This page was last updated on 11 October 2021

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names

Dr Alice Douglas











Allie Vibert Douglas, OC MBE (December 15, 1894 – 2 July 1988) was a Canadian astronomer and the first Canadian woman to become an astrophysicist.  Because both of Douglas' parents died the year she was born, she first lived in London, England with her brother, George Vilbert Douglas and her grandmother.  Douglas' grandfather was Rev. George Douglas, a prominent Methodist minister and educator. In 1904 both Douglas and her brother returned to Montreal where they attended Westmount Academy. Growing up, Douglas was interested in science but felt that her gender was a handicap. In high school she was refused admission to a small science club solely based on the fact that she was a woman. Her brother helped her circumvent this issue by leaving the door ajar and letting Allie sit outside the classroom to listen to lectures. Douglas graduated at the top of her class and received a scholarship to McGill University.

In 1912 she began her studies in honors mathematics and physics at McGill, but they were interrupted during her third year with the outbreak of World War I. Her brother George enlisted as an officer and was stationed near London, England. Here, George suggested that Allie and their two aunts, Mina and Mary, move to London with him. Allie was then invited to join the war effort by a family friend and decided to work in the War Office as a statistician. Despite the fact that bombs would fall close to her workplace, Douglas persevered and had the highest pay out of all of the temporary women civil servants in the National Service. In 1918, at the age of 23, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work.

Having returned to Montreal in 1920, she continued her studies, earning a Bachelors degree and then Masters Degree in 1921. Then she went on to Cambridge, studying under Arthur Eddington, one of the leading astronomers of the day. She earned her PhD in astrophysics through McGill in 1925 and was the first person to receive it from a Quebec university, and one of the first woman to accomplish this in North America.

Vibert Douglas remained at McGill for the next 14 years. Then in 1939 she moved to Queen's University where she served as Dean of Women until 1958. She was Professor of Astronomy from 1946 until her retirement in 1964 and was instrumental in having women accepted into engineering and medicine. In 1967 she became an Officer of the Order of Canada. In the same year, the National Council of Jewish Women named her as one of 10 Women of the Century. In 1988, the year of her death, asteroid 3269 was named Vibert Douglas in her honor. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in Britain and a president of the RASC.

While in Kingston, she was an active member of the Kingston Centre RASC. There was interest in astronomy in the Kingston area long before the Centre was founded in 1961. The Kingston Observatory opened in 1855, the first in Ontario, and astronomy has been taught at Queens since 1863. In the early 1900s Queen's professors and others from the area had become members of the Society. Vibert Douglas was an active member dating back to her Montreal years and became National President in 1943-44. It was largely due to Vibert Douglas' work that the Kingston Centre was formed in 1961, the 16th Centre of the Society.

Vibert Douglas has a crater on Venus named after her. The Vibert Douglas patera is located at 11.6 South latitude 194.3 East longitude. It is almost circular and 45 km in diameter.


She died in Kingston in 1988.


Any contributions will be gratefully accepted



Errors and Omissions

The Forum

What's new?

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know


Many articles are stubs which would benefit from re-writing. Can you help?


You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.


If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.


2 Minute Survey

To provide feedback on the website, please take a couple of minutes to complete our survey.


We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.

Help with costs

Maintaining the three sections of the site has its costs.  Any contribution the defray them is very welcome



If you would like to receive a very occasional newsletter - Sign up!



Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024