AuthorBruce Ricketts

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Canadian Police and Peace Officers National Memorial

On July 11, 1977, Constable David Kirkwood, a twenty-two year old rookie with the Ottawa City Police was involved in a gun battle that resulted in his death. Kirkwood was assisting a plain clothes officer in executing an arrest warrant which turned into a three hour shootout. He was stationed at the rear exit of the suspect’s residence. The suspect shot him in the head from an upstairs window and was killed instantly. Before the situation was over, at least fifty officers were involved and three others were injured.

As a result of the the death of Kirkwood’s, on September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day.  During the 1984 service in Ottawa, a Memorial book of remembrance for police and correctional officers killed, while on duty, was introduced by the Office of the Solicitor General and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Canadian Police National Pavilion was unveiled in Ottawa On March 22, 1994 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien at a site behind the Parliament buildings.  The granite stone at the base of the pavilion that displays the names of officers killed while on duty.

Since 1994 the names of Peace Officers of no-police forces, including, Ministry of Natural Resources, Customs and Excise, Fisheries and Oceans, and Conservation, were added to the memorial.  In 1999 new granite blocks were added to provide space for new names for the next 100 years.  Let’s hope that they will never need to be used.

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Order of Canada

The recent announcement that Henry Morgentaler was to be honored with the Order of Canada allows us the opportunity to discuss this little understood award.  The Order of Canada began in 1967. The motto is “desiderantes meliorem patriam” which translates to “those who desire a better country.” According to the web site of the Governor General: “any person or group is welcome to nominate a deserving individual as candidate for appointment to the Order of Canada.  Nominations should be accompanied by biographical notes detailing the career and achievements of the nominee.”

Nominations go to an independent advisory council, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, whose make-up reflects the diversity and excellence in Canadian society.  The council then makes their recommendation to the Governor General.  There are 165 members of the Order at any one time.  They separate into levels as listed below:

Companion – Recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement and merit of the highest degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.

Order of Canada Companion Award

Officer – Recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.

Officer Order of Canada award

Member – Recognizes a lifetime of distinguished service in or to a particular community, group or field of activity.

Member Order of Canada Award


From the GGs web site: “All Canadians are eligible for the Order of Canada, with the exception of federal and provincial politicians and judges while in office. There are no posthumous appointments. Officers and Members may be elevated within the Order in recognition of further achievement, based on continued exceptional or extraordinary service to Canada. Usually, promotions are considered five years after the first appointment.”

The Order’s constitution permits non-Canadians to be considered for honorary appointments. They may be considered for outstanding achievement that reflects honor on Canada and/or lifetime contributions to humanity at large.

When you listen to the rhetoric over the announcement of the Order of Canada honor given to Montrealer and Canadian Henry Morgentaler, bear in mind the actual honor, and make up your own mind if he deserves it.

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9/11 – The Day the Planes Stood Still

I was thinking the other day that it is more than likely that anyone under the age of ten or twelve years of age (or maybe even older) would not be able to recognize the events of 9/11.  The picture is of the Halifax International Airport and there are airplanes lined up along every part of the north-south runway.  What are they doing there?   Are they waiting to depart?   Is there an air show? No, there was a incident in New York that halted air traffic in Canada and for that matter by Canada before they get to the US.  Therefore a huge number of planes landed at various Canadian airports, including Halifax.  Look at the picture to the left.  There are almost 60 planes on the ground.  That stranded over 12,000 passengers on the ground in Halifax.  That is equivalent to 3.5% of the total population of Halifax.  It is not as if anyone had planned for this. Imagine you are sitting at home watching the Simpsons when someone calls you up to say that the population of an entire medium sized town is at the airport wanting for a cab to your house.  You don’t have a possibility to say no because they are already there.

Shortly after the no-fly incident, a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, enroute from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta, Georgia, released her recollections of the experience caused by 9-11.  Her plane landed at Gander, Newfoundland (population 49,000) along with 20 or so other planes.

We were about five hours out of Frankfurt flying over the North Atlantic, and I was in my crew rest-seat taking my scheduled rest break. All of a sudden, the curtains parted violently and I was told to go to the cockpit, right now, to see the captain. As soon as I got there, I noticed that the crew had those “all-business” looks on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. I quickly read the message and realized its importance. The message was from Atlanta, addressed to our flight, and simply said, “All airways over the Continental U.S. are closed. Land ASAP at the nearest airport, advise your destination.”

Now, when a dispatcher tells you to land immediately without suggesting which airport, one can assume that the dispatcher has reluctantly given up control of the flight to the captain. We knew it was a serious situation and that we needed to find terra firma quickly. It was quickly decided that the nearest airport was 400 miles away behind our right shoulder, in Gander on the island of Newfoundland.

