Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years is “on final”

p149Volume 2 of CANAV’s new series is “on final” to land at the printer in 5-6 weeks. Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years (working title) begins where Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Years ends – 1918. The theme is the birth of civil aviation in Canada. You’ll read how, flying rickety war surplus JN-4s at country fairs, our first aviation “entrepreneurs” laid the foundation for a viable commercial aviation sector.

Canada’s pioneer flying operations are all reviewed in Formative Years, from the first efforts of the St. Maurice Forestry Protective Association, to such progressively daring ventures as Laurentide Air Service, the Ontario Provincial Air Service, Patricia Airways and Exploration and Western Canada Airways. All these have been covered, especially since Frank Ellis’ seminal 1954 book, Canada’s Flying Heritage (discussed in this post). But Formative Years takes a new look at the whole picture, coming up with piles of new material and presenting it as never before.

So what’s so new in our coverage? For one thing, there are detailed chapters about a little-known pioneer company — North Aerial Mineral Explorations. In 1928-31 “NAME” was one of Canada’s prominent innovators in air transportation. Included is the incredible biography of NAME’s pilot W.J. “Jack” McDonough, whose personal archive recently has surfaced. From WWI to pioneer commercial flying in the UK, McDonough flies the mail in the United States, then returns to the RAF for a tour in the Mid-East desert. He excels at air racing, but ends not in Hollywood, but on Canada’s Arctic frontier. McDonough rises in aviation and mining development – a “quintessential Canuck” as one media writer of the day calls him.

Superintendent for many years of the OPAS’ vast Northwestern Ontario district, J.P. Culliton was another top bush flying pioneer. Yet, when the semi-official history of the OPAS (The Firebirds) was published in 1974, Culliton’s name was not mentioned – anywhere! So one wonders about what goes on sometimes in the world of Canadian aviation history. Formative Years does its bit to correct a few such oversights (not that we can do everything at once).

Formative Years gives you the grandest text and photo selection ever published about its subject. It’s the first title specifically dedicated to the topic since K.M. Molson’s magnificent 1974 Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. But, while the great Molson focused upon the rise of Canadian Airways, Formative Years covers the broader picture, from a small outfit in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1919 to another out in the depths of Northern BC. Aviators famous and not-so-famous, lucky and not-so-lucky, fly across our pages. So … keep an eye here and at canavbooks.com for the latest updates. Meanwhile, here are a few of the hundreds of astounding photos that you’ll soon be enjoying in Formative Years.

19Some of the planes that took part in the great Toronto-New York air race of August 1919. Such events stirred public interest in aviation as tried to adapt from war to peace. Such events put the spotlight on the need for public airports and improved aircraft deisgns. (National Museum of the USAF)

Some of the planes that took part in the great Toronto-New York air race of August 1919. Such events stirred public interest in aviation as it tried to adapt from war to peace. Such events put the spotlight on the need for public airports and improved aircraft designs. (National Museum of the USAF)

The replica of the Alcock and Brown Vickers Vimy visits Toronto in June 2005. One of its pilots was the late, great Steve Fossett. Even with modern improvements, this replica was a brute to fly, emphasizing further just how amazing the original Vimy trans-Atlantic flight of 1919 really had been. (Larry Milberry)

The replica of the Alcock and Brown Vickers Vimy visits Toronto in June 2005. One of its pilots was the late, great Steve Fossett. Even with modern improvements, this replica was a brute to fly, emphasizing further just how amazing the original Vimy trans-Atlantic flight of 1919 really had been. (Larry Milberry)

73Formative Years will introduce 100s of incredible newly-revealed treasures of aviation photography. Example: this detailed view of a Western Canada Airways Fokker Universal will wow any true fan. (W.J. McDonough Collection)

Formative Years will introduce 100s of incredible newly-revealed treasures of aviation photography. Example: this detailed view of a Western Canada Airways Fokker Universal will wow any true fan. (W.J. McDonough Collection)

"Formative Years” details how commercial aviation won its wings ever so haltingly in post-WWI Canada. Here a Colonial Airways Sikorsky amphibian arrives on Toronto Bay on it 1929 summer schedule from Buffalo, NY. The Great Depression that hit later in the year quickly killed off many such promising business ventures. (CANAV Books Collection)

"Formative Years” details how commercial aviation won its wings ever so haltingly in post-WWI Canada. Here a Colonial Airways Sikorsky amphibian arrives on Toronto Bay on it 1929 summer schedule from Buffalo, NY. The Great Depression that hit later in the year quickly killed off many such promising business ventures. (CANAV Books Collection)

In 1928 some of Canada best postwar pilots joined Frank E. Hammell’s Northern Aerial Mineral Exploration. Here were the likes of “Doc” Oaks, “Dazzy” Vance and “Al” Cheesman. Mainly WWI veterans, they pioneered in Canada’s most forbidding country, taking their bare-bones Fairchilds and Fokkers as far north as the Arctic islands in search of Eldorado. (J.P. Culliton Collection)

In 1928 some of Canada best postwar pilots joined Frank E. Hammell’s Northern Aerial Mineral Exploration. Here were the likes of “Doc” Oaks, “Dazzy” Vance and “Al” Cheesman. Mainly WWI veterans, they pioneered in Canada’s most forbidding country, taking their bare-bones Fairchilds and Fokkers as far north as the Arctic islands in search of Eldorado. (J.P. Culliton Collection)

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5 responses to “Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years is “on final”

  1. Larry

    Great blog,no pictures of lunch at the golf course though.

    Doug

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