The flying career of Lefty McLeod
in Northern Saskatchewan.
Page One of Six.
Click on the above group photograph for a larger view,
Lefty McLeod is seated fourth from right, front row.
R.C.A.F. Army Co-operation Eskimo Exercise
Prince Albert, Sask. January, 1945.
Members - Front Row: L to R:
WO2 Potter - Capt. Herman - F/L Dobbin, D.F.C - F/L Bowman - F/O Sammon
- F/O Weeks - F/O Carlson, D.F.C. - F/L Higgs - F/O Norris - S/L Stover, D.F.C.
F/L Whalen - F/L Collins - F/O Ruff - F/o Medlund - P/O McLeod
F/O Coldridge - F/L McDonald - F/l Brown
Members - Centre Row: L to R:
F/S Morris - LAC Stephens - Sgt Antonuk - F/S Fresque - F/S Maltby - Cpl Van Dale
F/S Riley - CPL Chaba - Cpl Barnard - LAC Hanson - CPL Riddell
Members - Rear Row: L to R:
Sgt Bercovich - LAC Sanderson - CPL Huckabay - CPL Hughs - LAC Grant
CPL Stillings LAC Austring - LAC Pershik - LAC McLachlan
Sgt Mcintosh LAC Page - LAC MacKenzie LAC Beischer - CPL Douse
Sgt Bomphray Sgt King - CPL Simpson - LAC Campbell
The following webpage information has been transcribed to text from 10 audio tapes created by the late Lefty Mcleod. When Lefty recorded the tapes, he did not do it in a chronological order, as a result, there may be a certain amount of repetition in his story. Some information has also been gleaned from various newspaper articles, books and photographs of the time.
While every effort has been made to transcribe the information as accurately as possible, there may be errors and the names of some individuals and locations may not be correct, or spelled incorrectly. The transcription software created a lot of errors and some information was inaccurate, unreadable, or missing, leading to a certain amount of guesswork and research.
I would like to acknowledge the help I have had from Les Oystryk and Lefty's son, Bruce McLeod, who gave me assistance to compile these webpages. They made a tough job much easier!!
Unfortunately, all of Lefty's original family photographs have apparently been lost and only scanned copies exist and they are not of good scanning quality. Lefty's flight log books have been obtained and are in Part 5 and Part 6. There may be further logbooks, but, no way to determine if they exist. If anyone has any information that will help improve the accuracy of these webpages:
Please contact me at:
You can click on this graphic audio link to listen to Lefty's McLeod's story from his original tape recordings, that were converted into 10 audio CDs. There are breaks between each CD, as Lefty belatedly wrestled with his tape recorders and some of his narrative may be a bit garbled. However, it gives a fascinating insight into his flying career in the Air Force, as a Bush Pilot and the time period in which he was active.
Here is Lefty McLeod's Story.
This is a recollection of my lifetime experiences, in both the RCAF and civilian aviation and it has no continuity to it at all. In my retirement, I have kept a notebook beside my chair and when relevant thoughts struck me, I just jotted them down as reference, to work on at a future date. Now I have several pages of little reminder notes here and a tape recorder. But as I say, there's no continuity to them. With that said, let us get on with this story.
I guess the best thing to do is to start off with a consultation with my mother and father. They are astonished to discover that I can remember the first airplane I ever saw. It was in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I couldn't have been much more than two years old at the time, so it must have made quite an impression on me.
I had my first airplane ride when I was 6 or 7 years old and in those days, airplanes were very unusual things around the country. My first time flying on floats was at Emma Lake, I guess maybe I was eight or nine then. They were laying out the Prince Albert National Park and the forestry engineer that was involved in it, was a fellow by the name of McFadden. I used to play with his son, Duncan, he was a great friend of dad's and we happened to be out there one day when he was going to make a reconnaissance flight over the park, so he took dad and your aunt Marion and myself along. That was a real thrill.
Emma Lake beach.
Later on as a kid, I washed airplanes and poured oil and pumped gas and other things, to try and promote a free ride. For all the gas and oil and stuff that I pumped and fiddled around with, I only got one free ride out of it. That ride was with a fellow by the name of (Norman) Cherry, who had a flea-bitten Arrow and did work out of Christopher Lake at one time.
Cherry Red Airlines two-seat Pheasant biplane (C-CASR)
Note all the children hanging around in the cockpits.
They are probably looking for a free ride like Lefty!!
To earn extra revenue, Cherry decided to issue stamps
starting at $0.10 for carrying airmail, making the
airline the first airmail provider in Prince Albert.
I guess the best thing to do is start off with the Air Force because I spent a fair amount of time with them. Although it wasn't a very distinguished Air Force career or anything like that, I got around the country a lot and got involved in a lot of unique things.
I showed up in Trenton Ontario, which was a training station in those days and it was still under construction. Actually, a lot of it was works projects for the relief workers, a lot of the stuff that is now done by machine, was being done by hand in those days. Excavations were being done with machines that they called fresno's, which were like big scoop shovels towed by a trio of horses. All the scaffolding was made of wood, which was laboriously built, as you were putting the building up and then when you had to tear it down afterwards and salvage, or whatever.
Horse driven fresno.
That was where I got started anyway and while I was there I was training as an aero engine mechanic.
Once I got things going, I started hitchhiking from there to Kingston, we had every weekend off, except one, every weekend a month, except that one weekend. We were on duty watch, so we couldn't leave the station, but I used to hitchhike down to Kingston, eat a hamburger for lunch on Saturday and another one for lunch on Sunday and spend the rest of the money on flying lessons.
In those days, by present-day standards, lessons were ridiculously cheap, but they sure looked astronomical in those days. I think I was paying something like eight or nine dollars an hour for dual instruction and five dollars an hour for solo.
I got my private license over a period of two or three years, after that I got a commercial license. In those days, to get a private license you needed, I think it was 15 hours, it might have been 20. But I know that for the commercial license you had to have 50 hours total and at that you sure didn't know much, however, it served me in good stead.
The reason for all this was that it was just at the tail end of the depression and grandfather didn't have enough money to send me to R.M.C. which is Royal Military College, which was their intention, they would have done it had I indicated that I wanted to do it. >But by chance, I overheard a conversation where my parents were trying to figure out where they would get the money to pay for this, so when it was put to me, I just declined and I joined the Air Force instead.
My big ambition was to start flying and the Air Force in those days had a system, which was kind of unique for that time, they called it sergeant pilots. >Now they were a very unusual breed because RCAF only had seven or eight of them.
This is what I was aiming for and I figured if I got my own license first, that might have an impact on applications to become a sergeant pilot later on. So in any event, that was the whole reason for it. When I was with the peacetime Air Force, I was with number two Army Co-op Squadron and that was a real good outfit.
They were a high morale bunch of guys, and we had a real hard boiled, but good commanding officer, his name was Wilbur Van Vleet. He always advertised himself as the chief of the Ugly Buggers Club, his face was all smashed up from sticking it into the back end of a machine gunner in a crash one time.
He was no beauty queen by any means, he looked more like a bulldog, but he sure was a good head. One of his peculiarities was that he wanted everybody in his squadron to be qualified in more than one trade. Though I was an aero engine mechanic, I was also qualified as a motor transport driver and a parachute packer, parachute rigger was what they called it in those days.
Wilbur Dennison Van Vliet
Article about Wilbur Van Vliet injuries in a plane crash.
"What Is expected of us, I know we can do."
The above was the confident message issued by Squadron Leader Wilbur Dennison Van Vliet, O. C.
No. 110 Army Co-operation Squadron, on landing in England recently. The picture shows him standing in front of a Westland Lysander monoplane with which his unit
will be equipped in England for the completion of its training and with which it will engage in general reconnaissance duties with the Canadian forces overseas.
Our Squadron was known throughout the RCAF as the Gypsy Squadron, because we were capable of receiving orders to move and be gone in 48 hours, which was phenomenal. In those days, everybody turned to and did their thing and the air crews flew the airplanes away with a certain number of mechanics with them, the other guys drove the trucks.
My truck was the radio van and a couple of radio operators used to go with me. We all had radio gear and spares and stuff like that packed inside it. However, every second move somebody else got to drive the radio van and I got to go with the airplanes so it worked out pretty good.
The parachute riggers was an interesting course. You had the option of going up and jumping with a parachute that you had packed after the course was completed, so you paid attention to what you were doing. There was only one guy that I ever knew that refused to do it. I don't know whether it was because he didn't trust his own parachute pack, afraid of heights or what. But anyhow, we all packed and jumped and it wasn't really as hazardous as it sounds because the parachute rigger instructor, I can't remember what his name was, but it seems to me it was Collins I'm not sure.
Flight Sargent Collins that sounds vaguely familiar, anyway, he packed all the parachutes that were actually used for jumping by the course. They had a jumping set and you packed one parachute yourself, and he packed the other one. So you tried yours and if it didn't work, you had his to fall back on. I don't think I ever heard of a parachute failing, so it was a comforting thought to know that there was somebody that knew what he was doing, had done it.
We traveled around a lot we went to Valcartier in Quebec, Camp Borden (now Base Borden) north of Toronto and Petawawa north of Ottawa. One flight was to Shiloh, Manitoba and one flight was to Dundern, Saskatchewan.
So to get the aircraft out there in those days, there was no Trans-Canada Highway and no Trans-Canada Airlines and no airports between North Bay and Winnipeg. The first time, they shipped the airplanes out by rail and assembled them out on the field at Shiloh. The second time, they flew them through the states and came up via North Portal, I think to Regina and I was on the Shiloh one, not the Dundurn one. It was sure interesting anyway and we got to fool around with a lot of funny things we had at Petawawa.
We had a permanent barracks there with our own power system, our own water system, and our own hangar. It was a real deluxe sort of a deal because all the troops were under canvas and there was a lot of bitterness amongst these army guys, that we were living off the fat of the land and of course we weren't doing anything to discourage them. We were needling them about it all the time and Monday mornings, they used to get even with us because our quarters were right underneath the trajectory of one of their artillery shoots.
Army field gun exercise.
So every Monday morning at 7:00 AM, the army would use that particular artillery range for their target practice and the shells would go right over our barracks. So I know what a shell sounds like going by, believe me. When I flew in Kingston, the RCAF started gearing up and so all the guys that had Warrant Officer Second class, would be Sergeant Major Second class.
The aircraft carrier Baron ????, came into Halifax harbour to load airplanes that they'd got through some deal. They borrowed a guy by the name of Robichaud, who headed up the work. All these guys were French and were on the hanger deck taking the wings and propellers off the planes and then standing the planes on their nose.
All of a sudden one day, they came in and told us to leave and the carrier left the harbor just going like gangbusters. We found out later that it was taken prisoner??????. After that, the RCAF discovered that I had a commercial pilot's license. They had some planes in Kingston to ferry up to Montreal. The guy in charge was an Air Force brass, come on men follow me boys sort of thing.
Harvard aircraft at Uplands Airbase.
Lefty in a formation at Uplands Airbase.
Lefty in a formation of Harvard's at Uplands Airbase.
Lefty's shadow on his Harvard aircraft wing
Note the shadow of his camera.
Lefty's Mcleod and student at Uplands Airbase.
That's when in overcast, with no instruments, or radio aids, or anything, because of the weather, we landed on a four-lane highway in Montreal, near Cartierville. It was cutting it fairly close. I pushed my airplane into a close buddies, ever since then. After that we got our postings, about six of us out of about 35. The one posting I had an interesting time with was in Prince Albert as an Instructor.
No. 6 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, was based at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Courses lasted 8 weeks and provided 50 hours of flying training in the Tiger Moth and Fairchild Cornell. No. 6 EFTS operated from 22nd of July 1940 to the 15th of November 1944. The site is now Prince Albert (Glass Field) Airport. Glass Field is named after Floyd Glass, who among other things, was a flying instructor during the Second World War.
I would go back to the airport to the maintenance hangar and do all their test flying for them. During that time, I was teaching the guy in charge how to fly. Although I don't generally brag about the fact that the individual, was an eccentric sort of a pilot, he had no airmanship, or anything like that. He was an absolute jerk, I'll get into that in a little later period of this.
Glass Field, Prince Albert Airport.
Prince Albert (Glass Field) Airport (IATA: YPA, ICAO: CYPA) is located 1 nautical mile (1.9 km; 1.2mi) northeast of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Canada.
In 1929, the federal government acquired a small parcel of land that would become the Prince Albert Airport. Back then the runways were plowed and seeded with Bromegrass. On July 22, 1940, the airport was converted, under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, as No. 6 Elementary Flying Training School, with a relief landing field located near Hagan.