A quick request was made to the Canadian traffic controller and a right turn, directly to Gander, was approved immediately. We found out later why there was no hesitation by the Canadian controller approving our request. We, the in-flight crew, were told to get the airplane ready for an immediate landing. While this was going on, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. We briefed the in-flight crew about going to Gander and we went about our business “closing down” the airplane for a landing. A few minutes later, I went back to the cockpit to find out that some airplanes had been hijacked and were being flown into buildings all over the U.S. We decided to make an announcement and LIE to the passengers for the time being. We told them that an instrument problem had arisen on the airplane and that we needed to land at Gander, to have it checked. We promised to give them more information after landing in Gander. There were many unhappy passengers, but that is par for the course. We landed in Gander about 40 minutes after the start of this episode.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world. After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for a good reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit that we knew about the situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. Local time in Gander was 12:30 p.m. (11:00 a.m. EST.). Gander control told us to stay put. No one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near the aircraft. Only a car from the airport police would come around once in a while, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so, all the airways over the North Atlantic were vacated and Gander alone ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were flying U.S. flags. We were told that each and every plane was to be offloaded, one at a time, with the foreign carriers given the priority. We were No.14 in the U.S. category. We were further told that we would be given a tentative time to deplane at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and, for the first time, we learned that the airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in D.C. People were trying to use their cell phones but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who told them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed, and to try again. Sometime late in the evening, the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. Now the passengers were totally bewildered and emotionally exhausted, but stayed calm as we kept reminding them to look around to see that we were not the only ones in this predicament. There were 52 other planes with people on them in the same situation. We also told them that the Canadian government was in charge and we were at their mercy.

True to their word, at 6 p.m., Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would come at 11 a.m. the next morning. That took the last wind out of the passengers and they simply resigned and accepted this news without much noise, and really started to get into a mode of spending the night on the airplane. Gander had promised us any and all medical attention, and if needed; medicine, water and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately, we had no medical situation during the night. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without any further complications on our airplane, despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

At about 10:30 on the morning of the 12th, we were told to get ready to leave the aircraft. A convoy of school buses showed up at the side of the airplane, the stairway was hooked up, and the passengers were taken to the terminal for “processing.”

We, the crew, were taken to the same terminal but were told to go to a different section, where we were processed through immigration and customs and then had to register with the Red Cross. After that, we were isolated from our passengers and taken in a caravan of vans to a very small hotel in the town of Gander. We had no idea where our passengers were going. The town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people. Red Cross told us that they were going to process about 10,500 passengers from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander. We were told to just relax at the hotel and wait for a call to go back to the airport, but not to expect that call for a while.

Stranded passengers start waking up on Thursday morning Sept. 13, 2001 in Gander, Newfoundland in the gymnasium of Gander Academy, an elementary school. The town of 10,500 people was strained to the limit by the unexpected arrival of literally thousands of passengers. Many were still stranded in Gander Thursday night.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started. Mean-while, we enjoyed ourselves going around town discovering things and enjoying the hospitality. The people were so friendly and they just knew that we were the “Plane People.” We all had a great time until we got that call two days later, at 7 a.m. on the 14th. We made it to the airport by 8:30 a.m. and left for Atlanta at 12:30 p.m., arriving in Atlanta at about 4:30 p.m. (Gander is one hour and 30 minutes ahead of EST, yes! One hour and 30 minutes.) But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.

What passengers told us was so uplifting and incredible and the timing couldn’t have been better. We found out that Gander and the surrounding small communities, within a 75-km radius, had closed all the high schools, meeting halls, lodges and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up. ALL the high school students HAD to volunteer to take care of the “GUESTS.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 km from Gander. There, they were put in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were given no choice and taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady ­ she was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour urgent care facility. There were doctors on call, and they had both male and female nurses available who stayed with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and e-mails to U.S. and Europe were available for everyone, once a day. During the days, the passengers were given a choice of “excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbours. Some went to see the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools for those who elected to stay put. Others were driven to the eatery of their choice and fed. They were given tokens to go to the local Laundromat to wash their clothes, since their luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those unfortunate travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. After all that, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single person missing or late. And all because the local Red Cross had the information about the goings-on back in Gander and knew which group needed to leave for the airport at what time. Absolutely incredible. When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everybody knew everybody else by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had had the better time. It was mind-boggling.

Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a party flight. We simply stayed out of their way. The passengers had totally bonded and they were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses. And then a strange thing happened. One of our business-class passengers approached me and asked if he could speak over the PA to his fellow passengers. We never, never allow that. But something told me to get out of his way. I said, “Of course.” The gentleman picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He further stated that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of the town of Lewisporte. He said he was going to set up a trust fund under the name of DELTA 15, our flight number. The purpose of the trust fund is to provide a scholarship for high school students of Lewisporte, to help them go to college. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, it totaled $14.5K or about $20K Canadian. The gentleman who started all this turned out to be an MD from Virginia. He promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well. Why all of this? Just because some people in faraway places were kind to some strangers, who happened to, literally, drop in among them.

At a time when the world, for many, seemed to be falling apart, many Canadians, in Gander, Halifax and many other places, came together to open their houses, stores and hearts to perfect strangers.  And I dare to predict that neither the Canadians nor the strangers will ever forget the experience.

