Betsy McGregor named to the Order of Canada

·4 min read

Lakefield’s Betsy McGregor has been appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to women and girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and her dedication to developing future leaders, Governor General Mary Simon announced Wednesday.

“I am honoured to be recognized,” McGregor stated in a press release.

“There is a ‘leaky pipeline’ in Canada. Far fewer girls enter and stay in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Our nation has yet to maximize its full talent pool. Especially at this critical time of climate change and the COVID pandemic, we need to propel the full spectrum of our nation’s best and brightest youth forward to build an even better Canada.”

McGregor has delivered science presentations to local students and takes Lakefield College students to Harvard University as part of her leadership initiatives.

She ran twice as the Liberal party candidate for Peterborough riding in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections, losing to Conservative incumbent Dean Del Mastro. She then wrote a book called “Women on the Ballot” about diversity in politics, featuring 95 women from all political parties.

She has served on the boards of the Rotary Club of Peterborough and Camp Kawartha and as head coach of Peterborough Special Olympics soccer for seven years.

Nationally, McGregor belonged to the Canadian organization called SHAD which builds youth leadership and entrepreneurship on such themes as climate change, while also serving on the board of the Canadian Association of Girls in Science and as deputy director of the Gender Institute at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Highlighting the impact of pandemic on women and girls, she recently organized four global Feminist Forums on the role of women on the front lines and in leadership.

McGregor was born and raised in Peterborough and on Clear Lake and attended Queen Mary Public School and Peterborough Collegiate. After graduating from McMaster University, she taught physical education and geography at St. Peter’s High School and then earned a master’s degree in geography at McMaster University.

She went on to obtain a degree in veterinary medicine in 1987 from Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and then founded the World Women’s Veterinary Association.

She worked in rural areas of developing nations on field projects which aided women and children. She served as a federal civil servant with Industry Canada and Agriculture Canada working on food safety and biotechnology ending with a Head of Public Service Award.

For the UNESCO World Science report, McGregor wrote about “The Gender Dimension of Science and Technology.” She also wrote a “Guidebook on Mainstreaming Gender in Ministries of Industry” for the 54 nations of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Her other achievements include serving as director of studies for the UN Commission on Science and Technology’s ‘Gender Working Group’ for two years. Her book “Missing Links” and a Universal Declaration on Gender in Science and Technology were both endorsed by the United Nations.

She is one of 135 Canadians who received appointments Wednesday from Simon, who is a former chancellor of Trent University.

Among the other new appointees is Trent University alumnus Yann Martel, who is now based in Saskatoon, Sask.

The novelist writes in English, although his first language is French, and his work — including “Life of Pi” — has been translated into dozens of languages and adapted for both stage and screen. “Life of Pi,” released 20 years ago, has sold more than 12 million copies.

For years, the author and his wife, novelist Alice Kuipers, have helped Indigenous people and at-risk mothers and babies in Saskatchewan. The couple have donated a house rent-free in Saskatoon to a series of refugee families from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea.

Joining Martel as a companion of the Order of Canada, the highest level, is former senator Murray Sinclair, the noted Indigenous advocate who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Canada’s residential school history.

The commission released its final report in 2015 after hearing testimony from residential school survivors and their families over several years about the lasting trauma on generations of Indigenous people.

— with files from Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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