Friday, September 11, 2009


One Hundred Years in the Sky

One hundred years ago Canada entered a new age. On February 23, 1909 the first Canadian airplane took the the skis. It took off on a frozen river and traveled about a mile at an altitude of 30 feet and a speed of about 40 miles per hour. The plane pictured here is a replica of the "Silver Dart" at the Reynolds Alberta Museum.

After WWI, airplanes opened up Canada's vast northern lands. In the 1970's our family flew into and out of Uranium City, the isolated community were we served as pastor of our first church. We usually flew in a four motored DC4 but a few times we flew on a DC3, like the one pictured here. It was a lot slower and noisier than the DC4. Later on we flew on a Bowing 737 jet. Now that was the lap of luxury!

We saw these planes at the Reynolds Alberta Museum. Roger enjoyed taking the controls of a helicopter. In fact he did not want to come out.

The Museum also featured a vintage bi-plane that was in full operation. In fact for more money than I cared to part with you could go for a ride it its open cockpit.

Two people could ride side by side in the front seat while the pilot operated it from the back seat.

The star attraction of the airplane exhibits was the one and only replica of the Avro Arrow.

The intriguing story of the Arrow is still filled with mystery. It was designed, tested and constructed between 1953 and 1958 in Malton , Ontario. It was the most advanced interceptor of its time. It was capable of Mach 2 and could fly as high as 50,000 feat.

Only five such planes were built when the program was abruptly canceled by the Canadian government on February 20th, 1959, Some 14,000 employees lost their jobs and about another 15,000 in spin-off industries. Within two months all planes, parts and production equipment were officially scrapped.

32 engineers moved to the U.S. and worked for NASA. This prompted the Canadian expression, "the brain drain," which we apply to other situations as well.

Why the Arrow was canceled remains a mystery. Speculation involves politics, economics, military strategies, and security in the middle of the cold war.

However enough information was gleaned so that many years later the full scale model pictured above could be built. I am thankful for having the privilege of seeing it. It will soon be moved to other venues for other people to view.

Just a few highlights from Canada's one hundred years in the air.

Monday, September 07, 2009


A Flash from the Past

How did we celebrate the Labor Day weekend? We took Suzanne, Roger and Jonathan, and a friend to the Reynolds Alberta Museum. It is a large museum of the equipment that build our province featuring four distinct areas: Industry, Agriculture, Automobiles, and Aviation.
Being the fall long weekend, the main events focused on harvesting. This Steam Traction Engine would soon operate the threshing machine.

Leigh and Randy Kvill ("quill") are members of our church. He is one of the leaders of the Museum and she was doing the announcing at the threshing demonstration. She is a school teacher and taught our children when they were in high school. Randy's father has build several model steam engines that actually work. We also know Randy's uncle who is Chancellor of Peace River Bible Institute.This threshing machine was to be used for the demonstration. If you look closely you will notice that one side of the feeder chain is hanging down because a link is broken. there was about a twenty minute delay as the men fixed the break. "This is all too real," I thought as I reflected on memories of harvest time when I was a teen-ager.

Threshing in progress. Two men are pitching bundles of winter wheat onto the feeder of the threshing machine. If you look closely at the spout going into the green wagon you can see a "dump"of grain (1/2 bushel) coming down it. Behind the threshing machine and wagon you can also see the beginnings of a straw pile and more straw coming down out of the blower pipe attached to the back of the thresher. Everything is working! The wheat will be taken to one of the museum buildings where it will be ground into flower and made into bread that can be eaten in the restaurant there.

Adjacent to the threshing demonstration, these men were cutting a field of winter wheat. The binder cuts the grain and ties it into bundles or sheaves which you can see piling up on the "bundle carrier" attached to the right side of the machine. Ted and I learned to drive the tractor this way at age ten. Dad attached a rope to the leaver clutch of the tractor so he could stop it.

In the background you can see three large steam shovels that were used in coal mining in years past.

In the next field a man was seeding winter wheat for next year. Yes, this is the right time to be doing it. In the foreground are the bunches of bundles left by the binder.

Our friend and I enjoyed this reenactment of activities from our respective childhoods. Outside there were a lot more old tractors and farm equipment to be seen. Inside the pavilion were several exhibits of farm equipment, industrial machines, an automobiles.

We had a wonderful day taking in all (well most) of what there was to see. Roger and Jonathan did very well too.

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