NOTE:  If you think that this was the first time that Canadian skies were cleared on civil aviation traffic:  Read more about Operation Sky Shield.

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Alexander Mackenzie

Sir Alexander Mackenzie was born in 1764, in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis off the West Coast of Scotland. He traveled to New York with his father and went to school in Montreal. In 1779, he entered a company that eventually joined with other Montreal firms involved in the fur trade, forming the North West Company. Mackenzie became a determined young fur trader who ultimately found his way overland across Canada, to the Arctic and Pacific Oceans.

In June 1789, Mackenzie embarked on his first remarkable journey from Fort Chipewyan (on the shore of Lake Athabasca, now NE Alberta). He was accompanied on the canoe expedition by French-Canadian voyageurs and Indian hunters and interpreters. They discovered the De Cho River, now known as the Mackenzie River, and traveled with it to the Arctic Ocean before returning to Fort Chipewyan in September of the same year.

In October 1792, Mackenzie again left Lake Athabasca in search of the elusive Northwest Passage. Traveling along the Peace River, he arrived at his winter quarters in Fort Fork after three weeks of paddling. Mackenzie set out again in May of the following year together with Alexander McKay, French-Canadian voyageurs, Indian hunters and interpreters. Following the Parsnip, McGregor and Fraser Rivers through the Rocky Mountains, they then headed west on foot along 2000 year old trails of the Carrier Aboriginal Nation. After a gruelling journey over the coastal mountains they reached the Pacific Ocean where, on a prominent rock near Bella Coola, Mackenzie wrote:

Returning by the same route, Mackenzie and his expedition arrived back at Fort Fork in August 1793. His dangerous journey would not have been successful without the cooperation of the native people.

Mackenzie wrote a book about his travels that brought him fame and fortune. He became a celebrity in Britain and, in 1802, King George III knighted him for his outstanding Canadian explorations. Mackenzie died in 1820 and was buried in Avoch, near Inverness, Scotland.

Image of Alexander Mackenzie Book Cover

In an interesting twist of history, Mackenzie’s voyages across North America were recognized by Napoleon as the means by which he could embark on a re-conquest of Canada. Napoleon, in an intrigue that had all the makings of a spy thriller, arranged for Mackenzie’s book to be smuggled from England and translated into French. Mackenzie’s description of the Western Canada river system was so precise that Napoleon, languishing in prison, gave orders to Bernadotte, his key Marshall, to lay out a strategic plan to retake New France. Mackenzie, thus became an unwitting accomplice by providing the navigational details to invade Canada by a surprise attack from New Orleans, via the Mississippi River.

Bruce’s notes:  John Donaldson is one very interesting guy.  At the age of 60, armed with a canoe and a sense of adventure, he began a quest that saw him trace the steps and paddle dips of Alexander Mackenzie from Montreal to the Arctic and to the west coast of BC.  He chronicled his adventure in a wonderful book entitled, A Canoe Quest in the Wake of Canada’s “Prince of Explorers”

The web site of Significant Scots ( described John as a neurological biochemist with a primary interest in the role of trace metals in the brain. In the industrial milieu, he was formerly a vice-president, scientific affairs and head of molecular biology in the pharmaceutical industry. In the academic area, Donaldson has served as Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Manitoba and as Professeur Agrere at the Universite de Montreal. He holds a BSc in chemistry, an MSc, in microbiology and a PhD in experimental medicine, all gained at McGill University, Montreal. He is a former Garfield Weston scholar in medical research, as well as the recipient of several awards from the American Parkinson’s Research Foundation.

John grew up in Scotland and came to Canada in 1955. Following an active academic and industrial career, he and his wife, Ishbel, now live in Kingston, Ontario, They are proud parents and grandparents, love the great outdoors and have traveled extensively. In addition to canoeing, John is a keen dinghy sailor and light aircraft pilot. He has a great interest in Scottish history, the history of the Canadian fur trade, aviation history and the history of World War II. On the spiritual side, John is a lay oblate of the Benedictine Order and follows Christian meditation.

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Owen Sound: Northern Terminus of the Underground Railroad

The thought of Slavery is repugnant to us today, but it was not always so. When we hear the word ‘slavery’ today, we most often think of African slaves picking cotton in fields south of the 49th parallel, but that is only part of the picture. Slavery has been part of our human experience as long as we have been humans, and it is, regrettably, still with us today. Slavery was eliminated in Canada in 1834, though it was dying out even before that time for economic reasons.

Old Negroe slavery advertisement

South of the 49th, American slavery carried on in many states until after the Civil War, and escaping slaves were not safe from ‘slave catchers’ south of the 49th. The goal of an escaping slave was to get to Canada, and thus was formed the “’Underground Railroad”.

The Underground Railroad was a means of helping escaping slaves to move north, to safety. The traditional Spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd” dates to slavery times, and was a way of telling escaping slaves to follow the “ Big Dipper” north to freedom. That hymn was but one signpost on the road to freedom, but the signposts on that road were mostly ‘invisible’; they were there, but went unnoticed by most people.

