Category Archives: Publishing

L’@erobibliotheque reviews Pioneer Decades

Pioneer Decades - cover Philippe Listemann of L@erobibliotheque wrote this review of Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, Vol. 1 in CANAV Books’ Centennial of Flight series. See the original item here.

Alors que l’épopée de l’aviation a plus de cent ans, les articles ou ouvrages traitant des premiers vols ou premiers exploits sont publiés pour célébrer ce qui nous anime depuis longtemps ici – l’aviation. Cette fois c’est Larry Milberry qui nous propose de raconter les débuts de l’aviation au Canada jusqu’à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale : l’histoire aéronautique de ce pays est bien plus riche que l’on pourrait se l’imaginer au premier abord.

Ce qui frappe en premier lieu dans ce livre de près de 180 pages, c’est le nombre de photographies et leur qualité. De ce fait, cette prise de contact nous invite à lire le texte. Divisé en sept chapitres, les trois premiers traitent respectivement des débuts de 1840 à 1914, de la base de Camp Borden qui est le berceau de l’aviation militaire canadienne, et de la création de l’industrie aéronautique canadienne. En parcourant ces chapitres, on s’aperçoit vite que les Canadiens se sont intéressés très tôt à l’aviation, entraînés par leur pays de tutelle de l’époque, la Grande-Bretagne, et encouragés par les débuts prometteurs enregistrés dans le puissant pays voisin, les États-Unis.

Suit le chapitre 4 avec 16 pages qui est à mettre un peu à part car il présente des photos de warbirds, qui à mon sens n’apportent pas grand chose à ce livre, même si les prises de vue sont réussies. Cela nous fait cependant quitter notre voyage dans l’histoire un temps sans véritable raison. On retourne alors dans le passé avec les chapitres 5, 6 et 7 qui sont consacrés à la Grande guerre, décrit l’implication des Canadiens dans ce conflit et intéressera même ceux qui n’ont qu’un faible intérêt pour la Première Guerre mondiale. Après avoir passé en revue les grandes figures incontournables canadiennes de la Grande guerre, Larry Milberry s’attarde sur les autres pilotes qui ont servi dans le RFC, unité après unité ; un résumé nous présente ces pilotes canadiens les plus marquants, lesquels ont contribué à écrire l’histoire de leurs unités respectives du No1 Squadron au No.218 Squadron, sans oublier la passionnante chasse aux Zeppelins. Tout le long du texte, des récits extraits de rapports de combat, de communiqués officiels ou autres, en font un texte vivant à lire.

L’intérêt ne diminue pas avec le dernier chapitre consacré à la tentative de mise sur pied d’une force aérienne canadienne mais aussi à la participation des aviateurs canadiens dans la très peu connue aventure des Alliés en Russie, regroupant des forces britanniques, françaises et américaines, dans le but de soutenir les Russes blancs qui les opposaient aux Rouges en 1918 à 1921. Sans aucun doute un bon livre pour toute personne intéressée aux premiers pas de l’aviation et aussi à la Première Guerre mondiale.

Philippe Listemann

To order your autographed copy of Pioneer Decades (there are still a few copies left!) click here.



Formative Years: Our Readers React

HS-2L G-CAAD at rest at Lac-a-la-Torue, Quebec along with a spiffy-looking Curtiss Seagull. G-CAAD ended its day in a crash at Tadoussac, Quebec on August 4, 1922. (LAC PA89145)

HS-2L G-CAAD at rest at Lac-a-la-Torue, Quebec along with a spiffy-looking Curtiss Seagull. G-CAAD ended its day in a crash at Tadoussac, Quebec on August 4, 1922. (LAC PA89145)

Jim Court flew the Quebec North Shore for decades, then retired in Sept-Iles. One of the first in line for a copy of Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years, Jim’s already into it and today he comments:

Hi Larry,

The book arrived on Friday and the cheque is in the mail. Excellent — those books will be something to bequeath to our grandkids!

