Dancing in the Sky & Flying to Extremes + “Ghost” Canso Update + Visiting the 10th Mountain Division + CANAV History Pt.5 + More Bob Finlayson Photos

Canada’s Best Aviation History Booklist Is right here: Download

One title that you’ll really treasure in your library is Dancing in the Sky: The Royal Flying Corps in Canada. By 2020 few Canadians know much about this monumental WWI story. This gem of a book tells in details how the RFC, desperate for pilots in 1916, solved its problem by establishing a magnificent air training plan in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, the plan almost overnight built massive aerodromes starting at Camp Borden, then Armour Heights and Leaside in Toronto, Deseronto east of Toronto, finally Beamsville in Niagara. There also were recruiting, indoctrination and trades training centres in Toronto and Hamilton. Soon thousands of young men were training here to learn to fight in the world’s first great aerial war. Thousands were sent overseas and by war’s end there still were 12,000 men in the RFC Canada system. The plan brought with it Canada’s first aircraft mass production, more than 1200 JN-4C trainers being built at a vast factory in west Toronto, plus parts for hundreds more.

Author C.W. Hunt presents all the fine details – how the plan was organized, the camps established, the training of pilots and mechanics, much about the problems of weather and accidents, and how thousands of Americans also passed through the RFC system.

Suddenly, the war ends and overnight the plan folds. Hunt brings the story right to the end in 1919. This is one of the really important Canadian books about WWI — how Canada went from being an aviation featherweight to an aviation powerhouse all in about two years. Believe it or not, but some of the sturdy hangars from RFC Canada days are still in use at Camp Borden and Beamsville! Order your copy by sending (for Canada) $43.00 by PayPal or Interac to larry@canavbooks.com , or, post a cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Canada M4E3B6. USA or Int’l orders send CDN$50.00.

You’ll also be tempted by this new beauty — Flying to Extremes, Dominique Prinet’s new book about his career as an bush and Arctic pilot. Much about the Cessna, Otter and Beech 18, but many other well-known types as well. This is very much a book about the north and its people — not just the airplanes. Besides that, it’s really well designed with many colour photos, some excellent original aviation art and some very useful original maps. 278 pages, softcover, glossary, index. This one is irresistible! $42.00 all-in by PayPal or Interac to larry@canavbooks.com or mail a cheque as mentioned above. USA or Int’l orders send CDN$50.00.

“Ghost” Canso Update – Something’s Up

Many of you regular CANAV blog followers enjoyed our recent item about Gananoque’s “Ghost” Canso, CF-NJL. Last August, my old pal from high school days, Nick Wolochatiuk, visited Gananoque to see what was doing, then submitted this summary:

Most of Gananoque’s triangle of 2530’ runways are now devoted to corn, but in the decaying hangar at the east side of Runway 36-18, Canso “NJL” still sits, outer wing sections by now removed. Fortunately, it’s an amphibian, as the hangar roof really leaks. Snuggled nearby is wingless Bush Caddy C-FZGG. Its elongated nose gives the appearance of an ant eater. Some other planes are scattered around, including Pietenpol C-ILTB. Due to COVID-19, the local parachute training school was shut down. Outside, we spotted Bush Caddy C-GIRU. For a very long time, not a BCATP Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch or Harvard has been seen at Gananoque. As you can see by the crumbling hangar, those glory days are long gone.

Here are two shots that Nick took in August. These can be compared with our main article to which you can scroll back, if you have the time. That’s all the current “intel” for “NJL”. Let me know what else you might hear via the grape vine.

CANAV Books Visits the 10th Mountain Infantry (Light)

The 1980s were full of great aviation history projects. Besides working on such books as Canada’s Air Force Today and AIRCOM, I was burning the candle at both ends doing a lot of aviation journalism. I had begun to dabble with this in the late 1950s by submitting photos and short items to such journals as “Air Pictorial”, that great UK monthly. Eventually, Toronto aviation editors such as Bob Halford (“Aircraft” magazine) and Hugh Whittington (“Canadian Aviation”) were giving me assignments, then I started writing feature stories for “Aviation News”, “Air Classics” “Air Combat”, etc. It was great to be making such connections. The pay ranged from zero in those days to $50 – $750 for a feature, even $2500 for something Hugh sent my way – a detailed overview of Canada’s aerospace industry. Every penny counted back in those times.

Meanwhile, with travelling pals Tony Cassanova and Mike Valenti I had begun branching out into New York, the nearest US state to our base in Toronto. I already was familiar with Niagara Falls, NY, home to the 136th FIS. My old pal, Merlin Reddy, and I first had visited the 136th for Air Force Day on May 16, 1959, then Nick Wolochatiuk and I covered the open house on May 20, 1960. These were a really impressive events. What we thought was amazing was how the general public was not herded around like cattle. Instead, we could wander on the ramps even as airplanes came and went, everything from an L-19 to a C-124. Here are a few photos that we took both years mostly using Merlin’s twin lens Yashika loaded with 120 b/w film. As I recall, I also was shooting with an old Permaflex. Everything in black-and-white, of course:

