Exile Air: World War II’s Little Norway in Toronto and Muskoka by Andrea Baston and Bagotville: 75 Years of Air Defence by Marc-Andre Valiquette
Andrea Baston has spent years working on this epic WWII story. To begin, she provides a detailed backgrounder ref. the 1940 Nazis invasion of Norway, and how Norway and the UK struggled to stave off disaster. Coverage of the air war includes RNoAF 1920s Fokkers and RAF biplane Gladiators putting up strenuous opposition.
Norway is overwhelmed, but the government, treasury and many citizens make it to the UK. By June 1940 arrangements are made to establish a Norwegian air training plan in Canada. “Little Norway” is established at Toronto Island Airport, with almost a hundred aircraft initially assigned, Curtiss P-36 fighters included. All the details about planning, contracts, administration, training, dovetailing everything with the BCATP, housing, sports, social life in Toronto and — sad to say — accidents are part of this outstanding book. The Norwegians also open a base in Muskoka to the north. Here, new pilots train on the Fairchild Cornell. Eventually, the Norwegian graduates end up manning RAF squadrons flying Spitfires, Catalinas, etc. All this also is carefully covered.
Many personal profiles (based on in-depth research and interviews) are interwoven and everything is carefully covered to war’s end, the aftermath included, e.g., important events such as unveiling the commemorative monuments in Toronto and Muskoka. This beautifully-produced, large format, 240-page softcover is one of the most important Canadian aviation stories in recent years. Many photos, essential maps, notes, bibliography, index. An all-around beauty of an aviation book. $30.00 + $12.00 Canada Post + $2.10 tax = $ 44.10 (Canada). USA and overseas CDN$52.00. PayPal directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a cheque by snailmail to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E 3B6 Canada.
Here’s the info about Canada’s aviation blockbuster book for 2017. It’s a heavy duty effort – 512 pages, hardcover, some 1600 photos, 30 paintings and colour profiles – on and on, so no one will be disappointed in this wonderful production. Marc-André has done his usual in-depth coverage, assembling the exciting history of one of the great RCAF air stations, while blending both languages in his attractive/seamless layout. The book begins with WWII, with Bagotville training fighter pilots on the Harvard and Hurricane. Many famous aces pass through on instructing tours, many students go on to stellar careers. Next, comes the postwar era with Vampires, Sabres and CF-100s – all the historic squadrons, especially the all-weather CF-100 units – 440 and 432 — form with CF-100 Mk.3s in 1953-54. Then come steady developments – 440 goes overseas, 413 forms up, the CF-100 Mk.4 and 5 arrive, there’s a steady stream of NORAD exercises, etc.
The CF-100 gives way to the CF-101 Voodoo era (410 and 425 sqns), then the tactical world arrives with the CF-5 with the renowned 433 Squadron. Finally come the CF-18 Hornet years with 425 Sqn. The evolution of Base Flight/439 Sqn is also covered – from T-33 to Griffon helio. Many other aspects of life at “YBG” are included in this huge colour production, from DEW Line helicopter times to Air Cadets and airshows. So don’t think that this overview begins to cover all the exciting content – the photo presentations alone will knock you out!
All things considered, Marc-André’s book is a bargain at the sticker price of $60.00. CANAV Price $56.50 + $12.00 postage (Canada only, so USA and overseas please contact me for a shipping price) + tax $3.42 … Total in Canada $71.92. How to order? PayPal to email@example.com, or post a cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6.
Have a fine summer and make sure to read some good books (stay off those dopey, mind-numbing “devices” eh).
~ Larry Milberry, Publisher CANAV Books