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Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), the forerunner of Air Canada, was created by an act of Parliament on April 10, 1937. Just five years later, my grandfather Robert (Bert) Blair joined the fledgling carrier as a cargo station attendant at Winnipeg Airport.

One of the highlights of his thirty-four-year career was to witness the arrival of the Avro Canada Jetliner when it visited Winnipeg on January 12, 1951. Grandpa Bert is the tall guy with the hat in the foreground to the right.

The Avro Jetliner first flew on August 10, 1949, becoming the first passenger jet to fly in North America and only the second in the world, just two weeks after the British de Havilland Comet. Avro had designed the Jetliner to TCA’s specifications, but the airline later decided against taking the risk of being the first North American carrier to operate jets.

Despite an imminent order from Miami-based National Airlines and strong interest from aviation magnate Howard Hughes, federal Minister of Trade and Commerce C.D. Howe ordered Avro to abandon the Jetliner and to concentrate its resources on producing the CF-100 fighter, ostensibly for the Korean War.

The Jetliner made its final flight on November 23, 1956, and was scrapped shortly thereafter in a manner that foreshadowed the fate of a more famous Avro aircraft, the Avro Arrow fighter jet.

Grandpa Bert ended his career with Air Canada as a ramp supervisor in 1976. Today, all that remains of the Jetliner is the nose, which is displayed at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

Submitted by Robert Blair’s grandson, Chris Blair.

This photograph was taken by Vera Briggs on July 16, 1926, at the east gate in Alberta of what is now Banff National Park. Then called Rocky Mountains Park, it had been established in 1885 and was for years accessed primarily via the Canadian Pacific Railway, which brought wealthy visitors who had come from as far away as Europe.

An avid photographer, Vera was travelling with her brother Frank on what was possibly a family day trip from their home at Turner Valley, Alberta. Vera was born in Ontario in 1898, but after her parents died she was sent to live with relatives in Alberta. Frank joined her sometime later.

As they reached the park, Vera and Frank were likely greeted by Annie Staple, from nearby Exshaw. Staple was hired in 1916 to work the park’s new east gate along the old coach road to Banff, at what is now Kananaskis on Highway 1A.

When the gate opened on July 5, 1916, the second driver to enter the park complained to the Royal North West Mounted Police that someone was extorting money from visitors. In fact, a licence fee of one dollar per week, or four dollars for a month’s entry, had been put into effect.

As automobiles became more common in the early years of the twentieth century, the park briefly allowed vehicle entry in 1904. It then permitted cars each summer beginning in 1911 and established its east gate in 1916 with Annie Staple at the helm.

Born in England, Staple had travelled to Canada in 1907 with her husband, Tom, for their honeymoon. Tom found work at Exshaw, and the couple stayed. In 1913, he joined the park’s warden service.

In 1916, a tent beside the gate served for a few months as the home for Annie, Tom, and their three children, until their house was ready. The timber gateway seen in the photo was built the next summer; the letters G and R represent George Rex, King George V.

Tom died in 1919, but Annie staffed the gate until 1930, when the park’s boundaries changed. She worked for the park service until 1948, when she was sixty-five.

On this day in 1926, Vera and Frank Briggs would have stopped with other cars to affix one of the famous buffalo licence plates that were used by the park beginning in 1925.

Submitted by Vera’s son, Arnold Walters, and his wife, Barbara, of Outlook, Saskatchewan.

Two sisters sit on a blanket at an Ontario lakeside circa 1910–15. They are accompanied by two young children on what appears to be a pleasant summer day.

The sisters’ father was a cousin of Alexander Graham Bell. However, Suzie, centre left, and Jenny, behind her, had a difficult home life. Both girls married young, and the children to the sides of the photo are Suzie’s eldest.

Suzie’s husband, Jack Mossop, ran a successful sporting goods company in Toronto, while Jenny, who left school at age fourteen to work, met and married a banker, Loman Newsom. Newsom’s employer, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, transferred him first to Melfort, Saskatchewan, and then, as bank manager, to Elgin and Miami in Manitoba.

Suzie’s hair, pulled back with long curls, is in a style popularized by Canadian-born silent film star Mary Pickford. Unlike many photos from this era, none of the subjects is looking directly at the camera — everyone seems absorbed instead by what they are doing or by something going on outside the frame of the photo.

Submitted by Daryl Moad of Winnipeg, the eldest grandchild of Jenny Newsom.

This article originally appeared in the August-September 2015 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

Family members celebrate a Depression-era double wedding in the east-Regina neighbourhood formerly called Germantown. Two sisters — Anastasia Bitz, left, and Barbara Bitz, right — were married on July 22, 1935. The photograph was taken at the family home of Anastasia’s groom, Florian Stephan, who stands at her side, at the corner of 10th Avenue and Montreal Street. The house lost its yard when 10th Avenue (now Saskatchewan Drive) was widened, and it was later demolished.

The Germantown area of Regina developed around a public market beginning in the 1890s and was populated mainly by immigrants from central and eastern Europe. The Bitz family lived nearby on Montreal Street. The brides’ father, Philip (barely visible in the group behind Anastasia), and mother, Mary (toward the right of the photo, smiling with her arm bent), had immigrated from Ukraine in 1913 and preferred moving to a city over life on a farm.