Shown first is locally-based F-86H Sabre 52-5739 of the 136 th FIS NY Air National Guard, one of the hosts of these open houses. We learned here that the “ANG” fighters were the most photogenic, usually having particular state markings. The tail band for the 136 th was yellow. The Sabre “H” was the hottest of the USAF Sabre day fighters. It was faster than earlier models and armed with 4 x 20 mm cannons compared to the usual 6 x .50 cal machine guns. Something else we learned was how friendly the ANG usually was should we come to the gate hoping to get on base to photograph.
Next is a standard side view showing Indiana ANG Republic F-84F 52-6455. Its trim was in white and red. It’s a bit tricky to read the names stencilled on the canopy frame, but the pilot’s name looks like Capt M. Vin L. Coffty. This F-84F was noted on the other side of the nose as “Sparky the Cable Breaker”. During a low-level mission it had flown through a fairly hefty cable, the impression of which had been left on the intake frame. “Sparky” survives on a pole at American Legion Post 490 in Houston painted in Thunderbird colours.
One of the big treats for at Niagara was seeing five Vermont ANG Northrop F-89D Scorpion all-weather fighters come into the circuit after their 300-mile flight from Burlington, Vermont. Fitted with their big long-range fuel tanks, they had plenty of gas. Here, 54-0193 parks while we keen fans pressed in with our cameras.
While we should have been taking extra photos of the vintage F-89s, we were mesmerized by a flight of five sleek Convair F-102A Delta Darts. Being from a regular USAF squadron, they were quite drab compared to the colourful ANG fighters.
The air show planners at the NY ANG always had good relations with the nearby RCAF. This 416 Squadron CF-100 Mlk.5 came down from St. Hubert, just a few miles north of Burlington. These NORAD squadrons often exercised together.
This beautiful SAC B-47 from the 40 th Bomb Wing was almost the top find of the day for us at the 1959 Niagara show, but it was not an easy call. Sadly, not long afterwards (February 24, 1961) 53-2347 crashed in Wisconsin killing the 4-man crew.
Another great find for us at Niagara was C- 124C Globemaster II 52-1064. It served into 1969, then went to the desert at Davis-Monthan AFB for scrapping.

Fort Drum Visit

Any time we were on military assignments in the United States, we depended on base, wing or squadron public affairs staff. Invariably, over the decades these proved to be top professionals, none better. You’ll appreciate this as you read. Tony Cassanova has provided these photos. First is Carl Sahre, PR man with the 416th Bomb Wing at Griffiss AFB. Carl was our guide and mentor during several visits in the 1980s. Lee McTaggart took royal care of us at Fort Drum. Here are myself and Lee with one of our helio crews one day. Then, Tony and Lee.

Through the 1980s we made good connections at Griffiss AFB near Rome, home to the 416th Bomb Wing (B-52s) and the 49th FIS (F-106). The 416th PR man, Carl R. Sahre, was keen to have us down to see what Griffiss had to offer. Another good spot for us was Syracuse, from where the 174th FS of the NY-ANG flew (AT-37, later A-10, F-16, Predator). Finally, through 10th Mountain PR man, Lee McTaggart, we got our connection to Fort Drum where the 10th Mountain Division (Infantry) recently had reactivated its aviation battalion. “Aviation News” would take a story about this famous unit. In typical US military style, he jumped at this as an opportunity to promote the 10th Mountain and my first visit was set up.

I drove down the NY State freeway early on March 13 and soon was busy doing interviews and shooting Kodachromes. There were no restrictions – whatever I needed, 10th Mountain PR was on it. An OH-58 piloted by 1Lt Richard F. Delev was at my disposal for getting out onto the Fort Drum Range, then I was offered something I hadn’t dreamed of – a famil flight in an AH-1G Huey Cobra gunship flown by CW4 Howard.

Typical of such trips, Fort Drum was a whirlwind affair, but chalk up another great experience in US military aviation history. Back home, as soon as I had my slides from Kodak, I got to work on the story. As things often went, however, the story didn’t see the light of day until November.

Here is a random selection of Kodachromes from my March 1989 trip and a copy of the ”Aviation News” report. Each such story tended to build up an aviation journalist’s reputation. I guess that was one good reason to keep up with such strenuous fieldwork. In the end, we “Canucks” got to know the USAF and US Army in upstate New York in the 1980s. Eventually, I visited, flew with and had stories published about the 416th at Griffiss (B-52 and KC-135) and the 49th (F-106). I also wrote about the 174th and flew on a photo trip in an AT-37 (PA-ANG) shooting some 174th A-10s. Finally came the helios of the 10th Mountain.

To add to up my knowledge of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain, I revisited on January 8, 1990 accompanied by Tony Cassanova. That was another red letter day, as we again had carte blanche. Highlights included having the base commander’s UH-1 Huey as our taxi for the day, then each having a flight in a mighty CH-54 of the PA-Army Guard that was busy that day repositioning targets on the Fort Drum range

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AH-1 scenes at Griffiss.
The 10 th Mountain temporarily was using the former F-106 hangars from 49th FIS days (the 49th had stood down in 1987). The 416th still was at Griffiss with its B-52s and KC-135s. It finally stood down in 1995. Today, Griffiss is a civil airfield.
An OH-58 Kiowa formed up with us for a photo session.
A medevac Huey of the 10 th Mountain, then one wearing some off-beat “camo” paint job not usually seen at Fort Drum.
We dropped in on a 10th Mountain artillery training session. This was the kind of access the aviation journalist and historian dreams about!
On such a visit we’re always spotting for anything a bit different. This was a nice find — Beech U-21 66- I assume that it was for “the brass” at Fort Drum. It was sold as Army surplus in 1996 and today is N72L. The U-21 looks like modified Beech Queen Air. It was unpressurized. Also seen this day at Griffiss was transient F-15E 86-190. Beyond is a departing KC- 135 of the 416th . In the 2020s the 10th Mountain (aviation) flies the AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk.

