Émile Patrault
2002

Mechanic

Émile «Pat» Patrault started in Roberval as an apprentice mechanic in 1924 for Dominion Aerial Exploration Co., being one of the very few French Canadians to earn a living with aviation. He went on to work at Lac-à-la-Tortue for Fairchild Aviation, then Canadian Airways. His salary reached 150$ per month (a pilot earned the same plus 5 cents each mile flown). After Patrault studied mapping, he earned an extra 10$ per month. When he learned welding, another 10$. In 1930, during prohibition, Patrault took part in air patrols contracted by the Québec Liquor Commission to search for bootleggers’ boats coming from the French islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon. Ironically, at the end of the day, policemen, aviators and bootleggers often stayed at the same hotel in Rimouski, challenging each other openly. But the fair play was only an illusion. One day, returning from a patrol, Patrault advised the Matane police department that they had seen a boat unloading alcohol boxes on the shore. The police car returned with bullet holes.

Patrault worked with the most famous bush pilots, like H.S. Quigley, «Babe» Woollett, Ed Bondurand, Roméo Vachon, Red Lymburner.

On June 5, 1930, a Canadian Airways Loening amphibian was even destroyed by fire set by bootleggers during the night. To the people watching him, Patrault often joked about his airplane flying at the “incredible” speed of one mile per minute (or… 60 miles an hour!). People replied: “How can you breathe at such a speed?”. Patrault worked with the most famous bush pilots, like H.S. Quigley, «Babe» Woollett, Ed Bondurand, Roméo Vachon, Red Lymburner. Patrault also supplied maintenance for the giant Short flying boats when Imperial Airways operated an experimental transatlantic service to Montréal at the end of the thirties. In 1938, he joined Trans-Canada Air Lines (today Air Canada) and took charge of the Moncton base. In 1947, he became the first French Canadian to be appointed Regional supervisor of maintenance in Toronto (which was by far the biggest TCA base). He retired from Air Canada in 1968, after 44 years in aviation.

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