Nancy Gaudet is knocking down barriers

Nancy Gaudet of Cornwall is PEI's only Red Seal plumber and is a member of the Provincial Apprenticeship Board

Growing up in a house with no plumbing gave Nancy Gaudet a passion for the trade. The Cornwall resident is the Island’s only female Red Seal plumber.

“When I was really young we shared an outhouse with my grandparents, I had to deal with a lot of stuff,” she said with a laugh.

The 52-year-old admits that it was intimidating to start out in a male-dominated profession. At barely five feet tall, Gaudet says she often felt underestimated.

“It seemed like men were always watching me to see if I could do it,” she said. “I may be short but I am really strong, and I am happy to have the chance to work with my hands. I like to fix things; it’s great.”

Nancy studied plumbing at Holland College after her job as a resident care worker ended in 1995 when Sacred Heart Home closed. Staff were offered retraining opportunities, so she decided to try her hand at plumbing. She has worked on projects from new construction to hospital expansions and says it was a good career move.

“Older plumbers -- who are mostly men -- can’t work forever, so there is room for new plumbers and for women plumbers.”

Gaudet wants to make things easier for the next generation of women break into the industry.  She is a mentor for Trade HERizons, a project designed to increase the number of women in non-traditional trades and technology occupations on PEI.

As a member of the plumber’s union on Prince Edward Island, Nancy is happy to go where the work takes her. Eventually she would like to start her own all-female plumbing company.

She also applied through Engage PEI and was invited to sit on the Provincial Apprenticeship Board, which oversees the trades in the province. Engage PEI helps Islanders apply to volunteer on more than 70 provincial government agencies, boards, and commissions.

“There are lots of changes coming up that I will be a part of. I’d like to have a stronger voice for women in trades.”

In her spare time she is also a volunteer firefighter for the North River Fire Department (she was the first female to volunteer as a firefighter with the department), and is a small but mighty opponent in the hockey arena.

To learn more about which agency, board or commission may fit your interests, contact Engage PEI. 

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