Book Cover
Places, Planes, People and Pilots
November 2012, Toronto, Ontario


A Brief Hx of Aerial Photography




Places of Note


Steve Johnson's New Yukon Airways Collection

A Gallery of Photographs


Flight of the Curtiss Lark to Red Lake - 1926

Preview: Places & Planes The RCAF at Work

Biography of Roy Maxwell Early Years
Curtiss Lark on Skiis

Captain Roy Maxwell is an intriguing figure in Canadian Aviation History. His accomplishments are many. Some of these accomplishments are the stuff of which legends are made.

From: To:
Subject: Why Capt. Roy Maxwell should be in the CAHF
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2012 13:53:13 +0000


Capt Wm. Roy Maxwell Biography - click to access file

Born June 14, 1892 in Toronto, Ontario to William H. Maxwell and Reubena Maxwell née Bell of Hamilton Ontario (Census 1901, 1911).
One sister, Hazel Maxwell b.1894
m. Dora E Louise Hazell Sept 2, 1918 in Wentworth County, Ontario.
divorced in 1927

Died March 15,1946 in Toronto

1.] WWI RFC & RAF Pilot/Instructor in Canada
(but he was overseas as he returned on The Royal George - February 20, 1919)

2.] Post War Barnstormer - Canadian License #34

3.] Pilot and Partner of Canadian Aero Film Company, Burlington, Ont. 1919-1920

4.] Successor pilot to Stuart Graham at Laurentide Pulp & Paper Co.,Grandmere, PQ and then co-founder and Chief Pilot of Laurentide Air Service - 1920/1921

5.] Led the expansion of LAS across PQ and Northern Ontario. (1920 - 1924)

6.] First Medivac in Canada flew from Remi Lake (Moonbeam, Ontario) to Moose Factory and evacuated a patient (a Mr. Thompson)with a brain abscess due to mastoiditis from Moose Factory to Cochrane - August 28, 1920. (While on a Canadian Aero Film Co. Project)

7.] First airmail carried by a commercial Operator in Canada ten (10) days later from Remi Lake to Moose Factory.

8.] First Commercial Passenger Service of LAS - Haileybury to Rouyn|Noranda. (1924)

9.] First Semi-Official Airmail Stamp printed in Canada by a “Bush” Air Service (LAS:1924)

10.] First Chief Pilot of Ontario Provincial Air Service OPAS.(1924-1934) The pilots under his supervision comprise a Who`s Who list of Canadian Bush Pilots including Harold Oaks, Fred Stevenson, Romeo Vachon, Frank MacDougall, Terry Tully, Duke Schiller etc.

11.] Flew the Curtiss `Lark` in its epic flight from New Jersey to Buffalo, then Toronto, Sudbury, Pogomasing, Sioux Lookout and on to Red Lake (March|April 1926) for Patricia Airways & Exploration.

12.] February, 1922: first winter flight to James Bay, flying an Avro 504K
with Hevre St. Martin (On a Petroleum Exploration assignment)

These above accomplishments alone justify his nomination and appointment to the CAHF.

Post OPAS Resignation in 1934

Aviation Consultant to EP Taylor and British North American Airways "BNAA"

Formed Baillie Maxwell Flying Service, Nakina, Ontario (sold to Austin Airways in 1942)

Joined RCAF in 1939 and was posted to Western Air Command Station Tofino

Maxwell rose to Rank of Wing Commander

Resigned Commission 1943 (ill health)

Died March 15, 1946 in Red Chevron Military Hospice, Toronto


His continued absence from membership in the CAHF in my opinion is a gross oversight and an injustice to this man’s memory ... a pilot who made significant and major contributions to early Canadian Commercial Aviation history. These contributions were equal if not beyond the measure of any other contributions achieved by his peer group of the same era that have previously been inducted into the CAHF.

