Category Archives: Inside CANAV

Canada Post Claims, “We Service Canadians with Pride and Passion”

One of Canada’s Post’s fleet of mini mail trucks. Instead of our posties collecting the pre-sorted mail for their routes from the secure corner boxes (now largely disappeared), they now sort their own mail in the mini trucks and do all sorts of other tasks once done by specialized help. If you peer in the passenger side of one of these trucks, often you can see high priority mail just sitting there unattended, as the postie walks his/her route.

One of Canada’s Post’s fleet of mail trucks. Instead of our posties collecting the pre-sorted mail for their routes from the secure corner boxes (largely a thing of the past), they now sort their own mail in their mini trucks and do all sorts of other tasks once done by specialized help. If you peer in the passenger side of one of these trucks, often you can see high priority mail just sitting there unattended, as the postie walks his/her route. Canada Post leaves the postie few options. Ordinary posties also often are tasked these days with clearing corner post boxes, once a separate job, but now being eliminated where possible to improve the bottom line at the expense of having a real postal service.

Canada Post is a huge organization. According to Wikipedia: “Canada Post provided service to 15.7 million addresses and delivered more than 9 billion items in 2014 and consolidated revenue from operations reached $7.98 billion.” Ordinary citizens (who own the outfit and pay its 65,000 of employees very generously) and innumerable small businesses, however, continue to be punished daily by Canada Post management and labour. So much for the “service” part of the Canada Post slogan that heads this item, right. With CANAV Books, for example, the poor service has not improved since we began campaigning years ago — writing letters to Canada Post in Ottawa, discussing on the phone with its representatives, blogging, etc. Lately, things are worse than ever — there’s no consistency even to the simple process of delivering a letter to someone’s house.

For one thing, there are the rates. Sadly, nothing much can be done about Canada’s exorbitant postal rates and it’s the same picture almost anywhere in the world. These rates have driven many small mail order operators out of the picture. CANAV Books barely holds on. It’s tough to sell a $30 book, when the cheapest postal rate to the West Coast is in the $20 range. Canada Post, sad to say, doesn’t worry about which small company it drives out of business next. This goes back to whenever it was that Canada Post decided that postal service no longer was a vital, national, public right, but a new government “profit centre”. So … if a service doesn’t make money, reduce or eliminate it as necessary.

Canada Post’s ivory tower people live in their comfy dreamland, while CUPW (another ivory tower outfit) plans new ways to undermine its postal bosses up there at 2701 Riverside Drive, Ottawa. Who are we in the process? Nothing much more than suckers stuck in the middle. We 36,000,000 owners of Canada Post just keep getting all the crap in ever more smelly ways.

Through it all, CANAV Books somehow has survived. We started with our best selling book, The Avro CF-100, in 1981, right in the jaws of an ugly CUPW strike, so all CANAV could do was wait for this particular horror story to settle. The only hope of a solution was that Canadians still could ship to the US and overseas (rates were affordable the those times) by driving their mail across the border to be handled by US Post. To serve my good customers, I made such trips in 1981 and during subsequent postal strikes.

USA and offshore business today

Once a vital part of CANAV operations, 99% of the world no longer is a market for our books. This is solely due to postal rates. To ship a single copy from the “Aviation in Canada” series anywhere in the European Union, for example, doubles the sticker price of the book. The most avid EU aviation bibliophile these days throws up his hands in despair. It’s a done deal … thanks, Canada Post. All the way down the line, this sad story can be felt through ever-smaller print runs and fewer titles gestating. Paper makers, ink and glue suppliers, printers and binders, truckers, warehousers and many others gradually feel the pinch. Bottom line … today’s postal rates are retrogressive.

Door to Door Delivery

Back in 2009 I still was praising Canada Post for its door-to-door delivery. Certainly in the M4E postal code, that no longer is the case and, judging by the uproar in other postal codes across Canada, M4E is no aberration. Over the past two to three years service has deteriorated to the “pitiful” level, what with every neighbour in M4E regularly receiving other people’s mail. Neighbours regularly bring CANAV mail to my door, and these thoughtful citizens aren’t exactly receiving CUPW benefits. Neither are they obliged to re-direct wrongly delivered mail (some do not, so we all lose valuable letters, etc. – talk about the unthinkable). Last month I did not get my usual bank statements and other important banking mail that always comes in the same week. Where is it? Last week I received a neighbour’s Census papers. Great, eh, since Census Canada threatens the citizenry with $500 fines and/or jail time, should someone not file a census report on time. Guaranteed, other Canadians did not receive their census paperwork on account of Canada Post.

Once, when I discussed mail delivery foul-ups with a Canada Post employee I was told: “Get to love it. This is Canada Post’s new “Get to Know Your Neighbours Program”. Very funny, Mr. $500,000-a-year Canada Post potentate CEO, Deepak Chopra. More recently, when I nicely enquired of a letter carrier about the frequent mis-delivery of mail in M4E, the answer was, “It’s those guys down at the sortation plant. They give us the wrong mail or it’s in the wrong order”. What?! Isn’t it the letter carrier’s actual DUTY to actually read the address on each piece of mail? Or is this (along, perhaps, with literacy) no longer a job requirement at Canada Post?

 

Canada’s Post’s new “open air” mail delivery was introduced to M4E on May 6, 2016. The peasantry is not impressed.

