July 2, 2013 and Eleanor & Gord Hughes are checking out their “hot-off-the-press” Norseman book at the dock at Sioux Lookout. The backdrop is Norseman C-FFOX, which Gord was ferrying over to Ignace. Rich Hulina of Slate Falls Airways took this nifty candid shot. You’ll be astounded at the fabulous Canadian aviation history reading awaiting you between the covers of this new CANAV beauty. So … get your order in ASAP for your personal copy! (Click on the photos to get them full screen.)
On June 16 I again headed for Winnipeg to do the press proofs for Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Volume 1. The press was slated to roll at 0800 next day. So … more exciting times for ye olde publisher. Off I went on WestJet, which always has such great service with their 737s.
The view moments before our WestJet 737 from Toronto slid onto the runway at Winnipeg mid-morning on June 16. In the mid-foreground is the new CalmAir hangar and a variety of interesting planes. Just beyond it is the historic 1937 red brick TCA hangar, now the home of the Western Canada Aviation Museum, but slated for demolition.
My plan always is to get to Manitoba early, before I’m needed at Friesens in Altona next day. That way I can do some useful scouting and photography. So … having landed at “YWG”, I grabbed my rental and headed first to St. Andrews, a few miles to the north – it’s always worth a stop here to check the action.
But it was a Sunday and Fathers Day, so all was pretty quiet. Still, there were some Caravans in action, doing trips up north. I also snooped around the storage yard of the Western Canada Aviation Museum. What’s outside alone would make any history fan’s eyes water – the prototype Husky CF-BQC, Husky CF-MAN, a Superior Airways Seabee, what looks like a BT-13, some Ansons, two Bolingbrokes, a badly piled-up Junkers, an ST-27 (CF-LOL which I photographed 40 years earlier at the same ‘drome, when it was a new plane), Lodestar CF-OZO, three Norseman hulks, on and on. And that’s only in the yard … imagine what’s in the big WCAM storage hangar!
Here are some of the fun shots grabbed just by hoofing a couple of times around the perimeter of the WCAM yard and shooting through the fence. First, what certainly is a restorable Norseman, ID not known.
Here is the prototype Husky CF-BQC. Just great knowing that it is safe here behind the fence. Husky CF-MAN is also present, so bully for the WCAM for saving such treasures.
One of the WCAM Bolingbrokes that’s certainly worthy of future restoration. Beside it is the famous Canadian Lodestar CF-OZO. In the 1990s this is what I wrote about “OZO” in Air Transport in Canada: “Aero survey Lodestar CF-OZO at Uplands, while serving with Geoterrex. In 1985 it was damaged while landing at Nanisivik. Later it went by sea to Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, thence to Montreal. It continued up the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay aboard the laker Kingdoc, arriving in November 1986. Finally, a team led by Bob Arnold hauled OZO the 300-odd miles to Gimli to be stored for the WCAM.”
CF-OZO as I photographed it in Ottawa on August 1, 1975.
Now it was on to Selkirk, a Norseman haven for more than a half century. But it also was quiet ’til Tristan Hutton suddenly showed up with PZL Otter C-GGSL to liven up the scene and briefly startle some dozing catfishermen out of their reveries.
Otter C-GGSL docks in the background, while the catfisherman seem to have returned to their business.
Serious aviation photographers … make sure you never miss a thing, so keep connected with reality! Selkirk takes its catfish seriously, as this local landmark shows – get this pic if ever in Selkirk!
Don’t miss this other great Selkirk subject matter in an out-of-the-way corner on the Red River. Here rusts the infamous MS Lady Selkirk, whose sad tale may be googled any time you get curious enough.
Time to head the 165 km south to Altona, where I pulled in at 1600, met Mike Fehr of Friesens and got settled into quarters. Next morning the big KBA press got rolling with the first form of the Norseman book. After the pressman showed me his first good pull, I asked for some minor adjustments and away rolled the Norseman job. Later in the morning I approved the dust jacket and the endpapers. Things were moving.
