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Farewell to the father of the modern RCAF

By Emily Lindahl

(Published online by the RCAF, October 14)

LGen Bill CarrOn October 14, 2020 the Royal Canadian Air Force said goodbye to one of its most influential leaders. Referred to as the father of the modern Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General William (Bill) Carr, CMM, DFC, OStJ, CD was born on March 17, 1923 in Grand Bank, Newfoundland before it was a part of Canada. He was 97 years old.

In a military career spanning from 1941 to 1978, he received his wings from legendary flying ace Air Marshal Billy Bishop. Beginning with his first Spitfire flight with 542 Squadron over enemy territory, to serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) for NORAD Headquarters Colorado, to commanding the United Nations air transport operation in the Congo, LGen Carr was a pilot with a remarkable number of flying hours over the course of his aviation career. He understood the importance of air power, and experienced first-hand the effects of technological advancements.

As a former Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, he was responsible for identifying how the amalgamation of the services had negatively impacted the aviation arm. He saw the need to “create a consolidated organization to properly administer all military aviation in Canada.”

On September 2, 1975, his efforts paid off and Air Command was created. With its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Lieutenant-General Carr as its first commander, Air Command controlled all air assets within the Canadian Armed Forces.

His impact extended beyond his years of service. In August of 1993, LGen Carr was invested as Honorary Colonel of 412 (VIP) Squadron, and the Royal Canadian Air Force instituted the Carr Award in recognition of his role and impact on Canadian military aviation. In the Village at Griesbach, Alberta (in Edmonton), a former military site, streets are named after eight veteran airmen with connections to the region, of which LGen Carr is one. In 2001, at a ceremony held in Ottawa, Ontario, he was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.

Lieutenant-General William Carr was predeceased by son David and wife, Elaine, and he leaves behind daughter Virginia (Baldwin), and son Peter, along with their families. Bill Carr was a long-time member of the CAHS. A funeral is planned for Ottawa on October 24.


Bill Carr was a long-time member of the CAHS and the Ottawa chapter. A funeral is planned for Ottawa on October 31. Arrangements can be seen when you click here. The Memory Project carries a story about LGen Carr where you can hear him speaking or read a transcript of his talk when you click here.