Also identified in the photo are Barbara’s groom, William Kostyk (at her side), the brides’ sister Christina (looking over the shoulders of Anastasia and Florian), and other members of the Bitz and Stephan families.

Submitted by Thomas Grant of Vancouver. He is the son of Christina and nephew of the brides.

This article originally appeared in the June-July 2015 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

Anglican Archdeacon Thomas Vincent wears clothing made for him by Cree people of the diocese of Moosonee. The photograph was likely taken during his 1886 trip to England for the Publications of his Cree translation of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. Despite Vincent's devotion to church principles and years of service to northern communities, his own progress within the church was repeatedly blocked by the racial views of his immediate superiors. Church leaders in England, however, saw his partly Aboriginal ancestry as a benefit, not a hindrance, to his ministry. Vincent's great-great-grandson Thomas Prewer now possesses the hood seen in the photograph.

Submitted by Kathleen M. Prewer Lyne

Giovanni-Battisto Graziadei is pictured happily playing the drums at his son’s wedding reception on June 12, 1965. J.B., as he came to be known, was the son of Italian immigrant Rocco-Antonio Graziadei, a bandleader and harpist in Ottawa during the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression. The senior Graziadei was also the father of ten children, all of whom played a musical instrument and eventually became the members of the Graziadei orchestra.

Under Rocco-Antonio, the orchestra performed at evening parties, public and private banquets, and wedding receptions, including for prominent local figures, politicians, and foreign diplomats. Every member was musically talented and was available to people interested in receiving music lessons.

During the day, Rocco-Antonio worked as a steamship agent and as a translator for the Italian Consulate to assist new arrivals. He also sold produce from his garden plot. His passing in 1935 was covered by the area’s English- and French-language newspapers.

After the death of his father, Giovanni-Battisto Graziadei continued the family legacy by comprising his own private orchestra and performing at the same kinds of evening events. J.B. was not only an accomplished percussionist; he graduated from the University of Ottawa and worked making bridges and dentures for dentists. But he lost his engineering career to the Great Depression, eventually working for the post office to support his wife and five sons.

Music was a part of J.B.’s life up to his death in 1975. Each year on December 23 he performed at a concert in the children’s wing of the Ottawa General Hospital on Bruyère Street, near his residence.

Submitted Marc Graziadei, grandson of Giovanni-Battisto Graziadei.

With the passage of the Militia Act of 1868, defence of the new Dominion of Canada was left primarily to paid militia that was recruited on a voluntary basis and organized into local units — as opposed to the universal military service of the previous militia. By 1869, there were 31,170 officers and enlisted men in this new militia out of a population of three and a half million people.

One such unit was the Argenteuil Rangers (11th Battalion of Militia Infantry) based in Argenteuil County in Quebec, just across the Ottawa River from Ontario. It had been founded in 1862 by John Abbott — who served as prime minister from 1891 to 1892 — to defend the growing province from Fenian raids and other threats. Abbott commanded the battalion until 1884.

This photograph dates from around 1886 and was taken in Montreal by A.I. Rice. It shows Abbott (in civilian dress) posing with officers of the Argenteuil Rangers. The seated officer is Colonel James Brock Cushing, who was the unit’s commander, while the two other officers are (from left to right) William Williamson and William Owens.

Like others of the time, these men were, in addition to their military service, involved in many aspects of daily life, including business, politics, and more. For example, Williamson was also a justice of the peace and ran an international lumber business in Montreal.

The photograph originally hung in Williamson’s home (now a National Historic site) by the Ottawa River, just west of the village of Pointe-Fortune, Quebec. I received it from my parents after graduating with a master’s degree in history from Concordia University.

Submitted by Bruce Redfern, the great-great-grandson of William Williamson.

May 7, 1945, was a day Rose Elsegood would long remember, even though she was only twelve. Her teacher had told the class that the war was over, Nazi Germany had surrendered, and lessons were done for the day.

Elsegood joined the excited, cheering children cascading out of schools and into the Toronto streets. “This man in a business suit stopped her ... and asked what was going on,” said Janette Kasperski, Elsegood’s daughter. “She said the war was over, and he threw his briefcase up in the air, and his papers flew all over the place.”

Rose arrived home to see that her family had gathered, and that was when this photograph was taken. She is holding the newspaper that reads, “Peace is here, Nazis give up,” and remembers the house being full of people that night. As neighbours made their way door-to-door to celebrate, her father passed out drinks to all the guests.

For Rose’s sister Eleanor, the end of the war couldn’t have come any sooner. Her boyfriend and future husband, Grant Rowland, had just turned eighteen. If the conflict had continued, he would have gone overseas to fight.

The war had already affected another sister, Evelyn, and her boys, David and Tom. Evelyn’s husband, Thomas Carthew of the Queen’s Own Rifles, spent most of the war overseas, but his sons — seen here on the shoulders of her sister and her brother- in-law — had been too young to remember his departure.