The CANAV Books Story Part 5

Moving right along with our rough ‘n ready story of CANAV Books, here’s a bit about three other leading titles of the 1990s (in the not-too-distant future, the plan is to refined these items into a book):

The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945 1990

For 1990 CANAV Books published the grandest single volume covering the RCAF during WWII. This time, I teamed with Hugh A. Halliday, Curator of War Art at the Canadian War Museum (1976- 1985), RCAF researcher and writer, and long time member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. This became another 480-page blockbuster. For this project I went to Bob Baglow in Ottawa for the graphics side of the project. I forget how this came about, but assume that Robin Brass was overworked that year.

Besides its massive text, the book ended with some 1600 photos and it could not have been better reviewed. Summing up its point of view simply, the great “Aviation News” of the UK (Vol.19, No.20, Feb. 1991) noted: “All you ever wanted to know about the RCAF in action in World War 2 … is contained in the thumping big book … as comprehensive a record of the vital part played by this Dominion as ever received in the editorial office. A goldmine of factual information.” Covering it for “Canadian Geographic” (January 1991) was David McIntosh. As was reviewer Ron Lowman of the “Toronto Star”, Dave had been an operational navigator on Mosquitos, and not one to suffer the least gaff by any author.

In early reviews of CANAV titles, Dave already had fired a few sharp rounds, when he found the least point with which to disagree. But both he and Ron mainly were fair. The fellows would read and digest every line. Both also had a quirk of straying off topic, something a bit odd for high-speed, low-level navigators. Dave got somehow distracted in this review when he launched forth with this tirade: “The RCAF at War at last fills a need that the government’s and the defence department’s lassitude has denied Canadians for nearly half a century. The official air force history is so far behind that it can be carbon dated. Milberry and Halliday, old and practiced hands at such compilations, have flown to the rescue of all the airmen- survivors of the war who have slipped the surly bonds of earth.”

Dave’s review was shaping up, but it wasn’t making friends for CANAV in official Ottawa circles. His comments suggest that he was unaware of two fairly recent, massive Canadian military histories – Canadian Airmen and the First World War (1980) and The Creation of a National Air Force (1986) produced by the University of Toronto Press for the DND Directorate of History. (These would be joined by a third volume in 1994, The Crucible of War 1939-1945. These absolutely essential books total some 2500 pages and beautifully cover Canadian military aviation from pre-WWI to the end of WWII.) How could Dave have missed the first two of these? Perhaps he just had an urge to take a shot from the hip at DND? Happily, he was bowled over by the masses of content in our book, which he described as “packed, crammed, stuffed and stomped into this bulging volume.” He also appreciated how the photo captions are “as informative as the narrative”, an important detail that evaded most reviewers.

Another top review appeared in the “Ottawa Citizen”. Brereton “Ben” Greenhouse, a respected military historian/author at DND Directorate of History, called our effort, “massive, heavily illustrated and thoroughly enjoyable … a book for browsing, focussed on operations and service life rather than concepts and policy”. Ben showed a clear awareness of good books by commenting about our $75 sticker price – “… no more than the price of a good meal nowadays”. A perceived “flaw” mentioned in passing is that such great RCAF wartime figures as “Moose” Fulton and John Fauquier are not widely covered. This is easily explained — we were looking to write more about “ordinary” (less-well-known) airmen, compared to those about whom so much already had been written. CANAV is always looking for new material, so those old, well-ploughed fields tend to be avoided when we set to work.

Reviewing RCAF at War in the “Cobourg Daily Star” of August 30, 1991, D.G. McMillan made a nice point: “While the authors claim this is not a definitive book on the RCAF, it comes mighty close… a vivid picture of a period of Canadian history that is now long gone.” McMillan considered the book’s 1600 photos/captions to be “a book within a book”. RCAF at War also was reviewed in detail by Dacre Watson on “The Log –Journal of the British Airline Pilots Association”. Again, the general plan of the book is neatly summarized around the concept of how the RCAF, “… came from a small, ineffective force to become one of the largest air forces by the end of the war.” He was struck by how we authors easily might have lost our readers in the book’s mountain of facts but, instead, “managed to circumvent this by dealing with each theatre of war individually and each command … in its own way. Not only does this make the book easily readable, but also easy to use for reference.” For its part, the amazing “Aviation News” concluded, “It is as comprehensive a record of the vital part played by this Dominion Air Force as any received in the editorial office. A goldmine of factual information.” More locally, Joe Chapman of “The Spectator” in Hamilton concluded his review in a no-nonsense way – “Even at $75, the enthusiast will find it one of the best investments in aviation history and treasure it forever.”

What days these were for book reviews. The book still reigned as far as the daily press was concerned, and subscribers to aviation journals never missed their monthly book review page or two. Only begrudgingly do the major dailies run a book review in 2020. Much worse, many of the aviation periodicals consider a book review a waste of a page. Too intellectual for the 2020s, perhaps? Any of today’s magazines that brought back the book review soon would see a spike in readership. Readers want such thoughtful content.