From March 1941, to 11 November 1942, the station doubled as the No. 6 Air Observer School. The school closed on November 15, 1944. The airport was expanded to its present size and the main runway was paved in 1955. After many years of ownership by Transport Canada, the airport was transferred to the City of Prince Albert on March 26, 1996, under the National Airport Policy.
All that remained of the former No. 6 EFTS was one World War II-era hangar which Transwest Air operated out of until 2018 when a structure fire resulted in a complete loss of the building. A monument in front of the terminal building pays tribute to the 17 airmen and one civilian who died in training accidents at the school. The weathervane that is now a sign at the entrance of the airport was once part of the airfield navigational systems.
The airport is now named for Floyd Glass who learned to fly in the 1930s and then served as a military flying training instructor during the Second World War. Postwar, he was the first general manager of the provincial Crown Corporation Saskatchewan Government Airways. He resigned from this post, flew briefly with British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Airways then returned to Saskatchewan. In 1955 he formed his firm, Athabaska Airways which still exists under the name Transwest Air. Glass died in 2000.
The Prince Albert airport as it appeared in 1945, when it was
the base for #6 Elementary Flying
Saskatchewan's northern forests stretch to the horizon.
Photograph courtesy of Ray Crone.
The ETFS Line at #6 1943, at Prince Albert Airport.
Tiger Moths lined into wind for big blow at #6 Prince Albert.
#20 left foreground unlucky A/C later involved in fatal crash.
Ansons on line at #6 Prince Albert A.O.S.
Yes, damn foolish, but he won his bet.
Lefty standing and Ruffy Hamilton at the controls.
Lefty in cockpit of Atlas aircraft.
Lefty in cockpit of Tiger Moth aircraft.
Lefty seated, context unknown
probably at Prince Albert.
L to R - Gordie Anderson, George Greening, Lefty Mcleod.
Lefty and Jack Greening at "Icecap" our base and Radio Station at
"Spanner Point" on Montreal Lake.
90 airmiles north of P.A.
Lefty, Ted Sammon, Brownie, Bob Hughes, Nick Douse at "Icecap."
Our flight pilots, were a bunch of gung ho, sort of dizzy young guys and we were all full of beans and so on and were all getting up for flying under bridges and chasing the farm dogs under the front steps with the airplanes and things like that. You know of course, that was all the other guys and I never had anything to do with that sort of nonsense at all.
I also got working on Jack Greening, Jack was chronically airsick and so I told him, I can cure you of being air sick if you give me a chance and I did. Towards the end of our period of working on his air sickness, he could withstand two or three turns of a spin, that is the most disturbing sensation of all in aerobatic maneuvers. He was quite happy with that. He picked up the rudiments of flying as well, but he never went at it like George Greening because he was still recovering from rheumatic fever, which affected his heart. So he didn't get into the flying business at all.
Well, after the school closed down, we were all becoming an embarrassment to the airports because they had too many pilots and instructors. So they decided that they were going to turn us all into Super Instructors. There were service school instructors and elementary school instructors and in each category, there were three in each type of operations. There was three categories, A, B and C.
I got my A category in elementary instructing and then they sent a bunch of us off to Pierce, Alberta to take this Super Instructors course. This gave us A categories in service school single engines like Harvard's and service in cool twins like Anson's, or Cessna Cranes. I got an A in service singles and a B in service Twins and an A in Elementary school. I was pretty well up there as far as qualifications were concerned by the time the war was over. When we got back, they had closed the station at Prince Albert and Scotty Beveridge and I were transferred to Ottawa where we worked until just after Christmas that year which was 1945, I guess.
Then I got wind that they were starting a northern operation out of Prince Albert and a combined forces army exercise, it was called the Eskimo Exercise. So, as I had a little drag in headquarters and I had a couple of friends there, I wrangled a transfer and actually, I got enough time to get home from Ottawa to Prince Albert on Christmas holidays.
L - R: Lefty McLeod, Jack Greening, Scotty Beveridge
On their way to Rockcliffe Air Base, Nov. 1945.
Jack Greening, on a visit with Selmer Ausland in
While I was home on Christmas holidays, my transfer came through to the station in Prince Albert. So since I was already there, they didn't take me back down to Ottawa, to clear the station, so somebody else did it.
Getting cleared from a station, was a pain in the neck because you had to take your clearance papers around to every department on the station and get the head of the department to sign you off as not owing them anything like a parachute, you had to turn in your parachute and had to turn in your navigation equipment and this, that, and the other thing. So it was a real pain in the neck. At a big station like Ottawa, you probably took about two days and you wished you had a bicycle by the time you were finished, but, somebody else got stuck with the job and I wound up on the Eskimo exercise.
They found out that I was a native of Prince Albert and had spent a lot of time flying around there. I wound up more or less as the unofficial guide for the bunch, it was fairly uneventful. We did some unusual things, Earl Bowman, of Bowman Brothers in Saskatoon and I, with two Norseman, we dropped live ammunition to an artillery battery that was dug in front of the Hudson Bay store in Lac La Ronge and who were firing out onto the lake at a rock island as a target.
The deal was that they wanted to know whether you could free drop live ammunition. They didn't know whether it was going to go off when it hit the ice. It worked out okay anyway we didn't have any problems with it. We dropped an awful lot of rations. We did a lot of air dropping a lot of both free air dropping and dropping with cargo parachutes and fairly, successfully.
Lefty McLeod in winter garb.
Pretty chilly when the door is off supply drops.
Dug in artillery piece in front of the
Hudson's Bay Store in La Ronge.
Photos provided by Arvid Pederson,
Photos were taken by his father, Henry Pederson.
Artillery piece and crew.
Flying Officer, H.B. "Lefty" McLeod, Eskimo Exercise Jeep,
P.A. Airport, Jan. 1945.
Our best deal of course, was when the rum ration went up every two weeks. The guy that used to travel with me his name was Huckabee. Huck got himself a broom handle and bracing bit, exactly the size of the broom handle. We used to tap the rum kegs on the way up. We would take along a couple of cans and we'd get a gallon of rum. It was real super navy issue stuff and came in little kegs, I think it was three and a half gallons, or four gallons, something like that.
So every once in a while, they'd get a thin one, because Huck would drain out a gallon of rum and pour in a gallon of water and drive a broom handle in, sawed it off flush, painted it with shellac, and it looked exactly like the keg. We kept the officers and the airman's mess, well supplied with navy issue during that period.
When the Eskimo exercise folded up, I went to the repatriation depot in Paulson, Manitoba, which is just out of Dauphin and there was just absolutely nothing to do. I was reading two pocketbooks a day just to keep from going bananas and it wasn't helping an awful lot.
I finally went to the adjutant of the station and said, look I would sure like a job I don't care what it is, You can put me up in the control tower. Just give me something to do because I'm going crazy. He said, well, I just got a message from Yorkton. How would you like to go down there as a test pilot for maintenance and I said fine anything will do.
He said you're going to be the CEO and I said, oh yeah, it sounds like being the chief cowboy on a chicken ranch sort of you know, a gigantic, big station like that with 20 guys under you. However, it had all kinds of fringe benefits, I got down there and I flew. There was a fellow on temporary duty down there and I flew the airplanes down and he flew the airplanes back and I stayed down there. He said there is your office over there, pointing to a door in the hanger.
So I wandered over with my bags and walked into the office. I threw my bags into a corner and sized the place up. Just then there was a very respectful, knock on the door and I said, come in and in walks a little guy and it turned out to be my old buddy Robichaud from taking the airplanes apart, on the aircraft carrier, Baron.
He was siring me this, and siring me that, and I said, come on let's get straight on this deal now. He hadn't recognized me, but we were thicker and thieves after that. He wandered in the next day with a couple of gigantic rings of keys. I said, what have you got there. He said, these are the keys to the station and the commit building on the station.
I'll tell you, if a fellow wanted to do slat beds, low boys, caterpillars, the whole works, you know. Over in one corner there was a Buick station wagon. The Buick was a limousine and so we began to see all kinds of possibilities, around Regina, there were several that they called dens. There was another place up there I'm trying to remember but I can't.
When we got to the airport, we drive up to the front gate and the sentry would break both arms saluting and we were going to have a jolly time in the Officers Mess ready to arrive in the world. It was just going to be a matter of donning a spare shirt and shaving kit, a couple of socks and odds and ends and the maps to the hospital. It didn't work out quite that way though.
In 1947, following his recommendation to the Minister of Natural Resources concerning the need for a commercial air service, Floyd Glass was delegated to set up Saskatchewan Government Airways. This new company was to provide scheduled and chartered flights throughout northern Saskatchewan, and Mr. Glass was appointed General Manager.
Before I got out of the Air Force I was approached to see if I would work with Floyd Glass and that was in P.A. I was hired on and back in the air again. Miller was the first one that was hired and I was the second and then Fred McClellan, when that happened we were off and running. I took a full load of cargo up to La Ronge from Prince Albert.
Floyd Glass in later years.
Lefty gassing up an SAGA Norseman.
Lefty gassing up an SGA Norseman.
Lefty in the cockpit of a Saskatchewan Gov't Airways
Norseman CF-SAK in Prince Albert, Sask.
Lefty getting out of the Fox Moth cockpit,
in Prince Albert, Sask.
Govt. Airways Opens a New Flight.
Story and pictures by Munro Murray.
This picture was taken during the flight.
Passengers shown on the left, front to back are:
Prince Albert, representing the newly formed Saskatchewan Chamber of Mines.
Hon. L. F. McIntosh,
Minister of Municipal Affairs.
J. H. Harrison,
nearest window, MP for Meadow Lake.
W. A. Houseman,
Prince Albert, chairman of the board of directors, SGA.
K. L. George.
nearest window, director, SGA
Department of Education, registrar for high school examinations;
Mayor J. M. Caelenaere,
T. H. Waugh,
northern areas administrator for Department of Education.
Ian "Scotty" Mcleod,
Manager of SGA and host for the trip.
On the right, front to back:
North Battleford Board of Trade.
Saskatoon Board of Trade.
A. M. Nicholson,
member for Mackenzie Constituency.
Standing at rear:
Department of Natural Resources photographer.
Saskatchewan Government Airways big new DC3 aircraft made its inaugural flight Friday on the 455 - mile trip from Prince Albert to Uranium City.
Aboard were Premier T. C. Douglas, Hon. J. H. Brocklebank, Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. L.F. McIntosh. Minister of Municipal of Affairs and 17 others representing provincial and civic bodies, press and radio.
Jeff Nightingale, radio station CKRM, Regina; Jean Doidge, publicity director, Department of Natural Resources; W.A Houseman, chairman of board of airways; K.L. George, Melfort director on airways board; Ian "Scotty Mcleod, manager, Saskatchewan Government Airways; Rene Baudais, Captain of flight; Don Brownridge, Co-pilot; George Munroe, Engineer.
The original take - off time of 9.30 a.m. was delayed first by weather conditions to 11.30 and then by a difficulty with the hydraulic shock absorbers on the aircraft brought on by the severe sub-zero temperature. The big machine left Prince Albert at 1.30 p.m. and with the aid of a tail wind made better time than was expected, to land at Uranium City about 2 1/2 hours later.
Passengers had been asked to dress warmly and blankets were available but the plane was not cold except for a layer of cold air on the floor. This condition has been found typical of the DC3 and SGA officials are confident that it can to corrected. The first flight was a severe test of heating facilities since it was -55 below zero on landing at the northern settlement. A steadily forming layer of frost on the windows of the passenger compartment made viewing of the ground possible only by continual scraping with a sturdy thumbnail. There was no real discomfort on the whole trip and SGA manager Ian Scotty Mcleod, host on the flight, doubled nicely as a steward, supplying coffee and sandwiches, an hour out of Prince Albert.
The twin-engine plane is a model that has earned a reputation in all parts of the world for reliability in passenger and freight hauling. It has a capacity of 21 passenger, plus crew or approximately 6000 pounds of air cargo. Seats are readily removable and the proportion of cargo and passengers can be adjusted to suit the immediate demands of service.
SGA purchased the plane from a firm in England where it was completely rebuilt and refitted. It cost $100,000. It brings to 24 the fleet of SGA serving the northern area of Saskatchewan. The flight to Uranium City was previously served by Anson aircraft but their comparatively small size made them expensive to operate.
* * * * *
Canadian Pacific Airlines, operating out of Edmonton, have been flying to Uranium City since Goldfields mining activities ceased and were able to offer substantially lower rates. The use of the DC3 from Prince Albert is expected to meet this competition. The new service will provide three trips a week, flying opposite direction on alternate days.
After landing on the packed snow runway at Uranium City, the passengers disembarked to be greeted by a delegation of townspeople and were hustled out of the frigid air into a row of heated taxis to be driven the 12 miles or so to the town site.