Pressman and publisher yuk it up after the Norseman dust jacket gets approved.
Always lots to check out around Friesens. Recycling is hugely of interest here, this being a fair mountain of scrap paper ready for shipping to the highest bidder.
A quick dart from Altona to Winkler to see what was happening at Arty’s ag operation revealed that it still was a bit too early to be aerial spraying the local fields. Arty’s Air Tractors still were waiting for the season to advance a bit.
However … many farmers and contractors were busy with the preliminaries not requiring air power.
New ag facilities going in! All around Altona it was clear that agriculture was booming. Farmers were optimistic they had a strong season ahead with high prices and eager buyers.
When I got a break, I also visited the local airport to see what was doing with Southeast Air Service, a crop dusting outfit run by Steve Kiansky. He showed me around his roomy new hangar, home this day to one of his big Air Tractors, his Grumman Cheetah (used to commute to his other base across Manitoba), plus his Citabria and two Seabees.
Back in the plant … a Friesens pressman manoeuvres a freshly-printed form for CANAV’s “Noorduyn Norseman”. The forms lie on their pallets for a couple of days before going to the bindery.
The printing done by early on the 18th, I met with my Friesen rep, then set off for a fun day behind the wheel. Initially following country roads, I aimed for Kenora via Winkler – 300+ km NE. The weather was so fine, that I couldn’t resist this choice for a day’s expedition (my first visit there had been during a late summer hitchhiking trip in the summer 1961).
Always with an eye for something new in aviation history, I stopped again at the Morris cemetery, where several RCAF members lie among the “forever young”. I wondered how this fellow, no doubt a very sharp and dedicated young airman, had ended up here. I looked him up later. LAC Richard Cyril Jones had died on May 16, 1944 when the Anson (6570) he was riding in crashed on takeoff at Portage-la-Prairie. His negligent pilot had not done his walk-around, and took off with the elevator control locks still in place. Result? One dead airman and one irrevocably broken-hearted family. Cemetery studies remain one of the great hobbies for anyone driving the countryside anywhere in Canada.
Without another stop, I reached Kenora at noon. After an hour enjoying the waterfront, float base and photographing some of the lovely downtown landmarks, it was off to the airport, using the same road I’d hitchhiked up 52 years earlier. Up, down, over and around hill and dale you go on what isn’t so much a trip as an exercise in self-punishment!
The scene at the dock in Kenora doesn’t change all that much. This Otter and Beaver have been photographed countless time here over the years. But they always make for a fine site.
Neither does the Kenora need any introduction – years after year it takes it passengers on memorable Lake-of-the-Woods cruises.
Downtown Kenora has many classic examples of lovely Northern Ontario architecture. These are a must for any half-connected aviation photographer.
Up at the airport, which I reached with much difficulty in 1961, I shot several planes, including OCA Goose CF-GEB. It took me so long to catch a ride this evening, that I spent the night in an airport shack.
Among the shots I took while visiting Kenora in 1961 was this one on the waterfront of prospector Jack Edwards’ Fox Moth. Max Ward later acquired “DJB” for restoration
The airport on June 18 this year was dead quiet, so I pushed off back towards the wonderful Lake-of-the-Woods shore to photograph the local rail museum and one of Kenora’s sad industrial archaeology sites – Kenora Forest Products, which now is but a rusted-out wasteland.
All too soon it was time for the mad dash back to YWG for to catch my flight. Soon another book publisher’s sojourn was history. But it won’t be long before the next — Norseman Vol.2 looms! Watch our blog for the occasional update. In the meantime, be sure to order Vol.1 – download the order form here.
On the Trans-Canada from Kenora I came across huge flatbeds transporting even more windmills to Manitoba. By “Oversize Load” they were not kidding!
Part of the scene climbing out for home – the RCAF side of YWG, but only one 435 Sqn Herk and a 402 Sqn Dash 8 “Gonzo” were in sight.
Two hours later we were seconds from touchdown, when I snapped the final frame of the trip.