Escaping slaves faced huge problems: they were the wrong colour, they had no ‘papers’, they had no maps, and they could not read. To escape slavery they had to move north, without being seen, mostly on foot, mostly at night. They had to avoid slave hunters who would sell them back to their former masters. They had to find help, but they had to remain invisible.

The Underground Railway is what we now call the loose organization of understanding citizens who helped slaves escape, but it was never a railway. It was a network of compassionate people who did what they could to help others in need.

But still, an escaping slave had to find an Underground Railway ‘station’, and find out where to find the next station. The escaping slave could not be seen, for fear of being caught, they could not speak to the person who was trying to help them, but the slave had to know where to go next.

A code system was developed, a most ingenious code. In those days houses didn’t have central heating, and quilts were piled high on beds every night for warmth. And the quilts would be ‘aired’ outside, on a fence or clothesline the next day.

Some quilts were, in fact, signposts on the Underground Railroad. Some quilts had coded messages within their intricate patterns, messages that escaping slaves could ‘read’ when the quilt was hung out to air.

For example, the “Log Cabin” pattern is a common quilting pattern today, but it has been around for a long time. At one time, it was a signpost, along with the “North Flying Geese” and many other quilt patterns; they helped illiterate slaves move north to safety. Slaves who could not ‘read’ were able to understand subtle messages in the quilts, and that helped them to move north to safety.

Underground Railway Drawing

To an escaping slave, a “Log Cabin” pattern in a quilt could show that that person was safe in the area, or that they should hide in a building, depending on the patterns used around the Log Cabin. Other patterns include the Wagon Wheel (which might mean hide in a loaded wagon), the Bear Paw (stay off the roads, follow animal paths), and the Star (follow the North Star, also known as the Drinking Gourd).

The story of the Underground Railway is fascinating enough, as Canada was the recipient of most of the travelers. But, where did the travelers settle?

One of the places escaped slaves settled, one northern terminus of the Underground Railroad, is Owen Sound, Ontario. Far north of the American border, and far from the slave catchers, Owen Sound is nestled at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, and has been an important trading center since long before Europeans came to this continent.

Owen Sound and the Bruce Peninsula became home to many escaped slaves, and many of those former slaves became pillars of their communities. Their names live on today in the museums from Owen Sound to Tobermory.

In Owen Sound’s Harrison Park, a cairn commemorating escaped slaves and the contributions they made was unveiled, on July 31, 2004, during the annual Emancipation Picnic. The Emancipation Picnic has been held in Owen Sound every year since 1862; it celebrates the end of slavery in the British Commonwealth (August 1, 1834), and in the United States of America (January 1, 1863).

One prominent escaped slave who settled in Owen Sound was, in fact, born in Canada! John Hall was born in Amherstburg, Ontario, around 1800. He served as a scout forTecumseh’s First Nations warriors during the War of 1812, and was wounded in the leg by bayonet. He, his eleven siblings, and their mother were later ‘captured’ as ‘prisoners of war’ by American soldiers, taken south, and sold into slavery. Hall escaped and made his way back to Canada; he eventually settled in Sydenham (now Owen Sound), where he became the town crier. Hall died in 1900.

Why did so many former slaves travel so far north after crossing the border to freedom? Many went to work, drawn by an industrial boom in Owen Sound and surrounding areas in the 1800s. They built ships and sailed them, they worked on railways, in quarries, and in lumber camps. Some became merchants, some became leaders in business.

Some families remain today, some have disappeared, but the roots of the Black citizens, their presence, and their contributions live on in the many fine museums of Owen Sound and surrounding area.

Note: Webber print is courtesy the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, No. LC-USZ62-28860

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John Redpath, the Whispering Dam, and Sugar

Hard work, dedication to the task, and development of industry, commerce, and community; these are the qualities that many Canadian immigrants, past and present, have brought us. The story of immigrant John Redpath is a story of success, driven by hard work, dedication to task, and development of industry, commerce, and community. John Redpath (1796-1869) was born in Scotland, during a period of agricultural reform called the Lowland Clearances. The reforms created economic hardship for the general populace, and at age 20, Redpath emigrated to Canada. At Quebec City, penniless, he left his ship, and walked to Montreal (a two-hour drive today), looking for work.

In Montreal, Redpath found work as a stonemason, and within a few years, had his own construction company. He soon joined his company in a consortium to build a canal around the Lachine Rapids on the St. Lawrence River, at Montreal.

Several attempts had been made, over more than 130 years, to bypass the Lachine Rapids, and so, in 1825, the canal that Redpath and the consortium built was a marvel; it allowed large vessels to sail up the St. Lawrence River, and hastened the development of Upper Canada.

Following his success on the Lachine Canal, Redpath partnered with Thomas McKay (another Scottish immigrant who settled in Montreal and became a stonemason) to perform construction on the Rideau Canal. They were to build a dam at Jones Falls, to assist in the creation of a series of four canal locks. For the time it was built (1826-1832), the Rideau Canal itself was an engineering marvel, but the works at Jones Falls were, and are today, the jewels in the crown of the Rideau.