“Air Force Magazine” of the United States Air Force Association (December 1990) also was impressed by RCAF at War: “The Royal Canadian Air Force’s contribution to the Allied victory is an often overlooked segment of World War II history. This book remedies that omission … the authors have assembled a complete look at every facet of the RCAF’s wartime operations.” The UK’s famed “Air International” also could not restrain itself, beginning its review, “Any CANAV book is worthy of attention and the latest volume to appear, The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945, is a splendid addition to the ranks. Those who have the same publisher’s Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 will have an idea of what to expect… It is an excellent example of popular history that brings to life an important period as no academic work could. If you liked … Max Hastings’ Bomber Command, you will enjoy this massive work.” Good grief – imagine a couple of “colonial” authors being compared to one of the UK’s most revered historians!

In “Legion”, Brown’s Books had a solid go at RCAF at War. This excerpt is my favourite: “Larry Milberry … and Hugh Halliday … have done a magnificent job of compiling the most wide-ranging and complete book yet on WWII Canada in the air … A tremendous accomplishment by the authors.” Mike Filey of Toronto’s beloved “Sunday Sun” also covered RCAF at War glowingly (in his column “The Way We Were”). Mike even published my phone number and urged his fans to drop by my house for an autographed copy! Now that’s a review and a half!

In its December 1990 edition, Sidney Allinson reviewed RCAF at War in the “Canadian Defence Quarterly”. Seemingly thunderstruck by the book, Sidney produced the lengthiest review that we have seen of this title. His commentary includes at the start: “It is such a rich source of information, facts, anecdotes and images that the most avid aviation buffs can gorge themselves … the depth of research … indicates a labour of love by the authors. Nothing less could inspire such a comprehensive account.” Sidney goes on: “A good deal of thought has been given to the book’s organization … This logical form of presentation, coupled with a lengthy index, helps both the casual reader and the more serious researcher to home in on specific areas”, then winds up about the authors that they are to be complimented, “… for creating this fine testimony to the quarter-million members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who valiantly served the cause of freedom …”

Also in December 1990, one of aviation’s greatest journalists and publishers (the late) John Wegg wrote about RCAF at War in “In Flight” magazine. John began his review: “Stunning, superb, unrivalled.” After the usual summary of content and organization, he concluded: “Everyone who has had contact with the RCAF in this period will snap up this treasure, destined to be a collector’s item of the 21 st Century.” I really like John’s take on our $75 sticker price – “It works out to just 15 cents a page, or, 5 cents a photo”! Then again … no one knew an aviation book better than John Wegg. Rest in peace, old pal.

What place does RCAF at War hold today in the wide domain of RCAF history? Sad to say, but by 2020 it’s yet another forgotten Canadian aviation book. But did it ever bask in its well-deserved glory for a brief moment. Naturally, to this day RCAF HQ in Ottawa has no idea about this book.

What was the bottom line for this book? As usual, that starts with the invoice from our great printer back in those days, The Bryant Press. There were many other expenses from graphics (quoted at $15,356) to brochures, magazine and newspaper advertisements, book launching, thousands in postage and shipping, taxes galore, etc. In the end it never was easy to make a penny in books, but we were always dumb enough to keep trying. From Bryant came this rude awakening — $75,222.50 for 3959 copies. Some years later Van Well Publishing in St. Catharines did a 1500 reprint. There are no new copies left, but I see today (December 5, 2020) 72 copies for sale at http://www.bookfinder.com many being reasonably priced below $90++. If you earnestly follow RCAF history and don’t yet have a copy, you really ought to buy in. You’ll be making a solid long-term investment:

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Our invoice for printing and binding for Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945.

Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story by Hugh A. Halliday 1992

In 1992 CANAV published a ground-breaking history of two great WWII fighters, the Hawker Typhoon and Tempest. At the time this seemed to Hugh and I to be a good time to tell this story, since so many pilots who had flown these planes in combat in the RAF and RCAF still were on the go. We rolled out the book at a gala event at Canadian Force Staff School officers mess in Toronto, then let the book speak for itself. Naturally, all with an interest soon were reading Typhoon and Tempest, and the reviews were glorious. Today, the book is long out-of-print, but it did the job we set out to accomplish.

Here are excerpts from one of the many reviews. These comments are from Bill Musselwhite of the “Calgary Herald”: “A splendid book … pure history but … thoroughly readable… the book’s backbone is made up of those who climbed into the cockpits to dodge flak and telephone wires while taking out trains and tanks.”

This is how the French journal, “Air Action” reacted in its Vol.1, No.1, Summer 1993. Being the book professional that he is, reviewer Jean-Michel Guhl began by honouring the existing body of published Typhoon and Tempest history, while explaining that many extant books seemed a bit short of specific history of the people involved. He credited Halliday with visiting the archives to study the RCAF personnel documents for many individuals, and going out to interview many of them, to tap their memories, view their logbooks, and see what photos and documents they still might have. Guhl concluded, “Printed and bound to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Larry Milberry’s publishing company, Typhoon and Tempest is a superb and thoroughly researched work… In this truly pleasant book, Halliday provides us with action from cover to cover… One more ‘Must’ from CANAV Books.”

Meanwhile, in its February edition the inimitable “Aviation News” printed its own take on our Typhoon and Tempest effort. This sharp- minded reviewer also acknowledges the important existing literature, then explains, as did Guhl, how Halliday’s work in the official personnel records resulted in a valuable new perspective. “Aviation News” found our photo selection and appendices to be magnificent, then concluded that the book is “a very fitting tribute” to all the Canadians who had served on these two mighty fighters. Much respected “Aeroplane Monthly” also (September 1993) gave a positive run-down of the book, concluding, “The former Typhoon pilot certainly has nothing to complain about with this book.”