Re the HS-2L that was lost at Kegaska in 1927. My dad remembered that one. They were forced down either by bad weather or engine trouble, or a combination of both. The pilot’s name was Guay, I think. They landed at a place called Foreman’s Gull Island, about three miles west of the village.  It’s a fairly sheltered area among some islands, but with no protection from a SE wind. A storm blew up and the airplane drove ashore and broke up. There’s a piece of the prop still around, hanging on the wall of a fishing lodge down there, owned by a descendant of the Foremans for whom the island was named.

The one lost at Sept-Iles was in Lac a l’Eau-Dorée, just north of here. I can’t remember whether it went in on glassy water or it hit a deadhead on takeoff — there are varying theories. The wreck was located by Gilles Ross some years ago via underwater camera, the same rig he used to locate the Cessna 180 that went in on glassy water and sank in Rapid Lake in 1968. He told me the HS is in pretty good shape. The lake is very deep, and the wreck is down over 200 feet, as I recall. That lake is so deep it’s the last one to freeze in the fall and the first to thaw in the spring.

Anyway thanks for the book Larry. As soon as the third one’s out, drop it in the mail along with the invoice, and keep me on the mailing list for any specials you may run across, including The Penetrators.

Take care … Jim.

We love to hear what our readers and critics have to say! If you have any comments on the new book, or wish to submit a reader review, email larry@canavbooks.com.

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!

Canada’s Centennial of Flight in the printed word

These CAHS "old timers" were honoured at the May 9 meeting with Toronto Chapter Centennial of Flight awards: George Topple, Sheldon Benner, Bill Wheeler, Larry Milberry and Fred Hotson. (Ken Swartz)

These CAHS "old timers" were honoured at the May 9 meeting with Toronto Chapter Centennial of Flight awards: George Topple, Sheldon Benner, Bill Wheeler, Larry Milberry and Fred Hotson. (Ken Swartz)

On May 9, 2009 Larry Milberry delivered this brief “Centennial of Aviation” talk to the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. The venue was the Canadian Air and Space Museum.

Considering how this is Canada’s Centennial of Flight, today I’ll be taking a wide look at our aviation heritage and what’s been done in the printed word, etc., to preserve and further it. So far this year there have been some decent efforts to generate serious Centennial interest. There’s the ace of a model display by the Aero Buffs right here in the lobby, a showing of aviation nose art at the WCAM, the CAHS Calgary chapter’s next speaker will be reviving a local story — the sad tale of Mosquito “F for Freddie” and lots more is upcoming across the country. Locally, Sheldon Benner and CAHS friends have visited the Buffalo Aero Club, having in mind to spruce up Toronto CAHS chapter operations. I’m assuming that the CAHS national conventionthis year will be focusing on Centennial topics.

There recently have been some significant Canadian aircraft restoration projects, especially that of the AEA2005 – construction to flight status of a fine Silver Dart replica. I went down to Baddeck to check out that action, at the end of which it was announced that the replica would be housed permanently in a wing to be added to the magnificent Bell Museum in Baddeck. Put the Bell museum on your list of great museums to visit and while you’re at it; also add the incomparable Curtiss museum found just across Lake Ontario from us. In Montreal next week the Canadian Aviation Heritage Centre at Ste. Anne de Bellevue will roll out a near-perfect replica of a Bleriot, very similar to the pair that flew during the Montreal and Toronto aviation meets of 1910. The museum is also restoring a Fairchild bushplane and a Bolingbroke, so that folks there sure have plenty of enthusiasm and it’s well directed.

In June the CWH will fly its Lysander for the first time, a project that has been underway for many years. Meanwhile, Michael Potter’s Vintage Wings of Gatineau continues its whirlwind schedule of activities, especially regarding its Canadair Sabre. Painted in Golden Hawks colours, the Sabre began its round of appearances at Baddeck. Two weeks ago at Comox I saw the Sabre in the air with the Snowbirds. Elsewhere, members of the Alberta Aviation Museum have conducted some commemorative re-enactments of famous flights.

