Gananoque’s “Mysterious” Canso + AN-225 Hotline + Conair from Stearman to Q400 + A Little-Remembered but Dramatic Episode of “Canada at War” + Reminder: “A Tradition of Excellence” — A Spectacular Canadian Book
For decades, many a keen member of “the aviation circle” has dropped in to the former British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodrome north of Gananoque, Ontario. The place had been built in the early 1940s as a relief, or, secondary field to serve No.31 service Flying Training School at Kingston (see “RCAF Station Kingston” on wiki). “Back in the day” No.31 SFTS was doing advance training mainly for RAF student pilots on the Battle, initially, then, on the Harvard, once they were available.
A relief field served several roles. Instructors could take students there from the busy Kingston circuit to practice “touch-and-goes” and other procedures; advanced solo students could do the same. If a runway incident closed a runway at Kingston, Gananoque would save the day, the same if local weather conditions closed Kingston, while Gananoque still was open. Such fields were bare bones. They had the standard BCATP runway layout, but usually just one small hangar, a few other basic buildings and a skeleton staff.
After the war most relief fields soon disappeared. Local farmers often bought the buildings and equipment (even some airplanes, if any were lying about), then the place normally reverted to agricultural use. It’s a bit of a miracle that Gananoque survived, certainly passed 1960. I don’t know how this happened, but a few such aerodromes did have temporary RCAF use postwar. Carman, Manitoba, for example, was used for aircraft storage into the 1960s. Does anyone know what purpose Gananoque served from 1945 into the 1960s?
One thing we do know is that – subsequently — the place was taken over for skydiving in 1971 when the Gananoque Sport Parachuting Centre opened. The company website is sparse about history, but does mention that in 2020 the founding family remains in charge. My last visit was in 2015, but Richard Mallory Allnutt visited in 2018, so has some more current info. His follow-up article is published on the web in “Warbird Digest”. ere it is: http://warbirdsnews.com/warbirds- news/the-ghost-of-gananoque-a-flying-boat-in-a-barn.html This is really tops — well research and smoothly written. Richard polished up his story with some good solid photography, so be sure to have a close read. You’ll love it! I like his reference to the old Hitchcock “North by Northwest” – the dusty road leading to the field would remind any film buff of that great classic flick.
Over the decades, owner Dave Dorosh has visited Gananoque most years from Alberta to inspect and clean up his beloved Canso. He made the trek as recently as this fall — 2020. Here are a few Gananoque photos from my August 23, 2015. Hope you enjoy them and the general story … Larry
A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is the most magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org