frances Mcgill science and tech museum

Frances McGill is noted in the Canadian Science and Engineering's Hall of Fame, maintained by the National Research Council. (The Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame/National Research Council)

A Saskatchewan woman who pioneered criminal forensics, Frances Gertrude McGill, is among the names being promoted for inclusion on Canadian currency. Merna Forster, who launched an online campaign to include images of women on our currency, says McGill - among others - would be worthy of the recognition.

In the 1920s, McGill gained fame in the area of forensics. She was director of the provincial lab and did some groundbreaking work with police forces of the day.

Forster, who has been researching the backgrounds of many women, said that McGill was so famous she was known as the "Sherlock Holmes of Saskatchewan".

"She was a brilliant forensic pathologist and one of the country's leading criminologists," Forster explained. "She had a genius for solving mysteries."

Some of McGill's work was done long before police forces, like the RCMP, created dedicated crime labs.

"She travelled thousands of kilometres to crime scenes across the province in all kinds of weather," Forster noted, adding that - according to her research - in 1934 alone, McGill made 43 trips to investigate crimes. "On one case, she ventured as far north as the Arctic Circle."

Merna Forster

Author Merna Forster has begun a petition to have women added to Canada's currency. (

According to the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, McGill was born in rural Manitoba in 1882. She studied in Winnipeg and was one of the first women to graduate with a medical degree. In 1918 she started working for the province of Saskatchewan, becoming director of laboratories in 1922 until her retirement 20 years later.

She died in Winnipeg in 1959.

Forster's campaign on Canadian bank notes has generated considerable interest, through the online petition site