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Edmonton, a natural gateway to the North for bush pilots

The Story

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are making their way across the West on their tour of Canada, and on June 2, 1939, the road leads to Edmonton's airport. The CBC commentators, from inside the cockpit of Yukon King, a Barkley-Grow aircraft owned by the Yukon Southern Air Transport, seize the opportunity to interview four of the men who work here - Grant McConachie, Con Farrell, Harry Hayter and James Bell, "intrepid gentlemen who are working ... on the airway transportation which has made this city what it is in many respects."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio Special: Royal Tour
Broadcast Date: June 2, 1939
Guest(s): Jimmy Bell, Con Farrell, Harry Hayter, Grant McConachie
Duration: 23:51
Photo: Aerial Display Portage Avenue - Kingsway Avenue, City of Edmonton Archives, EA-160-833

Did You know?

• Approximately 90,000 people -- a number that nearly equalled the population in Edmonton in 1939 -- lined the route leading to the airport. More than three kilometres of bleachers were constructed along Portage Avenue, which was called Kingsway after the King and Queen drove in on it.

• Grant McConachie (1909-1965) was a pilot who flew out of Edmonton in the 1930s. He was awarded the McKee Trophy for his work establishing and developing northern air routes, in particular in the Yukon. His Aviation Hall of Fame citation credits him with facilitating the building of the Alaska Highway, among other achievements. He went on to become president of Canadian Pacific Airways.

• Henry "Harry" Hayter (1900-1974) had his transport pilot's certificate and air engineer's license, and was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974. He was commended for his unfailing dedication to the service of others, specifically prospectors and trappers, in transporting them into and out of remote areas of the Yukon.

• The Municipal Airport, which is now known as the Edmonton City Centre Airport, was built in 1927. However, with the growth of the city, a larger one was needed, and in 1960 the Edmonton International Airport opened.

• James Bell, an RAF veteran and pilot himself, was the first manager of the Edmonton Municipal Airport, from the start of its operation until 1962.



Pioneers in the Sky: Bush Pilots of Canada more