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Photo of Pauline McGibbon Sitting

Early Life

Pauline Emily Mills was born 20 October 1910 in Sarnia, Ontario. She was the only child of Alfred William and Ethel Selina Mills, her father being a textiles and goods merchant.

After George Street, and Lochiel Street Schools, and Sarnia Collegiate, she studied at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1933 with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern History. In January 1935 Pauline married football star and her childhood sweetheart Donald Walker McGibbon, both attending the university together. Don later became vice-president and treasurer of Imperial Oil Limited.


A lifelong volunteer and supporter of the arts, McGibbon became president of the Dominion Drama Festival from 1957 to 1959. She volunteered for years including national president of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire from 1963 to 1965. She was the first woman to lead such organizations as the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1972).

McGibbon served as chancellor, and first female in those roles, of the universities of Toronto (1971–1974) and Guelph (1977–1983).

Appointed by prime minister Pierre Trudeau, McGibbon was installed as the first female Lieutenant Governor of Ontario on 17 January 1974, and thus became the first female governor in the country. (The first female Governor in the Commonwealth was Dame Hilda Bynoe, Governor of Grenada 1968–1974.) She held the office until 1980. A particular focus of her mandate was the arts in Ontario. This was her first salaried employment, due to the support of her husband which had enabled her to devote much time to voluntary work. Of her annual $35 000 salary, she gave back the money other than for $200 a month which at her husband's request went into a retirement savings plan.

Additional to her benevolent work, McGibbon was an active member of the business community, and served as director on companies in Canada such as IBM Canada Limited, Imasco, Mercedes-Benz, and George Weston Limited.

From 1980 McGibbon was a director of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. She also served as chairman, and their first female chair of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (1980), and honorary colonel of 25 (Toronto) Service Battalion and No. 7 Cadet Corps of Saint Thomas.

During her life, McGibbon was also the governor of the Upper Canada College.

Pauline McGibbon giving a boy a flower

Plaque Text

photo of a plaque in Pauline's honor of her achievements

The first woman to hold a vice-regal office in Canada, Pauline Emily Mills, was born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1910. After local schooling and a degree at Victoria College, University of Toronto, she married Donald Walker McGibbon in 1935. A life-long volunteer and supporter of the arts, Mrs. McGibbon became president of the Dominion Drama Festival in 1948 and national president of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire in 1963. She was the first woman to lead such organizations as the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1972) and the National Arts Centre (1980). In 1974 McGibbon was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (1974-1980) where she focused on culture and the arts. She was honoured as a Companion of the Order of Canada (1980) and a member of the Order of Ontario (1988). Once described as "Ontario's Eve" for all her "first woman" achievements, the Honourable Pauline McGibbon dedicated her life to the betterment of her community, province and nation.

Plaque Location On the east side of College Avenue North half a block south of George Street Coordinates: N 42 58.425 W 82 24.090

Location Of Burial Section K 386 Plot #6

Donald & Pauline McGibbon Stone
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