* * * * *
A reception was held at the pleasant, modern Uranium City hotel followed by an excellent dinner sponsored by Charlie Swenson, hotel proprietor. The feature of the dinner, caribou steak, was almost the only item served that did not require to be flown to the isolated settlement, some 12 miles north of the shore of Lake Athabasca. The excellence of accommodation during the whole stay was evidence of the efficiency of air transport alone to serve a community for the greater part of the year. During the summer, barges bring in heavy equipment and building supplies.
Saturday morning the visiting party was driven around the town site at Uranium City and the Eldorado mine. Modern attractive homes were a common sight. The visit to the mine was brief but amazing, Eldorado, a federally owned corporation is a gigantic development. It's going to be there for a long time.
The mine produces uranium compound and the finished product is sent to eastern Canada for further development. It is the only mine in Canada that has its offices, warehouses and maintenance departments under one roof. The building is huge and most modern in all respects on waterways route.
* * * * *
Richard Barrett, general manager of the corporation, conducted the short but exciting tour of the plant. In brief, we saw how the ore was obtained and watched the processing of the ore, being crushed, washed and mixed with chemicals then seeing it as a yellow substance, uranium compound.
The plant cost about $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 to build and it's value today is considerably more. Every modern method is provided for the near 500 employees working there. Modern lighting and heating is supplied. Offices are ultra modern. Electricity is obtained from Wellington Lake, a hydro-power project. There is a rumour that a larger hydro development is to take place shortly.
Eldorado town site is almost as big as Uranium City. The mine has supplied modern homes each valued at about $11,000, all oil-heated and well insulated for that country, buildings for single men are provided as well. The town site is occupied by an up-to-date recreation centre, school for miner's children and a store where crest souvenirs can be bought. "The homes had to be provided by the mine so as to induce workers to come here," said a mine official.
Unidentified crew member being interviewed
probably co-pilot Don Brownridge.
PREMIER T. C. Douglas was the main speaker at the banquet at the Uranium City Hotel. He had the close attention of the group in this corner of the dining room. Members of the hotel staff gathered at the kitchen door to hear his speech.
During that Eskimo exercise they asked me to go up and mark out by taxiing around, a great big square about a mile on each side. After while here comes a B-29 which is the first one I'd ever seen. The square didn't do him a damn bit of good at all. We went over and looked around wouldn't you know. It just punched a whole bunch of round holes in the ice.
In WWII, the Japanese launched fire balloons that floated over to North America. They were fitted with incendiary bombs and explosives and aneroid controlled sandbags on them. So that when they started running out of gas they came down in a certain area, the androids would trigger an explosive charge and they dropped a sandbag. This is what kept them in here and some of them made a terrific long run.
There was a bunch of kids at a Sunday school and a minister found one somewhere down in Indiana I think it was and one of them was killed while they were tinkering around with it, some of the explosives went off. We had one reported to us from Porcupine Plains, which is just west of Prince Albert about 70 miles away. We flew out and brought it back. I don't know what the gas was that was in it, but it was very, very unique stuff it made us all sick to our stomachs. That was just the residual stuff that was in the balloon and it was made of paper. Really high grade paper with a very tough waterproof covering on it, almost like plastic.
The guy that found it had bundled it all up and carted it into his house. He had it in the kitchen when we arrived there so, our bomb disposal guy took it out and disarmed it. All the stuff that was left on it we packed in the airplane and brought it out. Then they sent an airplane up from the national research counsel to pick it up.
Japanese fire balloon in a field in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Natural Resources Crest
Credit - Les Oystryk.
Anyway after that, I went to work with the Saskatchewan Natural Resources. We had a lot of things that we had to fill out, fishing permits, burning permits, logging permits, and all kinds of weird stuff that we looked after for the government. We also flew the field officers around quite a bit all over the place. We did a lot of work with the smokejumpers, there are a few of them left around.
A lot of them I flew on their first training jumps in Prince Albert, which was in the spring and we were using the Norseman SAM for the jumping practice. Dennis Kelly was the jump master. He'd been a paratrooper during the war and he took over the training of these guys and it was a pretty good outfit. They were a bunch of good guys and it gave us some unique experiences. Of course since I had done a lot of air dropping, I got tagged on that too.
Norseman CF-SAM, unidentified crew.
Unidentified Smokejumpers preparing for a jump
Probably Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Smokejumpers exiting CF-SAM.
Click on the above graphic image to see the
Then on the forest fire business, geez, we got into some terrific things with that too. I remember one time the smokejumpers jumped in and got cut off and lost all their hoses and everything like that. They managed to save the radio and the fire pump and then we got their radio message, all they needed was fire hose.
So we went out with 1,800 feet of hose in cartons in the Norseman. A fellow by the name of Les Beame and I dropped the hose to them. They had dug themselves into a muskeg where they were located. At least they had moisture there and they had the radio mounted upward where it couldn't get wet. They dug the sump for the fire pump and all they needed was hose and when they got that, they fought their way out of there.
The fire developed into a real headache, I was on it for something like nine days before they got it out. We had to land at a lake there that was so shallow I couldn't get anywhere near shore and I was flying fuel for the bulldozers that they finally got in there. I would have to load jerry cans full of diesel fuel in the Beaver aircraft and they would come out from shore by boat to the plane to pick it up, which was a real pain in the neck.
We then went into a little lake right in the middle of the fire and on the approach to the lake you had to go right through the forest fire to get there. The first couple of days until they got the fire tamed down, it was a kind of a thrilling spot to be in.
Forest fire Northern Saskatchewan.
Credit - Don Magnussun Photos.
Then later on, since we're on the subject of fires; when I was with El Dorado, we were on Foster Lake and a fire started up from a thunderstorm and it was fairly close to our camp. So the guys decided we better take immediate action. We radioed into La Ronge for a fire crew and, and our guys started working on it right away, but it got away from us with a change in the wind and I had dropped them in there.
I thought gee whiz it doesn't look so good. So Frank and I took off and went out there and we saw them running down the shore just ahead of the fire and they were just going like crazy and the fire was right at their heels. We landed and I said, I can't stop Frank I'm going to have to keep on taxiing, so you get up on the top of the airplane and keep off any burning stuff that lands on us.
So he did that and I taxied down the shore line at a fairly good clip and when the guys saw what I was up to and they waded out at intervals up to their shoulders and I went booming past and I grab the first guy on board and then I had to climb back in and steer the airplane. He grabbed the next guy and we gradually picked up the five guys that were in there, but they lost all their tools and everything like that. Well, we got back to camp and then at supper time that night, a great big heavy storm came up and I never thought I'd ever be so glad to stand outside in the rain, but we all stood outside in the rain that night.
One other time up at Goldfield's, some guys got cut off from their camp and it got burned out and their company asked me to go in and have a look at the camp because they could see the smoke. I went in and the camp was burned flat, so I flew around the lake about four times before I found the guys and they were on a sheer rock face.
I don't know how the heck they got where they were, but they had climbed about 20 feet down from the crest and they were, standing on their heels, on a little narrow crevice halfway down the cliff. They were clear, but they were mighty uncomfortable. I taxied over to the base of the cliff and the water was real deep. So I coaxed the one guy to jump and fished him out but the other guy couldn't swim, but I'll say this for him, he sure had lots of intestinal fortitude.
We had the engine cut off on the Beaver and we paddled it in close to shore. I said now jump and we'll fish you out, just hold your breath when you go under. So with that, he just hurled himself off the cliff and we dug them out and got them away from there. Those are some of the kind of oddball things that we got into with forest fires.
The only other thing I can think of along those lines was one, when I was with El Dorado. We flew into a place just south of Port Radium, where there had been a big cache of explosives, mostly dynamite, forcite and stole B and all variations of the explosives that they were using underground.
It had deteriorated so badly that they wanted to blow it up. So they moved it out on to a little rock island out in the lake. I flew another guy and the powder monkey out there and they ran a long fuse to it and that armed the rock pile then we took off and we circled around about a mile, mile and a half away.
We waited and waited, and waited, and waited. Then a guy said to me, we should go back in and land. I said no bloody way. I said, if we go back in and land it is not going to be today, it's going to be tomorrow. I want to give that thing lots of time to blow up, so I don't know when the explosives detonated, but there wasn't a darn thing left of the rock island.
The rock there had a almost pure silver in one of the shafts and they used to go over and run it out with a blowtorch or gradient. These guys used to make some of the most beautiful things out of pure silver some actually looked almost like gold, that was called nickel light.
Eventually that mine was reactivated and there was about four outfits went broke trying to make it pay. We had a few little items there mostly when I was with Eldorado. Most of the action though was at Beaver Lodge.
However, one interesting thing that we got into at Port Radium, we used to go in there in the spring when the ice would just go out of the bay in front of the mine and then there was 40 miles of solid ice across to Sawmill Bay, which was where the airstrip was.
So they would bring up a DC-3 load of stuff and I would haul it from Sawmill Bay, which also was a long shallow bay and that used to thaw out as well. I'd fly between the two open water spots and ferry the DC-3 load of stuff across. Of course, the first load was always the passengers and so on, and then we would get working on the freight afterward.
During that period one time we had a diamond drill operating way up at the north end, north northeast corner of the lake towards Copper Mine, and some guy walked in from there about 35 miles one night to say that one of the fellows on the drill rig had broken his leg. Could I go out and get him? I said, well, is there any open water up there? He said, no, but the lake ice is smooth, we didn't know whether you were on skis or what, we could hear the airplane every once in a while. I said, well, I'm on floats, but I'll go and take a look at it and see what I can do.
They had a two-way radio there, which was not operating. So we loaded up a spare two-way radio and this guy and another guy, to replace the one that was out of commission and went up and we landed on the ice on floats. It wasn't too bad an operation but it made a terrible noise, but it didn't damage to the floats or anything like that.
Otter Aircraft on ice with pontoons.
Aircraft landing on ice with pontoons.
The biggest difficulty was loading the guy because the airplane was 4 or 5 feet off the water when it was floating, but when it was sitting up on floats, it was up to six and a half or seven feet above where the door was we had a terrible time getting the guy up there and he wasn't light. He was not all that excited about the treatment he was getting either, but at least he was going to get a ride out instead of having to go out on a caterpillar or something. Once we took off and got him back to the hospital at the mine, there was a resident doctor there all the time and a well equipped hospital much better than the one at Norman Wells when we got him put away and then we took the airplane over to the boat dock.
There was a great big gin pole there and we slung the airplane up out of the water and put it on the dock and went over the floats for any damage, but everything was okay. So we didn't have too much trouble.
We had a neighbor next door to us in Edmonton by the name of Lou Robinson, who was always pestering me to take him for an airplane ride. So, you guys will remember the rides that I used to take you on from Cooking Lake into Edmonton or from Edmonton to Cooking Lake. So I decided that I would take him out there. I had to take the Fairchild 24 out to put it on floats anyway. He and I were always teasing Johnny Black that lived across the street, and he was a great practical joker, so I thought I'll have a little fun with him.
Cooking Lake, Alberta.
I got into the airplane and got him, all buckled down and everything like that. Then I got out the operations manual and tried to figure out how to start it, how to fly it and what to do. I had him in a state of absolute terror by the time we taxied away from the front of the hangar, but unfortunately, we were called on the radio that there was a line squall arriving and to get undercover right away with the airplane. So I taxied back to the hangar and we stuffed it back inside. He considered that the narrowest escape of his life and he never asked me for a ride again. I told Johnny about it and he got a big laugh out of it.
Still with El Dorado and this would be probably be in 1951 and 52, I spent a lot of time at Beaver Lodge and while I was there, they piled up a DC-3 on the runway, our company did. The pilot got impatient and wouldn't wait for the flare path to be set out. He landed in the dark and he landed crossways to the runway and wound up demolishing the airplane.
They finally took the wings off it dragged, it just outside the gate of the mine property, and turned it into a soda fountain. Eventually, it went downtown into Uranium City and they made a little hamburger joint out of it. My only claim to fame there I guess, was that I flew the surveyors in to lay the place out and I was the best man at the first wedding in Uranium City.
I also sat on a coroner's jury there, when they were building the headframe at Beaver Lodge. Somebody on the head frame dropped a bolt and hit a guy at the bottom of the shaft and naturally, it ruined him for life. We used to have a lot of fun in Goldfields, this was before I was with El Dorado it was in 1949 or 50. There was all kinds of excitement going on there because the second uranium or the first uranium boom was going then it was the second boom for the Goldfield area.
Goldfield's was a ghost town at the time and I think three people lived there regularly, Gordon Carruthers and his wife and five or six kids and an old fella by the name of Cliff Brand. Oh yes, and Pete Bloomstein used to live there too, he was the mine caretaker. He was busy selling off all the furniture, fixtures and stuff like that, whatever belonged to the mine, which will never open again I don't think, but it might.
