Elmira Minita Gordon

Governor-General of Belize University of Calgary British Honduras

Elmira Minita Gordon

1st Governor-General of Belize
In office
21 September 1981 – 17 November 1993
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterGeorge Cadle Price
Manuel Esquivel
George Cadle Price
Manuel Esquivel
Preceded byPosition established to replace Governor of Belize, due to Belize becoming an independent Commonwealth realm
Succeeded byColville Young
Personal details
Born (1930-12-30) 30 December 1930 (age 89)
Belize City, British Honduras
(now Belize)
EducationUniversity of Nottingham
University of Birmingham
University of Calgary
University of Toronto (Master's, Educational Psychology; Ph.D., Applied Psychology)

Dame Elmira Minita Gordon GCMG GCVO JP (born 30 December 1930)[1] was the first Governor General of Belize from its independence in 1981–1993.[2] Gordon is to date the only woman to have served as Governor General of Belize. She was also the first trained Belizean psychologist having received both a Masters and Doctorate Degree in psychology. She is one of the very few "double dames", having, in her case, been conferred damehoods in two separate orders: the Order of St Michael and St George and the Royal Victorian Order.


Elmira Minita Gordon was born 30 December 1930 in Belize City, British Honduras. [3] She grew up in Belize City and attended St. John's Girls' School and then St. Mary's Primary. She continued her education at St. George's Teacher's College[4] and furthered her studies through a correspondence course from the College of Preceptors, Oxford, England. She began teaching at an Anglican school and was a missionary throughout Belize between 1946 and 1958. From 1959 to 1969, she was a lecturer at the Belize Teacher's Training College,[5] after which, from 1969 to 1981, she was a Government Education Officer.[3]

Gordon completed her postgraduate education at the University of Nottingham and University of Birmingham in England and the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.[4] Between 1977 and 1980, Gordon was in Canada where she served on the Educational Psychology Programme Planning Committee and was a member of the Toronto Leather Craft Club. She earned her master's degree in Educational Psychology and then a Doctorate in Applied Psychology from the University of Toronto, Canada,[5] becoming the first trained Belizean psychologist.

She returned from her studies in 1980[4] and in 1981 was appointed Governor General of Belize.[6] She succeeded James P. I. Hennessy, the last Governor of Belize, and became the first Governor-General of Belize upon Belize gaining their Independence.[7]

Gordon was the first woman to be appointed as Governor-General, or the Queen's representative, of a Commonwealth realm.[8] She was promoted to both Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)[9] and Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).[10]

Dame Elmira Gordon was a member of the girl guides from 1946,[4] and in 1970 became the District Commissioner of the Girl Guides for the Belize district.[5] She became a Justice of the Peace in 1974[4] and a senior Justice of the Peace in 1987.[3] Gordon received a lifetime membership of the British Red Cross in 1975,[4] and in the Belizean Red Cross in 1981. In addition to her public works, Gordon was a master leather crafts artisan having won numerous prizes for her works.[3]


  1. ^ Profile of Elmira Minita Gordon
  2. ^ Biodata, terra.es; accessed 20 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Sleeman 2001, p. 210.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Belize's First Governor General is Trailblazer of the Week". Belize City, Belize: Guardian. 4 September 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Belizean Biographies – Dame Elmira Minita Gordon". Belize National Library Service and Information System (BNLSIS). Belize City, Belize: Belize National Library Service. Archived from the original on 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Women Governors-General 1945-2005". Terra España. Terra España. 2001. Archived from the original on 29 August 2005. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  7. ^ Lentz 2014, p. 84.
  8. ^ Greer, Germaine (18 February 2008). "No job for a human". Docklands, Victoria, Australia: The Age. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Honours and Awards" (49665). London, England: The London Gazette. 6 March 1984. p. 3253. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Honours and Awards" (50333). London, UK: The London Gazette. 29 November 1985. p. 16780. Retrieved 3 September 2015.