Queen's University

Let's not forget Nancy Moffat

Ottawa resident Henry C. Armstrong, Sc'49, says we shouldn't forget his classmate Nancy Moffat in any discussion of pioneers in Applied Science at Queen's.

Re: A Wave of the Future - Issue #2 – 2011, p. 20

This was an excellent article, but I was surprised not to find any mention of my Sc'49 classmate Nancy (Moffat) Scarth, who was the first woman engineering graduate to do all four years at Queen's. Nancy, then age 16, turned up in the fall of 1945 and joined a class that consisted of mostly veterans. She graduated in Engineering Physics four years later.

Nancy (Moffat) ScarthNancy (Moffat) Scarth (Shannon-Lee Mannion photo)

Nancy was very active in extracurricular activities, being on the Swim Team and the Aquacade, and eventually became permanent Secretary of Sc'49. Nancy has been very much involved in organizing all our class reunions.

In 1997, she earned a BA in Slavic Studies from the University of Ottawa and has visited Russia at least 10 times. Nancy now has friends in Siberia. She has spoken to the Ottawa Branch of the Queen's Alumni Association on Russia with representatives of the Russian Embassy in attendance. Nancy has also been very much involved in dressage, the Canadian Equestrian Federation, and the Girl Guides.

A few years ago when she attended a seminar at Queen's on "Women in Engineering," Nancy brought along her ancient slide rule which most current students has never seen. They were suitably impressed.

The Editor replies: Nancy Scarth, now in her 83rd year, lives at Osgoode, ON, a suburb of south Ottawa, with her husband Lloyd, who is 98.

Nancy reports that while she recently retired after 28 years as a telephone call answering volunteer with the Ottawa Distress Centre, she is keeping busy swimming, gardening, and corresponding by email with a Russian friend who lives in Siberia. Nancy and Lloyd no longer travel to Russia, but they are planning a trip to Iceland in September. Otherwise, she says they are sticking close to home these days.

In a brief article for the on-line edition of Issue #3-2010 of the Review, Nancy recalled that during her student days at Queen’s her favourite professor was Harold Harkness, BSc’13, BA’15, MSc’29, of the Physics Department – despite what she describes as “a very shaky start in my first class in the Engineering faculty.” Wrote Nancy, “I was one of only two females in the large class, and I dared to ask a question about something I didn’t understand. Well, Professor Harkness proceeded to tear a strip off me, and he railed about a woman taking up valuable space at the University. Fortunately my colleagues, mostly mature men who were veterans, gave me a vote of support in the smoke break.

“Anyway, when I proved to Harkness that I was a capable student, he went out of his way to help me. The other female student never returned to classes.”


Queen's Alumni Review, 2011 Issue #3Queen's Alumni Review
2011 Issue #3
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