Volume 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.