Women of Inspiration

Tenacity

The quality of being very determined and staying true to the vision.

Persistence

The ability to continue a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Dedication

The quality of being dedicated to the empowerment of women in the mining industry.

Women We Celebrate and Are Inspired By

Kate Carmack

Inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2019
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. The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame is proud to recognize Kate Carmack’s crucial contribution to the Klondike Discoverers and induct her in January 2019. (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)

Viola MacMillan

Inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 1991
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. MacMillan was born April 21, 1903, at Windermere in the Muskoka district of Ontario, the thirteenth of 15 children. After business college, she worked as a stenographer. Her interest in mining was sparked while visiting her brother, a miner in a Cobalt silver mine, who took her underground disguised by heavy mining overalls because women were considered unlucky underground and were unwelcome. She married George Alexander MacMillan in 1923. She and her husband were asked some time later to examine and maintain some claims staked in northern Ontario by a relative of her husband. It was a rugged experience and one few women at the time would welcome, but MacMillan became enamored of the experience and in 1930, after summers of part-time prospecting, pursued it as a full time career. (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)

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)

Kathleen C.S. Rice

Inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2014
Kathleen Rice earned the respect of her peers for staking the Starr claims along strike of several gold mines in the Snow Lake camp. Robert C Wallace, the first head of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Manitoba and Commissioner of Northern Manitoba, noted that he “knew of no other woman who had done the actual prospecting that she had done.” Her breakthrough discovery came after she staked 16 nickel and copper claims on Rice Island in the Wekusko Lake area in 1920 and 1922. She formed Rice Island Nickel Company in 1928 and became a national sensation as “Canada’s first woman prospector” and famously said “If women could understand the thrills of prospecting there would be lots of them doing it…No woman need hesitate about entering the mining field because she is a woman – it isn’t courage that is needed so much as perseverance.” (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)

Patricia Dillon

Inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2021
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 joined Teck Resources as a geologist in 1979, and advanced to more senior roles as her organizational and communication skills came to the fore. This experience was a springboard for volunteer positions with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM). She served as committee chair, board member, and president of both organizations, 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. Dillon has contributed greatly to the success of PDAC in various capacities since 1993, including as president from 2006 to 2008. Dillon’s most enduring legacy is considered to be PDAC Mining Matters, a charitable organization that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. 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.Patricia Dillon has received the CIM’s Past Presidents’ Memorial Medal, Distinguished Service Award, and Fellowship Award, and PDAC’s Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of her achievements. She is also the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee medal, was named a “Superhero of Industry” by the Canadian Science and Technology Museum and recognized as one of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining in 2014 by Women in Mining (UK). (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)

Mary Edith Tyrrell

Inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2021
In Toronto during the first world war, Mary Edith Tyrell recognized the need for the wives of mining men to support each other. In 1921, she and 19 like-minded wives launched the Women’s Association of the Mining Industry of Canada (WAMIC). Since then WAMIC members have overseen the distribution of more than $1.8 million in charitable donations and support for students and educational institutions. It is fitting that a century later Edith Tyrrell be inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, joining her husband, Joseph Burr Tyrrell, who was inducted in 1997 for his career accomplishments. Mrs. Tyrrell served as WAMIC’s president for its first three years. Members supported worthy causes that mirrored the times; war veterans in the 1920s, schools and disaster relief in the 1930s, and the war effort in the 1940s. Over the past century WAMIC has donated more than $300,000 to various charities, awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships and bursaries, and overseen the distribution of $616,000 to deserving students from the Sophia Wood bequest. Another $600,000 was distributed to several universities and the KEGS Foundation as the WAMIC Foundation wound down in 2010. WAMIC has supported countless students over time, including women and minorities, and helped the mining industry in its transition from a fraternity into an inclusive community. (Source: Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)