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Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, astronaut, engineer, jet pilot, musician (born 20 October 1963 in Montréal, QC). Julie Payette is the first Canadian astronaut to board the International Space Station, which she went to twice (1999, 2009). She served as the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. From 2013 to 2016, she was chief operating officer for the Montreal Science Centre and vice president of the Canada Lands Company. An accomplished scientific authority, musician and athlete, Payette is a board member of Own the Podium and a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s board of directors. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommended Payette as Canada’s 29th Governor General. She served in the role from 2 October 2017 until 21 January 2021, when she resigned following allegations that she was abusive toward her staff.
Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi, electrical engineer, inventor and businessman (born 25 April 1874 in Bologna, Italy; died 20 July 1937 in Rome, Italy). Marconi’s early experiments in wireless telegraphy demonstrated the potential of long-range radio communication. He is generally considered the inventor of the radio. Marconi’s first reputed reception of a transatlantic radio signal occurred at Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1901. The following year, he built a wireless transmission station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Half of the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics went to Marconi for his work in wireless telegraphy.
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Elizabeth (Elsie) Muriel Gregory MacGill, OC, aeronautical engineer, feminist (born 27 March 1905 in Vancouver, BC; died 4 November 1980 in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Elsie MacGill was the first woman to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering (1929). She was also the first practising Canadian woman engineer. In 1938, she became chief aeronautical engineer of Canadian Car & Foundry (Can Car). There, she headed the Canadian production of Hawker Hurricane fighter planes during the Second World War. An active feminist, MacGill was national president of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (1962–64). She was also a member of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (1967–70).
Born 27 March 1905, died 4 November 1980
First woman aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer
Key Canadian feminist
Oversaw production of fighter planes during WWII
Nicknamed “Queen of the Hurricanes”
Elijah McCoy, engineer, inventor (born 2 May 1843 or 1844 in Colchester, Canada West; died 10 October 1929 in Wayne County, Michigan.) McCoy was an African-Canadian mechanical engineer and inventor best known for his groundbreaking innovations in industrial lubrication.
Joseph-Armand Bombardier, entrepreneur, inventor of the snowmobile and Ski-Doo (born 16 April 1907 in Valcourt, QC; died 18 February 1964 in Sherbrooke, QC). While Bombardier’s many inventions demonstrate his mechanical skills, his ability not only to respond to transportation needs but to create them gave rise to his namesake corporation’s record of innovation (see Bombardier Inc.).
Ernest Walter Stedman
Ernest Walter Stedman, aircraft engineer (b at Malling, Eng 21 July 1888; d at Ottawa 27 Mar 1957). Stedman trained as an engineer and ended his WWI service as a lt-col in the RAF. He then joined the Handley-Page aircraft company
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell, teacher of the deaf, inventor, scientist (born 3 March 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland; died 2 August 1922 near Baddeck, NS). Alexander Graham Bell is generally considered second only to Thomas Alva Edison among 19th- and 20th-century inventors. Although he is best known as the inventor of the first practical telephone, he also did innovative work in other fields, including aeronautics, hydrofoils and wireless communication (the “photophone”). Moreover, Bell himself considered his work with the deaf to be his most important contribution. Born in Scotland, he emigrated to Canada in 1870 with his parents. Bell married American Mabel Hubbard in 1877 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1882. From the mid-1880s, he and his family spent their summers near Baddeck on Cape Breton Island, where they built a large home, Beinn Bhreagh. From then on, Bell divided his time and his research between the United States and Canada. He died and was buried at Baddeck in 1922.
Marc Garneau, CC, astronaut, military officer, engineer, politician (born 23 February 1949 in Québec City, QC). Garneau has distinguished himself in three distinct fields. As a naval officer with the Canadian Armed Forces, he spent 10 years as a combat systems engineer. In 1984, Garneau became the first Canadian astronaut to go to space and, from 2001 to 2005, was president of the Canadian Space Agency. As a federal politician, he has served as Liberal house leader, minister of transport and minister of foreign affairs.
Donna Theo Strickland, CC, physicist (born 27 May 1959 in Guelph, ON). Donna Strickland is a pioneering physicist, known for her work on ultrafast lasers. She is currently a professor of physics at the University of Waterloo. She has authored more than 90 publications and has made seminal contributions to the field of laser technology. In 2018, Strickland was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work on the development of laser technology.