Hap Cave had a restaurant there and he made the most beautiful bread. He wound up with contracts to supply all the bush camps with bread. I don't know how many bush camps there were, but he was working steadily just making nothing but bread and his wife ran the restaurant. It was a really good restaurant, but they couldn't get any supplies in those days. You know the fresh meat had to all be flown in and so on. So it was they were working on a shoestring all the time.
I rented a log cabin for my period there that year and it was out behind the restaurant I used to come in the back door of the restaurant. I had an agreement with him that I wouldn't bother him in the morning because he sure wasn't getting enough sleep, but I could make my breakfast and he would just bill me for it at the end of the week.
So I'd walk in there and sometimes he'd be sound asleep with his head on the table and the bread would have risen and climbed over the sides of the pan and would be laying on the table. So I'd punch it down and make my breakfast and he wouldn't even stir, then I'd wake him up and tell him that I'd punched his bread down and it was all ready to go. He was a sure good guy he is still up there, too.
We quartered in Prince Albert with Mr. Ma at the freezer scow, until Grandma Ma slipped a caribou roast on the table one day. After that we got a Norseman and we took Lee Mack to the hospital in Ile-a-la-Crosse. It was the only hospital at that time. So we got this guy they brought him out with a dog team.
The weather was very lousy and the guy was as crazy as a loon and we had a hell of a time, Someone, I don't know who, got a crescent wrench, or a ball-peen hammer or something like that and he nailed the guy right on the head. I called ahead on the radio of course, to the police in Saskatoon. The police had one of the first bombardiers then, so we loaded the guy in and piled all the baggage on top of him and took him down to the hospital. Then Jack had to supply them with a guard to watch him.
So Jack "Special" (Greening) went down there and I guess he went to sleep on a chair in the guy's room and the guy got up and started tearing around, terrorizing the hospital staff. He just went bananas again, and he died about a week later so that kind of put him out of circulation. Those were sure interesting times.
Tony Ericson's sawmill, Buffalo Narrows in 1951.
Photo courtesy of the Sask. Archives Board
We had some odd loads that we carried like saws for Tony Ericson's sawmill in Buffalo Narrows. If you took the cargo door out and put the saw diagonally across the door and put two teeth around the rim of the door. You could just get the saw into the airplane, but then you couldn't get anything else in. So they were fat trips. The only thing was loading and unloading the doggone things because they were all sharper than a razor. They would send them out to get new teeth put in them, or get them sharpened and stuff like that. It was actually a pretty good sort of a deal.
Tony was quite a character too, he also suffered from narcolepsy. One time he was visiting at Deep River Mink Ranch. We were having dinner and in the middle of a bite, Tony would fall asleep, we had to keep shaking him to keep him awake!!
Tony Ericson (middle).
Unloading cans of fish fingerlings from Saskatchewan DNR Vickers Vedette CF-SAC,
for seeding into a northern lake in 1934,
Photo courtesy of Lefty McLeod, Ray Crone collection.
We used to haul dogs and all kinds of crazy stuff. Max Ward flew out three baby muskox one at a time from the barren lands and I was complaining about the pile of manure that the beavers had left on the floor. He said boy, you just haven't lived until you get muskox in there. I guess the plane smelled for ages, as we found out with the beavers.
We hauled a lot of beavers with Saskatchewan Government Airways. They had a big program on to re-seed the whole north, because they were running short of beaver. They had been killing them off at a higher rate and smuggling them across both the Alberta and the Manitoba borders and selling to fur traders and other provinces. As a result, the beaver population was sadly depleted in the northern part of the Saskatchewan.
Beaver to be relocated to Northern Saskatchewan.
Photo credit - The D.N.R Collection
Prince Albert Historical Society
We hauled loads of 35 beaver at a time, and we just let them loose in the cabin. Boy, they leave about 2 inches of stuff all over the cabin by the time you have got them unloaded. But we found out one night when we came in, just absolutely dog-tired. The airplane smelled of beavers and so we just locked all the doors wide open, all the windows open, and left the darn thing overnight, we figured it would air out. The next morning it had all dried and all we had to do is sweep it out the door. It was just sawdust and the smell all disappeared overnight too. So it was an interesting thing to find out and we used to follow that technique from then on rather than battle with it.
They had a plague of beaver in the Prince Albert National Park, and they decided they were going to transfer a bunch of them around the province. They were delivering them to me down at the break-water at Waskesiu 35 at a time. You should have seen the cages, they were made of chicken wire and 2-by-4's wrapped in galvanized iron so they couldn't eat their way out. The cages weighed more than their contents. The gosh darn things, they were pretty easy to handle most of them.
The odd old buck was real mean, but once you got them into the airplane, you could pretty well confine them, because as soon as you started the engine, they'd work themselves into a big heap, like a bunch of pups or kittens and they'd all go to sleep and so we never ever had any trouble with them once we got the engine going.
Once you started loading them though, you needed somebody up in the cockpit to keep them from getting up into the cockpit and in behind the rudder pedals and things like that, you know, that was tough to handle. But all you needed was a little stick because all you had to do is tap them on the nose and boy, that really discouraged them. They've got a real sensitive nose, apparently. I remember sometimes the big ones, you had to leave the back door of the airplane, locked and slide the window down and get a half-hitch of rope around his tail and swing them in, through the window.
One time, we somehow or other left the back door unlocked and the handle to open it turned down. I looked back just in time to see this beaver standing with both front paws on the door handle, which suddenly unlatched and the door swung open, just a little bit, but we were taxiing out at the time so we weren't in the air and it never got the door open.
But the door popped open anyway and he fell into the lake and the wind slammed the door shut again. So we lost one beaver right there and none of them even missed him I don't think. The beaver got into the waterworks at Waskesiu, which is where we're flying them from and caused all kinds of trouble. It got to plugging up the outlet to the power house, somehow or other and flooded the power plant with water every night, and they couldn't figure out what it was all about, until they finally found the beaver trying to build a dam on the outlet.
One of them bit Jerry Clay, he was a great big brawny warden and the he was helping us load this time we were loading at the dock in Prince Albert and we had this big, mean old beaver. The only way we could get him in was to half hitch him around the tail and drag him tail first into the cabin.
Clay, started pushing the beaver, pushing him up to the window and the beaver squirmed around and bit him in the thigh and a beaver bite I'll tell you, it's a real horrible looking sight, because his teeth just met right in Jerry's thigh. Anyhow, we got him in there and Jerry said, have you got any disinfectant or anything? And I said, well, we got a bottle of full strength ????? up in the nose hanger, but boy, I said that's pretty stiff stuff and he said, well, I need it anyway.
So he hauled his pants down and he spread the incisions apart, with his thumb and forefinger, and just poured, this stuff in straight. I'm damn sure it would have blistered the hide right off a horse without any open wounds, or anything like that, but he was a real tough guy. He never batted an eye at all, he was a remarkable sort of a guy.
Where our house stands now at Anglin Lake, the trees were only about 10 or 15 feet high when we were flying those beaver. I had to come in and tie up, right about where Sherwood's house is to transfer a load of beaver from Stu Miller's airplane to mine because he had engine trouble. That is where those pictures of me holding the small beaver was taken that particular incident.
Pilots who flew for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) flight program included Lefty McLeod, Stu Miller, Fred McClellan, and of course, Floyd Glass. Lefty McLeod and Stu Miller had taught flying with Floyd Glass at the Elementary Flying School in Prince Albert during the war.
Documentation on Beaver Transplanting
in Northern Saskatchewan.
Sask. Resources Building,
April 29th, 1948.
Dear Mr. Conn:
As requested sometime ago I am forwarding you a statement showing the number of beaver live trapped, from what areas they were obtained and where they were transplanted.
I notice by this report that there were 303 actually put into northern conservation areas. I believe in the statement I showed you were 290.
Mr. Harold Read is again looking after our transplanting program this year and I am glad to see he has already completed the preliminary arrangements.
Though due to our late spring and flood conditions, we will not be able to get started as soon as had been hoped.
You will wonder at this statement due to the fact that beaver have not been moved until much later in the season.
However, this year, Mr. Read is putting one crew on early with a view of taking some alive that would otherwise have to be pelted in order to drain flood areas allowing for crop.
Kindest personal regards, I am,
Indian Affairs Branch,
Department of Mines and Resources,
Enest L. Paynter, Game Commissioner.
Credit: Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.
For research, or private study Only. Circulation or publication without permission prohibited. Use of copy for purposes other than research or private study may require authorization of copyright owner.
The following is a report of the locations Beaver were trapped at, and the number taken, and the place planted.
Beaver were trapped at the following locations:
100 Prince Albert National Park.
91 Tisdale, Nipawin district.
42 Broadview and Whitewood district.
43 Milestone district.
58 Moose Jaw, Regina district.
18 Val Marie district.
43 East End and Ravenscrag district.
96 Maple Creek district.
6 Swift Current.
38 Tompkins and Leinen districts.
21 South of Saskatoon.
7 Shell Lake.
64 Paradise Hill, St. Walberg and Loon Lake.
627 Total number of beaver trapped.
The Beaver were planted at the following locations in the northern conservation areas.
18 McCallum Lake A.13.
21 McLean Lake A.19.
26 Rosser Bay A.14.
29 Barney Lake A.21.
27 Hanson Lake A.31.
20 Waterhen A.37.
9 Bronson A.47.
20 Egg Lake A.6.
14 Big Head Indians.
9 Big River Indians.
8 Neib Fur Con. A.58.
9 Boggle Creek A.57.
4 Loon Lake A.41.
29 Churchill Lake A.15.
30 Clear Lake A.17.
303 Total number planted on Northern Conservation Areas.
The following Beaver were planted on the Conservation Blocks in the south.
13 Goodell Block 100
17 Shoemaker 102
16 Schell (Piwie) 104
22 Swan Valley 106
10 Nut Lake Indians 107
6 Hudson Bay
13 Alf Norman 108
4 C.T. Shell
8 H. Johnson, Chelan
35 Porcupine Game Preserve.
22 Beaver Lodge Con. Area.
20 Big Horn Con. Area.
3 Area A.44.
Total number planted on blocks in the Frontier.
The following is a report on Beaver planted on Fur Co-ops.
18 Beaver were planted on the Fur Co-ops.
16 were planted at Madge Lake.
2 were planted at Mont Nebo Fur Co-op.
18 Total number planted on Fur Co-ops
We had the misfortune of losing 18 beaver all told making our total casualties for the season 18 Beaver. The remaining 90 Beaver were planted on private lands, given mostly to farmers for raising water levels for stock etc. These Beaver were distributed pretty well over the Province.
The beaver transplant program paid off. Through careful administration and strict enforcement by conservation officers, 55,000 beaver were harvested during the 1955-56 trapping season.
For research or private study only. Circulation or publication without permission prohibited. Use of copy for purposes other than research or private study may require authorization of copyright owner.
We had the fire patrol at Meadow Lake, that was a real good summer, the initial summer of the fire patrol. There was a fellow there the radio operator, he was a one-armed Norwegian guy, who was a real good scout and I can't remember whether you guys met him or not. But his name was Alfro Lean and he eventually wound up to be the electronics man at Port Radium. He was a very, talented electronics guy with little, or, no education. I think he went as far as grade six or something like that in school.
He was one of those natural-born electronic wizards and designed and built some very exotic material for the mine at Port Radium. On the conveyor belt, they had a high grader on either side of the belt two men who could recognize high-grade ore picked that off, you know, they were picking the cream of it off before it went into the mill.
Alfro designed a radio, it was triggered by the radioactivity in the rocks and the higher quality ore, of course, had the most radiation and a mechanical hand would come out and kick the piece off the conveyor belt into a bin and I always thought that was a real crafty piece of work.
Anyhow, he was the radio operator at Meadow Lake. He had a nice little radio room and he also had his amateur radio set up there too. So on bad days when we couldn't fly the fire patrols, we used to lurk around up in the radio room and talk to him.
When I was on fire patrol, we had a filing cabinet that had four drawers. Each drawer would hold a 24 bottle case of beer. So we had ale in A1, beer in B1, brews in D1, and C1 was Carling's I guess.
Out the window of the radio room about three or four hundred yards away, there lived an old guy by the name of George Gunderson, who was a heck of a good old fellow. So once in a while, when we were having one and Fred wasn't showing up, we had the remains of a heliograph now. Before radio in the forestry, they used to communicate between the towers with heliograph's, which were a mirror set up that you could send Morse code with if you had it lined up correctly on the station that you were calling.
Heliograph Signaling device.
If you had sunlight they were flashed from one tower to the other, there used to be one on the water tower on top of the hill in Prince Albert, which is no longer there. That one was used to communicate with The Red Earth Fire Tower and the Round Lake Fire Tower and they, in turn, contacted the towers that they could see farther out.