For production, this time I went to a good Ottawa book manufacturer, Tri-Graphic (also long ago defunct). This likely was based on the quotes I had received from other printers. Tri-Graphic was good to work with and turned out a really outstanding product. Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story is revered to this day by true fans of the RCAF’s great heritage. Anyone interested in a copy can fish around on the web. bookfinder.com has 51 on sale today starting at $64.00++. Here’s the quotation I received back in 1990 from Tri-Graphic. The book was still two years away, so these projects were never for the faint of heart.

Some Great Lakes Shipping Photos

As keen young aviation fans, most of us also were getting interested in photographing other subjects. The more we hung out together, the more we learned and broadened our horizons. Several of us having gone into teaching, we quickly realized how we could use our camera skills to boost our classroom productivity. To this day (50-60 years later) former students still comment about the slide shows we’d use to brighten up and intensify a lesson.

As good pals since about 1959, Nick Wolochatiuk and I became famous among the Toronto aviation hobbyists for our exotic non- aviation field trips. One of our many haunts was the Toronto waterfront, where we photographed any ship we came across. Soon we were making Great Lakes driving tours chasing planes, boats, trains, you name it. We could never understand why for some of our buddies there was nothing worth photographing than airplanes. But … chaq’un a sa choix, right.

I’ve dusted off a few of the ancient slides I shot of Great Lakes tankers mainly spotted in Toronto harbour about 50 years ago. The diehard Great Lakes fans will know more about these ships that I. Happily, I still have my hefty 1968 Canadian Department of Transport List of Shipping. This invaluable book provides the essential facts for most of the tankers shown:

I’ll start today with two photos I took as a fan of Great Lakes shipping over decades. The Imperial Windsor was a tanker built at Haverton Hill-on-Tees in 1927. She previously (to 1947) had been the Windsolite. At 250 feet by 43 feet 2 inches and with an 18-foot draft and 1990 gross tonnage, she was ideal for the canals of the pre- Seaway Great Lakes. I took this shot in Toronto Harbour on April 7, 1969 as Imperial Windsor was heading for the Western Gap, then the only entrance to the harbour for large ships (today the few big ships that visit used the rebuilt Eastern Gap), while small vessels use the Western Gap. The winter photo was taken on December 26, 1970 as Imperial Windsor was departing the ship canal in the far eastern harbour. That’s the famous R.L. Hearne coal-fired generating station in the background – coal still was king in those times. It kept hundreds of ships busy year ‘round on the lakes. You can see that Imperial Windsor was well-laden in both cases, so she looks very tanker-like. A great source for details about such ships is “The Scanner”, the monthly newsletter of the Toronto Marine Historical Society. Such Great Lakes publications are equal if not more detailed and passionate in their content as the best in aviation journals. For example, its May 1971 edition “The Scanner” reported:

The Port of Toronto was officially opened for the 1971 season on March 24th when the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR arrived with a cargo for the Imperial terminal here. The ship was also the first vessel to leave winter quarters this spring, having cleared port at the beginning of the same week. All told, it was a record-setting winter for the veteran canaller. She had also closed out the 1970 navigation season for Toronto, arriving in port on January 8th, 1971.”

Later, Imperial Windsor was sold to Hall Shipping as the Cardinal. This report showed up in “The Scanner” of April 1973:

As we announced recently, Hall’s subsidiary, Algonquin Corporation Ltd., had purchased the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR and was in the act of having her name changed to CURLEW. As the papers were being processed, the Canadian Government brought it to Halco’s attention that there already was a fishtug by the name of CURLEW on the register and accordingly this could not be used as the new name for the tanker. Since CURLEW was to be named for a former Hall vessel, the company did some quick checking into their fleet lists and came up with the name CARDINAL which will now be used. The new name will honour not only the town of Cardinal on the old St. Lawrence Canals, but also a wooden tug, built in 1875, which served the Hall fleet for a short period around 1911.

Reading this, anyone can see how pricelessly important are such historical society journals and newsletters.

What a great historical resource such a ship would be (museum- wise) on the Toronto waterfront. Sad to say, however, Imperial Windsor went for scrap in 1974. On May 23, 1974 she had been up- bound in fog on Lake Erie, bound for Sarnia, when she was in a serious collision off Pelee Island with the 7600-ton Great Lakes bulk carrier George M. Steinbenner. Two Cardinal crewmen had to be cut from their smashed forecastle and flown to hospital by US Coast Guard helicopter. George M. Steinbrenner was lightly damaged, but Cardinal was un-repairable (see http://www.boatnerd.com ). At https://amp.en.google-info.org/ there’s a short clip about life aboard Imperial Windsor.

In its August 26, 1974 edition, the “Globe and Mail” printed a very worthy letter-to-the-editor from former Imperial Windsor crewman, J.M. Prince:

You published a picture (Aug. 20) of the S.S. Cardinal being towed out of Toronto Harbor bound for the scrap yards of Hamilton. Such an ignominious end for such a fine ship. Since the mid-1920s she had served her owners well, carrying petrochemical products for years as the Imperial Windsor, part of the great Imperial Oil fleet, and for the past two years for Hall Corp. as the Cardinal. And now, after almost fifty years of service, to end up just another carload of scrap for Stelco’s furnaces. During my five weeks service on her as an Ordinary Seaman and then as Able Seaman, I rarely gave any thought to her cramped quarters, or grotesquely blunt shape, but rather, as did the rest of the crew under Captain Walter Poole, her ease of handling and plucky ability to plow through the roughest weather to her destination. Funny-looking she may have been, but she had a heart.