Robert Galway B.A., M.D., FRCS(C)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Excerpts from other sources:

The “Maxwell Flight of the Lark” Pogomasing Lake Story (1926) by Andy Thompson is to be found at;

Flight of the Curtiss Lark to Red Lake - 1926

Porcupine Advance, 21 Mar 1929, Section 1, p. 8 Text "Captain Roy Maxwell brings injured Minister out of Moose Factory," Timmins Public Library

Porcupine Advance, 5 Mar 1924, Section 1, p. 7 The Department of Lands and Forests is now the Ministry of Natural Resources Text “Captain W.R. Maxwell is in charge of the new Forest Flying Service for the Department of Lands and Forests” Timmins Public Library

Porcupine Advance, 28 Mar 1929, Section 3, p. 8 Text "Dr. Paul's methods to travel from Cochrane to Moose Factory on a mercy mission for the injured Reverend G. Morrow," Timmins Public Library

It wouldn't be long before the aircraft would be reaching into the hinterlands of Ontario. On August 17, 1920, Roy Maxwell, a former Royal Air Force captain, accompanied by engineer Geordie Doan made the first flight into James Bay. They flew from an airbase at Remi Lake, near Kapuskasing, into Moose Factory in an H-Boat.

Only 11 days later, August 28, 1920, this same crew completed the first ambulance flight in northern Canada, flying a gentleman from Moose Factory to Remi Lake. This was not the only occasion that Maxwell made a mercy flight to evacuate a sick patient from Moose factory. Porcupine Advance, 21 Mar 1929, Section 1, p. 8

Captain Roy Maxwell brings injured Minister out of Moose Factory "Captain Roy Maxwell brings injured Minister out of Moose Factory," Timmins Public Library

In September, 1920 Maxwell completed the first volume carriage of air mail in the country by a commercial carrier when he carried 100 lbs. of mail into Moose Factory aboard the H-Boat.

The year 1922 is especially memorable for Ontarian's. Maxwell and Herve St. Martin made the first winter flight to James Bay, flying an Avro 504K in February.

That summer, the Ontario government hired the men and aircraft of Laurentide Air Services, which had been formed out of the original air service of the St. Maurice Forest Protective Association.

The large government contract provided flying work in connection with detailed mapping showing lakes, waterways and forest types. In 1923, Laurentide was awarded all flying required by the provincial government, not only for continued mapping but for transportation of firefighting personnel, and for forestry patrol.

They surveyed 20,000 square miles of country as far west as Lake of the Woods, and north as far as James Bay. Twelve aircraft were used. And over that season, 400 forest fires were spotted and reported. The Ontario Government was convinced of the wisdom of utilizing aircraft to the point it felt it would be advantageous to own and operate its own aviation service.

The new government flying service attracted many of the best pilots and engineers from Laurentide Air Service, including Roy Maxwell, who would become the first director.

Re: Ontario Provincial Air Service
Source:(1998-2012 Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, 70 Pim St., Sault Ste Marie, Canada)

If any single enterprise, in the years immediately following the war, could be called the cradle of bush flying, that title would perhaps have to go to the Ontario Provincial Air Service. It was through their ranks, often as fledgling pilots, that passed a high-spirited group of young men who went on to become legends in the annals of Canadian aviation.

In October 1926 Roy Maxwell wrote de Havilland requesting information on the Moth and although the company expressed doubts about the suitability of the Moth for Bush operations Maxwell went to England in the spring of 1927 to evaluate it for himself.

Despite the fact that the float equipped plane provided for testing did not have water rudders Maxwell was impressed with its performance and placed an order. The first Ontario Provincial Air Service Moths - G-CAOU, 'OV, 'OW, and 'OX arrived in Sault Ste. Marie in July 1927 and went into immediate service in Sioux Lookout, Remi Lake, Sudbury and Bisco respectively.

These planes, assembled in the de Havilland's first wooden hangar in Mount Dennis, were fitted with Fairey metal airscrews and alternative float and ski undercarriages. The first Moth to arrive in Canada, however, was G-CAHK "The Spirit of the Valley of the Moon" on board the icebreaker Stanley operated by the Department of Marine Fisheries.

Roy Maxwell is mentioned multiple times in Bruce West's book "The Firebirds", 1974.

