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Walter Gilbert, ‘Arctic Pilot’

The Story

In 1930, pilot Walter Gilbert and Maj. L.T. Burwash depart on an exploration mission with three goals: find the remains of the Franklin expedition, take aerial photos of coastlines and verify if the north magnetic pole is on King William Island. As Gilbert tells CBC interviewer Greg Barnes on the 1963 program Discovery, the party was unable to locate the sought-after Franklin expedition remains. But the flight does contribute to the mapping of the area of the North Pole, just one of Gilbert's many accomplishments during his lengthy career as a bush pilot.

Medium: Television
Program: Discovery
Broadcast Date: Sept. 15, 1963
Guest(s): Walter Gilbert
Interviewer: Greg Barnes
Duration: 5:30

Did You know?

• Walter Gilbert was born in 1889 in Ontario, and died in 1986. He was awarded the McKee Trophy in 1933, and inducted in the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974.

  • In 1929, Gilbert was instrumental in saving the life of H.C. Hughes, a superintendent at the Emerald Mine in British Columbia. Hughes had been mauled by a grizzly, and he needed hospitalization. Gilbert travelled the 418 kilometres to pick up Hughes in a mere two hours and 10 minutes. The next day he took the wounded man on a 837-kilometres journey to Vancouver.


• In recognition of his contribution to mapping of the Arctic, Gilbert was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.



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