Views of the Johnston Shipping Ltd’s tanker, Gulf Sentinel (previously B.A. Sentinel — as in British American Oil Co., and, even earlier, was Good Hope). At 178 feet 9 inches by 34 feet 2 inches and 649 gross registered tonnage, she had been built in 1933 at Wallsend, UK. Her engine produced 600 hp compared to 900 for Imperial Windsor. I photographed this dowdy-looking little tanker first at the end of a long winter in March 1972 in the eastern ship channel. Then, I caught it from Toronto Island Airport on September 17, 1973, as it was departing with a light load headed for the Western Gap. The CN Tower is rising in the distance. Toronto’s skyline was hardly noticeable by today’s standards. These small tankers often were in the bunker fuel trade, refuelling ships far and wide in the Seaway system, or delivering bulk fuel to remote Great Lakes bulk fuel storage centres like Byng Inlet or Brit on Georgian Bay. In its April 1974 edition, “The Scanner” had some notes for Gulf Sentinel:

Also on the subject of bunkering services, we can report that the small tanker GULF SENTINEL (whose charter to Gulf for the Lake Ontario bunker trade has not been renewed) will be chartered this year to Shell, her earlier owners. She will be taken to Sarnia, but it is not yet clear whether she will run a mobile service from the Shell dock at Corunna (which might counteract the competition from the newdock at Windsor and at the same time eliminate the long lineups of steamers in the Stag Island channel), or whether she may be destined to run a cross-river service in a move to eliminate the traffic of tank trucks through the town of Marine City and over on the ferry DALDEAN. One thing is sure – she will certainly get a new name. We might hope that her old name of RIVERSHELL might be returned to her.

At a glance I don’t see any info on the web telling the fate of Gulf Sentinel.
Like Imperial Windsor, Texaco-Brave also was built at Haverton Hill- on-Tees, but two years later. She had almost the same specs. She previously had been Cyclo Brave. The February 1975 issue of “The Scanner” summarized Texaco-Brave’s long life just before she was sold for scrap:

There she sits in all her splendour, her paint a bit faded now but still a cut above the other ships nearby. Her black hull with its bright orange boot-top and red-and-white trunk still looks sound. Big she’s not, but beautiful she surely is as she presses her bow up tight against the bridge, lifting her head up majestically as if she really were getting ready to do battle once again with the stormy lakes. As if… Forty-six seasons of hard use have been kind to the TEXACO- BRAVE, but the end has to come sometime… The flag at half-staff is appropriate to the BRAVE’s present situation. The BRAVE began her life back in 1929 as Hull 145 of the Haverton Hill-on-Tees yard of the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd. Of course, back then she was christened JOHN IRWIN (I) and she entered service for the McColl- Frontenac Oil Company Ltd., the predecessor of her current owner, Texaco Canada Ltd. With a length of 250 feet and gross tonnage of 1,926, she was a typical steam-powered canal tanker similar to many others produced by British yards for the McColl-Frontenac, British American and Imperial Oil fleets. Her triple-deck bridge was set back off the forecastle and she sported a tall, well-raked funnel sprouting from a cabinless quarterdeck.

She sailed as JOHN IRWIN until 1940, was known as CYCLO- BRAVE until 1947, and then took her present name which, incidentally, is not spelled with the hyphen in the registers, but which is hyphenated on the bow and stern of the ship. She has always been kept in immaculate condition and by now must have more paint on her than any other ship her age. Normally used in lake service, the BRAVE has spent the last two years operating on the St. Lawrence River. During the summer of 1974 she lost almost a month of service due to boiler problems.

TEXACO-BRAVE arrived at Toronto on November 11 and did not let down steam until December 20, a fact that led us to speculate in our last issue that she had received a mechanical refit. Not only didn’t we get on base with that guess, we didn’t even hit the ball! Seems that Texaco was simply waiting to see if a deal could be closed on a new boat before a decision was made on the future of the BRAVE. Now Texaco Canada Ltd. has purchased a 2,901-ton, 48,000 bbl.- capacity British tanker which was built in 1970 for Thun Tankers Ltd. and given the unlikely name of THUNTANK 6. In 1972 she was sold to Thames Tankers Ltd. and rechristened with the equally unlikely name of ANTERIORITY. She will make her appearance on the lakes in 1975 under the name of TEXACO-WARRIOR (II). Meanwhile, scrap bids have been called for TEXACO-BRAVE.

Why do we write this sentimental tripe about the demise of just another superannuated and outmoded ship? Well, we just happen to think that the disappearance of the last example of a particular class of vessel is worthy of special mention. And that is exactly what the BRAVE is – the last operating steam canal tanker on the lakes (excluding the converted CAPE and COVE TRANSPORT). The last of a beautiful breed that was once so common. She’ll never pass this way again and never more will we hear her deep steam whistle echoing across the stillness of a hot August night on Toronto Bay. But for just a little while longer, she’ll rest in her spot by the bridge, showing off her lines for all to see, even if most who pass don’t care. So do her honour of going down to the Cherry Street bridge over Toronto’s Ship Channel. Sure, take your camera along, but just stand there on the bridge for a minute and think about what you’re seeing. And take your hat off, buster, ’cause you’re watching the passing of a lady.