Example 1- page 11

During the years 1922 and 1923 the forestry Branch of Lands & Forests of Ontario entered into contracts with Laurentide Air Service, with Headquarters at Grand Mere, PQ to carry out fire patrols in the northern sections of Ontario. The Laurentide Air Service equipment consisted of 15 HS-2L's, and the operation was headed by W. Roy Maxwell, then the managing Director of the firm.

page 20, page 22, page 26, page 28-31, page 33, page 37, page 43, page 47-53, page 56, page 58, page 73-74, page 83-86, page 90, page 95, page 98, page 100-102, page 107-113, page 116, page 118-123, page 125-130, page 132-134, page 137, page 139, page 140, page143-145, page 148-164, page 170, page 181-190, page 196, page 235,

Additional References: Esprit de Corps page 40

An Appreciation: page 191-192, 196, 235

First Report: page73-74, 83

Base Selection: page 56-60

Expense Accounts: page 23-24

Resignation threatened page 119-120
Resignation LAS: page 25, 137

Roy Maxwell’s management of the OAS came under scrutiny with the change of Government in 1934 that saw Liberal Leader Mitch Hepburn’s and his Liberal Party win the election and turning the long standing Conservative Government out of office. He did not escape censure at the hands of the Royal Commissioner appointed by Premier Hepburn.

By the end of the hearing, Maxwell had decided to resign after a decade of a very hand on style of management that on more than one occasion “broke” the rules!

However, it is fair to point out that Maxwell had his supporters and reading between the lines, it would also be fair to say that with the passage of time that the respected author of “The Firebirds”, Bruce West was one of them.

During the enquiry, James Lyons, the former Minister of Lands and Forests was asked by Commission counsel for an opinion on how Maxwell had performed his duties. Mr. Lyons curtly replied: “110 per cent efficient!”1

1 Page 183

The appraisal of Maxwell’s supervision of OPAS by the Commissioner Daniel Lang QC, was unflattering and resulted in his departure from a remarkable organization that was essentially his creation.

However, to quote Bruce West; “…. these remarks reflect the views of the cold legal mind and, although they naturally deserve respect, may not do full justice to the rather remarkable personality and character of Roy Maxwell, the dashing and imaginative father of the OPAS.

West goes on to have the reader consider the remarks made some years later by the one person in the Department of Lands and Forests who had frequent and close dealings with him over the decade that Maxwell ran the OPAS. Reg N. Johnson, was the Chief Liason Officer between the Forestry Branch and the Air Service. In 1965 he wrote: “It can be safely concluded that Roy was an excellent promoter, a conscientious co-operator and a competent organizer. In any dealings of which I had personal knowledge, he was generous to a fault insofar as possessions or money were concerned. To the best of my knowledge he was also free from any trace of speculation or major financial dishonesty.”

Johnson goes on to say; “That his pioneer flying organization has persisted and expanded, is mainly due to the basically sound staff and operating principles originated and enforced by the first director… In both these operations, Roy Maxwell was unfailingly co-operative and efficient ….” 2

After Maxwell resigned from OPAS in 1935, he worked for E.P. Taylor Group and British North American Airways. He also was a founding partner in Baillie-Maxwell Air Service involved in a commercial Sturgeon Fishing operation in the Albany River drainage basin. In 1939,he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1935, reaching the rank of Wing Commander in the West Coast Area Command (Station Tofino). He resigned his commission in 1943. He died of multiple strokes in 1946.
sources: Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Centre, CAHS(Ken Molson, Larry Milberry, Hugh Halliday)

It is this writers considered opinion that notwithstanding the allegations of impropriety by the "Hepburn/Lang Commission” of 1934, they in no way diminish the day to day aviation accomplishments of Roy Maxwell as consistently displayed over a period of almost 15 years.

His single most lasting achievement and the greatest contribution to the Canadian Aviation Industry is probably the most unremarked upon achievement of all.

This was the pivotal role that Maxwell played in persuading de Havilland Aircraft company to locate a manufacturing facility in North Toronto. This was a direct outcome of Maxwell's decision to buy the Moth series of aircraft from de Havilland in 1927. This is acknowledged by author Fred Hotson in his definite biography of the DH Company. (see image pg 22).

This decision resulted in $ millions to the domestic GNP of Canada and continues today to do so through the legacy company, Bombardier Aerospace.

Maxwell's contributions to Canadian commercial Aviation through his endeavors at Laurentide Air Service alone are sufficient to qualify him as a respected member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame. To judge otherwise not only diminishes the achievements of Captain Roy Maxwell but does an injustice to the CAHF by putting in question the credibility of its nomination process.


Dr. Robert Galway

History of Semi Official Airmail in Canada.