Vesta's Corner

Vesta StevensonWhy not allow the NetLetter be your platform, and opportunity, to relive your history while working for either TCA, AC, CPAir, CAIL, PWA, AirBC etal. and share your experiences with us!

Air Canada - our first 70 years

Trans-Canada Air Lines Logo1966 - April 24th - direct Vancouver - London, England with DC-8 inaugurated under the banner of "Western Arrow".. At this time one of the longest non-stop flights in the world.

1967 - Mar 7th

dc-9First "Long-Body" DC-9 fin nr 707 delivered to YUL.

Aug 22nd - Daily Los Angeles service inaugurated with DC-8 equipment. Delivery positions 74, 80, 82 and 86 for the Concorde SST were reserved..

1971 - April 24th - Scheduled B-747 service inaugurated between Toronto and Vancouver.

Air Canada news

Air CanadaJazz will introduce service between Calgary and San Diego May 15th with CRJ700 equipment.
and introduce service between Calgary and Portland Jun 15th with CRJ200 equipment.

Air Canada will introduce service between Calgary and London, Ontario with E90 equipment on June 1st.

Western Canada - New York flights. Effective April 1, 2009 all flights from Calgary and Vancouver to New York will operate to Newark (EWR) and Air Canada will no longer operate flights into JFK. Consolidating flights at EWR will enable Air Canada to leverage its upcoming codeshare relationship with Continental through its EWR hub.

After April 1, New York airports served by Air Canada will be
Newark (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA), and White Plains, NY (Westchester County, code HPN).

TCA/AC People Gallery

Over the past months we have been publishing various photographs from earlier "Horizons", should any photos prompt a memory in seeing one of them, feel free to send us your comments and thoughts.

Ralph and June send in this article -

dc9Air Canada's First Air Bus Service YXD--Nov 27,1984

Hardly seems that long ago...
This was found  in an old box of pictures that had been saved for  the Edmonton Aviation Museum..
The crew are Capt Ralph Shortill and Capt Howard Chase, of Winnipeg Base, doing the first flights of the  " New Airbus Service " to YXD from YYC on the DC-9.

The clipping came from Annie Shortill of Edmonton , a founding member of the Alberta Aviation Museum and still a volunteer doing research work there. Her son Ralph was the Captain of the flight.

She send it to me so I could send it along to you. Quite a number of people in Edmonton enjoy your netletter.  Cheers for now...   Ralph

Musings from "Between Ourselves"
Issue dated January 1971

ferrariAt Frankfurt, prior to shipment to Vancouver for the International Automobile Salon is this Ferrari valued at $17,000. (wonder what this baby is worth today - eds)

barbadosBert Dinsmore, Manager, Barbados is shown with his staff following their recent appointments.

yachtGreybeard was the sole Canadian entry in a trans-Atlantic yacht race from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro with began January 16th.

Skippered by Lol Killam, and four Air Canada pilots. Captains Ches Ricard, and Pat Leslie, First Officers Bill Vogel and Chris Justice all members of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.  participating in the first trans-South Atlantic yacht race with 50 other contestants..

Issue dated February 1971

reunionTwenty five year men hold a Pasadena reunion. Back in 1946, a group of employees had this photo taken in front of a DC-3. They had all joined the company on the same year and attended a traffic course.

reunion-1Six of the originals got together for a reunion.

stewsThe long and the short of the stewardesses wardrobe gets the once over from S/O Fred Thompson at YVR. Patricia Ainsworth wears the "aisle pax delight" while Kathy Johnston models the optional flared pants. This photo appears on the front page of the Vancouver Sun.

Issue dated May 1971

The first scheduled inaugural service between Toronto and Vancouver was April 24th, 1971. Flight 851 carried 307 passengers including 11 cons to Vancouver, and flight 850 carried 317 passengers including 9 cons to Toronto

April 1st 1951 was the date of the inaugural flight from Montreal to Paris with North Star service. The flight took 20 hours via LHR and Gander. Lucille Harraghy, an employee, was enroute to take up her position as the first resident secretary to Herve Lesage who
was the appointed Manager. 20 years later, on the anniversary flight, Lucille was also onboard.

cabincrewHere we have this photo of the cabin crew for the anniversary flight.

mtcecrewThe first group of Maintenance personnel responsible for the introduction of the Litton inertial navigation system are pictured here.

yyzb747Toronto newspapers dubbed the B-747 the "Fat Albert" and, for its first scheduled arrival hoards of the public flocked to YYZ for a glimpse of its arrival. The D.O.T. were forced to appeal to the public to stay away as the roads were becoming blocked, and people had abandoned their cars and walking to YYZ. We have this photo.

The company announced they will discontinue the awarding of the 5 year pin. However, the employees prevailed and the company reversed this decision in September, with the announcement that a revised design for the 5 year pin would be awarded.

