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  • Plaque Celebrating Aviation History in Mount Dennis

    Saturday, July 15 - 10:45 am

    Hearst Circle and "The Wishbone" (Opposite Harding Park in Mount Dennis)

    Reception to follow at The Atrium, 12 Division Police Station, 200 Trethewey Drive, North York

    This event is a joint function of Heritage Toronto, CAHS (Toronto Chapter & National) and 400 Squadron Historical Society.  The plaque is honouring the airfield that hosted 1st flight over Toronto in 1910, the startup location of de Havilland Aircraft in Canada in 1928 at this airfield and in 1932 the first operational base of the RCAF 400 "City of Toronto" Squadron as 10 Sqn and later 110 Sqn.

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    FINAL Invite Trethewey july15 545

    Background on the William G. Trethewey Property

    By Dr. Robert Galway

    This property was purchased by William Trethewey following his sale of two Silver mining properties that he discovered in Cobalt, Ontario on 1904. He and his brother Joseph O. Trethewey made millions in this transaction. William Trethewey came to Toronto and purchased 600 acres in Weston, near present day Jane St. & Lawrence Ave. in 1907 The Royal Automobile Club of Canada and the OML of which Trethewey was a member, asked for permission to use a portion of the property for an exhibition Air Meet. This took place July 9-16th, 1910 following closely on the heels of the initial Air Meet held in Pointe Claire, PQ.

    During the Toronto meet, French Aviator Jacques de Lesseps completed the first flight over the city of Toronto as he had done two weeks previously in Montreal. The Toronto flight occurred on July 13, 1910. This is the basis for recognizing Jacques de Lesseps on the Heritage Toronto Plaque that will be unveiled this summer on July 15, 2017.

    However, this is not the sole reason for recognizing the contribution that this plot of farmland made to Canadian aviation history.

    Following the Air Meet of 1910, the property became the center of early aviation activity in Toronto. Indeed, it became known as de Lesseps Field. In 1928 de Havilland UK decided establish a manufacturing center in Canada. They were persuaded to do so because of the success they had met in selling the DH60 Moth to the Ontario Provincial Air Service. In their search for a suitable property, they were put in touch with Frank Trethewey who had inherited the property on his father’s demise in 1926. Trethewey leased a parcel of the land to de Havilland and with the incorporation of de Havilland
    Canada was appointed to the DHC Board.

    Consequently, the Trethewey property became the first manufacturing site of de Havilland. In fact the first building used to assemble the DH60 series was the Trethewey Canning Shed made famous by the sketch completed by famous aviation artist, Robert Bradford.

    Frank Trethewey was given the opportunity to purchase DH aircraft at a significant “favored” price. He and his brother were RNAS veteran pilots. In the 1930's he was Chairman of de Havilland Canada.

    The establishment of de Havilland Aircraft on this property in 1928 is the second reason to grant historic recognition to this property.

    Frank Trethewey not only over time purchased three aircraft from DHC but went one step further and joined the RCAF. This led to the establishment of the RCAF Squadron 10/ 110 on Trethewey Field. Frank Trethewey was one of the first four flying officers appointed to the Squadron. In 1940 he was appointed commanding officer of Base Trenton.

    The squadron was formed in October 1932 as 10 (Army Cooperation) Squadron and began flying in 1934 at the Trethewey Farm airfield (aka de Lesseps Field) in Toronto. In April, 1935, the City of Toronto adopted the squadron which then became officially known as “10 (City of Toronto) Squadron”. In 1937, the squadron was re-designated “110 (City of
    Toronto) Squadron”.

    The squadron flew five basic types of aircraft, all biplanes, from Trethewey until late 1939 when it deployed to Rockcliffe. During the Trethewey era, the squadron was involved in recruitment and flight training. At Rockcliffe, the squadron underwent conversion to the Canadian-built Westland Lysander until mid-February 1940. The squadron then deployed to the UK as the first RCAF squadron to enter the Second World War.

    In the UK, the squadron was initially equipped with the Lysander III and was involved in the Army Co-op and photo reconnaissance role. The squadron was active in the Dunkirk evacuation (27 May - 3 June 1940) but not directly involved in the Battle of Britain (10 July - 31 Oct. 1940). In mid-1941, the squadron was re-designated “400 Squadron”.

    Today, the Squadron is located at Camp Borden and is the main maintenance centre for maintenance of the RCAF's Tactical Helicopter Squadrons.

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Black Canadians in the RCAF

Written by Mathias Joost.

rockedit2CAHS member Mathias Joost is currently researching the fascinating history of Black Canadians in the RCAF during the Second World War. Take a moment to find out more about their stories.


rockedit2This photos shows LAC W.K. Rock and LAC T.S. Wong preparing for final exams at 9 EFTS in November 1943.  Both graduated as pilots but too late to proceed overseas. Of note, Rock was commissioned on 2 June 1944 and ended the war as a Flying Officer.  After the war he became a well-known and respected doctor in Windsor, setting up his practice in 1952 and was even the city's coroner.

(PMR 75-358 F. Pattison Photo)


By Mathias Joost

With Black History month upon us, it is important to remember that Black Canadians have made a contribution in the field of aviation in Canada.  One noteworthy contribution was during the Second World War when the issue was not what they achieved, but rather that they were able to enlist at all.

Getting into the RCAF in the early war years was not easy.  In late 1938 and early 1939, the government passed three Orders-in-Council that prevented visible minorities from enlisting in the RCAF.  In April 1941, the RCAF then attempted to change the policy, but not until February 1942 did the Cabinet approve the elimination of all racist barriers.  Despite the rules, at least eight were able to enlist, through their own pressure and because of the blind eyes turned by some RCAF recruiting officers toward the regulations.  Even after the regulations were changed, however, Black Canadians still often had a hard time enlisting as some recruiting officers chose to ignore the new regulation to be "colour-blind."

Perhaps 100 Black Canadians - as well as some from other nations - served in the RCAF during the war. The numbers are hard to determine as there is no record of who was Black, Asian or Aboriginal – the RCAF simply did not keep such records.  What is certain is that of the 45 confirmed names, 19 were accepted as aircrew, of whom seven were pilots.  These included one future Tuskegee Airman, who, after qualifying for his RCAF wings, had to redo his pilot training again to get his USAAF wings. The best known is Allan Bundy who served with 404 Squadron; others, however, performed equally important roles in the BCATP and the Home War Establishment.

So when we remember the contribution made to this country by Black Canadians, remember also the struggle they faced to enlist and the their desire to serve this country and the cause of freedom.


For profiles of five Black Canadians in the RCAF during the Second World War, please click here.


Mathias is always looking for the names of other Black-Canadians who served in the RCAF during and after the Second World War.  Photos are most welcome too.

For more information on Black history in Canada, please visit the Historica Dominion Institute's site,