Here’s the latest little curve ball. Recently my letter carrier (these folks now change like the weather, gone is the letter carrier who held a route for years and became a beloved community member) has decided not to use the mail slot in my door. For 46 years letter carriers have understood the basic function of the mail-slot-in-the-door. Now, CANAV’s mail some days simply is dropped on the open porch floor (see above unstaged photo). With this new glitch I now have to hope that I can catch all my cheques, orders, legal and government documents, letters from grand kids, etc., before they blow away.

This spring Canada Post is once again re-thinking door-to-door delivery. As if that wasn’t bound to happen, following the corporation’s disastrous community mailbox program. The PM promised some action during his election campaign, so good on him. On May 5 the Winnipeg Free Press ran this headline, “Door-to-door delivery up for debate as Liberals order review of Canada Post”. The item begins, “Canadians could once again find mail at their doors after what the government says will be a sweeping review of every business line at Canada Post …”

This can’t hurt, considering how the previous government had zero interest, except to support Canada Post’s profit vs service fixation. It watched unconcerned as Canada Post ran down in the general direction of Somalia standards (no mail delivery there for 23 years). Now, according to the Free Press, change is in the wind. Minister Judy Foote explains, “We need to hear from Canadians what it is they need and Canadians are responsible” Wow, eh!

Well, Minister Foote, you are hearing from this Canadian. Feel free to drop by any time for a chitchat about Canada Post and how vital it still is for any country that’s going anywhere, e.g., to the key building blocks that spell civilization – education, healthcare, postal service, national defence, transportation infrastructure, etc. You just cannot remove one of these essentials and still have a strong, healthy society.

One of my suggestions last year to Canada Post was that it might seriously take a look at the mission statement of the Bangladeshi Post Office. Bangladesh (at least on paper) seems to have an action plan for postal service. Here’s an excerpt that should really make you hang your heads at Canada Post: “Bangladesh Post office is a government-owned department dedicated to provide a wide range of postal products and public services. It is the premier national postal communication service holding together a vast country with a large population. Bangladesh Post Office is committed to provide a speedy, reliable and regular service to the people of all walks of life at a reasonable cost.”

What do you think, Minister Foote? Mightn’t this work for Canada, too? It sure as heck used to “back in the day”, when few countries had a postal service as effective as Canada’s, and when a slogan such as “We Service Canadians with Pride and Passion”  actually would have rung true.

.

Advertisements

News from CANAV … Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945 Is On Its Way Coast-to-Coast and …. They’re Singin’ the Books Publishers Blues Again — But I’m Not Listenin’

Canadian Aviation Historical Society old timers out for the book launch: Shel Benner, Larry Milberry, Bill Wheeler and David Godfrey.

On Saturday past, CANAV launched Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945. The usual fun was had at Legion Branch 527 and that’s now history. Thanks to the fine citizens who showed up for a beer and the best Legion sandwiches in town. The first 300 books are now fanning out across the land, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and the feedback is already more than enough to make a publisher beam.

Veteran Tracker, CF-5 and CF-18 pilot, Gord Cooper, looks over the new book.

Publisher Milberry autographs a copy for photographer Rick Radell. (Photos by Tony Cassanova)

Other October news is how Indigo Books and Music, that darling of the CBC, is again beating on Canada’s book publishers. This is no big revelation, since the chains from the rotten old days of Coles and W.H. Smith have always been the book biz bullies. If there was a successful Canadian independent, the chains would squish it, if not with a buy-out, then by opening around the corner and offering deep discounts.

This time, according to a Toronto Star “Business & Careers” item of October 11, Indigo will shorten the time it will keep a book on the shelf before “returning” it to the publisher. The “returns” policy has helped kill off any number of Canadian publishers, including the biggest, General Publishing/ Stoddard, which went under in 2002. Such smaller publishers as Vanwell were forced to find some other way to make a living after one too many 70-foot trailers full of unsold books rolled up to their receiving dock from Indigo.

Publishers count dearly on books going out into the stores to actually be sold (now there’s a novel idea, booksellers). Returns are the bane of the publishers, just the worst and often the process is inscrutable. Once I shipped 500 copies of my new CF-100 book to W.H. Smith in good time for the 1981 pre-Christmas book buying period. In the new year all 500 came back, not one box ever opened. A few weeks later the chain wanted 600 more copies of the same book, so what goes on! After a couple of even stupider W.H. Smith stunts, CANAV decided to cease trading with the chains. For years I would urge my fellow publishers to do the same — simply cut off the chains until they accept the fact that business is a 2-way street. But the publishers have no balls, which must make Indigo split its corporate sides in glee. It orders the publishers to grovel, and the publishers grovel.

The publishers will stay on their knees, too. They are not a proactive bunch. They’d never do anything radical, no direct action. Instead, after today’s announcement, at best they’ll bleat and moan and groan to some useless functionary in Ottawa, and maybe try to get some sort of enquiry going at the taxpayers’ expense.