Bytes and Pieces

Alan RustNick Vujicic - can you get back up???

Below is a photo of Nick Vujicic in an overhead bin of an aircraft. That's my airline related lead-in to a glimpse at this amazing man. Having been born with no arms or legs he travels around the world to tell his story.

Here's Nick joking around by being placed n an overhead bin. Don't worry, he wasn't there long, just for the photo!

Overhead Bin

Please take the time to view this video, it is very thought provoking! Click on the image to watch the video.

Nick Vujicic

Canadi>n/CPAir/PWA, Wardair, etc. Events & People

Over the past months we have been publishing various photographs from earlier in-house magazines, should any photos prompt a memory in seeing one of them, feel free to send us your comments and thoughts.

Perusing "INFO Canadi>n" magazine
Issue dated November 5th 1987

halloweenSome employees at the Vancouver Ops Centre dress for Hallowe'en - actually it turns out they are the paint crew.

Effective October 31st, the DEW line contract was awarded to Bradley Air Services (First Air) for the Lateral line using HS748 equipment, previously done by Canadian Airlines since 1956.

Issue dated December 3rd 1987

January 17th 1988 will see an out-of-province non-stop Airbus service from Edmonton's Municipal airport to Fort Smith, Hay River and Yellowknife N.W.T.

Issue dated December 10th 1987

January 11th 1988 is the inaugural of scheduled service between Toronto and Puerto Vallarta with B737-300 equipment. Mexico was last served 1980/1 by CPAir between YYZ/YUL, Mexico City
and Acapulco.

yvrhangar87Here we have this photo of the hangar at YYZ in 1987 sporting its new signage.  

Issue dated January 14th 1988

Effective February 1st, a reservation system for the YYC-YEG Airbus route was in place, with seat selection being introduce May 1st.

This and That

silverdartThe first flight in Canada took place on February 1909 at Baddock N.S, when J.A.McCurdy's "Silver Dart" became airborne. Canada Post issued the following stamp on February 23rd 1959 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event..

Other stamps depicting aircraft issued by Canada include -

jetyowJet plane over YOW issued March, July and November 1964.

alcockbrownAlcock-Brown flight over the Atlantic issued June 13th 1969.

coachandplaneCoach and plane (could be a North Star).issued Sept 24th 1951.

In "Between Ourselves" issue Aug/Sep 1961 The company announces that, effective September 11th, the DC-8 flights will be named "Silver Dart" in honour of Canada's first flight in 1909. Ceremonies to inaugurate the "Silver Dart" flights will be special boarding passes and baggage tags.

UK environment Czar looking at limiting holiday trips to save CO2
The UK's so-called "environment czar" last week raised the possibility of rationing air travel, limiting UK citizens to just a few vacation trips abroad by air per year in order to reduce the impact of carbon dioxide emissions.

Adair Turner, chairman of the independent Committee on Climate Change that advises UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, made the proposal before Parliament's Environmental Audit Select Committee on Feb. 5. In remarks widely reported by UK media, Turner said, "We will have to constrain demand in an absolute sense with people not allowed to make as many journeys as they could in an unconstrained manner."

The proposal was strongly condemned by FlyingMatters, a UK-based coalition of airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and other aviation- and tourism-related groups. "One always suspects with these half-baked proposals that the people who put them forward really intend them to apply to ordinary people, many of whom have only recently gained access to air travel, rather than to themselves," the organization said in a statement.

Turner's remarks came as a report from the TaxPayers' Alliance
revealed that the UK government spent gbp18.5 million ($26.9 million) on flights last year, a figure that does not include travel by the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defense, according the Daily Mirror.
by Perry Flint

Readers Feedback

Bill Norberg
sends this response referring to the "Cabbage patch" photos in NetLetter nr 1055

Fascinating pictures of the famous incident!. I believe the person identified as Russ Thatcher is his brother Ralph Thatcher.
Ralph was a very competent individual. I knew him well and had him on a CANAC assignment in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania heading up the maintenance organization for the Tanzanian Government Air Service..That was many years ago!

Regards. Bill Norberg

Brian Dunn, who issues the YYZNEWS sends this observation regarding the information from "Between Ourselves" in NetLetter nr 1055

The caption and headline beside the picture of the first Air Canada
747-133 taking off at Seattle has it placed at the wrong airfield.  
Renton WA was only used for 707/727/737/757 production. All 747s were manufactured at the "new" plant built at Everett WA -Paine Field (PAE).  

This photo is most likely taken at PAE, or possibly at BFI (Boeing Field) in downtown Seattle, but certainly not at Renton.
Brian Dunn

Bill Norberg has sent us this information referring to "Sign over YWG o'haul base" in NetLetter nr 1052 The picture of the Winnipeg Base turnover ceremony in the last Netletter brought back some interesting memories for me.

