Reproduced with permission from The Beacon Supplement
Contributed by Carol (Mercer) Walsh - Class 1954
Gander’s Historic Street Names
Nearly all of Gander’s streets are named for pioneers of aviation, from the Wright brothers, who first felt the thrill of flight, to Canada’s first astronaut, Marc Garneau.
There are Alcock and Brown, for the first men to fly across the Atlantic, and Lindberg, first to solo that route. Perhaps less familiar are McCurdy and Baldwin who, along with Alexander Graham Bell (of telephone fame), designed and built a number of early aircraft, including the one which made the first flight in Canada; or WWI flying ace “Billy” Bishop, credited with destroying 72 enemy aircraft, 25 of them in a 10 day period.
Local heros, too, are honoured, like Capt. Douglas Fraser, who selected the site for Gander, and, later became the first pilot to touch down at the completed airport. James Roe flew northern bush operations from Gander in the late 1950’s . Cocky and reckless on the ground, Roe was a conscientious airman of outstanding ability. When his aircraft crashed and burned in ’61, only Roe could escape safely. Instead, he plunged into the wreckage again and again, carrying his passengers to safety. The daring rescue cost him his life.
One street was named for a stowaway, English pilot, Elsie MacKay was one of several women aspiring to cross the Atlantic east and west. She apparently turned up aboard a plane flown by W.R. Hinchcliffe after it left Britain for an undisclosed location in North America. That was in March of 1928. In August of that year a bottle washed up on the shores of North Wales, containing the message, “Goodbye all, Elsie MacKay and Captain Hinchcliffe. Down in fog and storm.”
Each street is a page from the history of flight and, all too often, the page ends with the words, “presumed lost.”
These were daring adventurers, gifted with uncanny foresight; with visions of a future where flying would be as commonplace as a stroll in the park. And, perhaps, with visions of a town conceived and born of aviation; a town which would never forget their courage and sacrifice…….