023 $1 circulation coin celebrating Elsie MacGill is the creation of Tofino, British Columbia artist Claire Watson. It features Elsie MacGill holding a pair of rolled-up blueprints. Flying above her is the Maple Leaf Trainer II that she designed and beside her appears one of the Canadian-made Hawker Hurricane fighter planes that she helped produce.