I was responsible for arranging that ceremony after working very hard for many months to bring the agreement about. It was a very tense time as you can imagine for all the Base employees and  management. Feelings were running very high to say the least.

Officials from both Air Canada and CAE had arrived in town to handle all the legal matters as well as to participate in the public ceremony. Very shortly before the ceremony was to take place we had received an anonymous telephone call that..."Someone was going to get shot at the ceremony". We felt this was a crank call but with all the tension about the turnover we had to consider carefully what action to take. Should we cancel the ceremony or proceed? I contacted all the officials involved for their views and also stated that I felt it was a crank call. I was to be the MC and felt I would certainly be a likely target.

We decided to proceed and as we all know,there was no shot fired.
It was a tense time for me for many reasons and this certainly added a serious dimension. I was also coming down with the flu and fighting a high temperature. It was the end of a long and nerve wracking task for me.

regards  Bill Norberg

And this from Jack Stephens referring to the same article 

This hangar was used for Line Maintenance and was next to the hangar where the aircraft were overhauled. This ceremony was 'bitter sweet', not only for the employees present but for the City of Winnipeg.

Years  before the headquarters for Air Canada was moved to Montreal and a huge overhaul facility built. When Winnipeg was selected as the overhaul base for the Viscounts, it was hoped that the Base would continue and expand. It was a huge political issue
that fanned the flames of the power of eastern Canada versus the interests of western Canada. The 'war' still goes on today.

While Winnipeg would continue to have line maintenance facilities, all those faithful employees, who loved the Viscount, and who could have very easily switched over to the Vanguard, and the incoming jets, watched as signatures sealed their fate.

A few would transfer within the company, some would retire and others would seek, new employment. These men and women would watch as the jet aircraft would slowly chip away at the numbers of Viscounts in service.

They would help prepare Old Faithful for sale, and watch them take off for airports around the world. Staff was reduced in the process, until that day when the daily whine of four Darts warming up at the blast fence was no more.

A beautiful era had ended.
Jack Stephens

In response to an appeal by George Brien in NetLetter nr 1053 regarding Pennfield Airport, we have received copies of the information George received.

Here's the promised article
TCA at Pennfield  Ridge-  Apr 1, 1947- Dec 30 ,1951
In 1947, the Dept of Transport had taken over the operation of the Pennfield Airport, as the RCAF moved out. TCA realized that this airport, on a main highway from Saint John would serve the city much better than the long dirt roads up to Blissville and on Apr 1 1947.

Blissville was closed and the Pennfield Ridge Airport (YYP) was opened for scheduled service with all DC3 service.

A new route from Halifax/Yarmouth/Saint John/Boston also began on Apr 1 1947 and the Halifax Montreal flight now stopped in Pennfield.
TCA minimum Navigation equipment at airports included the installation of a "Radio Range" type of instrument landing system.
This allowed the pilots to line up on the runway and descend down as low as 400 feet and visibility of one half mile. With the threat of fog off the Bay of Fundy, this certainly was a help although many time, diversions had to be made to the alternative airport at Blissville.

dc3We have this photo of a DC3 on the ramp at Pennfield -1950-

Vince Briscombe, TCA retiree recalls.
I can relate to the memories of Pennfield Ridge as I was transferred from Montreal to Saint John on the opening of Pennfield Apr 1st 1947.

Agent in charge of reservation at Saint John. . Blissville was still
being used as an alternate to Pennfield based on weather conditions.

I recall that we would check with the airport approx 1 hour prior
departure of flights on foggy or rainy days to see if they were still
operating . We had an arrangement with the Limousine Co to phone the office in Saint John about half way to Pennfield to ascertain the flight would be landing in Pennfield, if not, it would use Blissville and the limousine would then divert to Blissville. We did this on many occasions.

Gordon MacLean
"I knew Pennfield Ridge as a T.C.A. mechanic. I was transferred from Moncton to Pennfield in April 1947 for the purpose of making Pennfield Ridge the base for the St. John - Boston traffic. I spent three or four months before being bumped out by Dave Rose.

We stayed at Murray Hotel in the little town of St George, about 10 miles away and used the TCA van to travel back and forth. Other staff to come down from YQM included Jacques Vernier and Walt Hines.

TCA had use of one of the RCAF hangers with the Passenger
terminal/operations office attached." Like Jim MacBurnie, Gordon never looked forward to the drive up to Blissville when flights diverted. The "infamous Woody Wagon" they drove in had barely survived a head on crash with a CPR train near Blissville a couple of years before and had to be completely rebuilt from bits and pieces.
Straining the Avgas through a felt hat before refueling wasn't much fun either.