At Jones Falls, boats must rise/fall almost 60 feet; this is accomplished by a set of four canal locks, and a dam, sometimes called the Whispering Dam, which holds back the 60 feet of water. This is the dam built by Redpath and McKay.

The dam is approximately 360 feet long and 60 feet high, and is built of large sandstone blocks cut at a nearby quarry, and hauled by horse-team to the site. The blocks were ‘dressed’ (shaped) on site; this work was precise, as no mortar or cement was used in this giant dam; the blocks were set in a giant arch, with the pressure of the water behind the dam pushing the perfectly-dressed blocks together, much as Roman arches do in many well-known stone structures.

When completed (1832), the Jones Falls dam was the largest dam in North America, a true marvel of engineering. But why is it called the ‘Whispering Dam’? Well, if a person stands at one edge of the dam, near the top, and another person stands at the other edge, the two can talk over a distance of almost 360 feet. This is a result of the shape of the dam. The Roman arch shape demanded of the huge sandstone dam made with no mortar. The abnormal acoustics were not designed; they were a delightful result of the design.

John Redpath worked on many other impressive structures, including Notre Dame de Montreal Basilica (one of the most dramatic Basilicas in the world), and a number of buildings that are now part of McGill University.

In 1854 Redpath created a sugar refinery in Montreal, a huge development for early Canada. Prior to 1854 almost all sugar was imported, and quality and price were poor. With his refinery on the Montreal waterfront, Redpath could import raw materials with his own ships, and process them here. Redpath soon had a virtual monopoly on sugar; he soon grew his refinery into first one, then two, giant works, which can still be seen in Montreal today.

John Redpath became a recognized businessman. His investments and influence helped develop a number of mining and resource industries in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. In 1833 Redpath was invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Montreal, and served for 39 years.

John Redpath was also a man of  community and charity.

  • He was a member of Montreal City council.
  • Director on the boards of many charitable organizations.
  • Social reformer who supported the law to abolish slavery in Canada (1833).
  • Worked to end “White Slavery” (prostitution).

Redpath, a man of amazing skill and enterprise, who came to Canada with almost no education and no money, was also the benefactor of many educational efforts, including the first endowment fund established for Montreal‘s McGill University.

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Project Magnet – Wilbert Smith – Canadian UFO Researcher

Wilbert Smith was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1910. He graduated from the University of British Columbia, with degrees in electrical engineering. He worked as the chief engineer for radio station CJOR in Vancouver. By 1939 Wilbert Smith was working for the federal Department of Transport.  He designed Canada’s wartime monitoring systems. Smith made many important contributions to the development of radio technology, and had a particular interest in geo-magnetism. Smith was convinced that energy could be extracted from the magnetic fields that surround Earth. In the late 1940s, he found another interest, after reading a magazine article on ‘flying saucers’; Smith became convinced that flying saucers did exist, and that they are were propelled by magnetic forces.

In 1950 Smith attended a North American Radio Broadcast Association conference in Washington, DC.  He became further convinced of the existence of UFOs, and that they used magnetic forces to operate. Upon returning to Canada Smith met with Dr. Solandt, chairman of the Canadian Defence Research Board (DRB).  Solandt agreed to provide laboratory space, equipment, and personnel for research into geo-magnetism.

In his project proposal of November 21, 1950, Smith outlined seven areas of geo-magnetic research; UFO research was not mentioned. Commander C.P. Edwards, Deputy Minister of Transport for Air Services, accepted the proposal. The project, named Magnet, was kept classified, as there was a potential to create new technologies with unknown potentials.

In 1953 Project Magnet moved into borrowed Department of Transport facilities at Shirley’s Bay, on the Ottawa River. His research equipment included a magnetometer, a gamma-ray detector, a powerful radio receiver, and a gravimeter to measure gravity fields in the atmosphere.

The press fairly quickly noticed Smith’s work on UFOs, and questions were asked of the Department of Transport. Denials were made, but it became obvious that something unusual was under way at Shirley’s Bay.

On August 8, 1954, a ‘contact’ was made, at 3:01 pm. The gravimeter results, recorded on graph paper, showed a very large and unexplainable deflection, and the researchers rushed outside to have a look. All they saw was dense cloud cover.

On August 10, 1954, the Department of Transport issued a report/press release admitting that they had been performing UFO research for three-and-a-half years, and that considerable data had been collected, though no definite conclusions had been reached. Although the report/press release indicated that initial data had been supported by additional research, the Department of Transport terminated Project Magnet. It appears Smith was under pressure to deny his research results, and on May 17, 1955, Smith testified at a Commons’ Special Committee on Broadcasting that no UFOs had been detected at Shirley’s Bay.

Smith continued to work on gravity research, and gave a presentation in 1959 to the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Canadian Regional Conference. He stated that gravity is a ‘derived function’, that researchers know what gravity is, and that researchers have a good idea of how to control gravity. Smith claimed that experiments had verified that ‘artificial’ gravity could be created, and that it is possible to alter Earth’s gravitational field, and that, in fact, both these goals had been accomplished.

