On Saturday, June 30, The Leaside Pub hosted a fine celebration of Canada’s first airmail delivery a hundred years ago at the old Leaside Aerodrome and also paid tribute to the pilots and mechanics trained there. And it was Canada Day weekend!
Historic Photo Display
Local history afficionado Jeremy Hopkin displayed a large number of old photographs and a TV loop of the Leaside Aerodrome, home of the RAF 89th Training Squadron. Robert Galway displayed a series of photos and commentary on the first airmail delivery from Montreal to Leaside June 24, 1918 by Captain Brian Peck and Corporal C.W. Mathers in an RAF Curtis JN4 Canuck.
At 2 o’clock genial Leaside Pub owner/host Param Ratna put on a wine and nibbles reception for members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society, the East York Historical Society, the Great War Flying Museum and other interested local groups and individuals. MP Rob Oliphant also said a few words.
WWI Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter Flyby
At 3 p.m. precisely, the replica Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter appeared from the northeast to rapturous cheers from the assembled, Canadian-flag wielding crowd. Pilot Kees Van Berkel and photographer David Sargant made several passes over the pub, the old aerodrome site and the adjacent shopping plaza before issuing a plume of white vapour and a wing wave salute.
On their way home to The Great War Flying Museum near Brampton, they honoured the veterans by circling Sunnybrook Hospital’s Veterans Wing. The flyby was financed by contributions from Leaside Life, The Canadian Aviation Historical Society, The Canadian Aerophilatelic Society, Patrick Rocca Real Estate, The Climax Jazz Band and by a collection at the reception.
Forces’ Sweetheart Dorothy Rose and the Climax Jazz Band
At 4 p.m., with a packed house, Climax Jazz Band kicked off its regular end-of-month session dedicated to the pilots and technicians who trained at Leaside, some of whom were killed in accidents while training and others over the battlefields of Europe.
Doug Balfour played piano and Canadian Forces’ Sweetheart (95 years young) Dorothy Rose and Climax Jazz Band performed songs from the era. Dorothy and Doug are going to Sunnybrook to entertain the vets, perhaps on Remembrance Day week.
City TV interviewed Dorothy about her role entertaining troops across Canada and the U.S. during the Second World War. Altogether a joyful celebration of a memorable part of Leaside’s history.
Article contributed by Chris Daniels.