When CANAV began in 1981, Canada had a thriving book publishing industry. But, nearly every member listed in that year’s Canadian Book Publishers Association directory has since failed, in large part on account of the brutal business practices of the chains, and their own fear of standing up to them. This is all well covered in a book that every interested Canadian should read — Roy MacSkimming’s 2003 The Perilous Trade: Book Publishing in Canada 1946-2006. Here is a story of adventuresome, creative, principled, loyal, old-time Canadians gradually brought low by such self-inflicted wounds as failed management, but also by book chain blitzkrieg. Get yourself a copy of this first-class exposé. Perilous Trade is “OP” — out of print — but I see lots of affordable copies for sale on the internet.

Besides a frontal assault on the publishers regarding returns, Indigo also announced that it will start charging the publishers a 4% tax on each book sold. Can you beat that! Indigo already beats the publishers down for gross discounts, returns mountains of books (many in damaged condition), charges extra to display a book face out, now it wants to tax the publishers for selling their books. Just swell and thank you Indigo, eh! “Beat us some more, we love it,” I can just hear the the publishers chanting.

Yo, publishers! Stop shipping books on consignment. Give it up and take command. Start demanding that a purchase order received from Indigo, etc., is real currency, a contract, not a worthless piece of paper. A concerted effort by the book publishers could turn the tables on the booksellers.

And Indigo … how about just put some energy into selling more books, instead of picking the publisher’s pockets for farthings? Here’s a case in point. In 1983 CANAV published The De Havilland Canada Story. Soon the first printing was sold out. Here’s how that worked. In three Toronto W.H. Smith stores there were enlightened managers who stacked the books up prominently, 1 or 2 cases at a time, and no extra charge for that. One fellow had a big pile right beside the cash register. Guess what, the books flew out the door. So maybe hire some gung-ho managers and start selling some volume, instead of whacking your suppliers on the head with a 2 x 4 and grabbing another 4%.

Sad to say, I have to call the booksellers (big or small) “the people who pretend to buy books, then pretend to pay for them”. Early in 2000 one of Toronto’s renowned independent booksellers wanted five copies of De Havilland in Canada. These were shipped and paid for — two years later. I occasionally would call the owner (another of the CBC’s darlings) and he would put me off. First it was “We’ll pay you when we sell the last copy.” Eventually, there were other excuses. Finally, one day the dope agreed to pay, long after the 5 books had been sold. “Just super,” I said. “Pop a cheque in the mail and thanks a million.” “Not so fast, chum,” was his reply. “You’ll get your cheque when you come downtown to the shop.” Well … maybe the independents really do deserve to be squished by Indigo, I must have thought! So I got on the subway, presented myself at the shop and was obliged to wait two hours for a cheque. Eventually, CANAV generally ceased dealing with booksellers, right down to the smallest. It’s simply not worth the aggravation. Independents who want CANAV titles must pay in advance. And so they do, when they have good customers wanting CANAV titles. And … CANAV accepts no returns, the way it should be across the trade. So get with it Canadian book publishers … returns are for the birds. Turn your business mentality around — fight fire with fire — if you want the pain to ever stop. Meanwhile, hope you’re all havin’ fun out there … Larry


CANAV Books 2010 Fall-Winter Newsletter and Booklist

Aviation in Canada … News from the CANAV Situation Room

After a short breather following our recent book launch, it’s back to normal in CANAV’s dungeon. The publisher is again putting the screws to his staff. He’s laying on the lash, cutting salaries, demanding more unpaid overtime, reducing benefits, etc. He says that he will continue with this until morale improves. Seriously, good readers … this is where CANAV’s new Centennial of Flight series stands: Vol.1 Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, Vol.2 Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years and Vol.3 Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force are now in print (and available to purchase online – check out the sidebar to your right!). Reader comments about ACEAF would put a smile on any publisher’s face.

Terry Higgins, Aviaeology/SkyGrid publisher of Canadian Aircraft of WWII, writes: “Another stellar CANAV production… It is like a well put together documentary film in paper form. This is a consistent characteristic of your books that I enjoy so much. And the cover price is just astounding. Next please!”

At Passion Aviation, Pierre Gillard offers his own view: “Espéron que la saga Aviation in Canada continue encore longtemps car elle représente une mine incroyable d’informations qui devrait être “la” réference de quiconque s’intéresse ou voudrait s’intéresser à l’aviation au Canada depuis le ‘Jour 1’…”

Those who already have these three gorgeous books can easily relate; now I’m just waiting for the rest of you die hard aviation fans to get aboard the “CANAV Books Express”. “Aviation in Canada” is the first attempt to create an encyclopedic coverage of Canada’s aviation heritage. Vol.4 is now in the CANAV system: Aviation in Canada: The RCAF Overseas 1939-1945 will pick up from Vol.3, providing a solid look at a key era. Due by mid-2011, it will have major chapters about Bomber Command, Fighter Command, Coastal Command, Southeast Asia, etc. with an emphasis on bringing as much new material to the printed page as we can.