Although Smith did not officially spin the line that there were no UFO’s, he did stoke the fires a bit shortly before his death.  Smith claimed that in 1952, a time of the great UFO wave, the U.S.A.F. had recovered a piece of a UFO that had been shot at near Washington, D.C. He said that the U.S. Air Force had loaned him a piece of the recovery. He showed it to a friend, Rear Admiral H. B. Knowles. When asked later if he returned the piece to the Air Force, he replied, “Not the Air Force. Much higher than that.” “Was it the CIA?” he was asked. Smith’s reply was, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I don’t care to go beyond that point. I can say to you that it went into the hands of a highly classified group. You will have to solve that problem, their identity, for yourselves.”

Late in his life, Smith published many of his ideas in a book titled “The New Science”. Wilbert Smith died of cancer December 27, 1962. He was posthumously awarded the Lieutenant-Colonel Keith S. Rogers Memorial Engineering Award. For dedicated service in the advancement of Technical Standards in Canadian Broadcasting.

Smith’s former laboratory still exists at Shirley’s Bay, though it is much changed from what he started his research in. Most of the documentation regarding Project Magnet remains classified.

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NAFTA: Chapter Six – Energy and Basic Petrochemicals

Article 605: Other Export Measures Subject to Annex 605, a Party may adopt or maintain a restriction otherwise justified under Article XI:2(a) or XX(g), (i) or (j) of the “General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GATT with respect to the export of an energy or basic petrochemical good to the territory of another Party, only if:
(a) the restriction does not reduce the proportion of the total export shipments of the specific energy or basic petrochemical good made available to that other Party relative to the total supply of that good of the Party maintaining the restriction as compared to the proportion prevailing in the most recent 36-month period for which data are available prior to the imposition of the measure, or in such other representative period on which the Parties may agree;

(b) the Party does not impose a higher price for exports of an energy or basic petrochemical good to that other Party than the price charged for such good when consumed domestically, by means of any measure such as licenses, fees, taxation and minimum price requirements. The foregoing provision does not apply to a higher price that may result from a measure taken pursuant to subparagraph (a) that only restricts the volume of exports; and

(c) the restriction does not require the disruption of normal channels of supply to that other Party or normal proportions among specific energy or basic petrochemical goods supplied to that other Party, such as, for example, between crude oil and refined products and among different categories of crude oil and of refined products.

Bill’s explanation:

Section a) is simple, really.  It means that whatever percentage of Canada’s oil production that we supply to the U.S. during good times cannot be curtailed during bad times.  For example, if we currently supply 20% of our production to the U.S., then we cannot reduce that percentage over the next 36 months.  That applies to all situations including if we are in the midst of a domestic shortage.Section b) goes one step beyond and requires us to sell our resources to the U.S. at the same price as we sell it to Canadians.  We cannot apply excise taxes, for example or set minimum price guarantees.

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Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 4

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 4: The Bomber That Could Have Been

In 1945, the Canada Car Foundry CBY-3 was almost a dead bird.  The war was winding down and an excess of Douglas DC3s were being sold at $5,000 fire sale prices. Seeing the CBY-3 as good plane the national airline of Venezuela, Rutas Aereas Nacionales, purchased the only CBY-3 that was exported from Canada. Chalmers “Slick” Goodlin, who later went on to fame as the pilot who flew the first 26 missions of the X-1 before it broke the sound barrier with Chuck Yeager at the controls, was the pilot who flew the CBY-3 to Venezuela.  The plane was pressed into service but within a couple of years required some maintenance that could not be done locally.  The plane was sent to Connecticut for the work but, for some reason, was never returned to Venezuela.  The plane was eventually shipped off to a aircraft museum near Hartford where it lies today in pieces and ignominy.  A group in Montreal has tried to buy or even share the plane over the years but have been rebuffed by the Connecticut museum.  Too bad.

But let’s go back a few years to 1942.  In Part 3 of this series we discussed the Burnelli saga including Roosevelt’s refusal to authorize the purchase of any design made by Burnelli.  That incident happened in 1939.  To show what a grudge Roosevelt was capable of, in 1942 another bomber design competition was held, this time by the US Air Force.  Canada Car & Foundry entered their B-1000 design which used Burnelli’s lift body design.  The B-1000 passed all the tests, was the cheapest to build and could carry more load that all the other competitors – but – it was not selected.  Why not?  Your guess?

If your guess included Roosevelt, you are probably right.

Was the CC&F B-1000 aircraft a good design?  You be the judge.  Compare the B-1000 (1942) to the planned Boeing BWB (Blended Wing Bomber – 2005) design that is being studied at this very time.  The US Air Force web site says this about the BWB:

“The blended-wing body concept is currently being studied as a research project that first began in the early 1990s. It’s less like a traditional aircraft and more like a flying wing, which offers a greater lift-to-drag ratio than traditional designs and is structurally simpler.”

