Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!

Nascent Canadian Air Force on Lake Winnipeg in 1921

Toronto. The history of all countries owes much to the publication in January, 1839 of the two primary photographic processes that produced ‘permanent’ positives. Three years later in 1842, Browning’s poem used here was first published.

Prior to 1839, drawings and paintings had to convey depictions of earlier life in all its complexities. Today, museums, archives, schools, newspapers, books, magazines, and even movies all benefit from the ongoing discoveries and improvements to photography.

Smaller countries like Canada are no exception in their histories benefitting from photography. For example, take a look at an article in the June 30, 2021 issue of “The Vox Air“, a publication of the 17th Wing of the Canadian Air Force (CAF) based in Manitoba.  On page seven, an article titled ‘“Birthplace of the Air Force in Manitoba” RCAF and Yacht Club Commemorate 1921 Opening of Victoria Beach Air Station‘ announces the beginning of the Victoria Beach Air Station, which opened April, 1921 on Lake Winnipeg, a few miles north east of the city of Winnipeg.

One photograph, shown above, depicts the Curtiss HS-2L flying amphibian aircraft initially built for the American Navy.  This photograph is dated July 1, 1921 and shows the first HS-2L (being pulled into the lake by horses) ready to fly for the precursor to the our Air Force – the Air Board’. All aircraft of that time were ‘flying boats’ – wheels and skiis came later. The base, opened in April, 1921, operated until 1926 when it was relocated to a new Manitoba location at Lac du Bonnet.

The article uses both text and photographs to celebrate the Station’s centennial anniversary and its first launching of an aircraft after it was pulled into the lake by horses. Imagine how long it would take to describe this activity using words alone! The publication is bursting with photographs, both modern images in colour and historic ones in monochrome.

My thanks to George Dunbar, good friend, PHSC member, and photographic historian for suggesting the above link and photograph.

Note: the title of this post is from Robert Browning‘s 1842 poem of the same name.

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