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About the CAHF

History of CAHF

Aviation notables gathered in Calgary, March 31, 1973, for the third investiture of the Order of Icarus. Among those present were C.H. 'Punch' Dickins, most Senior Companion of the Order; Captain James A. Lovell Jr., U.S. astronaut and guest speaker for the evening; and well-known, hard-working aviators like S.A. 'Sammy' Tomlinson, S.R. 'Stan' McMillan, Walter E. Gilbert, and Maxwell W. Ward.

The gathering sparked a headline in the Calgary Herald: Hall of Fame Aviators Gather in Calgary. These words set in motion an idea which gathered momentum as the year progressed. A founding Board of Directors was created with C.H. 'Punch' Dickins as Chairman, Donald N. Watson as Vice-Chairman, and H.W. 'Harry' Hayter as Secretary. Others included Z.L. 'Lewie' Leigh, P.S. 'Stan' Turner, and L. 'Lindy' Rood. Raymond A. Munro took on the bulk of the work, and served as the initial Managing Director. Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame was incorporated August 2, 1973.

This founding Board faced a momentous task. Many questions presented themselves. Who would be chosen for membership? How many would there be? Would there be adequate representation of both civilian and military aviators? By what means would their stories be told? Where would the Hall be located? How would future Members be selected?

After much discussion and debate, it was decided Members should include all Companions of the Order of Icarus, all who had been awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy; all recipients of the Victoria Cross in aerial combat; Alexander Graham Bell and F.W. 'Casey' Baldwin for designing and building the Silver Dart; and Group Captain John E. Fauquier, to represent Bomber Command, and Flight Lieutenant George F. 'Buzz' Beurling, to represent Fighter Command, in World War II. This made a total of 79 original Members, with both civilian and military exploits well represented.

A great deal of thought was given to where the Hall should be located. Edmonton? Winnipeg? Toronto? Montreal? All these cities and more had merit. Should it be in Ottawa with the National Aviation Collection? Should it be a 'movable feast' so that all Canadians might taste our aviation heritage? Finally, Edmonton, long known as 'The Gateway to the North', was chosen as the place it would open. The entire Board of Directors, and many volunteers, worked hard to meet a deadline of July, 1974.

The stories would be told on four by eight foot panels with portraits, citations, photographs, and memorabilia. Under managing director Ray Munro, undeniably one of Canada's most colourful promoters of aviation, panels were manufactured, medals struck, photographs and memorabilia collected, documents, certificates, stationery and the original Members Book designed and printed. Irma Coucill was commissioned to complete the Members' portraits.

Over 600 people attended the first Induction Gala on July 16, 1974, hosted by the City of Edmonton. All living Members and their families, and many of the families of the 28 deceased Members, were treated to a night they would long remember. The format of subsequent Induction Galas was set with presentation of medals and certificates of Membership in the Hall, the Order of Polaris by the Government of the Yukon, and the Order of Flight by the City of Edmonton. Unique to this first Gala were metal plaques awarding the Esteemed Brotherhood of Silver Wings to the original 79 Members by the Government of the Northwest Territories.

A Nomination Review Committee was appointed to accept nominations to Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. This committee remains strictly confidential and looks for unselfish contributions to aviation which have been of major benefit to Canada, and which have stood the test of time. You, the reader and aviation enthusiast, play a critical role in this process. In Canada's 90 years of aviation history, there are many who have not been inducted as Members because they have not been nominated.

The Hall's display officially opened on the first day of Klondike Days, July 17, 1974, in the Sportex Building at the Edmonton Exhibition Grounds. Dismantled and moved several times in its initial years, it finally found a home in the depths of the Edmonton Convention Centre. In 1992, when the Reynolds-Alberta Museum opened at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, just 65 km south of Edmonton, Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame moved to the Aviation Hangar on the same site, with the promise of merging its exhibits with the extensive Reynolds collection of aircraft. This museum of transportation and industry is a world-class destination, and the aircraft collection is one of the most historically significant collections of vintage aircraft in Canada. Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame is proud to call Wetaskiwin home.

Each story contained herein is just the tip of the iceberg. These extraordinary people all made contributions to the advancement of aviation in Canada as pilots, aeronautical engineers, doctors, scientists, or administrators. In the words of Raymond Alan Munro, all have drunk deep at adventure's well, all have set permanent records for pioneering achievements ... for enterprise ... for unfailing courage ... that have stood the test of time.

J.H. 'Jack' Reilly, Hall of Fame Member 1974