The Early Airfields of Toronto - Background
In 1965, Fred Hotson and Don Long, colleagues at de Havilland Canada, with a supporting role contributed to by George Fuller - Montreal aviation historian, collaborated on the outline of a short article on the Airfields in
Toronto before Malton.
This resulted in the publication by C. D. Long of: 'Toronto Airports - Before Malton'
, in the CAHS Journal 1965, No. 4 (Winter), page 93.
In 2015, I undertook
a small research project to collect source material to inform a modest project aimed at presenting a pictorial essay on the three RFC Aerodromes of Toronto the
that came into being during the "Great War 1914-18". It was during that undertaking that I stumbled across the Don Long article. I was immediately captivated by it,
particularly because of the recounting by Don Long that his first observation of an aircraft in flight was when he witnessed Roy Maxwell alight on Berwick Avenue at
Duplex to deliver Santa Claus to the Eaton Parade by means of a WW1 Training aircraft, a Curtiss JN4 'Canuck'.
It quickly became apparent that these three airfields
did not serve an exclusive military role. In fact, Long Branch came into existence as a civilian airfield as an extension of the Curtiss Aircraft Company located on Strachan Ave.
Long Branch provided the site base for land based training as an adjunct to the amphibious training that took place at Hanlan's Point in the Toronto Island lagoon.
Leaside Aerodrome would serve as the initial site of the Toronto Flying Club, while Armour Heights provided a base for the civilian aviation activities of the post war
aerial firm of Bishop & Barker.
It was at that point that the project developed its own momentum and expanded to include 18 centers of aviation activity in the geographic area
that now forms the GTA. It includes all of the formal areas of flying activity as well as those areas that served aviation activity in a more casual role such as the CNE and local race tracks
such as Thorncliffe Park. In addition, an obligatory section was included illustrative of the vital training role played by the University of Toronto during WW1.
The great majority of the photographs that served to illustrate the presentation, which first came to life at the a Heritage York evening, April 9, 2015, are to be found in the National Archives
in Ottawa and in the wonderful archives of the City of Toronto. Other sources complimented the rich vein of imagery found in these initial sources and together they
contribute to the rich pictorial fabric which is interwoven with the original theme and the historical material of Hotson, Long and Fuller. It is my distinct pleasure
to be able to add to their historical bequest after 5 long decades of recumbancy. In closing, I cannot overlook the encouragement and priceless support provided by the
of Canadian Aviation history, Larry Milberry. He was the band that provided the impetus and turned the prop.
The presentation has been exceedingly well received over the course of the past year. Consequently, the entire project somehow managed to morph itself into a 200 page illustrated
publication populated with over 200 vintage aviation images from a long bygone but fascinating era of Canadian Aviation History. It was recently published, January, 2016.
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