Ellwood Wilson
2003

Founder of Fairchild Aviation

Born in Philadelphia, Ellwood Wilson studied forestry engineering in Germany and in England before being appointed in 1907 Chief Forester engineer at the Laurentide Co paper-mill of Grand-Mère (Qc). While nobody envisaged that one day we could run out of trees, Wilson already promoted then programs of reforestation. He also initiated the St-Maurice Forest Protective Association, first grouping of paper-mills intent in protecting the resource against forest fires. The need to have forest inventories brought Wilson to look towards aeronautics as a more effective and faster means than the long expeditions on the ground. As early as 1906, before in fact the flight of the first planes in Canada, he conceived the project of rising in a balloon in order to obtain an aerial view of the areas of cut. The difficulty of transporting the necessary material through the forest, however, aborted this uncommon project. After the First World War, Wilson published different articles predicting work for the ex-military airmen in the forestry domain. In the spring of 1919, Wilson took a first step with an airman from Sherbrooke but the project was cancelled when the small plane crashed.

While nobody envisaged that one day we could run out of trees, Wilson already promoted then programs of reforestation. He also initiated the St-Maurice Forest Protective Association, first grouping of paper-mills intent in protecting the resource against forest fires.

Via the St-Maurice Forest Protective Association, Wilson then requisitioned some of the American military surplus which had been left at the Dartmouth base in Nova Scotia, i.e., two Curtiss HS-2L seaplanes conceived for anti-submarine patrol. The aircraft were ferried in June, 1919, by airmen Stuart Graham and “Bill” Kahre, allowing Wilson to set up in Lac-à-la-Tortue the first bush air service in Canada (which would become Laurentide Air Service in 1922). The service innovated by making the forest fire patrol and the forest inventory. Wishing to develop further the area of aerial cartography, Wilson went in 1922 to New York to meet Sherman Fairchild, who had just launched on the market a revolutionary air camera. Upon his return Wilson founded, still at Lac-à-la-Tortue, the company Fairchild Aerial Surveys (of Canada), renamed Fairchild Aviation in 1926. These two initiatives, arisen from a visionary mind, left their mark on the history of the Canadian civil aviation and dedicated Lac-à-la-Tortue as the cradle of commercial bush aviation of the country. Honoured by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, Ellwood Wilson was the first recipient in 1942 of the medal to bear his name.

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