In April 1975 the tugs G.W. Rogers and Bagotville towed Texaco- Brave from Toronto to Ramey’s Inlet near Port Colborne on Lake Erie to be scrapped. In 1978 a new Texaco Brave of 8545 gross registered tonnage was built in Japan for the eastern Canada trade. Still on the Great Lakes in 2020, she operates in the Algoma fleet as Algoeast.


The tanker Elmbranch of Montreal’s famous Branch Line empty and at slow speed leaves the eastern ship channel on August 20, She was built in Collingwood in 1944 as one of the famed (and great looking) wartime “Park” ships — Norwood Park. As such she was 251 feet and 2381 grt. In 1960 she was lengthened at Sorel to 321 feet and 3367 grt. Elmbranch left Canadian service in 1977. Sold, it went to Panama, becoming Whitsupply II. Stranded off St. Maarten in 1989, she was scuttled. For the best history from a Canadian viewpoint of the great “Park” ships, you really should track down a copy of the great Robert Halford’s 1995 book, The Unknown Navy: Canada’s World War II Merchant Navy.
Built in Sorel in 1950 by Marine Industries, the 284-foot tanker Willowbranch often visited Toronto back in the day. In 1966 she was back in Sorel for a major re-fit. Here she’s moored on the north side of the eastern ship channel on August 1, 1969. Those were the days when the east end of Toronto harbour had its historic trademarks of tank farms, mountains of coal and salt, and scrap metal operations. All ugly stuff but absolutely indispensible to keep any modern society operating. On July 15 1959 Willowbranch had collided outside Halifax harbour with Imperial Halifax (Imperial Halifax later was Congar, see below)You can see the results of the lawsuit that followed the collision at: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc- csc/en/item/6843/index.do?site_preference=normal&pedisable=true. The stats given here for Willowbranch show that she was a smaller boat before being re-built in 1966. Willowbranch was laid up at the end of the 1975 shipping season and was scrapped in Toronto in 1978.
Congar of the Johnston Shipping Ltd. fleet was around Toronto and Hamilton for years while we were in our Great Lakes ships phase. She seemed to be mainly in the bunkering trade. Here she is riding high in the Eastern Turning Basin (at the eastern head of Toronto’s ship channel) on September 8, 1969. In the winter months this basin usually was packed with laid-up lake vessels. Congar had been built under a wartime contract in 1945 in Sunderland, England as Empire Maldon. She was sold as war surplus in 1946 to Imperial Oil of Toronto. There she sailed as Imperial Halifax until 1969, when sold on to Johnston Shipping Ltd. This is the same ship described above in the Halifax collision. Her final voyage brought her into in Toronto in 1975. Soon after, Congar was scrapped in Hamilton. For further details see such wonderful Great Lakes shipping sites as https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/c/congar-
2
Imperial Sarnia was launched in Collingwood in 1948, then re- built in Sorel in 1954. In 1953 she left the Great Lakes trade to journey down the Mississippi and up the east coast back to Sorel. There she received the ocean-going (i.e. “salty”) bow seen here. She returned to the lakes in 1965, then was sold to Provmar Fuels Inc. of Hamilton in 1983, becoming the fuel barge Provmar Terminal II. She still was there in the early 2010s. Here Imperial Sarnia is steaming light out of the eastern shipping channel on May 21, 1973. She was 396 feet x 53 feet x 4580 grt.
Here’s the well-known lakes tanker Liquilassie at the Snell Lock near Cornwall on August 19, 1970. This historic ship is described in this nicely-crafted item from “The Niagara Falls Review” of May 20, 2016:

It was 35 years ago that the once well-known Great Lakes tanker Liquilassie struck the Gandy Bridge at Tampa, Fla. The vessel, operating as a barge on Feb. 6, 1981, was inbound when it caused $174,000 damage to the bridge and closed a vital land link for three months. Liquilassie had been built at Duluth, Minn. in 1943 and left the Great Lakes, via the Mississippi River system, to serve Creole Petroleum, part of Standard Oil, around Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. The 111.56-metre-long tanker was too large for the old St. Lawrence locks, but was able to get to saltwater by way of the mid-continent route due to its shallow draft. Originally known as Temblador, the vessel often loaded crude oil for Aruba and trans-shipment north. Once again, the shallow draft came in handy and the vessel could carry 42,000 barrels of petroleum.

Following a sale to Porter Shipping, Temblador returned to the Great Lakes in 1960 and was renamed Liquilassie in 1961. It operated around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, and often took cargoes directly from deep sea carriers anchored at Montreal to allow the latter sufficient draft for them reach the dock. Liquilassie was reduced to a barge in 1977 and saw service around the lakes, where the vessel often carried liquid asphalt. It departed our inland seas in November 1980 for the Gulf of Mexico, only to get into trouble in the south. Since then, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge has been built to replace the vehicular traffic across the old Gandy Bridge. The latter, which had dated from 1956, later served as the Friendship Trail Bridge. Liquilassie took a cargo of liquid fertilizer to Tahiti in 1982 and spent the rest of its career in the South Pacific.