But we used this one for signaling old Fred that somebody had opened the filing cabinet and we could flash it in his kitchen window. We all knew that he always sat in the kitchen. I don't think his wife would let him into the living room or something like that. But anyhow, after a couple of flickers on the heliograph, Fred would saunter out to the woodpile with his axe in hand and whack up about three sticks of wood and then come tearing over to the radio room like his pants were on fire. Mrs. Gunderson thought we were all with leading old John astray, but it was a lot of fun.
Charles Woodman (left),
presents a commemorative plaque to
Dave LeChasseur - 1957.
Photo courtesy of Sask. Archives Board:
I can't remember whether I went into the story about Fred Hall and Dave Lachasseur, going missing in a Waco between Beauval and Meadow Lake. I was the guy that found them and Lachasseur said he was a trader and a fur buyer and so on. He was a gigantic Frenchman about six feet six and built to scale. He was a real good guy, thank goodness. But he had said that if he ever found the guy that had located them, he would buy him the biggest bottle that he ever saw in his life.
So during some of our conversations, his name came up. I guess Alf asked me if I knew him and I said, well, only by name because the closest I ever got to him was about 500 feet over his head when they were forced down in the bush. So nothing more was said and one day I came in and landed and Alf said on the radio, drop up to the radio shack.
Well, it was always a good place to drop up to, because we had a filing cabinet there that had four drawers in it and each drawer would hold a case of beer. He had it all filed properly like A for ale and B for beer and C for Carling, D forgeries, I think that was the way it worked so I thought, well, he's going to buy me a beer.
So I dropped in there and this giant was sitting there talking to him and he introduced us. This is Dave Lacheseur, he reached in behind the door and he hauled out the biggest bottle of champagne that I've ever seen in my life. It was about, I don't know whether it held a gallon or not, but it didn't for very long anyway, we've got involved in quite a little potlatch that night.
That of course, was where I met a Mountie whose name was Jock Dunlop, he was a real character and his favorite expression like, he occasionally wanted to know if I would mind taking them along on some of my fire patrols because there's some specific thing he wanted to look at and so on. I'd say sure, no problem at all I'm going to leave at 5:30 AM or something like that, and we'll be back by 7:30 and in time for breakfast and you will be able to open up your office on time.
He was a real Scotchman so he would say, hi I'll see you at sparrow fart in the morning and so we all used to get a little giggle out of that. He also demonstrated to me the methods that the RCMP used for destroying the evidence, under the Indian Act.
It consisted of swigging down some of it at little cocktail parties and pouring the rest down the sink, but with Jock, the swigging came first and the pouring came second. Another Mountie up there was Pete Nightingale, who used to be up in Ile-a-la-Crosse Detachment at one time.
RCMP Constables, Doug Roberts and Pete Nightingale
(right), at Deep River Mink Ranch 1940s.
Halvor Ausland's Model A Ford truck and the RCMP snow machines.
Well, early on in the mid 1940s and he was a marksman with a pistol and it seems to me that he is. Pete and this other guy were picked up by the highway patrol careening down the highway, on their way to Regina I think, half gassed and shooting the insulators off the telephone poles as they were driving along. He had all kinds of strange stories and he told some of them.
I bailed him out of the local hoosegow in Prince Albert, he phoned me from there and he said, come on over and identify me will you. So I went over and what he had done, he'd been in on some sort of a course or something in Prince Albert, and he was in back of their Ninth Street East in a one of those old districts in PA were all the houses were exactly the same.
He was living in a boarding house and he came home from a night on the town with the boys and walked into his boarding house and climbed the stairs and sat down on the edge of the bed and started pulling his high boots off and stuff. The lady that was in bed, started hooping and hollering, and he found out he was in the wrong boardinghouse, but by this time, it was too late they had called the police.
I don't know whether things are the same now, but used to be the city police, and the mounties were always at at odds with one another about something. So, I had to get up in the middle of the dogon night and go over and tell them that he was, who he said he was, but I had a big chuckle on him ever since. He's around Prince Albert to this day he's pretty good old guy.
One of the odd jobs that I got into in the business up there was the year Dr. Setka went up there. You guys would remember him because he was our family doctor in Prince Albert. He went up there on a fishing trip and I showed him where the grayling were. I would drop him in at one of my favorite little fishing holes and stuff like that. He would travel the whole lake just for two or three weeks, just bumming a lift and going on somewhere else.
When he finally came out to Prince Albert, he said, you know, I'm going back up there again next year. He says there's a lot of people up there who need a lot of medical attention. He took the airplane as far as Stony Rapids and he set up housekeeping there and proceed to set up a projector outside the Hudson Bay store, the buildings were all painted white with red roof.
For instance, he said, how do you explain what's going on in a parade to people to help them out? So he would turn on that projector and he said this is what you do. Well, I saw people on mattresses all over the schoolroom recovering from an aesthetic, you know, you felt your stomach heave once in a while when you hear them all doing the same thing. They were waiting for Doctor Harvey to show up. He was the Indian agent doctor and he was in the tent at Mitchell mines at Black Lake.
We got forced down on Cree Lake because of bad weather with four or five guys on board however, we had a couple of tents and a load of groceries. We were stuck there because the battery died on us. When we started poking around through the belly compartment, we found out that somebody had taken the crank out so we couldn't crank the darn thing.
Albert Molina was my mechanic at that time, when we finally got weather that we could operate with, we nosed the airplane into the end of the bank swung the prop by hand with a rope, and finally got it started. We turned it around while it was still running, you know, don't drop it because it's going to get away on you if you do. We loaded everything up and took off and we eventually got where we're going and found out what the trouble was and fixed it and carried on, but that was sort of a minor deal.
I told you about the deal were Bill and I were forced down on Black Lake in very heavy storm, and we were hauling, refueling a fuel cache at Stony Rapids. Amongst other things, we had four barrels of gas in the cabin and then we had all the Easter booze and a bit of mail and stuff like that for Stony Rapids, Fond du Lac and Goldfields.
We started off from Wallace it was, very, very warm and we ran into the cold front somewhere, just short of Black Lake. The snow got so doggone thick that there's nothing to do but land and when we landed we hit a small pressure ridge and smashed a ski, so we were tied up there for keeps.
Now we could have walked into Stony Rapids, it was about 40 miles, I guess that would have taken us two or three days to do it, but we decided we were out in the lake where we'd be quite visible and the safest place to be was right there. So we rigged up our radio antenna on four snowshoes, but it didn't work worth a darn.
It was too close to the ice. So we walked ashore and we got a we got three dried poles and made a tripod out of it and hung it up on that. That night we contacted a guy on Reindeer Lake by the name of Shorty Laird. He was a trapper there and he'd bought one of those old 19 sets that were war surplus after the war that the used in the tanks.
They were terribly heavy things, they are just like a tank itself, but you could do all kinds of funny things with them. Several of those guys in the north bought them and they were using them for their own little communications circle.
He picked up the message from us and he relayed it to Island Falls who phoned it into Prince Albert. So they got the search going, we had no way of knowing this because he couldn't answer us but in any event, we decided we might as will occupy ourselves somehow or other and we built a an igloo out on the ice there.
The only ones that I had seen were built at Baker Lake and so on and I thought well if an Eskimo can do it, surely to goodness I can do it. We didn't have really suitable snow. But it was drifted fairly hard so we managed to get enough that we could work with and it kept us occupied and busy.
We built quite a reasonable little snow house that was about, eight or nine feet across and it stood, like a dish in the middle of the lake. We tried warming it up with some candles, and with three candles, we could keep the thing quite comfortable once we get the door plugged.
Structurally, it was real good because when they came to pick us up, somebody wanted to take my picture. So I climbed up on the roof of it, and I was sitting on the roof of it to get my picture taken, so it stood up under that which was real good.
That night, we watched one of the search machines fly right over our head. He was up quite high and he was flying into a sunset so there's an excuse for him. He had been intercepted by some boob at Wollaston Lake, who had his own idea where we were but he didn't and they were silly enough that they didn't follow the information that Shorty Laird had. But they started listening to this other guy instead and he was very convincing. However, he was wrong and they were looking in the wrong place and had been all day.
So we figured that they were going to overnight in Stony Rapids and we waited till the sched time at night which was 8:00 P.M. I proceeded to start caterwauling on the radio and they came out next morning. Well, it was awful doggone cold that night about -30 below and the next morning I could just about hear them taking off at Stony Rapids.
I heard them when they were miles and miles away, and I got up on the roof of the airplane with my mirror that I used to carry in my briefcase. It was a mirror out of the heliograph at Meadow Lake, as a matter of fact, it was the last piece of mirror that was in it and I used that on the top of the airplane.
Stony Rapids town-site on Lake Athabasca.
They said the minute they cleared, the trees at Stony Rapids they could see that light bright blinking out on the lake. They came right for us and they brought a spare pair of skis, because we had given them all the information. So there is a couple of mechanics and pilot and so on came up with him.
He dropped the mechanics and the skis and took off with us into Stony Rapids. The Mountie, Steve Stevenson and the Hudson's Bay guy, Doug Stevens, Chris's dad, came out with him. Steve had brought along one of the RCMP thermos bottles, all steel thermos bottles full of hot rum, which Bill and I gurgled down like it was drinking water.
However, we landed in Stony Rapids and Mrs. Stevens had breakfast for us, which we sure needed because our ration kit had been depleted by, whoever had the airplane on a previous trip. We had a dozen OXO cubes and being in kind of hungry shape, we'd decided to eat one meal a day and that's about it.
We got into Stony Rapids and when we went into the house the heat and the hot rum that Steve had fed us, we were just about falling off the chairs by the time we finished our breakfast. We needed an uninterrupted sleep, which we did, but first we went over to the police barracks and hospital and we wheedled the use of the bathtub out of Myrtle and had soaking baths.
They, if they had it, they shared it. So consequently, we used to try and reciprocate as much as possible and during the periods, when they couldn't get any fresh vegetables. We'd go to great lengths to roll up, tomatoes, lettuce green onions, and perishable stuff in our sleeping bags so they wouldn't freeze and take them up there. Also, things like eggs, which you would think wouldn't be too much of a problem.
But the eggs used to come in on the last barge in the fall, which was about the end of August then the first barge in the spring came in the first week in June. So by that time, the eggs that had come in September for her, you know were getting pretty raunchy and so on. So we used to haul all kinds of stuff up there like that.
It served in good stead at times too, there was a guy that worked for the fish board, and I'm just trying to remember his name, Harold Williams I think it was and he was going up to Brochet. He was taking along a load of Life magazines and he had a flat of peaches, a flat of tomatoes and some steaks and stuff like that, stuff that they wouldn't be getting up there.
On the way, he threw a blade off the propeller of his Stinson and the engine tore loose but it still hung on by the one engine mount and some of the controls. So he made a forced landing on Reindeer Lake, paddled to an island and anchored the airplane and set himself up in housekeeping.
He took his backseat out, which was a kind of a little bench seat and took his tarpaulin and built himself a lean-to. He moved all his groceries and magazines up there, under cover and built a gigantic fire on the top of the island so that it was all set, if he saw an airplane he could light it up in a hurry.
He was living the life of Riley when we found him. He was eating his way through all the groceries he had been taking up to the Garbutt's and had all kinds of reading material and all the fresh water in the world, good firewood, and the whole shooting match, so it worked out pretty good for him.
There is a lot of fun with those people they were nice to us and I still get to see Chris's folks as often as possible. The Garbutt's are living in Victoria, I see them, but I haven't seen the Smiths for years. I've been back up into that country and certainly, the atmosphere isn't the same as it used to be.
Of course, the pilots now are far more impersonal they're out to make money. They're not out there to foster any public relations or anything like that. They just want to grab your money and run. So things are, the whole social atmosphere is a lot different than it used to be.
We used to have a terrific time at any of those places because we were always included in whatever was going on, you know, dances and clambakes and fish fries and potlatch's of one kind or another. Sometimes, there was more than just the one pilot in town at the time, whether it was the opposition or not, if you were in trouble he helped you, if he was in trouble, you helped him and it didn't matter whether our companies were at one another's throats or not.
That was particularly noticeable one time when George Greening was forced down and disappeared somewhere. Nobody knew where the hell he was and we were instructed that we do not start any searching for him at all!! Naturally, that was like waving a red flag in front of a bunch of bulls. So no matter where anybody was going we bent our routes a little bit so we went straight into the area, where he had gone missing.
Eventually, somebody found him. George was sitting on an island in the middle of a lake that was lousy with squirrels. Nothing on the island but squirrels and there were lots of them. While he was there he had spent his time building a 28 page item menu on the preparation and consumption of squirrels, such as poached, fried, fricasseed, baked, coddled scrambled, or whatever.
