Women of Inspiration

Tenacity, Persistence, Dedication

Women have been playing an important role in the mining industry for years, exhibiting tenacity, persistence and dedication.

The women featured have played and are currently playing an important role in the advancement of women in the industry.

Women we celebrate and are inspired by

Shaaw Tláa (Kate Carmack)

Member of the Klondike Discoverers
George Carmack, Robert Henderson, Skookum Jim Mason and Dawson Charlie have historically been credited with the discovery that set off one of the world’s greatest gold rushes. The Klondike Gold Rush established Yukon and opened up the North, as well as Canadians’ eyes to its possibilities. New information has since revealed that Kate Carmack also played an integral role in making this discovery. As an Indigenous woman, Kate’s traditional knowledge and skills allowed her and George Carmack, along with Skookum Jim Mason and Dawson Charlie, to live off the land in the Forty-Mile and Stewart River areas during their years of prospecting. Specifically, Kate’s ability to sew and market her mukluks and mittens to fellow prospectors provided the means to support their work. Clouded in hearsay and sensational reporting at the time, most historians agree that it is not clear who made the actual discovery. Oral histories shared among local Indigenous communities suggest that Kate herself found the first nugget of gold. (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)
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Viola MacMillan

Former President, PDAC
Viola MacMillan rose to prominence along with her husband as a syndicate-financed prospector. Under MacMillan’s leadership, they became the developers and producers of both precious and base metals across Canada. In Ontario, notable contributions included the early discovery of the Hallnor deposit in the Timmins area followed by the development of the Canadian Arrow open pit gold deposit. She acquired and developed the Kam-Kotia base metal mine, also in the Timmins area, and directed the development of the silver-lead orebodies of ViolaMac Mines in the Sandon area of British Columbia. In the Beaverlodge area of northern Saskatchewan, she completed the earlier started development of the Lake Cinch uranium orebodies and placed the mine into production. But MacMillan’s greatest contribution to the industry, and one that can not easily be measured, is her driving commitment to transforming the Prospectors and Developers Association from a small group of less than 100 to a vital organization of more than 4,000. Today, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada is national in scope, active in helping set public policy as it pertains to the mineral industry and one of the largest of its kind in the world whose annual convention attracts international attendance. She first served as secretary of the small and informal lobby group but was elected president just before the Second World War, serving in that capacity until 1966. During the war, she was much involved with both the provincial and federal governments in working with the wartime Metals Control Commission. After the war, when the country’s gold mining sector was in danger of collapse, she was instrumental in persuading the government of Canada to introduce the Emergency Gold Measure Act, legislation that saved the stagnating gold mining industry in the 1950s and 1960s. (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)
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Dr. Alice Wilson

Canada's first female geologist
Dr. Alice Wilson worked with the Geological Survey of Canada from 1909 to her retirement in 1946. While she did rise through the ranks of the GSC, her ascent was more gradual than that of her male colleagues. In 1920, she was promoted from clerk to assistant paleontologist, and in 1926 to assistant geologist (“geologist” was considered a higher designation). In 1940, six years before her retirement, she was promoted to associate geologist. Wilson’s work focussed on invertebrate fossils found throughout Canada from the Paleozoic era and in Ontario from the Ordovician period. She also studied the stratigraphy of Ontario and Québec, and initiated studies of Ordovician fauna in the Rocky Mountains and the Arctic. Ironically, Wilson’s important contribution to knowledge of the geology of Ontario and Québec was spurred in part by sexist policies at the GSC. While she wanted to conduct field work, the survey would not allow her to travel to remote locations with male colleagues (the survey barred all women from conducting field work until 1970). Instead, she convinced them to let her make short, solo trips into the relatively unstudied Ottawa-St. Lawrence Valley. She studied the area on foot and by bicycle. When the survey refused to buy her a car (something they provided to men in the field), she bought her own. (Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia)
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Patricia Dillon

Founder of Mining Matters, Former President of PDAC and CIM
The career achievements of Patricia (“Pat”) Dillon are unique in Canadian mining history as they encompassed leadership roles in industry associations and outreach initiatives to help the sector navigate social change and chart a more sustainable future. She served as committee chair, board member, and president of both PDAC and CIM, and was an early advocate of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Dillon also contributed to the CSR initiatives of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), notably “Towards Sustainable Mining” and “Mining Works for Canada”. Her greatest contribution is as a founder and driving force of Mining Matters, a charitable organization focused on educating young people about Earth sciences, the minerals industry, and their roles in society. She serves as president and CEO of the organization, which has provided educational resources promoting mineral literacy to more than 800,000 students and teachers in Canada, in English, French and several Indigenous languages. (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)
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