Well maybe Boeing has it right.  Design a plane with greater lift-to-drag ratio.  Does that idea sound a little bit familiar?  Burnelli designed it in the 1930s and the CC&F built it in the 1940s.

In all fairness the BWB bears an even more striking resemblance to a 1945 Burnelli design that was not part of CC&Fs inventory. although it was designed while Burnelli worked with the CC&F.  In 1945, Burnelli received a patent for his Transporter.  The image below is a model of the aircraft that was never built due to the political pressures placed on Burnelli.

So what ever happened to the Canada Car & Foundry?

In this series we have chronicled the rise of the CC&F from a small carriage maker to a very successful railway car maker to a successful war-time plane manufacturer.

After the war the CC&F returned to its roots as a rail car manufacturer.  They also made a successful leap into the streetcar business, supplying Montreal, Toronto, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver, and the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

In 1957, wishing to diversify, the British aircraft company – A.V. Roe Company, acquired CC&F.  Through a series of further acquisitions and inevitable mergers and rationalisations, the CC&F disappeared into history and into the pages of Mysteries of Canada.

Note, If you are wondering what happened to Burnelli?  He kept designing lift body aircraft until the day he died, penniless, in 1964.  One of his last designs was called the BG888.  But Burnelli’s spirit and his company lives on today in the current President of the Burnelli Company.  Our own Chalmers “Slick” Goodlin.

For more on the Burnelli Controversy go to:

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 1 – Birth of a Giant

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 2: Queen of the Hurricanes

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 3 – The Airplane That Flew… But Did Not Take Off

This article is part 4

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Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 3

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 3: The Airplane That Flew… But Never Took Off

In 1944 the Canada Car & Foundry built an aircraft in its Montreal shops designated the CBY-3, also called the Loadmaster.  There were two units built.  The CBY-3 was far superior to the planes of its day (its primary competition was the DC-3 – Dakota), but the CBY-3 got caught up in a web of controversy and was killed less than one year later.To really understand and appreciate this story we need to go back beyond 1945, all the way back to the mid 1930’s and possibly to a gun shot in Miami. Vincent J Burnelli was born in Temple, Texas, on November 22, 1895.

In his early youth, Burnelli showed an interest in aviation.In 1915, Burnelli and a friend, John Carisi, were designing gliders in New York.  By 1915 the two had designed and built their first powered open biplane.  They tested the plane at Hempstead Plains Airfield, which was later renamed Roosevelt Field(remember this name – it will become ironic!).World War I created a demand for aviation designers and Burnelli used the opportunity to establish himself in the aircraft industry.  He worked at various times for the International, Continental, and Lawson aircraft companies as engineer, designer and superintendent.  He designed the first aerial torpedo plane.

As a aircraft designer Burnelli promoted a revolutionary design concept.  He based his design on lift-body theory.  The theory is simple.  A convention airplane design (a tubular body with wings) is designed to carry people or cargo.  The wings provide all the lift needed to carry the drag of the body.  Lift-body design, on the other hand, created the body of the aircraft in the shape of a wing, thus providing lift from the body (get the name?) added to the lift from the wings.  In the terms that any person can understand:  more lift equals a better design.



A conventional tube-body aircraft gets its lift from only its wings which make up, on average, 15% of its structural weight.  The Burnelli designs, using lift-body, got lift from almost 65% of its structural weight because there is lift from the body and the wings.

Big deal, says the majority of readers.  So what if the Burnelli design has more lift per unit of structural weight.  I am not going to bore you with all the arguments for lift-body design, but what if I told you that, with the Burnelli designs, our airports would require runways half the length of current ones.  What if I told you that planes could fly with 60% less fuel at the same speed as they do now?  What if I told you that those same planes could be carrying more cargo and/or people, even with the fuel savings, than current planes?

Got your attention?

What if I also told you that thousands of people have died in plane accidents that need not have died had Burnelli’s designs won out over flying tubes.

A good history of Burnelli can be found at:

So what does this have to do with the Canada Car and Foundry and a gun shot in Miami?

Let’s tackle the gunshot first.  I warn you that this story has more than a few twists and turns so pay very close attention to the detail and the names involved.  Otherwise you will think that I am wandering.

Burnelli was designing his unique airplanes but few – very few – were actually built.  He was fighting an uphill battle against the established aircraft designers and the big companies that backed them.  He built a better mousetrap but could not get the backers to build them.

In the late 1930’s war was brewing in Europe.  Most every one knew it was inevitable.  The US military-industrial complex was beginning to form. Money was about to flow for military goods including airplanes.  In 1939, the US Army Air Corp held a competition for a new bomber.  The plane had to be capable of low and high level operations, carry a large load of bombs and be rugged enough to take a pounding and return to be repaired.  Burnelli submitted his UB-14B design.  (The UB-14B was a customized version of his UB-14 passenger design.)  There were five other entrants into the competition including Curtis- Wright, Douglas, Lockheed, Consolidated, and North American.   The UB-14B could carry 2000 lbs more bomb load than the design specification, it could take off and land on a smaller (half the length) runway (meaning that the Air Corp could get closer to the front without building big airfields) and the UB-14B was the cheapest to build.  It would cost only one-third as much as the highest bidder, Lockheed and half as much as the next lowest bidder.  The Army Air Corp, quite rightly, selected the Burnelli UB-14B design.  In his 1939 report to the Secretary of War, General H. H. “Hap” Arnold stated… “In my opinion, it is essential, in the interest of national defence, that this Burnelli procurement be authorized.”

