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March 22, 2013

Women's History Month: A Pioneer Female Pilot

Women's History Month: A Pioneer Female Pilot
My friend and fellow Blogger Lisa Alzo has a Meme for March - Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women's History Month

I encourage readers to join in. Lisa has some terrific blogging prompts for each day of Women's History Month.  

I will write my own stories each Friday from the 5 prompts I came up with at Celebrate Women's History Month! Time for Stories I hope you'll join in with your own:

This is my entry for my 4th prompt

4.  Do you have a  female relative (direct ancestor or collateral lineage) who played an active role in women's issues? Perhaps one who was a Suffragette or was a pioneer in a male-dominated role or occupation?  Perhaps she sailed to the New World to start a new life in the 1600s or was a refugee from a war-torn or religious-intolerant location. Tell her story in a blog post or comment here on this blog.

So many to choose from! There are my Palatine female ancestors who fled the Palatinate area of Germany over religious differences and sailed to New York in 1710.  Out of approximately 3,000 who fled to a new land, almost 500 died on the way. Once in New York their mistreatment continued, this time at the hands of the British who forced their husbands and sons to work on British Tar Ships in situations not unlike slave labour. Their children were taken from them and given into indentured servitude to wealthier families. 

Or my Irish female ancestors who left Ireland during the Potato Famine in the 1840s? My 2nd great grandmother Fanny McGinnis (nee Downey) was one of those women. The hardships many of my female ancestors endured is beyond imagination and I admire their courage and resilience.

But I'm going to talk about my cousin Eileen Vollick (1908-1968) who became the first Canadian woman to obtain a pilot's licence in March 1928. Yes she was just 20 years old. Eileen was related to me in two ways, and was also my 7th cousin twice removed.

Eileen received numerous honours over the years, including the Amelia Earhart medallion in 1975. In August 2008 over 250 people gathered to mark her contribution to aviation on the 100th anniversary of her birth in Wiarton. 

She also was honoured with a Canada Post stamp and the naming of an airport terminal after her. 

You can read more about Eileen and her historical contribution as a pioneer in a male-dominated world at Carnival of Genealogy: Famous Canadian Ancestor Eileen Vollick, first licenced female pilot in Canada


GenealogyHangout said...


I think it was widely thought that the female pilots were daring for their time. My mother in law was a pilot and flew with some of the famous female pioneer pilots in Australia. She had some wonderful stories to tell. Thank you for reminding me of this, it will be recorded now.

Mariann Regan said...

Fantastic! Brave women in your family. I have a female cousin who was a pilot, but she was not nearly so famous as yours. She got her license in SC, I believe connected with the McIntire Air Force Base.

How did our ancestors, both men and women, put up with so much? They went through many struggles just so we could be here.