Check out CANAV’s new book list. Click on it, take a good, serious look and you’ll find some irresistible titles. This is where the real aviation reading starts this season — not on the internet. Forget about that, unless all you want is fluff or a quick history “fix”. When it comes to the solid goods, real aviation fans read books — the internet’s for kids. As you peruse our list, the “Aviation in Canada” series leaps out, so make that a shopping list priority. Next (and naturally so) comes Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace. If you don’t have this knockout of a trilogy, you can finally break down and order a set — CAFWP is on sale! Here are more than 1000 pages of RCAF heritage with 2000+ photos that no true RCAF supporter would be without. Reader Bernie Pregler, who once navigated on CF-100s, recently discovered CAFWP and was moved to comment:

“I started reading Vol.3 and was reminded of a W.B. Yeats poem — ‘When you are old and gray and nodding by the fire, take down this book and read, and dream…’ In fact, Yeats was writing it in regard to a girl he once loved, but since most of us are also in love with airplanes and flight, it’s fair to think of it as being applicable to ourselves, as well. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information and photographs, and completely in awe of anyone who can produce such a work – and not just one volume, but three …”

I doubt that there’s a book editor at any major Canadian newspaper who could touch this commentary for intellectual and literary depth. Would they even know today who Yeats is, let alone what a CF-100 is? Gads, its depressing … whatever happened to the good old, well-versed, broadly-educated, fired-up daily press book editors, who knew what readers wanted (and that fiction mostly was for kids)? Check out the booklist for the special prices on CAFWP. Deal expires with our Spring 2011 list.

CANAV’s fine book selection should conjure great gifts ideas, if you’re wondering what your aviation-minded or Canadian history-loving friends, employees, customers or suppliers want for Christmas. Any sharp young person would be inspired by a book like Pioneer Decades, so buy him/her a copy, already. Meanwhile, what’s to stop anyone from donating a good Canadian aviation book to the local public or school library? What a great civic holiday gesture!

All the best … Larry Milberry, publisher

Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force: Launched and in Orbit!

*ORDER ONLINE*

After dozens of book launches, such events sure can be predicable but, in CANAV’s experience, every one has turned out to be a blast. I sometimes am asked about book launches of yore, and those days sure race back to mind. The first was with McGraw Hill-Ryerson’s Aviation in Canada back in 1979. That one I held in the back yard at 51 Balsam, which then became the venue for several similar excellent thrashes — Sixty Years and Austin Airways are memorable.

The first all-CANAV event was held at Pete Mossman’s great uptown domicile in the summer of ’81. There we launched The Avro CF-100, for which Pete had done the fabulous artwork. November 2, 1982 came next — my first $3000 hotel splash, held at the Cambridge Inn out by what we used to call Malton Airport (today’s YYZ). The idea was to kick off The Canadair North Star, but the weather closed in — IFR all the way and I could foresee disaster. Astoundingly, things panned out beautifully. Piles of North Star fans from Canadair, TCA and RCAF times suddenly materialized. Through the efforts of Canadair exec Dick Richmond, the company Lear flew to Malton with several senior Canadair retirees, Dick included; other folks turned up wearing old time TCA stewardess and pilot outfits and, miracle of miracles, a good few North Star books were sold.

John McQuarrie and old team mate Larry Milberry have just exchanged their new books at The Brogue. John got his start in publishing after a conversation with Larry back around 1990. That day he showed out of the blue with a series of questions starting with, "I think I'd like to get into publishing. Where does a fellow start?" He began by producing some world-class Canadian military titles, branched off into a series on ranching, then got into cities, canals, etc.

A 1986 Ottawa launch for The Canadair Sabre brought out a fabulous crowd of Sabre pilots and groundcrew. Included were several who had fought in Sabres in Korea — Ernie Glover (3 MiG-15 kills), Andy Mackenzie, Omer Levesque (1st RCAF MiG-15 kill), Claude LaFrance, Eric Smith, Bruce Fleming. Talk about the cream of the crop. There also were Golden Hawks milling around and Vic Johnson screened a fine team video. It was either here or at our Ottawa launch for Sixty Years that the Soviet air attaché showed up — some former MiG-21 pilot who pretended not to speak English. A CanForces general in the crowd explained that such fellows attend any such Ottawa event just to check on who’s in town, in this way getting some “intel” to pad their reports back to Moscow! Sadly, no one seemed to be taking photos that night in Ottawa — I don’t have a one.

The De Havilland Canada Story was launched at the roll-out of the Dash 8 in 1983, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story at Hart House at the University of Toronto, and Canadair: The First 50 Years took flight at a glitzy affair down in old Montreal. That was an amazing one with hundreds of Canadair retirees and VIPs, including three CanForces generals. At each of these affairs, books were given out by the hundreds, so what a way to spread the good word at your clients’ expense!

Another zany book launch was for Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story held at 410 Wing RCAFA at Rockcliffe (Ottawa). As Hugh Halliday and I were setting up in mid-afternoon, a blizzard descended. By the time we had been hoping to see a crowd, only a few old 410 regulars were on hand. They’d been sitting all afternoon at the bar, so weren’t much interested in books. Never mind, however, for people gradually started to filter in, storm or not. About 8 o’clock there was a clatter outside. I looked but could only see snow streaking by horizontally. Then, out of this cloud entered 438 Sqn Hon. Colonel Andy Lord, a former 438 Typhoon pilot. Andy had commandeered a 438 Kiowa helicopter to fly up weather-be-damned from St. Hubert. Naturally, he looked ready to party or take on the Hun, but not so his young pilots — they were white as sheets!

Book launch show-and-tell: John Hymers, Dennis, Rick, Kelly and Andrew look over a photo album put together by John showing WWII PR photos taken by Goodyear Rubber in Toronto. No one had seen these since the war. Happily, John had rescued the negs from the trash one day ... such amazing scenes as a Bolingbroke on show at the CNE.