Upcoming are several glitzy airshows, as at Trenton and Bagotville, so everyone should have a chance to get in on the fun. What I’d like to do for the next few minutes is give a brief overview of some of the lasting efforts made in former years to lay a foundation for Canada’s aviation heritage. The original material from which our knowledge today emanates include such resources as the records of the AEA itself. Alexander Graham Bell insisted on recording and preserving in print everything that the AEA accomplished — its goals, successes, failures. Meanwhile, the contemporary press back then usually was doing a decent job covering anything to do with flight, beginning with Canada’s first manned balloon ascent at Saint John, New Brunswick 169 years ago. Although copies of most 19th Century local newspapers have not survived, there are enough in our archives coast to coast, so that we know about pretty well all the pioneer balloon events and other flight developments that followed to 1909. Contrary to what some of our “PhD” aviation researchers would say, it’s my contention that such contemporary newspapers by now should be viewed as a primary source for any serious history researcher. More and more archival newspapers are coming available on line every day. Through the Toronto Public Library, for example, the Toronto Globe and Toronto Daily Star are freely available from Day 1. All one needs to access them is a library card, and using the search options available, it’s a fair breeze to find all the aviation coverage from any year and on whatever topic you might be researching.

Beyond the local press, even before WWI there were specialized international publications covering flight. The first such in Canada likely appeared during WWI – newsletters and magazines published by the RFC training stations in Ontario. Then, just at war’s end, Lt Alan Sullivan was commissioned to write an resumé of the RFC training plan. This resulted in Sullivan’s 1918 title, Aviation in Canada. This is Canada’s first aviation book and Sullivan certainly did an excellent job telling the story using mountains of source material and illustrating the book with a wide selection of top-drawer photos. Copies of Sullivan’s book usually are for sale any day of the week on such internet sites as abebooks.com. One day this week I noticed that there were 36 on offer on “abe” ranging from $20 to $90. Any serious aviation reader should have a copy.

Meanwhile, in post-WWI days Canadians were reading from a host of UK and US aviation monthlies, getting all the immediate gen — in-depth articles covering technology, flying clubs, air regulations, military developments, biographical information and so on. All this is exceedingly valuable material for us to tap today. Canadian Air Review, the voice of the Aerial League of Canada, and Canadian Aviation Magazine, the voice of the Canadian Flying Clubs Association, both were circulating by 1928. Also by this time our first serious aviation history delvings were under way, led by Frank H. Ellis, one of the few Canadian members of the “Early Birds” – someone who had piloted a plane before December 17, 1913 (the 13th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight). Frank Ellis seems to have been born with a love for history in his veins.

By the mid 1930s Canadian Aviation was publishing his articles. In due course, he turned these into an in-depth book manuscript. But book publishing was a costly undertaking, so how was an ordinary little working man like Ellis going to get his dream into print? The problem was solved when Imperial Oil agreed to fund the project. This was likely due to the special interest of pioneer bush and Arctic pilot T.M. “Pat” Reid, then in sales at Imperial Oil. At the same time an arrangement was made with the University of Toronto Press and Ellis’ book was published in 1954. Entitled Canada’s Flying Heritage, this amazingly fine work remains in print 55 years later. “CFH”, as we call it, is where anyone who really cares about the subject must begin to read. I see that there are many copies for sale any day of the week on the internet. CFH certainly is our aviation history bible, yet its great author Frank Ellis remains unrecognized by Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. There always seem to be such ironies.

Others have since done great work getting our aviation heritage into print. Next to Ellis, I would name Kenneth M. Molson. His seminal works Canadian Aircraft since 1909 and Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport also should be in every self-respecting fan’s library. Like Ellis, Molson followed the aviation scene since he was a boy. He learned to fly pre-war, studied aeronautic science and worked at Victory Aircraft and Avro Canada before he became head the National Aeronautical Collection in Ottawa. There, Ken set the tone in establishing the world class museum that thousands visit annually. His special love was the bushplanes of the interwar years, so he set out to collect as many relevant examples as he could. Today you can enjoy the results of Ken’s efforts in such beautifully-restored types as the Bellanca, Fairchild, HS-2L and Junkers.

He also collaborated with such great history-minded men in Ottawa as W/C Ralph Manning in establishing a collection of WWI and WWII aircraft, especially those of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Ken later gave us another seminal book — Canada’s National Aeronautical Museum: Its History and Collections, then collaborated with another leading aviation history professional, Fred Shortt, to write the Curtiss HS Flying Boats. These are two further gems that eminently deserve to be on your library shelf. The “HS” book is exceptional and was supposed to be the first of a series. However, once Ken, then his successor, Bob Bradford, had retired from the museum, serious publishing there ceased and the tone changed, sad to say, from high enthusiasm for our aviation heritage, to the humdrum of a well-tuned Ottawa civil service operation. Nonetheless, the museum remains a monument of the finest order to its first great curators, Molson and Bradford.