After the war, Rose worked three summers as a farmhand. As men returned, many attended university, leaving farms in need of workers. Women like Rose who took these jobs were called “farmerettes.”

“She would work from June to October and got as much as fifty dollars,” said Kasperski. “She considered herself rich when she had that.”

Submitted by Janette Kasperski, daughter of Rose Elsegood. Text by Steve Ducharme.

In this photo taken in 1937 or 1938 at Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario, Olaf Johnson sits on a beached houseboat with his children, Adeline and John. Johnson was a commercial fisherman by trade, but he supplemented his income by contracting on various small projects at camps and homesteads around the lake.

His family accompanied him as he moved from one job site to another. This photo was taken on remote Centre Island, not far from the American border, where he was hired to build a cabin. It was a transient and isolated existence, but the Johnson family bond was strengthened through their hardship.

Johnson was a quiet and contemplative man who spent most of his free time reading and gardening. The children were educated by correspondence; Johnson always showed an interest in what they were learning and helped when he could.

Johnson moved to Lake of the Woods from Minnesota when he was eighteen. He married Rose Boucha of French Portage, whose ancestry included Aboriginal women, Scottish and English traders and French voyageurs. The moccasins worn by Adeline in the photo were made for her by her grandmother.

In the early 1940s, the Johnsons traded in the nomadic life for a permanent home outside of Sioux Narrows, Ontario. According to her daughter, Becky Johnson, Adeline still looks back fondly on her childhood and on the lifestyle she enjoyed with her family at Lake of the Woods.

Submitted by Becky Johnson of Winnipeg, daughter of Adeline Johnson. Text by Steve Ducharme.

At the end of the Second World War, nylon stockings — which had been rationed during the war — came back onto the market. First introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair by the DuPont Corporation, nylon stockings were an instant hit. They offered the delicate appearance of silk stockings at a far more affordable price. But as the war progressed, they became scarce — nylon was needed to make parachutes for the air force.

During the war, women often went bare-legged and drew a line down the backs of their legs to give the illusion of wearing stockings — a chilly prospect in cities like Edmonton. In this photo, which appeared on the front page of the Edmonton Journal in 1945, Trudy Potts (now Behan) publicizes the return of nylon stockings in Canada.

Only seventeen at the time of this photo, Trudy later met and married John Behan, one of the returning officers who may have trained with a parachute constructed from those redirected nylon supplies. John and his elder brothers Bill and Bob all served as navigation officers in the Canadian Air Force during the war.

This photo was taken by Trudy’s uncle, Alfred Blyth, an award-winning photographer in Edmonton who was well-known for his photographs of the Calgary Stampede and several royal visits to Canada.

Submitted by Beverley Behan of New York, who is the daughter of Trudy and John Behan, now ages eighty-six and ninety, of White Rock, British Columbia.

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We're not sure we'd want the fellow seated at the far left for our ob-gyn. He scowls. And he doesn't so much hold the baby as give it leave to loiter on his person. Better the chap standing directly behind him. That's intern Willia...


It was a fine day for a picnic when the Smales and Dale families met in the picturesque Qu'Apple Valley, west of Fort Qu'Appelle, circa 1905. Shown wearing her best white dress is H.G. Bartlett's mother, Dolly (Dora) Smales, born in 1893...


F.A. Clayton General Blacksmith performed an essential service in the days when horses and wagons were the common form of conveyance. Frank Albert Clayton ran his blacksmith business in Armstrong, British Columbia.The shop had several stalls in the bac...


This photograph, taken on May 23, 1907, showcases a funeral procession passing by the Dundas, Ontario, home of Dr. James Ross, Surgeon Lieutenant of the 77th Regiment and Signal Corps. Ross had died two days earlier at the age of fifty-three. Peop...


After a while, after you savour the oilcloth-covered table and the clay pipe and the nest of boots and the wooden, wired slops bucket, your eyes go to the hand on the far right. A woman's hand, perhaps? If so, why is the man peeling the potatoes?A cent...


Nothing says summer like a walk through the local neighbourhood with the aroma of freshly baked bread and other delectable confections wafting through the air. Such was the pleasure that greeted Torontonians in the early 1900s when they arrived at 1252...


Another look at A. E. Gamble — Arthur Earnest Gamble's bakery shop in the early 1900s.“Aunt Jessie,” Gamble's eldest sister, stands at the ready to serve freshly baked crusty bread, turnovers, and other sweet treats. The emporium, at ...


William James Davidson (second from the left) emigrated to Minitonas, Manitoba, from Owen Sound, Ontario, with his father, mother, and seven siblings to start a farm. In 1899, the railway was only built as far as Dauphin, Maintoba, so the family had...


Tom Kennedy was a railway man. In 1897, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Michigan Central, which operated lines in southern Ontario’s Niagara region. His first occupation was as a call boy, running to the homes of men employed on the train c...


Harold Birkett, the young man smoking the pipe, came to Canada in 1908 to farm. However, he settled in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, where he managed a boathouse.On this beautiful B.C. afternoon in 1914, Birkett relaxes with his friends aft...

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Album has been our magazine's most beloved department.

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