We had a priest at Snake Lake (now Pinehouse) Father Robillard. I was hauling their fish out and their freight in and each time I would come in with a load of freight he'd poke around, he wouldn't pester me though. I would buzz the mission and he would come down especially to tell me that he was ringing that bell for me for getting his bell to him in time for Easter.
Treaty Part at Stanley Mission, July 1949.
There was a nice little priest at Stoney Rapids, his name was Father Perrin and he was a Belgian. If we ever showed up with a case of beer, he used to come upstream just like a trout. I don't know how he smelled it, but he would drop in on Steve for a visit and every beer that you offered him he said, yes, maybe I'll have one, I'm a Belgian you know, and you could hand him 24 in a row and he would say, exactly the same thing until he fell off his chair, but he was a nice little guy.
Father Gamache was a giant, he was down at Fond du Lac and he had all the Indians organized to hunt in the winter and fish in the summer and the settlement, although it was one of the most dismal places in the whole doggone area, he had a bunch of really well fed, well organized, Indians, and they can thank him for that.
Father Ducharme at Portage La Loche was much the same. He used to smoke a gigantic pipe that had a bowl on it, almost the size of a baseball it was carved in the shape of a bull's head.
Bill Tunstead and I borrowed his dog team one time and we couldn't get them to move for us at all, until all of a sudden, Bill lost his temper and let out a string of awesome profanity that just about burnt the hair off their tails and with that, they got going. So it was always a joke after that the Father might have been speaking softly within the confines of the church, but he sure as hell must have had a dandy vocabulary to make the dogs respond like that.
Father Remy was at Ile-a-la-Crosse and although he was a very gentlemanly little guy, we didn't have too much to do with him. But the doctor at the mission was Doctor Lavoie and he was quite a character and I flew him around the country, a bit.
We had a Beaver and also an Otter, we had one on floats and even after I got down onto the executive flight, The only other guy that had float time was the other pilot at Dawson Creek. So when he went on holiday, I got to fly the Otter on floats, which was great. He went in the summer and we had it all dealt up so I would relieve him for up to a month, which was just dandy because float flying was always my very, very favorite.
During that period, Bud Tillotson and I rebuilt that old Bellanca Aircruiser and it was a nice little airplane. We kept it for about a year and a half. But the partnership wasn't working out too well because he went to Edmonton and I remained in Calgary and there's a lot of complications in each guy getting his fair share of the flying.
So we eventually had a really good offer from a group of four doctors at Dawson Creek, and we sold it for considerably more than what we had in it as far as the cash was concerned. Strangely enough, we didn't even manage to get that dough back into our hands. My piece of it went into wall-to-wall carpet in our house in Calgary and Bud's went for a Hammond electric organ. So, after all that work and so forth we never did really profit from it at all.
Bellanca Cruiserair, 1947.
Imperial Oil Ltd. Fairchild F-27 CF-IOGF at
Dawson Creek, British Columbia, June 1966.
Photo Credit: Don Magnassun.
Grand Prairie, oh, yeah well, one of the only really serious trouble that I ever had was with the F-27 and it turned out to be far less serious than it appeared at the time. We were coming down from Inuvik at night. The weather was very questionable and we were clanking along with quite a considerable load of parts and odds and ends. We're going to make a stop at Peace River and then continue on into Edmonton.
But up around High Level somewhere, which is about halfway between Peace River and Hay River on Slave Lake. I suddenly woke up to the fact that there is a great ring of fire around the propeller hub, holy mackerel There goes a bearing and I chopped it right away.
Well, if you had a sudden stop on an engine in the F27 it feathered itself automatically, and just in a matter of about 3 seconds, the thing was stopped and the fire disappeared. Just about that time one of the passengers came bounding up from the cabin and stuck his head into the cockpit.
He says, you know, there's great big burning pieces of stuff were flying past the cabin window there. So I sent whoever was with me, I can't remember who it was now back to have a look and see if there's anything further. We turned all the lights out so that if there was any fire we would be able to spot it, but nothing.
Well, we had such a heck of a load on that we couldn't maintain 18,000 feet, which was what we were at. So we had to declare a minor emergency to air traffic control and ask for a lower altitude and to clear the track beneath us and our intention was to land at Peace River.
Well Peace River all of a sudden went down below limits before we got there, so we couldn't go in there and I sure didn't want to play around with going in there on one engine unless we had ideal conditions. So we continued on to Grand Prairie, which was okay. Now the dirt, one of the things that the company always used to do for us provided us with adequate credit cards to cover our requirements, no matter where we went.
One of them was an international air travel card, which was good all over the world and would buy you a car or rent you a concubine, or a Chinese junk, or whatever. So we got into Grand Prairie without any incident and managed to even taxi the thing in on one engine to the terminal building.
I went in and inquired of the CPA agent. They had their CPA flight southbound to Edmonton left Fort St. John. Well, no, it hadn't, but it was due to take off any moment. I said how many seats have you got left on it? Because we had 16 guys that were going on into Edmonton. So he said, he thought they had 20 or 22 seats on it.
So I said, well, okay. I've got, 16 passengers here for you, and I'd like to pay for it with my International Air Travel Card. Well the guy just about fainted, but at least we got the guys on the southbound flight anyway, and everybody was happy.
Quite a raft of Indians, all used to trap in the barren lands, there were quite a number of portages was over a big S curve on the north end of Selwyn Lake, after that, they were on a downhill pulse, the biggest one in that general area. They had illusions of being air navigators that put you off a little bit, however, we used to drop them off then fly three and a half hours back.
One time there were three Indians camping on Charlie Lake shore, an Indian came flogging along in a paddling canoe, and said he was hunting on such and such a day. I said, I'll make sure you get there the next day and sure enough, the guy was there soaking wet and looking miserable, but headed out to put the meat up for the winter.
These Indians were quite tractable as opposed to the one that we had from Buffalo Narrows that went absolutely nuts on us. We then sat on him the rest of the way into Ile-a-la-Crosse until we could get him locked up, (probably an Indian from Buffalo Narrows named Cheechuk).
Great place too you know, if you wanted a little recreation go down and cast for trout (wrong, no trout in Ile-a-la-Crosse Lake.) of the Mounties and Hudson's Bay dock.
There's an RCMP station there and we had a lot to do with a lot of them from time to time Constable Beman, Steve, and Jim Lange. Sgt. Montrose was the guy that nobody liked and he was a patrol Sergeant for that area. Boy, he had a painful talk that deteriorated to absolutely nothing.
I'm going by Fred's place all the time, he had a beautiful site for his camp, he had a little lake and he was on the Dubawnt River and on the main route to Stony Rapids, but we never ever saw him.
Dubawnt River, Nunavut.
So, his friends the Mccaskills said they climbed the esker and we found Fred in just desperate condition while he was out there. Like he had built little log cabins for them, all was real neat. He was in very tough shape for a while, but I know that after the McCaskill's retired, he lived with them all the time. Leroy Toby, who was quite an accomplished prospector and they used to drop in. They had a movie projector and they used to have movies on Saturday nights.
What took place there at Nisto Mine was a man was injured, very shortly after this had happened and Norm Edgar was in the office, our main loading point, we took all Nisto stuff out to them. I said what happened? He said, oh, he cut himself with the axe. But the only thing is, I don't have any anesthetic, I don't have any local anesthetic, I don't have any general anasthetic, so we went in and this guy was lying on a cot.
Edgar gave him a couple of real solid belts out of the bottle, and he was in lala land. He never twitched or budged, he certainly must have nerves of steel, because we stitched the skin, a long ways before all of a sudden he complained. The next day with this guy in back of the airplane we eventually took him back to camp, anybody else would have wanted to go to the hospital.
A guy by the name of Bill Wolfe wrote articles for the Saturday Evening Post he was a real nice guy. He went all the way up to Wollaston Lake on a cat swing, writing articles about Stony Rapids. He decided he was going to walk to the Hudson Bay store, well, holy cats some people went running like rabbits after him and each got him by the arm and turned him around.
One time we were shooting pool there, a mounties pea-jacket was hanging on the wall, and those days they had kind of a go and pick the mounties pocket to get his jug.
This is Lefty McLeod's description of the crash.
There appears to be some inconsistencies between George and Lefty's versions.
There's a lot of strange, things went on one night, or one afternoon. I guess there used to be a telephone line that came up through from Green Lake through Beauval. It went across a bunch of islands into Ile-a-la-Crosse to the settlement. It then it went on up overland to Buffalo Narrows, eventually terminating at Portage La Loche on Methy Lake.
A lot of messages came and went on that line and sometimes prior to the days when we had radio up there.
We used it to let our base know where we were in the event that we weren't following a regular or the schedule that had been agreed upon when we left the base and the old fellow that was the announcer, or, the operator at Ile-a-la-Crosse name was Harry Price.
He used to be the instructor at the elementary school in Prince Albert in the signal section and a real nice old guy and of course, he knew us all from the days, when most of us had been instructors at Prince Albert. Anyhow this one day, he got a message that there was a lady desperately in need of an airlift from Dore Lake to the Big River hospital.
It was customary when that happened to just lay out a general call on the first pilot that got down there with an airplane,was the guy that got the job. There was three of us in the area that particular day, Clark Ready, George Greening and Tommy McCloy. Clark had a Waco, I had a Waco and George and Tommy had a Fairchild 82.
At Dore Lake, the camp was run by Waite fisheries and that is who George and Tommy were working for at the time. They were hauling fish into Buffalo Narrows from farther north with this Fairchild and Clark was on the M&C mail run and I was doing work for the Saskatchewan Forestry at that time.
I got finished first for some peculiar reason and I started south for Dore Lake. I ran into some terrible flying conditions that were so bad that I managed to find the north end of Dore Lake and established where I was and landed. I taxied across the lake on a compass course because I was afraid to fly across I was piling up so much ice even taxiing. I got so much ice on the airplane and it was just really down to its knees by the time I got to the other side and found where the fish plant was and parked it.
The fish plant manager was a very decent sort of a guy named Geir Thorden and invited me to stay overnight and he had radio contact with Buffalo Narrows. We subsequently heard that George and Tom were on the way, but we couldn't get them stopped and couldn't get a hold of them on the radio to advise them that the weather was terrible and there was no way that anybody if they got to Dore Lake could ever get anywhere else.
So meanwhile, I guess Clark got the message and he started down from Buffalo Narrows also before Tom and George. He landed at a place called Deep River (Halvor Ausland's mink ranch) and taxied about 10 (it was 24 miles not 10) into Ile-a-la-Crosse the same way as I did at Dore Lake. He was afraid to fly it any further because he was piling on so much ice.
Deep River Mink Ranch from the air.
Anyway, he was putting his airplane to bed at Ile-a-la-Crosse with a big sigh of relief and a shadow went screaming over the settlement, which turned out to be the Fairchild 82 and long about the time that he should be fading into the distance, there was silence. Nobody really worried about that too much until about four hours later, George came staggering into the hospital all covered with blood and chopped up quite a fair amount.
George had been pitched through the roof of the airplane when they hit the ice and Tommy had broken a leg, Tommy was still out when George extricated him from the wreckage and rolled him up in a sleeping bag. George then started out for help and it was just miraculous that he happened to intercept the church fence line and followed that into the hospital.
The priests at the mission went out with a team of horses and a sleigh, and they found Tommy and brought him into the hospital. But meanwhile Geir Thorden, who was the manager of Waite's fish plant at Dore Lake and I had gone out to the runway with pails, we had about 10 or 12 pails filled, or half filled with sand and gasoline which we lit it and it burned for quite a long time. We got that going and figured that's all that we can do. If they can find the fish plant, they will be able to see the runway because we got it all lit up for them, but they never did show up.
Waite Fisheries Fairchild 82D CF-AXQ before it crashed
on Ile-a-la-Crosse Lake.
CF-AXQ Fairchild 82D - Waite Fisheries aircraft. Hit ice in turn after windscreen iced up
3 miles from Ile-a-la- Crosse, Saskatchwan, Jan. 28 1947.
When plane meets ice.
When plane meets ice.
We sat up till about midnight and finally we got hold of Big River on the radio and advised them that the airplane was missing. They had not shown up in Buffalo Narrows and they hadn't shown up at Ile-a-la-Crosse according to what information we had at that time, although they had picked them up of course.
This is a second version of the crash as told by George Greening,
Circa - January, 1947.
There appears to be some inconsistencies between Georges and Lefty's versions.
I guess most of us who put in over 10,000 hours do have a few of these situations.
