Sydney Walker
2002

Radio operator

Syd Walker was born in Jamaica but migrated to Montréal at an early age. He graduated in 1932 from the Montréal Technical School and then worked from 1932 to 1934 for the Anticosti Corporation as a technician-operator on Anticosti Island. In 1935, the newly formed Dominion Skyways of Rouyn recruited Walker to set up their radio communications. Dominion Skyways quickly established itself as one of the best bush operations, run by an “all star” personnel that included founding President Hartland Molson, C.R. ‘Peter’ Troup, «Babe» Woollett, Roger Smith, engineers Joe Lucas, Wilfrid Thibault, Phil Larivière and, of course, Syd Walker. Inaugurating in 1937 a daily schedule between Rouyn and Montréal called “Goldfields Express”, Dominion Skyways became the first regular carrier to use two way radio communications in Canada, the work of Syd Walker. When WWII broke in 1939, Troup and Woollett – two former RAF pilots – proposed to organize in Malton (ON.) the first Air Observer School (No.1 AOS) of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). They appointed Walker to organize radio communications (voice and morse) for hundreds of Avro Anson trainer planes.

In 1935, the newly formed Dominion Skyways of Rouyn recruited Walker to set up their radio communications. Dominion Skyways quickly established itself as one of the best bush operations, run by an “all star” personnel that included founding President Hartland Molson.

Malton served as model for all Air Observer Schools in Canada. Walker moved to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to start No.9 AOS, which would eventually become the only civilian operated school of the BCATP to be awarded a trophy by the RAF. By then Walker was recognized as one of the top communication specialists and had a large staff that included radio technicians and tower. After the war, Walker joined Babe Woollett with Canadian Pacific Air Lines and became Radio Superintendant of their eastern division, with headquarters in Mont-Joli. A few years later, Walker returned to Saint-Jean, along with Joe Lucas, to re-establish Aircraft Industries of Canada. Under their leadership, the working staff reached 500 and Aircraft Industries grew into a major maintenance center, being responsible, among other things, for Canso conversions into water bombers. An important contract with Austin Airways also called for intricate radar and avionics innovations, a challenge met by Syd Walker. When Aircraft Industries closed in 1970, Walker moved to Canadian Helicopters in Dorval, where he worked until retirement.

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