Born in Boston but raised in Nova Scotia, Stuart Graham started his flying career during WWI, piloting seaplanes of the RNAS assigned to anti-submarine patrol along the coast of England. For his action against two German submarines, he was awarded the AFC. In 1919, an association of paper mills led by Ellwood Wilson of the Laurentide Company of Grand’Mère proposed the use of two war surplus Curtiss HS2L seaplanes to patrol for forest fires, and to survey their tree-cutting territory. Graham ferried the aircraft from Halifax to Lac-à-la-Tortue and carried out operations during the next two seasons with help of the mechanic Walter “Bill” Kahre. As a result of these events, Lac-à-la-Tortue became the cradle of commercial aviation in Canada, with Graham becoming the first professional bush pilot in Canada (these activities fostered the creation in 1922 of the Laurentide Air Service, the first sizeable aviation company in Canada).
From 1928 to 1939, at the Federal Air Services division in Saint-Hubert, Graham became the first District Inspector for all of Eastern Canada, typically in charge of accident investigations as well as pilot certification.
Following stints at Curtiss Aeroplanes and Motors and Canadian Vickers in Montréal, in 1926 Graham joined the RCAF, as a test pilot and to implement aerial photography for map-making purposes. From 1928 to 1939, at the Federal Air Services division in Saint-Hubert, Graham became the first District Inspector for all of Eastern Canada, typically in charge of accident investigations as well as pilot certification. During WWII, Graham supervised the development of aerodromes in Canada, within the framework of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This assignment earned him an OBE. In 1944, Graham acted as technical representative of the Canadian Delegation at the Chicago conference which led to the creation of ICAO. In 1947, he was chosen as the first Chairman of the Air Navigation Commission, and twice, the ICAO Council voted a resolution of appreciation for his excellent work. Until his final retirement in 1963, Graham maintained a prominent figure within ICAO, as much at the level of elaboration of standards and procedures than as a consultant to various countries of the Middle East, of Africa and Latin America.
1973: Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame
Officer, Order of the British Empire
Air Force Cross