Gordon left TCA but eventually moved on to Montreal, Moncton, Sydney, Tampa, Mexico and the Caribbean, returning to Montreal in 1955 - 1982 to spend his life as a crew chief, foreman and Maintenance Control Manager."

Jim MacBurnie
I was at Pennfield in 1948. At that time the TCA staff consisted of 12, three passenger agents including the agent -in-charge, three radio operators, three ramp/load agents, 2 mechanics and the station manger. Their names are as follows:
Jim MacBurnie, radio operator;
Bill Scott, radio operator;
Frank Cottingham, radio operator;
Art Jones, Ramp/load agent;
Oscar Cormier, Ramp/load agent;
Eddie Lirette, Ramp/load agent;
Freddie Robinson, Agent-in-charge;
Wendell Cook, Passenger agent;
Reg. Walker, Passenger agent;
Shorty Neil, Mechanic;
Dave Rose, Mechanic.

Shorty was senior to Dave and considered as mechanic-in-charge.
Bill Hegan, Station Manager. Most of the staff lived in St. George and the TCA panel truck was used as our means of transportation to and from the airport. Some of the married personnel such as Bill Hegan and Reg Walker lived in renovated former air force huts located on the base. Eventually single people like myself without a car had to move to the airport area because the company discontinued allowing us to use the panel truck for transportation.

Pennfield was a uncontrolled airport and the TCA radio operator was required to go remote to a position in the former air force tower, to monitor our landings, checking for wheels down and providing current wind information to the landing flight. The operator would also provide information with respect to ceiling, sky condition, visibility etc. as deemed necessary. In those days navigation aids at YYP were limited to a low frequency range.

Because of the airport location, summer evening fog drifting in from the Fundy was frequently a problem. The company used YYS (Blissville) as an alternate for YYP. I can assure you no one looked forward to driving to YYS in the panel truck to work a flight.

A chap by the name of McDevitt had the mail contract and he also had the TCA passenger ground service contract. He provided service from the Admiral Beatty, Saint John to the airport for all our flights.

By the way, shift coverage at the airport was from around 7am to 2100 hours daily. YYP was used as a relay for YQI which did not have teletype service.

YQI would radio YYP, point to point radio, with requests for passenger reservations on TCA flights. The YYP radio operator would transmit these requests on the teletype to AC Moncton. Confirm or unable messages were sent by AC to YYP for radio transmission to YQI.

We used HF, a 14C transmitter for radio communications with YQI. VHF was installed at YYP and we used it for in range contact with our flights.

Yarmouth did not have a reservations office so all reservation
messages were handled this way.

The Radio Range office was next door to the TCA radio office. The
federal government built three two storey houses at Pennfield for its radio operators. When our Company transportation to and from St. George was no longer available, I moved to Pennfield and had room and board with George Davidson a DOT radio operator at YYP.

rampWe have this photo of the ramp congestion at the  Pennfield mini Hub in 1950. 

Paul Mitchell
I started my career with TCA in Pennfield as a Station Attendant in 1951 and moved with the airline to Saint John. The Air Force H-Huts barracks were converted to apartments for Use of the staff.
Myron "Ziggy" Zeggerchuk, Radio Operator was one of the staff by that time.

These were the days when it was fun working even though it was hard work. I can still remember Mechanic Ernie Crawley starting a DC 3 with a long rope over the propeller a definite no no!

Retired Capt. Don Mackay comments,

Wow, some of the names from Pennfield brought back memories. I worked with most of them @ YSJ. I worked as a ramp rat while going to high school, summers, Christmas etc. so knew Bill Hegan, YSJ Stn Manager, Ziggy & Bill Scott & Bob Anderson I knew very well.
I do believe Jim McMillan & Ernie Crawley both mechanics were also @ Pennfield prior to moving to YSJ. Jim is long gone . I had coffee with Ernie about 3 years ago.

In June 1951, Hugh McElliott who was District Sales Manager was
reporting over 1000 passengers a month through Pennfield, these figures are a bit deceiving as it included through passengers.

Ten DC3 flights a day operated through Pennfield by that time.
By December 31 1951 TCA moved its staff from Pennfield over to the new airport In Saint John.

Thanks to Jim McQueen and the NB Pionair Group/National Pionairs.

And Netletter for posting my request for information about Pennfield

All pictures Courtesy of Chris Larsen-Pennfield Ridge Historical Society.

timetable1950 timetable showing flights  into Pennfield/Saint  John.

Terry's travel tips

Terry BakerChilean entrance fee of $132 pp USD (reciprocity fee) payable at Santiago airport upon arrival in Chile.

Current Mail List

Join our Mail List

Please use the form below to sign up to our mail list.
Thank you for subscribing to The NetLetter.