Toronto Chapter member Neil McGavock showed up at the meeting to have his treasured Fred Hotson books The Bremen and De Havilland in Canada autographed by the renowned author himself. (Larry Milberry)

Toronto Chapter member Neil McGavock showed up at the meeting to have his treasured Fred Hotson books The Bremen and De Havilland in Canada autographed by the renowned author himself. (Larry Milberry)

Along the way other researchers and authors have produced some very solid and enduring books. The bibliography by now is vast, but I’ll mention some of the true highlights: the CAHS’s own 1983 125 Years of Canadian Aeronautics, the great John Griffin’s 1969 Canadian Military Aircraft Serials and Photographs, the incredibly useful 1977 Griffin-Kostenuk title RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft, Fred Hatch’s indispensable 1983 Aerodrome of Democracy, Fred Hotson’s 1983 De Havilland Canada Story, Donald Bain’s 1987 Canadian Pacific Air Lines: Its History and Aircraft, John Blatherwick’s 1989 A History of Airlines in Canada and Tom McGrath’s 1991 History of Canadian Airports. With these books on your shelf, you have the absolute core of a fine Canadian aviation library.

There also are by now hundreds of Canadian aviation biographies and autobiographies. Most are decent if not excellent contributions to the body of knowledge that interests us. I think here of such titles as Jack Lamb’s My Life in the North, Rex Terpening’s Bent Props and Blowpots, Wess McIntosh’s Permission Granted or Hap Kennedy’s Black Crosses of My Wingtips. The advent of “just in time” print technology has enabled many to economically produce small runs of their own aviation histories. While in Campbell River two weeks ago I met retired airline pilot Danny Bereza. He told me about his own book The Big Dipper Route. Luckily he had a copy to sell. Danny’s book turns out to be a top-notch story about a young pilot’s rights of passage in Arctic aviation. Well written and professionally edited, done in a readable type and so on, it’s a solid piece of work that begins to tell Danny’s story and that of Great Northern Airlines of Whitehorse.

At this point I have to recognize what probably is the grandest published source of all Canadian aviation history – our own CAHS Journal. Begun in 1963 and published faithfully at the rate of four per year, there are nearly 200 Journals in print. Each one is rock solid as to excellence in format and in content. Responsible for each and every one of them has been our own amazing Bill Wheeler. Having put some 6000 – 7000 pages of Canadian aviation history onto the printed page, it’s fair to say that no individual has done more to advance our important cause. Knowledgeable historians all over the world have lauded the Journal, so we sure can all be proud of it and of our amiable, unflappable editor. Sad to say, but Bill recently announced that he was retiring as Journal editor.

Finally, I have few words about the aviation book publishing process, something that people are always asking about. Presently, I’m trying to get a series going as to the Centennial of Flight. Volume 1 came out last November – Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades. Volume 2 Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years should be in print by late June. What people usually ask most about is the history process as I pursue it. In gathering material, I follow a tried and true system that began while developing my first book, Aviation in Canada, published exactly 30 years ago. It was by interviewing face to face and corresponding voluminously with the likes of Russ Bannock, Jack Charleson, Bud Found, Bob Fowler, Tommy Fox, Lewie Leigh, Wess McIntosh, Al Soutar and Harry Whereatt that I became a proponent of the personal interview. The way that a productive interview goes is straight forward. I sit down with an aviator who has on the table before us his log book, scrap books, photos, official documents, correspondence and such like. By going through all this material, while asking a series of very direct questions, the researcher starts to get a good history going. Recently I interviewed Typhoon pilot John Porter in Parksville, BC, then drove up to Campbell River to put Bomber Command air gunner Ted Turner under the microscope. What resulted is two pieces of solid history that will get nicely refined over the next few months, starting by having John and Ted tear apart my initial drafts. Naturally, I also use all the official sources that I can get my hands on, from the ORBs to personnel files, accident reports, official photo files and the like. Eventually, several qualified people also will read the manuscript – maybe a former crewmate, employer or CO. Qualified proof readers also will have a go at the manuscript, then at the galley proofs. The final result is a historically reliable piece of work.

