This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.
C.C., O.Ont., B.A., LL.D., D.U., D.Hum.L., D.Litt.S., B.A.A., Hon. F.R.C.P.S.(C.), U.E.L.
First woman to represent The Queen in Canada and in the Commonwealth as
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Born in Sarnia, Ontario October 20, 1910
Died in Toronto, Ontario December 14, 2001
The Hon. Pauline M. McGibbon
Honours and Awards: Companion of the Order of Canada (1980); Officer of the Order of Canada (1967); Order of Ontario (1988) and many other honorary awards and degrees.
When Pauline McGibbon was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario on April 10, 1974, she became the first woman to represent The Queen in Canada and in the Commonwealth.
Born in 1910 in Sarnia, Ontario, Pauline Emily Mills grew up in a musical home. She enjoyed dancing and had a happy sense of humour. Her mother was active as a volunteer in many community activities and her father was co-owner of a clothing store.
Pauline met her future husband, Donald McGibbon in high school. She graduated from the University of Toronto (Victoria College) in 1933 with a B.A. (Modern History). Donald McGibbon received a B.A. in political science and economics from Victoria College and accepted a position with Imperial Oil Ltd. in Sarnia in 1932. They were married in 1935.
She gained valuable experience in volunteer work by participating in the projects of a Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) in Sarnia. When her husband's work required them to move to Toronto, she continued her involvement with the IODE and later served as its National President (1963-1965).
Mrs. McGibbon contributed her talents to many Canadian educational, theatrical and artistic organizations. She served her alma mater as the first woman President of the University of Toronto Alumni Association (1952-1953), as a member of that university's Senate (1952-1961) and as its first female Chancellor (1971-1974). She was the first woman Governor of Upper Canada College (1971-1974).
She pursued her interests in the arts and theatre in such positions as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Theatre School (1966-1969) and first female President of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1972-1973).
As Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (1974-1980), Mrs. McGibbon brought to the Office her dedication to service, sense of humour, joy of meeting people and personal warmth. With determination and modesty, she expanded the role of the Lieutenant Governor. She travelled the Province extensively to meet with and speak to Ontarians and she opened her official suite to thousands of visitors and held numerous receptions there. She strongly supported the arts and was the creator of the Pauline McGibbon Honorary Award in Theatre Arts.
After completing her term as Lieutenant Governor in 1980, Mrs. McGibbon continued to be very active in public service. Among her many accomplishments, she served as first female Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Arts Centre (1980-1984) and Director of Massey Hall-Roy Thomson Hall (1980-1990).
At a memorial service held following her death, The Honourable Hilary M. Weston, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, remarked that "Pauline's life has been inspirational for a generation of Canadian women. At a time when a woman's role was more circumscribed, she confounded expectations by dedicating herself to a life of exemplary public service, and support and encouragement of the arts." (Weston)
Canadian Who's Who. Vol. XXXVI, 2001, p. 870.
Leatherdale, Linda. "The Feminine Frontier: A New Breed of Leader Is Afoot in the 1980s." Ontario Business. (October 1981), p. 16-25.
Linder, Norma West, and Hope Morritt. Pauline: A Warm Look at Ontario Lt.-Gov. Pauline McGibbon. Sarnia, Ont.: River City Press, 1979, p. 125.
Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. "Lieutenant Governors of Ontario, 1867-present."
(accessed March 26, 2009).
[Weston, (The Hon.) Hilary M.]. Remarks on the Occasion of a Memorial Service for the Honourable Pauline McGibbon. Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, Toronto. (22 January 2002). Toronto: Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, .