Tony (Aviation World), Rick and John looking to be in decent form.

So what happened on the book launch scene last week — August 19, 2010? It was as predicted — a super bunch of supporters, old friends, some of whom have been there for CANAV since Day 1. Renowned author Fred Hotson (age 95 or so) made it with  his chauffeur, Dave Clark, an old-time Canadair type. A few other vintage CAHS members turned up — Bill Wheeler, Shel Benner, Pete Mossman, Gord McNulty, etc. Rae Simpson, with whom I used to photograph planes in boyhood days, showed, fresh in on a King Air flight from The Soo. Photographer-publisher John McQuarrie blew in from an assignment in Kingston, showing off the glitziest book of the day — his magnificent new “Spirit of Place” title — Muskoka: Then and Now. Ace photographer Rick Radell and Aviation World stalwarts Tony Cassanova and Andy Cline showed with all their great support — lugging boxes and such. Two other fine party guys on the scene? AC 767 and CWH Canso driver John McClenaghan and geologist George Werniuk. John Timmins, of Timmins Aviation fame, was taking in his first CANAV event. Milberrys Matt and Simon/Amanda (plus wee ones) arrived as per usual.

Fred, Sheldon and Gord. Fred spent years as national president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, was an early member of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. A former DHC employee, Sheldon became an early CAHS member. Gord followed his famous father, Jack, into the hobby aviation world and in recent years has been an indispensable member of the CAHS Toronto Chapter.

Larry makes a sale to Gord as ex-RCAF radar tech and military policemen Al Gay watches. Al and some friends have been developing a flight simulator series based on all 100+ aerodromes of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. (Tony Cassanova)

Rick wants a book but is having trouble letting go of his $50 bill. The aviation gang ... what a bunch, eh! This joke is no laughing matter to anyone publishing aviation books: "Question: Who invented the world's thinnest copper wire? Answer: Two airline pilots fighting over a penny!" Sad to say, but this seems to be true. As a group, airline pilots religiously avoid CANAV book launchings. (Tony Cassanova)

Wartime-wise? Well, due to time doing what it does so efficiently, there were few on hand from 39-45 times. John Coleman (Lancaster pilot 405 and 433) and Jack McCreight (Lancaster nav) were the sole RCAF reps, whereas in days gone by dozens of such super Canadians used to show. Fred Hotson of Ferry Command was the Methuselah of the wartime bunch on this day. Other friendly folks came and went as the afternoon passed — just A-1 all the way.

Lancaster pilot John Coleman chats with renowned aviation artist Pete Mossman at The Brogue. Pete's artwork helped CANAV's early books gain fame -- our CF-100, North Star, DHC and Austin Airways titles. In recent times Pete painted dozens of magnificent aircraft profiles for Dan Dempsey's incomparable book A Tradition of Excellence.

Rae Simpson and Jack McCreight had lots to talk over through the afternoon. Rae flew CF-104s during the RCAF's NATO heyday in the mid-1960s, then rose to be the CanForces chief test pilot. Jack's wartime training story is told in our new book.

The staff at The Brogue in Port Credit supplied the yummy food and whatever liquid refreshments we needed, so the whole effort came off as finely as a publisher could wish. Toronto’s summer nightmare traffic scenario sure tried to put the kibosh on things, but CANAV’s “solid citizens” toughed it out, battling off the worst that the QEW and 427 threw at them. Thanks to everyone for making it all another gem of a day — Book No.31, if my count is on. Cheers … Larry

CANAV fans at The Brogue: banking man Tony Hine, geologist George Werniuk, computer guy Matt Milberry and astronomer Andrew Yee.

John, Bill Wheeler and Larry shooting the breeze about RCAF history, books and publishing. Bill edited and published the CAHS Journal for more than 40 years. (Tony Cassanova)

While we were partying at The Brogue, Andy Cline was sweating it out at Aviation World, but after work he joined us anyway. If you haven't yet visited Aviation World on Carlingview Dr. near YYZ, in Richmond, BC near YVR, or in Chicago near Midway MDW, make a point of it. (Tony Cassanova)

All in a CANAV Week’s Work: Toronto/Winnipeg Turn-Around – ACEAF is off the Press

Bright and too early at "YYZ T-1". A window seat is always fun for checking out what's doing on the ramp. (All photos Larry Milberry)

On July 26, 2010 I was on the road early to catch Air Canada AC257, an A-320, to Winnipeg. The mission this time? To re-visit my good friends at Friesens printers down in lovely Altona, not far from lovely Gretna, close to lovely Winkler. I looked forward to the trip, having enjoyed Friesens and Altona since first visiting in 1995 with CANAV’s big Canadair project.

As it always seems to go these day’s, our A-320 was chock-a-block, not a seat in the house. It departed “YYZ” (Toronto) as advertised and at 0810 — 2 1/2 hours after pushback at YYZ — our pilot (or his auto-land system) greased AC257 onto the runway in Winnipeg. Taxiing in, we could see how far along is “YWG’s” new terminal — lookin’ good! Perimeter Metros and Dash 8s were all over the place, as were Westjet  and FirstAir 737s and various Air Canada types. All looked pretty normal on a glorious Manitoba morning.

