Canadian Women in the Sky

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Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Author to speak at Museum about Women in Aviation

Author and historian Elizabeth Gillan Muir will be doing author talks and book signings in June in Campbell River and the Comox Valley. She will make presentations on two recent books about women in aviation – Canadian Women in the Sky: 100 years of flight published by Dundurn Press for teens and adults; and Air-Crazy, fascinating stories about Canadian women in the air published by Another Chapter Publishing for kids 8+.

The books tell the stories of how Canadian women broke through the sky blue ceiling, first as passengers on planes, then as pilots and stewardesses, and finally as astronauts.

Canadian Women in the Sky contains a photograph of a giant 1879 poster which hangs in the Comox Air Force Museum; the poster measures 3 feet by 6 feet (.9 metres x 1.8 metres). Both books include Maryse Carmichael, the first and only woman to head the Snowbirds, airplanes known to most in this region.

Muir’s books also tell the stories of west coast aviation celebrities such as Olive Stark, an early Canadian female passenger; Alys McKey Bryant, the first woman to pilot a plane in Canada; “The Flying Seven,” women pilots who tried to enlist in the RCAF during World War II; and Elsie MacGill, the first woman in the world to invent a plane that flew.

Former astronaut and MP Marc Garneau writes of Canadian Women in the Sky, “This is a timely book…these women made all Canadians proud. True pioneers, every one of them.” Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, author and a past president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, wrote the foreword.

 “Wonderful stories about Canadian women aviators, a long overdue topic,” says Skywatch pilot Akky Mansikka about Air-Crazy. “I think it should be in a library or given as a gift,” wrote Leeloo Lengagne, 11 years, reviewer for Canadian Owners and Pilots Association Flight 8, Ottawa.

Muir’s first published work was when she was ten. She had a short article on marsh hens in a children’s magazine, Child Life, and was given $1.00 by the publisher. The marsh hens nested in the swamp in front of their house. She has non-fiction stories in children’s magazines in Canada, Great Britain, Australia and United States, although much of her writing is for adults. She has recently published a history of part of Toronto: Riverdale: east of the Don.

Originally from a farm in the Ottawa Valley, Muir spent most of her adult life in Montreal and Toronto, but she calls Vancouver Island “God’s country,” and tries to visit her daughter and son-in-law who live here as often as she can.

 She is a graduate of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, the Harvard Business School and McGill University in Montreal where she earned a doctorate in history.

The cost of the talk at the Museum at Campbell River is $7 and it will be from 1-2:30pm. To register or for more information call 250-287-3103.