Great Lakes Airlines - Sarnia's own
Great Lakes Airlines was a regional airline formed in Sarnia, Ontario in 1958 by John Blunt. In the 1980's it merged with Austin Airways and became Air Ontario, later acquired by Air Canada and now part of Jazz.
An inevitable nickname, 'Great Shakes', was quickly bestowed on the airline due to the vibrations experienced on take off of their mostly turboprop fleet and, of course, the simple rhyme.
I remember that their gates were located in a satellite area of Toronto's Terminal 2, without boarding bridges, that we had to drive by on the way to Air Canada's gates.
Being new to the airport experience, I was pretty leery of being in the vicinity of the propellers as they taxied and made sure that my eyes and ears were open as I drove by.
I tried to find a fleet list of the aircraft that had flown for Great Lakes but was unsuccessful. I did find a page of seventeen photographs (five by NetLetter subscriber, Gary Vincent) at www.airhistory.net/basic-operator/20869/Great-Lakes-Airlines
I also found an article published on the Sarnia Historical Society website entitled 'When Sarnia Had its Own Airline'.
Written as a personal memory by Phil Egan for The Sarnia Journal; excerpt below.
"Great Lakes Airlines, at the time, had grown out of the fleet air arm of the Holmes-Blunt Group of companies that also owned Holmes Foundry, Eagle Machines in London, and other companies.
It operated two, 44-seat piston-engine Convair Metropolitan aircraft. One flight carried Sarnia business travellers to Toronto and back each day. The other aircraft was mine to peddle for charter.
I sold golf charters in summer to Georgia and the Carolinas, and hockey charters to Maple Leaf Gardens in winter. We used to offer a package that included round-trip flight from Sarnia to Toronto, a round-trip bus ride to and from Maple Leaf Gardens, and a ticket to the game (greys). The whole thing cost $25.
It was a small airline, and everyone did their bit to make it work. Laurie Chivers, the “chief stewardess,” used to stop at John’s Restaurant on her way to work to buy 44 doughnuts for the morning’s flight. General Manager George Capern also flew some of the flights."
Convair 580, registration C-GQHA,
Photo by Gary Vincent
Monika Hilson recounts a story about working in the first class cabin -
On the DC-8 there were 12 first class seats. They were the choice of the elite in the 1960's that could afford the fare.
It was wonderful to see nicely dressed up and well mannered passengers. We, 'stewardesses', were actually looked up to as a dream career. All of us were immaculate from head to toe, well groomed young and attractive. I had never seen a passenger sitting in a cut off undershirt until 25 years later working a flight to Waikiki, what a shock!
In first class we had a seven course dinner. I can see you all salivating now. It started with beluga caviar, and champagne. Next came the fresh lobster claws, shrimp and scallops done in an exquisite sauce.
Now you could order a cold soup with beautiful breads or a soup called Mulligatawny. We always had vintage French wines. Following that we served a Chateaubriand or another choice of meat, usually Chicken Kiev. The meats were carved at your seat. There was a beautiful red rose and about three wine glasses that were set up on a large linen tablecloth.
Next was the beautiful choice of cheese and fresh fruit and last was the dessert trolley with coffee followed by the liquor trolley and ending with Cuban cigars.
One time I was delegated to work the first class galley. Usually the senior 'stewardess' took the position but, on this occasion, she was a bit tired of working with the public too much.
I hated working the galley. Who wants to move china, glasses, scrape dishes and look after the pilots who did not want to eat their crew meal and would wait to see what was left over from first class.
Now, here is what happened on that flight. It was a rather short take off and we climbed suddenly. Right behind me, I was sitting on the jump seat, I could hear the click of the oven door opening up.
As I was strapped in and we were climbing rapidly I could not get up. All of a sudden, to my horror, I see a beautiful Chateaubriand rolling down the aisle past me. The passenger in the first row caught it and, when we levelled off, I went up to him and said, "thank God we have two of them".
Actually, there were no extra meals on board and we had to work with what we had. I proceeded to the galley, closed the curtain, washed it off and stuck it back into the oven. It turned out very well for escaping down the aisle.
In NetLetter #1475, we mentioned a new Facebook page titled Air Canada Family Friends by Ann Harper and David Slobod.
This is a progressive step forward that will offer our Facebook ACFF membership the opportunity to look for and connect with an even wider array of colleagues dating as far back as our memories stretch. Around this “ACFF Reach” table we can share a sense of history and remember times of transition from the Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) inaugural flight of September 1, 1937 through to January 1965 when the national airline, Air Canada, was born.
The journey from government ownership to privatization enriched our lives by allowing us to see the past as an important mindset in moving forward to an incredible future.
Editors' Note: Well worth a visit.
The National UK pension has increased by 3.1%. Unfortunately, this does not affect the pensions received by expats living in Canada or New Zealand which are without a reciprocal social security deal with the UK.
The pension payments are frozen and fall in real terms year-to-year, despite having paid the full contributions while living and working in the UK. The weekly rate is now GBP141.85 (CAD221.00) for the basic state pension, and GBP185.15 (CAD297.00) for the new state pension. The "freeze" is costing an expat up to GBP7,000 (CAD11,270.00) per year. (Rate $1.61 April 29, 2022.)
Hobbit-themed getaway in Okanagan highlands becomes coveted minibreak location.
Nestled in between the Kootenay Boundary Region and the Okanagan Valley is a little piece of Middle Earth.
Modelled after the Hobbit Hole owned by the star of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit — Bilbo Baggins — the earth home is just minutes outside of Osoyoos. It boasts a kitchenette, fireplace, dreamy bedroom and outdoor fire pit where guests can let their imaginations run wild.
Many people even come in costume as their favourite hobbit, elf, dwarf or character.
Continuation of the Air Canada nee Trans-Canada Air Lines History. Started in NetLetter #1483.
(Source: Air Canada 75 years of innovation)
More next NetLetter – Editors.