It reminds me of a time when a man with an infected hand had to be picked up at Dore Lake. Tommy McCloy (co-pilot) was known in the district and went on to be a captain with CP AIR. (We) took off in a Fairchild 82 from Buffalo Narrows to pick up this man and proceed to Big River.
Thirty miles out of Buffalo Narrows we passed Ile-a-la-Crosse and saw four planes on the ground and worsening weather ahead. Crossing Ile-a-la-Crosse, I heard Tommy shout, "We've a wing down," and then temporary oblivion. When I came to, Tommy was pinned in the wreckage and he yelled at me, "George, George, don't go away, don't go away." He had caught a foot, which I got out, but he had considerable damage to one leg and the tendons above the knee were showing!
We discussed the situation, pulled out the bedrolls from the wreckage and we lit a blowpot, which is a gasoline heating device - we lit this and Tommy crawled into a bedroll and I elected to walk to Ile-a-la-Crosse. I finally reached Ile-a-la-Crosse and got to the Catholic Mission and called a very dear friend of mine (who was recently passed on to his reward), Father Remy. He greeted me and asked where was Tommy?
Catholic Priest, Father Remy.
I told him he was back at the wreckage and I thought I could leave him there and Father Remy, God rest his soul, had a team hitched up and they took a set of sleighs with some boards on it and started down the lake. In early evening by moonlight, sure enough they found the wreckage. They picked up Tommy and laid him on the toboggan. Father said this was really a blessing and they had some Divine help! Nevertheless, the help that was really material was that he pulled out a bottle of brandy and we all had a real big - in the vernacular of the north - a real big snort of this.
This is a third version of the crash From "Island Breezes"
A school paper reports as follows:
January 1947, "Island Breeze" a school paper reports as follows:
PLANE CRASHES ON ILE-a-la-CROSSE LAKE
On Jan. 28, at 3:30 p.m. a Len Waite plane headed for Dore Lake to pick up a patient, lost its bearings in the thick fog and crashed on our lake hurling out its cargo of fish and two pilots, Mr. George Greening of Prince Albert and Mr. Thomas McCloy of Big River. That they should have come out of the wreck alive is proof that God in Heaven keeps an ever watchful eye on his children in distress --- so the two men admitted, and they should know. Both suffered from shock, countless bruises and severe cuts.
Mr. Greening, after giving first aid to his companion who was unable to move because of a dislocated foot and a deep gash above the knee, walked four miles in deep snow and a -50 below weather, to get help at the Mission.
Father Remy bathed his bloodstained face and called the nurse. While Sister Superior Boisvert, bandaged his head, Father organized and headed a rescue party composed of Mr. Pete Nightingale (RCMP), Mr. Stimson, Leo Belanger, Donald Morin, Geordy Maurice, Etienne Corrigal and Thomas Daigneault, Jr.
Meanwhile, Pilot Clark whose M and C plane was grounded beyond Big Island, had heard the crash, was scouting the lake with another party of men in the snowmobile in search of the wreck.
The first party, directed by Mr. Greening, found Mr. McLoy and brought him to the Hospital. Both victims of the accident were made as comfortable as could be until the arrival of Dr. Lavoie who was on call at Buffalo Narrows. The snowmobile made the two-way trip in record time: exactly 2 hours.
A day and a half later, the M and C plane flew the two patients to Big River. They left grateful for the care received at the Mission Hospital, for the many services rendered by Father Remy and for the help and sympathy extended by the islanders.
It is apparent that George's story told on radio has some variances with the same story told some 40 odd years ago by Fr. Marius Rossignol.
George does not mention Father Rossignol who was the priest in charge of the mission, and was his first contact, but talks of Father Remy who actually went out on the rescue, together with seven other men. Also, George Greening does not mention his part in the rescue operation, guiding the search party.
Father Marius Rosignol - extreme right in photograph.
George also does not mention his injuries! This is typical of Greening who gave all of the credit for rescuing Tommy McCloy to others.
Very interesting people are in my notes, Fred Redhead, Ernie Over, Bill Tunstead. They were all old time rangers and game wardens.
Ernie Over, Big River, Sask..
Fred Redhead with his homemade canoe
One of the unique things about that fish camp the headquarters cabin, they were all log cabins, but the headquarters cabin had a picket fence around it. The picket fence was constructed out of record size, trout standing on their tails. To qualify for the fence, the trout had to be 30 pounds or over and believe me, it was just about a solid palisade by the time that season was over because there were sure some big fish taken out of there.
The biggest trout I saw at up to that time was 48 pounds, but subsequently, Oliver Shawn and I rescued an 88 lb lake trout at McGinnis Fisheries filleting plant on Lake Athabasca. Subsequently, another guy brought in a 104 pounds lake trout, both of which were in the museum of natural history and Regina at one time.
Bjarni Fjeldahl, there was a real character. He was one of the ski instructors to the royal family in Sweden at one time and a remittance man. He was a little short sawed-off, scrawny Swede a real cute little guy, who used to make terrific coffee and he and I used to gulp down a fair amount of it between us. He ran Len Waite's fish camp on Cree Lake for a long time.
Bjarne had some very strange ideas and he used to get really smashed out of his mind every once in a while. During one of these occasions, his lead dog on his dog team died and he was in a very maudlin state at the time and he decided that he had to have a military funeral for this moth-eaten old dog. So he rounds up all the rest of his dog team and a shovel and went out and buried his lead dog, Morgan.
(L to R): Jacob Halvorsen, Tom Pedersen, Unidentified, Celina Pedersen, Kelly Shatilla,
Bjarne Fjelldal, unidentified, unidentified.
Children in front probably Tom Pederson's grandchildren.
George Greening and I were having coffee in the Chinaman's cafe (Derr Tom's cafe) when he came in from this chore and he pulled his dogs up in front of the hotel, tied them up and wandered into the cafe crying bitterly. When we asked for an explanation, he was telling us about this funeral that he had and he said all his sleigh dogs, one after the other went and pissed on the headboard that he had set up for his lead dog and he was very bitter about that.
Later on, a couple of years later, when DDT started becoming very fashionable around that country, one of the guys up there,got a can of DDT and explained how it was good for killing flies.
The guy, this was one of the trappers and of course in our usual springtime blowouts the guys were commenting on it. It seemed like the flies were coming into his cabin by the dozen, he had been urinating in the DDT can at night and he was spraying pure urine around, his cabin.
Flit DDT Sprayers, I remember them well, sure made life more
bearable from mosquitos and bulldogs in the north.
The were odd guys up on Cree Lake besides the Scandinavians, but the place was just seething with them up there. You know, in the camp, everything was strung out in a row. There was two bunks and a table to each guy, it was beautifully kept. I had my moccasins turned inside out and I was putting a little patch on the sole.
I could see the owner was disturbed about something and he fidgeted and fidgeted with all of the earmarks of being excessively neat and tidy. He lived in a cabin there with an Indian wife and a bunch of kids.
Henry Wetzel had a camp at the north end of the lake and originally it was used by the Indians and trappers to buy ammunition and lard and stuff like that.
You know, it wasn't accessible besides his camp or anything like that. When we flew in all we had to do was hang the engine tent over the airplane and Henry would be there with his dog team, either he or Crass. We would be 10 minutes away from landing and his dogs would tell them that there was an airplane coming.
It was there that I saw one of the most remarkable things, when the trout were spawning in the fall it was a remarkable sight. We would park at Henry's and walk down the trail to the shore with pitchforks and sling the trout to shore. When Henry died and they rebuilt the facility. The first time I went into the new camp, having some tea and bannock and stuff, as you walked across the pole floor it sounded just like somebody in high heels.
Lake trout spawning.
Breakup was coming and nobody could get away to fly Henry's Anson out and it was sitting there on the ice by the shore. So Henry thought, well, there's no way that he's going to let it go out with the ice. The Anson was on skis, so he went over to the Indian village and rounded up every dog they had there and Chris Timpson told me later they had 198 dogs hooked on to that airplane.
Now the clamour, and outcry must have been just absolutely indescribable when they got this thing going. But eventually they got the Anson moving and they got it out of the ice and the front skis up on dry land for almost 10 or 15 feet, but it left the tail on the ice. So with the tail on the ice, they built a cofferdam around it and with a great deal of goofing around, they got the tail lifted up clear of the ice and so it sat there all one summer.
Don Brownridge, Larry White and I went in to get it out and all we had to do was change the spark plugs on the engines and put in a battery and the Anson started right up and Brownridge flew it out from there which is a pretty good deal. I don't know what happened to it after that. I guess Henry probably sold it to somebody, but it was a nice deal getting it out of there.
Einar Lehrman and Steve Austin Pauvich, they were a couple of Eldorado's top prospectors at one time. They went independent and during the big uranium rush at Goldfields, I flew them up and parked them at Cracking Stone Point. It's midway down Lake Athabasca near Goldfields and they always had a beautiful camp.
They were real pros and they set up a real good camp and they'd been out there for two or three weeks and they were closing in on, if they'd have been there another week, they would have staked what eventually became Gunner Uranium Mines Ltd. but some amateur got in there due to the following series of events.
About 9:00 pm one night, Steve came into Goldfields, feeling just beat to the socks. He had run overland from the end of Cracking Stone Point, and I'm telling you that's really rough country and it was about 18 miles I guess and said that Einar was sick. Einar had some kind of a stoppage in his plumbing and he was in desperate shape, so I promptly went out and got him and took him over to BeaverLodge.
Well I missed the southbound DC-3, so they couldn't get him out to the hospital. The nurse there was a male first aid guy and he wasn't about to tackle anything like that. So, I took him over to Goldfields again there was a lady there that claimed to be a nurse, but she didn't have the necessary equipment and I don't think she was a nurse either. So finally by this time, it was about 11:00 PM at night and starting to rain and I was getting very unhappy with the whole situation.
A few years ago I met a lady who had been a northern nurse at Goldfields,
and was a good friend of Lefty.
She gave me this Xmas card she had once received from Lefty. Classy!
Regards, Doug Chisholm.
Eldorado Mining and Refining Limitd DC-3.
So I started off for Stony Rapids, which was about an hour away and followed the lakeshore all the way down there and I circled Stony Rapids until I could see a couple of lights come on in the village. Oscar Johnson always left a light burning, I don't know why, but his cabin was always lit. So I knew exactly where that was and I landed on the river and I'm telling you, it was blacker than the inside of a cow.
Under circumstances like that on water, you cannot use a landing light because it goes right through the water and it doesn't give you any kind of depth perception at all. It wasn't until I got down that I could turn on my landing lights and feel my way into the dock and I did that. By that time Doug Stevens Chris's dad, was down on the dock with a flashlight and a gas lantern and gee, those guys were just wonderful.
You know, there is no way that you could get into trouble and not have some very, very excellent help or certainly absolutely unbeatable hospitality extended to you. So we carried Einar up on a stretcher, they had a stretcher at the Hudson Bay and we carried him up to the hospital which was about a quarter of a mile away.
By this time Anne Stevens, Chris's mother, had phoned the hospital and alerted the nurse that we were coming and what the problem was and I guess she attended to him right away and everything came out pretty good.
I had always coveted his pack sack. He had one of those Swedish pack sacks with a nice frame on it, and I never did see him again. One day in the mail, there came a parcel for me with a letter in it, thanking me for my efforts on his behalf and enclosing a Swedish pack sack.
I thought that was real nice of him, I have never seen him since to thank him, but I know that he's still around the country. Whether he's prospecting or not, is hard to say, but he sure was a nice old fella, another old Scandinavian.
Steve, of course, had to pack it in because he lost his partner and about a week and a half or two weeks later, this other jerk staked Gunner Uranium and it turned into a big operation there, what with a big open pit mine and so on.
I told you about the big trout at Cracking Stone Lake and although they had a pilot, two pilots, Doug Potter, and Bill Gig that hauled fish for McKenna's.
I was going down the lake to Fort Chipewyan with the mail, or no, I was on a charter flight because I was going right straight across. I didn't stop at Camsel Portage, so I just cut right across the center of the lake at practically zero feet all the way in or just plowing in the very middle of the eastern section of the lake. There's a little island called Beartooth Island and as I went screaming past it, I caught a glimpse of an airplane on the beach, in the winter time.
Beartooth Island on Lake Athabasca.
So I pulled around and we went in and landed there. Gig and Potter and three passengers, that were absolutely petrified were there. So we stuffed them into the end of the Norseman and took them down to Fort Chipewyan. They had been there for two or three days and they had a campfire going on the island which had burned its way down to bedrock. They were sitting around the hole with their feet hanging down inside, the snow had drifted in about four feet deep the over the surface of the island.
I had a lot of goofing around with Potter about that for a long time. Our insurance agent's wife in P.A. is Potter's cousin, so we get to see him once in a while. They come out and visit us when they're in visiting the Lachman's, anyhow so much for that.