An addendum adds a note that could be considered a brief obituary: “The cargo tanks were cleaned in the spring of 1987 pending the sinking of the hull as an artificial reef at Tonga.” Photographing ships was much the same as the many other interests we had been following since the late 1950s – planes, ships, trains, antique cars, streetcars, bridges, historic buildings, anything really. Certainly, it all was similar to chasing airplanes, our main hobby. I recall several great trips with Nick Wolchatiuk from about Sometimes we’d circumnavigated the Great Lakes in 2-3 weeks. Of course we’d stop at Duluth, Minnesota to photograph the F-89J Scorpions, F-106s and whatever other aviation we could find as we scorched down the highways and byways in “NJW’s” VW bug with his red canoe on top. But… if the place was a port, as was Duluth, we’d normally see what was tied up at the dock, or, visit the local marine museum, as we did in such places as Chicago and Erie, PA. Photographing an airplane or a ship was pretty well similar. If your subject was static, you usually picked a slightly front angle (ships rarely look all that great from the rear). If your ship was under way, however, you had all day to get your shot lined up, compared to panning a North Star on approach, or, a sizzling Golden Hawk Sabre whizzing across the Toronto Island Airport during the CNE airshow. One way or the other, it all the as good fun as young fellows could have had back in the day.

You Wanted More Bob Finlayson Pix

Not surprisingly, all you serious aviation fans loved our recent Robert Finlayson  “slideshow”. Folks never tire of good, basic airplane photography showing such wonderful types. At the last moment, I’ve picked a few more from this rare collection, but haven’t had the time to get too in-depth with the historical details. Anyone who can add some hardcore details, please send along to larry@canavbooks.com Let’s start with the standard production light planes starting (above) with Luscombe 8A CF-FZD, which Bob shot at Mount Hope on June 4, 1967. According to the invaluable Canadian Civil Aircraft Register site historiccar.ca “FZD” was imported in 1947. As you’ve seen on some of our earlier blogs about light planes, over the decades many such aircraft suffer accidents of varying degrees. On April 29, 2001, “FZD” did just that, flipping onto its back, while landing at a private farm strip near London, Ontario. How goes “FZD” in 2020?
 A beautiful Stinson Voyageur 150 4-seater, CF-VME is seen at Mount Hope on October 22, 1967. The “108” always is a peach of an airplane to see and photograph. When Bob took this photo, “VME” recently had been imported from the US and was visiting from Niagara Falls. What became of this postwar classic? Today, its registration is used on a Robinson R44 helicopter.
Ercoupe CF-MMS at Mount Hope on July 30, 1967. Built in 1946, it was imported in 1960. The basic specs of such classic postwar types usually can be found by using the search box for the blog or go to wiki. Last heard of in 2016, “MMS” had moved west to Alberta. 
Bob photographed Republic Seabee CF-GAD at Buttonville airport, situated a  short distance north of Toronto and now part of Markham. The date was September 16, 1967 when an airshow was going on. You can see a trio of Harvards zipping along in the distance.
 
Bob shot this handsome little Cessna 150G at Mount Hope on August 6, 1967. The markings would have been familiar to any local aviation fan. Central Airways at Toronto Island Airport was known from coast to coast as one of Canada’s top flying schools. Running since just after the war, its famous owners were brothers Bob and Tom Wong. On September 21, 1969 Michael Mushet invited me to fly with him as his first passenger, he having recently earned his private pilot licence. All went well on our “historic” little flight – in “VGQ”. Michael went on to instruct student pilots over many years and to enjoy aviation adventures enough to fill a book..
Bob caught this great Mount Hope scene on August 14, 1966. Refueling is Bowers Fly Baby CF-RXL. One of the classic postwar homebuilts, the Fly Baby was designed by the great hobby aviator and photographer, Pete Bowers (1918-2003). It’s worth your time to look up Pete on the web. He flew his prototype in 1962, then sold plans to hundreds of avid homebuilders. The great Canadian EAA pioneer, George Welsh, built “RXL” around 1965. In May 2020 it was lost in a crash, when the engine failed after takeoff. The pilot, Mr. Horsten, survived with injuries.
How’s this for as cute a wee biplane homebuilt as you’ll ever see. Bob would never pass a chance to shoot any such treasure. Smith Miniplane CF-YSC is shown at Brampton, Ontario in August 1970. I have no history for this plane.
 
CF-PKX at Mount Hope on October 1, 1967. This is another standard Finlayson photo. Bob knew that all small biplanes look quite attractive in a rear ¾ view. “PKX” was a 1963 “Little Toot” built by the team of Gelder and Ellis of Brantford, Ontario, and is yet another classic of early EAA years. George Meyer did the original design in 1952. A Little Toot could use as big an engine as a 180-hp Lycoming 0-360 and hit 135 mph. Plans for this type still are available, as they are for other homebuilts of the 1950s.
Bob photographed Gerry Younger’s beautiful Pitts Biplane at Mount Hope on August 21, 1967; then Ron Ellis’ 1973 Pitts S2A there at the June 1981 airshow.
Bob also always was on the lookout for any light twins that might be visiting Mount Hope. Here are two real gems: Apache CF-WSP and Goose CF-IFN. He caught them both on a sunny and snowless December 17, 1967. “WSP” belonged to Mooney Aviation at Toronto Island, while “IFN” was owned by big time Toronto mining man, M.J. Boylen. It was based for years at Toronto’s Malton Airport. Since 1991 a Zenair 200 has carried registration C-FWSP, so the Apache had disappeared by then. “IFN” later was sold in the USA, but returned to Canada. As C-FPCK it flew with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Sadly, it was lost in a disastrous mountainside crash soon after departing Vancouver on November 16, 2008.

One response to “Dancing in the Sky & Flying to Extremes + “Ghost” Canso Update + Visiting the 10th Mountain Division + CANAV History Pt.5 + More Bob Finlayson Photos

  1. Reblogged this on Lest We Forget II and commented:
    More from Larry…

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