Who was APEGA’s First Female Member?
Was professional geologist Helen Leskiw the first woman to register with APEGA? We did some digging and the answer is yes—probably.
Born in Poland and raised in Derwent, Alberta, Leskiw served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in science, followed by one year of graduate studies in the geology department.
When she registered with APEGA in 1954, one of her professors—the distinguished Charles Stelck, P.Geol.—wrote her a letter of recommendation. “Her character is beyond reproach and she is fully qualified and trained for the field in which she is practising,” he noted.
Leskiw was a member of APEGA until 1995, spending all but one year of her career working for R.N. Adair Oil Management, a Calgary consulting firm. She served as the company’s vice-president and chief geologist. Her husband, Robert Adair, was president.
The Calgary Herald profiled Leskiw’s career in a 1961 article that appeared in the newspaper’s World of Women section.
In the article, Leskiw explained how she became a geologist. “I entered university to study home economics but ended up studying rock formations instead,” she said.
As noted in the story: The blue-eyed brunette believes being a woman is no drawback to being a good geologist. In fact, she says, women tend to pay more attention to detail and “in this work, detail is important.”
The article pointed out that Leskiw could often be found at oil well drilling sites examining rock samples to determine the most likely location for oil and gas deposits. The reporter also analyzed her fashion choices: “cowboy boots, blue jeans, and a tin hat” for days in the field, and “proper” suits or dresses for days at the office.
When Leskiw died in 1996, her obituary noted that she excelled at her job, whether studying formations or mapping the subsurface. “Helen discovered and extended the aerial oil pool at Drumheller in 1958 and extended the north end of the Clive D-2 and D-3 oil fields in 1965,” it added.
An article about Helen Leskiw’s career—and fashion choices—in an August 1961 edition of the Calgary Herald.
Was she APEGA’s first female member?
In APEGA’s early member registries, male engineers and geoscientists were typically identified by their first and middle initials, followed by their last names. Women, however, were identified by their first and last names.
Helen Leskiw was the first woman we could find listed in the early registries and is most likely APEGA’s first female member.
*Note: It’s always possible a name was missed. If readers know of a female APEGA member who was registered prior to 1954, please let us know!
Helen Leskiw was first registered with APEGA in 1954 and is most likely the association’s first female member.
What happened to Dorothy Eadie, P.Geol.?
Another membership mystery we’re hoping to solve…
Was Dorothy Eadie, P.Geol., the second woman to register with APEGA? A photo of Eadie receiving her certificate of membership appeared in the association’s newsletter in November 1959.
She was one of 67 new APEGA professionals presented with membership certificates at the Calgary District Meeting in October 1959. The caption under the photo identifies her as a senior geologist for British American Oil Co. Ltd.
Eadie’s name appeared in APEGA’s member registry only once, the same year she received her certificate.
So what became of Dorothy Eadie?
Originally from Quebec (she studied at McGill University), it’s possible she returned home, or perhaps got married and changed her last name.
Can you help us solve this membership mystery? Send us a note if you have any tips.
Dorothy Eadie, P.Geol., receiving her certificate of membership in 1959.