If there are a few minutes to burn, it's always a blast to sit at the end of the runway to catch a few arrivals. Here comes Perimeter's Metro C-FBTL, likely in from one of the northern First Nations centres.

Picking up a zippy little Accent at Enterprise, I headed to the top end of the ‘drome to catch a few landing shots. There are some good spots for shooting up there, right near Eagle & Brookside. Brookside Cemetery is itself worth a visit and has a huge military section. No time today, however, for the dearly departed. After grabbing some interesting arrivals, especially Perimeter and Bearskin, I headed back to the ‘drome to get some research done at the Western Canada Aviation Museum.

The WCAM is home to one of Canada’s premier aviation libraries/archives, but this is a well-kept secret (don’t tell anyone). A researcher hardly knows where to begin and your head swirls as astounding material pops up at every turn. Typical of the WCAM holdings are the Found Brothers and Transair archives, each with boxes and boxes of goodies. It’s encouraging to see so much material so well and safely stored, and available to the earnest researcher. With decades of experience, the WCAM can boast a fine cadre of archives volunteers, who fastidiously catalogue material and take time to ably assist any visitor. The WCAM is a model institution rich not only in airplanes, artifacts, programs, books, journals and rare tech manuals, but also in priceless personal and corporate collections. This is what aviation museums/archives should be all about.

Research "finds" at the WCAM: A certificate awarded to Roy deNevers following a course on the Firefly at RNAS Lossiemouth.

A wooden Bolingbroke model tested in the National Research Council wind tunnel in Ottawa in 1942

By 1400 it was time to push off to Altona, so down Hwy 75 I drove on a classic Manitoba day. By this time the “Towering Q” was a-building and storm warnings were being aired on all the radio stations. But the storms saved their fury for points north of Winnipeg. Turning onto Hwy 14, I stopped to photograph a winter wheat harvest, wildflowers, some impressive weather to the north, etc.

This monstrous towering cumulus was developing west of Hwy 75, but it eventually dissipated, while other such systems were clobbering points to the north of Winnipeg.

Going full tilt to bring in a half-section of winter wheat along Hwy 14 at Road 2 West.

Arrived at Friesens, I got T’d up with my good friends in book manufacturing. Tomorrow we had a job to do — print Vol.3 in CANAV’s new series — Canada’s Air Force: Evolution of an Air Force. After setting me up in some nice accommodations (the boss’ suite), Mike Fehr treated me to supper. Come 0800 next morning and CSR Elvira Filion was briefing me about the job. The first sheet for approval rolled off the press at 1000 and from then on the day was busy as we checked/approved some 24 sheets, including endpapers and dust jacket.

Friesen's pressman Dennis Penner inspects a proof that he's just been pulled from the press.

Then, the publisher does his annual thing -- inspecting the job. This pallet has 1650 freshly-printed sheets of whichever pages of Evolution of an Air Force. (Photo by Dennis Penner)

In between press runs I took some time to photograph the windmill farm going up to the east of Altona.

Work progresses on the site of a future windmill a few km from Altona.

Local citizens are never overly sold on the “invasion of the windmills”, but there seems to be at least a bit of a payoff for everyone in the neighbourhood. Cash is king, eh! I also checked out Altona’s local ag operator, Steve Kiansky’s Southeast Air Service. Since last year he’s traded up from his piston-pounding Air Tractor AT-301 (R-1340) ag plane to a turbo-powered AT-502 (PT-6). Over at Winkler, the same trend – Arty’s is converting from his Weatherlys with their oft-cantankerous R-985s and now has three factory-fresh AT-402s (PT6). Back to the windmill story, one Manitoba business that is really vulnerable to these new “green” gizmos is crop dusting. Huge areas previously covered by aerial application become no-fly zones once the “war of the worlds” windmills are in place at 150-300 feet. Another reason maybe to scratch your head about the brilliance of “alternative” energy sources, eh! Later in the day, Mike Fehr sent me out to meet his farmer brother-in-law, Adam Wiebe.

Adam Wiebe pilots his John Deere 9750STS, then offloads his bin into a bulk trailer driven by his partner -- his father.

Then, Adam flies his mighty machine as his passenger tries for a "cockpit shot".

Miles of beautiful Manitoba fields, as the winter wheat is gobbled up by John Deere.

Adam was harvesting winter wheat and took me out for an hour’s “flight” in his mighty John Deere 9750STS. Powered by a 350-hp diesel engine (fuel cap. 250 US gal) and with a 300 bushel hopper, this beauty has a gross weight about that of a DC-3. While Adam filled me in about farming this year in Southern Manitoba, I tried to answer his many aviation history queries. Back at Friesens, I checked some final proofs, then knocked off for supper at Bravo’s — top notch.

Come the morning of the 28th and it was bye-bye to Friesens — see y’all next book. Back up I drove to the WCAM, stopping only in the cemetery in Morris to photograph a few RCAF stones.

History buffs are always fascinated by cemeteries, since they often have an aviation connection. In the restful cemetery in Morris, several fliers have made their final touchdowns, including AC1 Albert E. Porter. On September 21, 1940 Albert (age 27) was in Fleet Finch 4449 flying near Trenton. He was a mechanic, so may have been

up with the pilot on a test flight, or maybe was just on a joy ride. Somehow, 4449 collided with Finch 1018. Both planes came down. Of the four men aboard, Albert was the sole casualty. This accompanying newspaper clipping give an outline of what happened that day.