Poor old Bill Gig was the guy that was flying the Mooney that crashed into the Royal Alex Hospital Edmonton in the middle of the night last summer and nobody knows to this day exactly what happened. It was assumed that he had a heart attack on final approach, but it sure was lucky that it didn't set the hospital on fire. It would have been a very nasty fire too.
Rene Baudais and I had some fun one time, we were hauling fur from La Ronge and we got off the mark fairly early because Baudais and I were both the of the same cut, we liked to get under way early. We had crystal controlled receivers in the airplane switched on and we got into a conversation with some girl in an odd place like that, I don't just remember.
But anyhow, when we got to La Ronge they were packing bales of fur from the Hudson Bay down onto the dock, the guy that came down first, had another bundle bigger than the guy before until they were done, it was a newer, kind of interesting bunch of guys there. That was a good settlement and still is.
Up in that country one time there was some officials, the game commissioner was one of them. I forget who all was visiting a guy from the Indian Affairs in Ontario, Hugh Con was one of the guys and I don't know who the rest of them were. They decided that they were going to go looking for it ?????. We were in Brochet and so we filled the airplane up to capacity with gasoline, which gave us about seven hours of endurance because it had a couple of extra tanks in the belly.
We started out and we were all over the damn country up around Neulton Lake and into a lot of unmapped area and so on. I was really keeping track of where I was going with courses and stuff on some graph paper and I said finally we got to start for home fellas, this is just about the end of it.
So we got on to this long lake and there was no name, it was just marked with dotted lines on the map. Nobody knew what size or shape it was or anything and we're hammering along and by this time I drop down to about 4 or 500 feet I guess and we were sightseeing and I'd set course back for approximately where I hoped Brochet would be.
All of a sudden, we passed an island that really had a strange look. It had almost vertical cliffs on it, maybe 40, 50 feet high. But what caught my eye was a little sand beach on the east side of it, southeast side of it with a slot in it, and I thought I saw some big vegetation in there.
So I peeled around and we taxied in and took a look and by golly and this was in the barren lands, there was some trees there that must have been, well, I guess if you straighten them out, they'd be about 60 or 70 feet high, but they grew in this shallow spot. Let's see, no, it was as deep as the cliffs anywhere here, which would be about 40 feet, but it cracked away back into the center of this little island and there's half a dozen giant trees there.
Well, two of us joining hands couldn't get our arms around the trunk, and they went up protected and exposed to the sun in a southerly direction and protected from the Arctic winds and no doubt the place blew full of snow during the winter and protected them even further. They grew up to the top of the cliff and the tops of the trees were all laid over. They just did about a 90-degree turn down wind at the top. So, we gradually concluded that this probably was the tropical island that everybody was, you know it was the Mystery Island.
A tropical area on the Nahanni River is up around Rabbit Kettle Hot Springs. It's a hell of a big hot springs up in the very upper end of, well, quite a ways up past Virginia Falls. The chemical, I suppose it would be chemical content of the water is very highly charged with calcium deposits or salt deposits of one kind or another and it has spilled over the centuries and deposited, there is levels, it's all terraces of calcium. What? calcium carbonate?
Rabbit Kettle Hot Springs.
I don't know what the heck it would be some sort of a depositing, maybe lime, or something like that, but it's all very dirty looking. But it's spectacular in that all these terraces are all kind of streamlined and everything like that and the hot springs are pouring water down on top and increasing it every year. I understand now that the department of the environment has declared it a protected area, so people aren't in there tramping around them spoiling, all the beautiful structural effects that you've got from this sort of thing.
I was in there with Dick Turner one time, he's the guy that also had a little trapping business and a little trading business at the mouth of the Nahanni River at the Nahanni Butte. He was quite a remarkable guy. He had a beautiful log cabin with a picture window facing north and I said, why would you put your picture window facing north Dick?
He said well, he says, sit down in that rocking chair there and pick up those field glasses and maybe you can see why. The window faced the Nahanni Butte, which is a very definite landmark around there so quite a spectacular mountain.
I picked up the field glasses and started to sweep across the face of the mountain and there were Dall sheep all over the place there. I could see that was providing them with entertainment.
One wall of his cabin, which was a fair-sized cabin had a complete library, from floor to ceiling. He had an enormous library and really good stuff. It wasn't junk reading it was, it was real, you know, there a lot of classics there and stuff like that.
Dall Sheep on the mountains.
He once put a gas cache in for us on the Nahanni river he and a fellow by the name of Gus Krause. Gus, I'll going into a little later on, but Dick, didn't have a map with him when he put this gas cache in, but he had a camera and so he took pictures of this gas cache from three different angles with the mountains in the background. He gave us an approximate location of where it was the lake it was within 30 miles of the actual site. He didn't know plus or minus. there or how many days travel.
So we got looking for this gas cache one day and we had these pictures. I couldn't make head or tail of the damn thing until I all of a sudden it occurred to me well, heck, he was right down at water level. So we got down onto the river at a low altitude and we were steaming around the bends and sure enough, there's the matching picture came around after we'd gone around about three or four bends and we landed and there was our gasoline. That's pretty good.
The Virginia Falls of course, were up there. We landed above the falls one time and it was necessary to run the engine about 1500 RPM, just to have the aircraft stand still on the river because of the fast current. We got tied up to the shore and we are having lunch there, we kept hearing this funny squeaking noise and we couldn't figure out what the heck it was.
Finally, I wandered down to the to the beach, and something caught my eye and I glanced across the river. There's a guy on the other side all by himself and we figured that we were the only guys around there for miles and miles and miles.
He was waving his shirt and carrying on something terrible so we finished our lunch and we taxied across. This guy had been put in there by some guy from Yellowknife who had contracted to bring him his mail on a regular basis and so forth and take him some supplies and this and that.
Well, we had a little stuff that we were going to take to one of our prospecting parties that was in the airplane and he was right out of grub, so we just shot it all out onto the beach and gave it to him. It was an assortment of canned goods, sugar, and flour, and some grease and a couple of steaks and so on, so he was real happy.
When we got back to Fort Nelson that night, we let the RCMP know because if the guy was as irresponsible as that who was supposed to be supplying him, there wouldn't be any use of phoning him and saying, hey you left one of your guys out in the bush, you should have to gone to do something a little more definite.
So I got a hold of the mountie's in Yellowknife and explain the situation to them, and they made sure that the guy was supplied, but you know, a guy could get himself into a lot of trouble if he depends on people too much. He's certainly got to pick his guys a little bit better that anyway.
In that country, there were a couple of mountains marked on the map that said they were 8000 feet. But up around 7 or 8,000 feet and Chris was flying and I was just eyeballing the scenery. I said you know, swing over a little bit and get reasonable air settings and average them and then after we ran all the corrections, the mountains were ten thousand feet high and that was not marked on the map. Being that high between Norman Wells and on instruments, who knows, we might have flown our right into the mountains.
Stan Stanley was one of our younger guys that came to work for S.G.A in maybe 1949 or 1950, something like that. He had some hunters out to our hunting camp at Missy Lake and when he brought them back to La Ronge, there were no accommodations anywhere in La Ronge. They finally built a bunkhouse for the aircrew down by the dock, but there still wasn't any place, well, there is one place that you could get a real greasy spoon where he could get fed.
But anyhow, he came home with these two guys one night and there weren't any accommodations anywhere. So the three of them put their sleeping bags down in the office in the warehouse, which had an oil heater in it and stayed relatively warm all night.
But, during the night a freight truck loaded with perishables showed up and the agent without even thinking of the people sleeping in the office, let the guy back his truck into the warehouse. Since the warehouse was unheated, the guy left the engine running all night.
The first thing that the radio operator saw, as he looked down the trail towards the dock was Stan falling out the front door. It was about -30 degrees or so below and so he went tearing down to see what was the matter and found the place all full of exhaust fumes and two guys dead on the floor, but Stanley was still alive. So they fished him out of there and got them up where they could work on him and wired Prince Albert.
Well, I was just about to leave with a load for the north from P.A. so I waited long enough for the ambulance to bring out resuscitator oxygen masks and stuff and some oxygen tanks from town. We figured that we might be able to help him.
In the meantime, the blacksmith had figured out some sort of thing where they were giving him oxygen from one of the welding tanks up there, which was not very effective. But at least it was a step in the right direction. So as soon as I get the stuff on board, I started hightailing it for La Ronge at about full throttle and I was within about 50 miles of there I guess, when the radio operator called me and told me to relax that Stanley had died. It was a rather bizarre sort of a thing.
It was very unfortunate because it was just before Christmas. He had a young boy and a nice wife and they had promised or, they had decided to get the little boy a tricycle for Christmas. Stan hadn't done it and Thelma didn't have any concept of financing or anything like that and we didn't know whether they had any money or not.
So all the pilots and engineers took up a collection and we went down and bought the kid, a tricycle and gave it to him for Christmas from his dad. His name was Dwayne or something like that, I didn't see him till years and years later and he knew who I was, but I didn't know him from a bale of hay.
We had a stowaway on board one time. I was flying along in a Norseman with Bill, and two cross brace wires went across the windshield and disappeared. There are holes in the instrument panel, on a Norseman, now I am sitting there looking sort of vacantly out the window.
A little movement caught my eye and I glanced down, and a mouse was looking back at me, out of one of these holes. So unfortunately, we had to murder him because they have a great taste for insulation on wiring, and we didn't want any short circuits up in that country, or any other problems with mice and stuff like that. Although, he was sure a cute little guy to have along.
When we got a new radio for ESO, it was a real dandy, it was a Sechrist 50-watt transmitter-receiver. I was on the trip the day after it was installed and we were going to start trying it out.
So as was our usual fashion, we toss to see who was going to fly the first leg and who was going to be the navigator and I wound up being the navigator. So as soon as the wheels came up, I picked up the microphone on this brand new transmitter and I called any station.
Bear in mind, we are only about 200 feet off the ground at the end of the runway at Calgary, and I called any station and Coral Harbor answered me right away and just came blasting in as though he was in Airdrie. Strangely enough, it turned out to be a guy I knew from another station who had been transferred there. We gassed away for a while just to give it a real good try-out and he said, it was just as though we were in the next room.
Coral Harbour on Southhampton Island, Nunavut.
Later on that winter, when they were centralizing all the credit card business into the one computer, which was based in Edmonton in what is now the RCMP building. But at that time it was a gigantic computer in the basement of the Imperial oil building, we were doing a lot of flying back and forth between Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Up to that time Winnipeg had all the central stuff stored there and I don't know how they got the stuff in from Vancouver unfortunately, we never got into that. But it was very unique because I didn't think credit cards were valuable at all, you know, the credit card slips and so on.
But they used to deliver the stuff to the airport in Winnipeg with an armored car and there was an armed guard rode with it, from Winnipeg to Edmonton and an armored car met us at Edmonton airport. Well of a necessity, we had to do all our normal work by day and most of these trips were done at night.
So we used to get on this big, high-power radio at night and chew the fat with anybody that we could happen to get a hold of. One night, we're blasting along between Edmonton on our way to Winnipeg it is about 10:00 at night I guess and I heard CP Air give a position report and the pilot gave the captain's name as McCloy.
Well you will remember when Waite Fisheries Fairchild 82 piled up on Ile-a-la-Crosse Lake. George Greening and Tommy McCloy were the pilots and Tommy was the guy that had his leg broken in the crash. Anyhow, we're pealing along and chewing the fat with everybody in sight and we got hold of McCloy and as we were starting our descent into Winnipeg, he was starting his descent into Mexico City.
We talked uninterruptedly all along through three-quarters of an hour, I guess we chatted back and forth about one thing and another because I hadn't seen him since, well since maybe a month after that Fairchild 82 disaster. So that was kind of an interesting little facet of our new equipment.
Anyhow, we're never out of communication with anybody, or never out of communication with someone.
I spent a very stormy two or three days in Ile-a-la-Crosse, oh what a soft touch, these city fellows were, Len Waite bought various beaded moccasins and so on. It was storming to beat hell outside and the door slammed open and Len staggered in all out of breath. He decided to ride with me and George was going to go to Issa's, son of a gun, he said I left the payroll in the Stopping Place and he just went running back and he picked it and came galloping back. But it is a very strange sort of way of doing business I thought.
After that of course, we used to go to Cambridge Bay, Isaacson and Eureka we were all over the high Arctic. We started for Alert one time, which is the farthest north continuously occupied post in the world. It is on the north end of Ellesmere Island, but weather socked it in, zero visibility and fog while we're on our way up there.
We got as far as Ward Hunt Island, which is the departure point for scattered posts in the barren lands. There are abandoned pieces of equipment there from Polar expeditions in the past by explorers like Peary and the like.
Ward Hunt Island.