In 1938 Lucile Garner became Trans Canada Airline’s (renamed Air Canada in 1965) first female employee. Like their American counterparts, Canadian stewardesses had to be trained as nurses, but also single, meet strict height and weight requirements, and be between the age of 21 and 26 to start (the mandatory age to retire was 32.)
As a stewardess, her job included a wide variety of responsibilities, from monitoring weather patterns and handling radio communications, to serving suitable food during flights and calming passengers. “Oh, yes, they were all scared to death.” she said in a 2012 interview. “They used to say, “Oh, I love flying!” but, really, they were just trying to be brave about it.”
Garner also helped a Vancouver tailor to design the stewardess uniform. The business suit style, with a two-button jacket and centre front pleat skirt, was made up in a beige wool gabardine to match the colour of the plane’s interior, and was accessorized with a brick red handkerchief, red blouse, brown tie and shoes as well as a beige wedge cap with red flash. None of the stewardesses liked the colour, but navy blue was reserved for pilots until 1939 when a navy blue option for stewardesses was offered.
Lucile remained a stewardess for TCA until 1941 before switching to Yukon Southern Air Transport (later renamed Canadian Pacific Airlines), but left the industry in 1943 to marry. Garner lived until the age of 102, passing in 2013.