Another topic often queried is marketing – who really wants books badly enough to lay out the cash? That’s the great conundrum. Sales wise, CANAV long ago decided to specialize in mail order. This came about following my initial experiences with Canada’s book sellers, whom I refer to as “the people who pretend to buy books, then pretend to pay for them.” Sad to say, but nearly the entire retail book business is that way. So … CANAV survives by selling directly to those readers seriously interested in aviation books and, roughly speaking, that approach works. Other than that, I still have a handful of trade outlets — solid, well run operators such as Aviation World, and a few of our aviation museum giftshops (such as this very one) that appreciate the important role that book sales have in the museum fund-raising game.

Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years is “on final”

p149Volume 2 of CANAV’s new series is “on final” to land at the printer in 5-6 weeks. Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years (working title) begins where Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Years ends – 1918. The theme is the birth of civil aviation in Canada. You’ll read how, flying rickety war surplus JN-4s at country fairs, our first aviation “entrepreneurs” laid the foundation for a viable commercial aviation sector.

Canada’s pioneer flying operations are all reviewed in Formative Years, from the first efforts of the St. Maurice Forestry Protective Association, to such progressively daring ventures as Laurentide Air Service, the Ontario Provincial Air Service, Patricia Airways and Exploration and Western Canada Airways. All these have been covered, especially since Frank Ellis’ seminal 1954 book, Canada’s Flying Heritage (discussed in this post). But Formative Years takes a new look at the whole picture, coming up with piles of new material and presenting it as never before.

So what’s so new in our coverage? For one thing, there are detailed chapters about a little-known pioneer company — North Aerial Mineral Explorations. In 1928-31 “NAME” was one of Canada’s prominent innovators in air transportation. Included is the incredible biography of NAME’s pilot W.J. “Jack” McDonough, whose personal archive recently has surfaced. From WWI to pioneer commercial flying in the UK, McDonough flies the mail in the United States, then returns to the RAF for a tour in the Mid-East desert. He excels at air racing, but ends not in Hollywood, but on Canada’s Arctic frontier. McDonough rises in aviation and mining development – a “quintessential Canuck” as one media writer of the day calls him.

Superintendent for many years of the OPAS’ vast Northwestern Ontario district, J.P. Culliton was another top bush flying pioneer. Yet, when the semi-official history of the OPAS (The Firebirds) was published in 1974, Culliton’s name was not mentioned – anywhere! So one wonders about what goes on sometimes in the world of Canadian aviation history. Formative Years does its bit to correct a few such oversights (not that we can do everything at once).

Formative Years gives you the grandest text and photo selection ever published about its subject. It’s the first title specifically dedicated to the topic since K.M. Molson’s magnificent 1974 Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. But, while the great Molson focused upon the rise of Canadian Airways, Formative Years covers the broader picture, from a small outfit in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1919 to another out in the depths of Northern BC. Aviators famous and not-so-famous, lucky and not-so-lucky, fly across our pages. So … keep an eye here and at canavbooks.com for the latest updates. Meanwhile, here are a few of the hundreds of astounding photos that you’ll soon be enjoying in Formative Years.

19Some of the planes that took part in the great Toronto-New York air race of August 1919. Such events stirred public interest in aviation as tried to adapt from war to peace. Such events put the spotlight on the need for public airports and improved aircraft deisgns. (National Museum of the USAF)

Some of the planes that took part in the great Toronto-New York air race of August 1919. Such events stirred public interest in aviation as it tried to adapt from war to peace. Such events put the spotlight on the need for public airports and improved aircraft designs. (National Museum of the USAF)

The replica of the Alcock and Brown Vickers Vimy visits Toronto in June 2005. One of its pilots was the late, great Steve Fossett. Even with modern improvements, this replica was a brute to fly, emphasizing further just how amazing the original Vimy trans-Atlantic flight of 1919 really had been. (Larry Milberry)

