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Article

Evelyn Nelson

Evelyn Merle Roden Nelson, mathematician, professor (born 25 November 1943 in Hamilton, ON; died 1 August 1987 in Hamilton, ON). A brilliant mathematical mind, Evelyn Nelson fought gender barriers in a discipline long dominated by men to become a rising star in the field both in Canada and abroad. She contributed to the fields of universal algebra, equational compactness and formal language theory. Nelson was particularly interested in applying universal algebra to the then-burgeoning field of computer science. She was a devoted teacher, sought-after research partner and the author of over 40 publications during what was a tragically short career.

Article

Frances Oldham Kelsey

​Frances Oldham Kelsey, CM, pharmacologist (born 24 July 1914 in Cobble Hill, BC; died 7 August 2015 in London, ON). As an employee of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Kelsey blocked the sale of thalidomide in the United States. The drug, which had been widely prescribed in Europe and Canada, was later shown to cause severe birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug while pregnant. In recognition of her “exceptional judgment” and determination, Kelsey received the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. Kelsey and her work have been widely lauded in the United States but are less known in Canada. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada shortly before her death.

Article

Reginald Fessenden

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, electrical engineer (born 6 October 1866 in East Bolton, Canada East; died 22 July 1932 in Hamilton, Bermuda). Fessenden was a pioneer in the field of radio communication. He made the first voice transmission over radio waves. He also laid the foundations of amplitude modulation (AM) and achieved the first two-way radiotelegraphic communication across the Atlantic Ocean. His 1906 transmission of a Christmas concert is considered the first radio broadcast in history. (See also Radio Programming)

Article

Julie Payette

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.

Article

Joseph-Armand Bombardier

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.

Article

Onye Nnorom

Onyenyechukwu (Onye) Nnorom, family physician, specialist in public health and preventive medicine (born 27 February 1981 in Montreal, Quebec). Nnorom is the associate director of the residency program in public health and preventive medicine at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She also leads the Black health curriculum at the university’s medical school. Her work addresses the health inequities that racialized and immigrant communities face.

Article

Guglielmo Marconi

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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Article

David Schindler

David William Schindler, OC, FRSC, FRS, AOE, scientist, limnologist (born 3 August 1940 in Fargo, North Dakota; died 4 March 2021 in Brisco, BC). Schindler was an outspoken researcher who advanced the understanding, protection and conservation of Canada’s fresh waters.

Article

Elsie MacGill

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).

Key Facts
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”

Article

Marion Alice Orr

Marion Alice Orr (née Powell). Pioneer pilot. (b. Jun 25, 1916 [?], Toronto, ON; d. April 4, 1995, Peterborough, ON). Marion Orr's birth date has been given variously as 1916, 1918 and 1920. She obfuscated sometimes on documents related to flying for fear that she would be grounded by her age.

Article

Edith Monture

Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture (often known simply as Edith Monture), Mohawk First World War veteran, registered nurse, (born 10 April 1890 on Six Nations reserve near Brantford, ON; died 3 April 1996 in Ohsweken, ON). Edith was the first Indigenous woman to become a registered nurse in Canada and to gain the right to vote in a Canadian federal election. She was also the first Indigenous woman from Canada to serve in the United States military. Edith broke barriers for Indigenous women in the armed forces and with regards to federal voting rights. A street (Edith Monture Avenue) and park (Edith Monture Park) are named after her in Brantford, Ontario.

Article

William Saunders

William Saunders, druggist, agriculturalist (b at Crediton, Eng 16 June 1836; d at London, Ont 13 Sept 1914). Saunders established the Experimental Farms Service (now Research Branch) of the federal Dept of AGRICULTURE. He moved with his family from England to Canada in 1848 and apprenticed as a druggist, opening his own store in 1855. His concern about insects attacking pharmaceutical plants led him to help found the Entomological Society of Canada in 1863.

Article

Sir Frederick Banting

Sir Frederick Grant Banting, KBE, MC, FRS, FRSC, co-discoverer of insulin, medical scientist, painter (born 14 November 1891 in Alliston, ON; died 21 February 1941 near Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland). Banting is best known as one of the scientists who discovered insulin in 1922. After this breakthrough, he became Canada’s first professor of medical research at the University of Toronto. Banting was also an accomplished amateur painter. As an artist, he had links to A.Y. Jackson and the Group of Seven.