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Q&A with Lucile Garner Grant

Canada's first flight attendant on adventure, being 102 and the controversial nature of beige.

Lucile Garner Grant

Hometown: Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan

Claim to fame: The first woman to be employed by Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA), Garner Grant was a flight attendant from 1938 to 1943. She once rode a dogsled from the airport 
to a radio station in Fort Nelson, B.C., to fetch 
a weather report.

Not to mention: On June 13, 
she celebrated her 
102nd birthday.

Her first-ever trip: California, as a child. “I’ve travelled a great deal in my life. By airplane, by train, across the country and all through the States.”

Flight attendants 
had to be nurses in the early days. What made you choose this risky career over nursing? 
Oh, to be a stewardess was something. It was an achievement, and the pay was $125 a month; nurses didn’t make that much money. It was an adventure, everything was new about it; it was a brand new life for women.

And you probably had to be as knowledgeable as the pilots…
Yes, well, the airplane was quite a new invention. Everybody expected us to know every facet of the business. It wasn’t like a train, where you could sit down and see everything; you were up in the air and you could see nothing. Passengers’ questions had 
to be answered.

Were people afraid?
Oh, yes, they were all scared to death. They didn’t know what it was all about. They used to say, “Oh, I love flying!” but, really, they were just trying to be brave about it.

You designed TCA’s first inflight uniform in 1938. What went into the design?
They wanted the uniform to match the airplane interior, which was beige. And they didn’t want navy blue because that’s what the pilots wore. So I got a lovely wool gabardine in beige – beautiful material – and got an excellent tailor to make a lovely, lovely uniform… but nobody liked it! 

Oh, why not?
They said, “Why don’t you get navy blue?” So by 1939, the uniform was navy blue, and then everybody liked it. The colour didn’t match the airplane or anything, but that didn’t seem to matter. But the pilots said, “Why do they have to be like us?” There was controversy all over the place.

How do you look back on your career today?
It was very rewarding, and 
I met some wonderful people. Everybody was so kind and generous; it makes you think life’s not so bad 
after all. 

For more great moments in Air Canada's history, visit 75.aircanada.com.

Comments… or add another

June Seymour

Tuesday, March 19th 2013 13:36
I knew Lucile for many years. I felt very fortunate.
She was an exceptional lady, always smiling and courteous.
We kept in touch at Christmas time and feel very sad she has passed on.
I will miss her at our Maple Wings meetings and our correspondence to one another.
God bless you Lucile, Love from June.

Gerda Francis

Wednesday, March 20th 2013 16:27
What a lovely story about an amazing lady...wish I could have met her.

George Bowes

Tuesday, March 26th 2013 10:27
I retired in 1983 after 42 years as
Flight Dispatcher ,Opns ontrol Mgr. In recent years played bridge with Lucy at the Colbourne Senior Centre in Oakville ( as did the late Pete McMahon) . Lucy was a fine bridge player and nice lady.

Ann Fitzgerald

Tuesday, March 26th 2013 17:07
Great article
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