The replica of the Alcock and Brown Vickers Vimy visits Toronto in June 2005. One of its pilots was the late, great Steve Fossett. Even with modern improvements, this replica was a brute to fly, emphasizing further just how amazing the original Vimy trans-Atlantic flight of 1919 really had been. (Larry Milberry)

73Formative Years will introduce 100s of incredible newly-revealed treasures of aviation photography. Example: this detailed view of a Western Canada Airways Fokker Universal will wow any true fan. (W.J. McDonough Collection)

Formative Years will introduce 100s of incredible newly-revealed treasures of aviation photography. Example: this detailed view of a Western Canada Airways Fokker Universal will wow any true fan. (W.J. McDonough Collection)

"Formative Years” details how commercial aviation won its wings ever so haltingly in post-WWI Canada. Here a Colonial Airways Sikorsky amphibian arrives on Toronto Bay on it 1929 summer schedule from Buffalo, NY. The Great Depression that hit later in the year quickly killed off many such promising business ventures. (CANAV Books Collection)

"Formative Years” details how commercial aviation won its wings ever so haltingly in post-WWI Canada. Here a Colonial Airways Sikorsky amphibian arrives on Toronto Bay on it 1929 summer schedule from Buffalo, NY. The Great Depression that hit later in the year quickly killed off many such promising business ventures. (CANAV Books Collection)

In 1928 some of Canada best postwar pilots joined Frank E. Hammell’s Northern Aerial Mineral Exploration. Here were the likes of “Doc” Oaks, “Dazzy” Vance and “Al” Cheesman. Mainly WWI veterans, they pioneered in Canada’s most forbidding country, taking their bare-bones Fairchilds and Fokkers as far north as the Arctic islands in search of Eldorado. (J.P. Culliton Collection)

In 1928 some of Canada best postwar pilots joined Frank E. Hammell’s Northern Aerial Mineral Exploration. Here were the likes of “Doc” Oaks, “Dazzy” Vance and “Al” Cheesman. Mainly WWI veterans, they pioneered in Canada’s most forbidding country, taking their bare-bones Fairchilds and Fokkers as far north as the Arctic islands in search of Eldorado. (J.P. Culliton Collection)

A “Good Show” from Dr. Jack Granatstein

Picture 1After grumbling recently about how hard it is to scrounge up a book review in Canada these days, publisher Milberry relents. Here’s why: In his column “Views off the Shelf” in the the May-June edition of Legion Magazine, staff book reviewer, Dr. Jack Granatstein, features CANAV’s two latest titles – Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange and Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades.

Granatstein eases into his CANAV piece, finishing his commentary from the preceding review, by noting “A good job, this book … The same might be said for the books produced by the extraordinarily prolific Larry Milberry of CANAV Books.” So far so good, as our good man describes aviation publishing as a dicey sort of cottage industry. Then he starts right into it:

“The two latest volumes by Milberry are his Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange, which sells for $50, and Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, also $50. Both have … hundreds of photographs of aircraft and individuals and wonderful colour sections. Canada’s Air Forces of Exchange is a truly specialist book, but those who are interested in Canadians who served with American, British, Australian, German and Dutch air forces will be astonished at the wealth of detail collected.

“Much more interesting for a general reader is Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, which looks at the trailblazers of flight in Canada and devotes several chapters to the First World War, treating both training in Canada and combat overseas. The colour section in this book is long and superb, featuring restored and replica Great War aircraft, Allied and German…

“All the familiar names like Billy Bishop are here, but so are many who have become obscure over the decades. Bishop, incidentally, gets a fair, if slightly skeptical, hearing here that suggests Milberry remains to be convinced that he actually did shoot down all those German aircraft that earned him the Victoria Cross.”

CANAV’s third ever sale almost over!

Don’t forget! CANAV’s Once in a Blue Moon Sale runs until May 15th! This is only the third sale in CANAV’s almost 30-year history. For amazing deals (many books half price!), check the book list here and recently added titles here. CANAV books make excellent Christmas-birthday-retirement-office gifts and are a wonderful addition to any public or school library. And if you want author and publisher Larry Milberry to sign your copy, just let us know. Now that’s something you can’t get on Amazon…