Today’s job at the WCAM? Grinding for several hours over the astounding log books of Roy O. deNevers, one of the many unsung Canadian aviation heroes. Look for his story in Vol.4 — Aviation in Canada: The RCAF Overseas 1939-1945. Along the way, author Bill Zuk showed up, working with a team taping several RCAF Lancaster aircrew. Bill and I had a pleasant walk, then some cool ones in the Airport Hilton lounge (you’ll know some of Bill’s books, including his bio of the great Janusz Zurakowski of CF-105 renown).

Fairchild Super 71 CF-AUJ is the latest of the WCAM's magnificent aircraft restorations. This project places the WCAM in the "world class" category of aviation museums. Its attendant library and archives give the whole place the perfect balance as an aviation history centre.

Finally, take one of your last looks at the terminal at YWG -- in a few months things will start moving into the new complex.

Finally, it was time to catch AC268 (A-320) for a 1600-hour departure. Back on the ground ay YYZ after two hours, I caught a glimpse of the Emirates A380, collected my car at Park ‘n Fly and soon was home. Lots done, lots learned, bags of fun and all in a 3-day Toronto-Winnipeg CANAV turn-around. If you get the idea that CANAV never sits still, you’ve pretty well got that one figured out. Why sit around when the world awaits? If you have a minute to spare, read CANAV’s new booklist and get the details about the ACEAF and a hundred other excellent books.

Have a great summer!

Larry

CANAV Books is pleased to announce Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force

Following Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades and Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years, it’s safe to say that our new series is now well launched. Aviation in Canada: The RCAF Overseas 1939-1945 is in the works for publication next spring. Not a bad picture so far for this wee 1-man band, and I’m confident that the series will go on for several other volumes.

Thanks to all my solid supporters as I push ahead with this project. There’s almost no outside support for what I am doing, and no one in official Ottawa could give a hoot — count on that ( I’m sure you understand how that goes). Without you fairly-few dedicated readers, I wouldn’t have a hope of getting the next book into print.

CANAV needs a whole lot of you other folks to do something positive and completely edifying! Who are you? You’re the good citizens who like to complain that “no one cares about our aviation heritage”. You’re the fellows who have been slapping me on the back at all those aviation functions over the decades saying, “Good show, old boy. Where would we be without you, you deserve a gong.” And all that hot air. Yet you’re the same fellows who get all cramped up when it comes to writing a cheque for a book. Forget about all those shop-worn excuses: “I’m running out of room.” … “If I bring home another book, the wife’ll kill me.” … “I’m too old to read any more.” … and my favourire — “I’ve never bought a book in my life and have no intention of spoiling my perfect record.” Good grief, chuck all that guff and, failing all else, donate a book to a school, a library, a grandchild — there are plenty of absolutely brilliant reasons.

Breeze through the editorial, then go through the booklist — it’s one of the best you’ll find, if you truly enjoy and support Canadian aviation history. Besides all the world-famous CANAV titles, you’re sure to find others that will make perfect summer reading and bolster your Canadiana library.

I’m hoping that you have the first two titles already: ACPD and ACFY. If not, you’re invited to leap aboard the “Aviation in Canada Express”.  I’m ready to autograph your books and fire them off. While you’re at it, check back in the blogs to see the latest in book reviews and various other zany topics. See p.4 of the book list to check out “Bargain time” and to see how you now can use PayPal, should you like to shop that way.

Cheers … Larry Milberry, publisher
Member, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame
Hon. Fellow Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute

Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years — Off to the Races!

Friesen Sign ... It's always great pulling into Altona and being welcomed by the Manitoba-friendly folks at Friesen Printers. (Photos by Larry Milberry)

Friesen Sign ... It's always great pulling into Altona and being welcomed by the Manitoba-friendly folks at Friesen Printers. (Photos by Larry Milberry)

August 4, 2009 was another red-letter day in the annals of CANAV Books. Beginning at 0800 at Friesen Printers in Altona, Manitoba, Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years hit the presses. My job was to be on hand to approve press sheets one sheet at a time before they were run. I’ve been used to this routine since the days of Bryant Press and T.H. Best nearly 30 years ago, when the technology in use was the truly dinosauric 72″ Harris press.

Pre-production of ACFY had begun 3-4 weeks earlier with a lot of pre-press detail work at Friesen — validating all the e-files sent by CANAV, arranging for paper stock, scheduling presses and shifts, eventually making plates, etc. With much of this nailed down, Freisen gave me my “be there, or be square” press date.

A quick meeting in the plant at 0800 involved me, Friesen’s Tom Klassen, plus two pressmen handling today’s job.

Pressman at work ... A Friesen pressman checks a proof during the ACFY job.

Pressman at work ... A Friesen pressman checks a proof during the ACFY job.

Big Press ... It's a "go large or go home" world out in Altona. But not to worry, for Friesen knows the importance of keeping technologically current. Here is some of its advanced equipment ... a huge Roland 900 colour press.

Big Press ... It's a "go large or go home" world out in Altona. But not to worry, for Friesen knows the importance of keeping technologically current. Here is some of its advanced equipment ... a huge Roland 900 colour press.

