Isabel Janet Macneill was born in 1908 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and died in1990. She began her career with an interest in design, and attended Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Following her graduation in 1926, she attended Nova Scotia College of Art (1928) and then Heatherley’s Art School in London, England. However, her path took a different route when she began working as a counselor. Macneill went on to join the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service where she quickly became the first female commanding officer in the British Commonwealth. Subsequently she became superintendent of the Ontario Training School for Girls in Cobourg and Galt, followed by the first female prison warden and head of the Federal Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario. Isabel Macneill worked to promote prison reform and was a life member of the Elizabeth Fry Society.
Some of the awards Isabel Macneill’s was granted include the Coronation Medal in 1953, the Order of Canada in 1971, and an Honorary LLD from Queens University in 1977.