After the competition in 1939, Burnelli was invited to the US White House to witness the signing of the UB-14B procurement contract by President Roosevelt.  In idle chatter, prior to the signing, Roosevelt asked Burnelli who his major financial backers included.  Burnelli replied… ” A fellow Texan, Arthur Pew.”  This name sent Roosevelt ballistic.  He refused to sign the contracts, threw his pen across the room and ejected Burnelli from the White House.  (I warned you earlier that the Roosevelt name would become ironic.)  Not only was Burnelli humiliated, for reasons unknown to him at the time, but Roosevelt also directed the Army to issue a new report denigrating the Arnold report.

What made Roosevelt go “postal”?

Arthur Pew was on the board of SUN Oil in Texas and was the major financial  backer of Republican Wendell Wilkie, Roosevelt’s opposition.  But was this enough to make Roosevelt go crazy?

In February of 1933, the newly-elected President Roosevelt was giving a speech in Miami when six shots rang out.  Roosevelt was not injured but the Mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, who was standing beside him, was hit in the stomach.

The perpetrator, an Italian immigrant-turned-US-citizen, Giuseppe Zangara, blamed former President Hoover and, by association as newly minted President, Roosevelt for the poor treatment of the working class in the US during the depression years.  He was charged with intent to kill and sentenced to 80 years at hard labour.  Shortly after the trial, Cermak died of his wounds and Zangara was charged with murder, convicted and died in the electric chair.  All this took place within 5 weeks of the shooting.

Roosevelt always thought that Zangara was acting on behalf of others in the crime and not alone as was the official story.

One year after the assassination attempt, in 1934, there was an failed attempt at a political coup against the US government of Roosevelt.  Little is known about the episode.  Although the allegations were confirmed by a congressional committee, the findings were hushed up amid murmurs of a cover-up. In the absence of definitive proof we are left to speculate on the backers of the plot.  The names of big wigs in the Morgan and Du Pont commercial empires, right-wingers – some say Fascists – who were bitterly opposed to Roosevelt’s New Deal and the President’s sympathies toward organized labour, rise very high on the list.  Later the Committee on Un-American Activities under Joseph McCarthy broke the silence in 1947 when they stated, “Sworn testimony showed that the (coup) plotters represented notable families — Rockefeller, Mellon, Pew, Pitcairn, Hutton and great enterprises — Morgan, Dupont, Remington, Anaconda, Bethlehem, Goodyear, GMC, Swift, Sun.”)

Aha!  The Roosevelt-Pew-Burnelli connection.  Pew plots to overthrow Roosevelt… Roosevelt hates Pew.. Pew backs Burnelli… Roosevelt throws a fit.  Burnelli is toast!

Now how does all this apply to Canada Car & Foundry?  Remember them.  They are the title for the story.

In 1941 Burnelli worked briefly as a consultant to CC&F.  Near the end of the war he licensed his lift-body technology to CC&F and designed for them the CBY-3.  The CBY-3 was built based on the UB-14 design and was customized for the rugged Canadian north.  It performed head and shoulders over the Douglas Aircraft DC-3, which was already a 10-year design.  No doubt that the DC-3 was a great plane.  Over 13,000 were built by Douglas or under licence from Douglas.  But the CBY-3 need only half the amount of runway to take off when compared to the DC-3.  The CBY-3 landed in less space, had better fuel consumption and carried over a ton more cargo than the DC-3.  They called the CBY-3 – the “Loadmaster”.  The CBY-3 was a better plane that could be built at a much lower cost.

Well look around you.  How many CBY-3s or Loadmasters have you seen lately?  If you go to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, you will see the only known CBY-3.  It is decaying away in the open air.

At the end of the war, you could buy a surplus DC-3 for $5,000.  How could the CBY-3 compete?  But was the only reason the CBY-3 was not produced?  Did the dastardly American government pressure CC&F and/or the Canadian Government to cancel the CBY-3 project.  (Sounds a bit like the AVRO ARROW project – see the footnote below

But that wasn’t the end of the CBY-3.  In part 4 (link below), we revisit our old friend “Slick” Goodlin and find out what his involvement was with the CC&F CBY-3.

Footnote: I wasn’t going to let out this little fact so early in the series but it is a fact that when CC&F shut down its aircraft manufacturing business, it was bought by A.V. Roe Company – the makers of the AVRO ARROW!

For more on the Burnelli Controversy go to:

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 1 – Birth of a Giant

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 2: Queen of the Hurricanes

This article is part 3

Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 4: The Bomber That Could Have Been

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