Friesen Bindery ... A small stretch of Friesen's sprawling book bindery. This equipment was between jobs and just waiting to get rolling.

Friesen Bindery ... A small stretch of Friesen's sprawling book bindery. This equipment was between jobs and just waiting to get rolling.

Friesen Robot ... No surprise that robotics play an important role at Friesen Printers. This Motoman HP165 specializes in picking boxes of books off the end of the bindery and stacking them on pallets for shipment.

Friesen Robot ... No surprise that robotics play an important role at Friesen Printers. This Motoman HP165 specializes in picking boxes of books off the end of the bindery and stacking them on pallets for shipment.

Before long I started looking over press proofs, first the endpapers, the dust jacket, then the “guts” of the book. Soon it was clear that a lovely clean job was in the works. I quickly approved the entire run, confident that ACFY would be as masterly a printing job as had been ACPD, done by Friesen last November.

Having inspected the pressman's proof, the publisher has signed it off "good to go".

Having inspected the pressman's proofs, the publisher signed them off "good to go". Here's some of the finished product: dust jackets and endpapers. "Formative Years" went down the bindery on August 6 and hit the Trans Canada Hwy next day. Everything's on track for the book launch August 13 at the Downsview Legion (Br.527)

 Friesen wall of fame ... Friesen Printers produces thousands of new titles and reprints each year. Down one wall in a corridor the company displays book jackets in a sort of publishers wall of fame. Top left is the cover art for Dan Dempsey's incomparable book, A Tradition of Excellence.

Friesen wall of fame ... Friesen Printers produces thousands of new titles and reprints each year. Down one wall in a corridor the company displays book jackets in a sort of publishers wall of fame. Top left is the cover art for Dan Dempsey's incomparable book, A Tradition of Excellence.

Today’s job ran for 10 hours and resulted in pallets piled high with finished sheets. Friesen once again had wowed me with their professionalism. I was a happy boy when I headed back to Winnipeg to catch WestJet home. In the next two days ACFY would pass through the bindery, hit the Trans Canada on the 8th, then comes distribution to all our solid readers. Hang in there … books within three weeks pretty well where ever you are in North America. Place your advance order here.

Besides all the work at Friesen, I made my usual visit to the Altona airstrip to check out the action. Lovely day that it was, all was quiet. However, there was an eye-catching Rockwell Commander S-2R that I hadn't seen before at Southeast Air Service. C-FPOS "Reno Ripoff" (c/n1777R) looked just fine under Manitoba sun and sky. Sad to say, but time was short and I hadn't a chance to visit Arty's "ag" operation at Winkler, not even Peter Funk's at Morris, en route back to Winnipeg. Oh well, maybe next year.   There can be the odd snag on an outing like this, sometimes one that can really cheese a fellow off. What was it this time? One word -- Budget. To be sure of smooth sailing all the way, I had web-booked a rental with Budget. How smart is that, I figured! Well, not so smart, so renters beware of YWG Budget.

"Reno Ripoff" awaits its next ag contract, which might come with a phone call. Spring, summer and fall each brings its own spray requirements -- maybe blight, maybe bugs, maybe weeds. To get the job done, this hefty "ag truck" gets plenty of oomph from its 600-hp P&W Wasp, although the fuel burn is 45 Imp. gph.

Besides all the work at Friesen, I made my usual visit to the Altona airstrip to check out the action. Lovely day that it was, all was quiet. However, there was an eye-catching Rockwell Commander S-2R that I hadn’t seen before at Southeast Air Service. C-FPOS “Reno Ripoff” (c/n1777R) looked just fine under Manitoba sun and sky. Sad to say, but time was short and I hadn’t a chance to visit Arty’s “ag” operation at Winkler, not even Peter Funk’s at Morris, en route back to Winnipeg. Oh well, maybe next year.

There can be the odd snag on an outing like this, sometimes one that can really cheese a fellow off. What was it this time? One word — Budget. To be sure of smooth sailing all the way, I had web-booked a rental with Budget. How smart is that, I figured! Well, not so smart, so renters beware of YWG Budget.

Budget assigned me a Hyundai with Manitoba plate EYS641. Have a look at this little beauty! Wouldn't you just be happy as all get-out driving this little beauty around to impressed your business associates! Oh well, just ask for something a bit cleaner, right?    Nice try, old boy! Budget's rep was miffed at how picky I was being. If I wanted a replacement, I would have to go back out and inspect it personally, then get the keys since, "At Budget we just can't keep changing contracts for fussy customers." This whole farce took me about an hour to get straight, so three cheers for booking your YWG Budget rental on line. Not!

Here's Budget's latest promotion to pull in the discerning corporate customer: EYS641 awaits at YWG on the afternoon of August 3. Nice, eh!

Budget assigned me a Hyundai with Manitoba plate EYS641. Have a look at this little beauty! Wouldn’t you just be happy as all get-out driving this little beauty around to impress your business associates! Oh well, just ask for something a bit cleaner, right? Nice try, old boy! Budget’s rep was miffed at how picky I was being. If I wanted a replacement, I would have to go back out and inspect it personally, then get the keys since, “At Budget we just can’t keep changing contracts for fussy customers.” This whole farce took me about an hour to get straight, so three cheers for booking your YWG Budget rental on line. Not!