CAHS History

– 1962: George Morley and Jeff Burch met during the summer and discovered a mutual interest in Canadian aviation history.

– They wanted to locate others with the same interest. An ad was placed in one of the Toronto newspapers (Star or Globe & Mail). There is some dispute as to which paper was used.

– Letters were sent to a few people they knew with similar interests and these were followed up with phone calls to anyone who didn’t respond.

– The first name of the organization was the “Early Bird Club of Canada.” The first ‘Journal’ was called – “The Early Bird Enthusiast.”

– Some early members were:
Harry Creagen, a WWI aviation enthusiast,
Charlie Catalano, well known among Toronto light plane pilot and aircraft owner, figured largely in Toronto chapter and was chapter president 1970 – 1983.
Sheldon Benner, Paul Regan, Larry Milberry (now publisher of CANAV Books)
Larry Taylor, Al Martin, John Beilby, John Ellis, Doug MacRitchie, John Griffen, Boris Zissoff, Terry Waddington, Roger Juniper and others.

– 1963: The first formal meeting of CAHS was held in Jeff Burch’s basement in February. First speakers were Jock Forteith, helmsman on the R-34 airship, which made the first west crossing of the Atlantic in 1919, and F/O Hugh Halliday, RCAF, now a well-known Canadian aviation author.

– The name was considered too similar to “Early Birds” a group of pre-World War I fliers so the members chose the name “Canadian Aviation Historical Society” to replace Early Bird Club of Canada.

– Annual dues were set at $2.

– 1964: The first official CAHS Convention took place in Ottawa. For a number of years the convention moved back and forth from Toronto to Ottawa. Now, it is hosted by chapters across Canada.

CAHS Journal

– Early Journals focused more on WW I and some early bush flying. This was partly because WW II veterans were not as willing to share their experiences as the WW I veterans. It would take another decade for this to happen. Presently, the Journal strives to contain a balance between firsthand and researched articles. Also, it contains articles on aircraft of Canadian significance. 

– In early Journals there was a useful and popular item containing Canadian Civil Aircraft Registers complied by John Ellis from DOT files in the National Archives. John Griffin added listings from the Canadian Military. These became a part of John’s 1969 publication “Canadian Military Aircraft: Serials and Photographs”. 

– CAHS has also offered, in the past, a listing of the first 500 civil pilots.

– Up to 1971, the Journal was assembled in the basement of Doug MacRitchie with the help of eight or so members walking around a table, collecting each page and then stapling it all together. Starting in 1972, the “Journal” was commercially produced. 

– 1990: The Journal adopted its current format of 40 pages illustrated with up to 80 historic photographs. A painting of historical significance makes up the front cover and the back cover usually holds a photograph of a vintage Canadian aircraft.

Click here to download a current index of Journal articles as compiled by Michael C. Rodgers and Terry Judge.

CAHS Toronto Chapter Profile

– As numbers grew the basements became too small, moved to Palladium dance hall, kitty corner to Don Jail. Two meetings held there.

– 1964: CAHS had grown enough for additional local chapters to start up. Chapters were formed in Montreal, Ottawa and Montreal under the umbrella of a national CAHS. Currently chapters exist in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Manitoba, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, New Brunswick, PEI, and Fort McMurray.

– Mid 1960’s: Moved to Downsview Public Library and since then the Toronto Chapter has occupied such places as the CIAG Building, York Mills Public School, Glendon Campus at York University, Willowdale United Church, North York Central Library, and Beecroft Manor in North York. Presently Toronto Chapter meets at the Canadian Air & Space Museum every 3rd Saturday of each month from September through to December and every 2nd Saturday of the month from February to May.

– 1965: December saw the Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Toronto Chapter News, the newsletter of the Toronto Chapter published. With the publication of Volume 2, Issue 1, January 1967, the newsletter took on its present name, “Flypast”, which continues to this day.

– Flypast covers the events and history of the Toronto Chapter. From the first issue to the last, it contains items such as:
Date, Place and Topic of the next meeting.
A List of the current members of the Executive Committee.
A recap of previous guest speakers and the content of their presentations.
Chapter News with items of interest to members.
A sub-section called Folded Wings, which recognizes current and past members who have passed away.

– 1980: Doug MacRitchie was killed in the crash of his Stinson 108 at Burlington. Doug’s family and friends established the Doug MacRitchie Memorial Scholarship for the top graduating student in the Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Course at Centennial College. This scholarship continued to 2008. The Toronto Chapter supported the scholarship in 2009 while CAHS National reviews all such awards. The Toronto Chapter also currently supports the “Don Rogers Memorial Scholarship” for graduates of the Aviation Management Program at Georgian College, Barrie Ontario. Don was a Jet Age pioneer and a long time member of the Toronto Chapter.

– We are always looking for new members and visitors, why not come out to hear our next guest speaker. Our meetings usually take place Saturdays at 1:00 pm at the Canadian Forces College. Check the CAHS Toronto Chapter website or this page for meeting dates.

CAHS National Website
Compiled by Neil McGavock
CAHS Toronto 2nd. Vice-President

Adapted for website June, 2010

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