Kemano- Beach

Kemano, British Columbia, Canada

Kemano Beach, Alcan Wharf and Dock

Kemano Beach 1953

Latitude- 53 deg 28 min 51.70 sec N
Longitude- 128 deg, 07 min 24.16 sec W

It all started with 6 carpenters climbing onshore and building a work cabin on the beach.
Pretty amazing story!
this was Camp #1

Kemano Beach is on the Gardner Canal, which is a side inlet of the Douglas Channel
Of course Kitimat is at the end of the Douglas Channel
Kemano Beach is located about half way on the north side of the canal, at the mouth of the Kemano river.
There is a paved 12km highway from the beach to the townsite, that follows the Kemano river upstream.
The road was built in the summer of 1951.

2 unknown members of the Kemano Photography Club on the road to the Beach

The Beach area is the location of an old Haisla Native village of Kemano, at the mouth of the Kemano River.
Aug 2, 1905 Massachusetts Senator, Leonard W. Ross, visited this area on board the steamer the Tees.
Chief McIntosh was their guide, into the Ootsa lake country, travelling with an old prospector named McMillan.
He was inspecting a Gold Mine claim, and also looking for a route for a railroad to the Pacific.

This whole area is Grizzly Bear heaven.

We can see that the wind does blow on the Gardner Canal

Evidence- 2 planes that sustained serious damage, both owned by Pacific Western Airlines per caption
(see note 1 below).
top photo shows their “Canso”, sunk at the Kemano Beach dock, Jan 14/15, 1954, probably CF-GPO (see below)
The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American flying boat of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft.
Canadian built planes had the “Canso” designation
there is even a society dedicated to preserving these planes, see link below.
They are trying to find out what plane is in this photo
My wild guess was CF-GPO, or was it CF-FOQ?
turns out neither one of my wild guesses, here is the correction on it
The Canso that sank at mooring at Kemano Beach was CF-EZX. you wrote My wild guess was CF-GPO, or was it CF-FOQ?
She was acquired on 09 July 1953 from Central BC Airlines.
Assessed as total loss 08 Feb. 1954.”
(Source late Ragnar Ragnarsson's records via David Legg)
email correction from Jean-Christophe Polet

bottom photo, a “Norseman MkV” with tail rudder damage.
CF-OBM, Noorduyn Norseman, c/n N29-18,
registered July 11, 1946 to Ontario Provincial Air Service, used for the Department of Lands and Forests,
flying Forest Rangers in Ontario
I found reference to it flying June 24, 1946 at 140 miles per hour.
Registered to Central BC Airways, Kamloops, BC. on June 29, 1951.
Re-registered to Pacific Western Airlines, Vancouver, BC., on July 9, 1953
when PWA was formed from Central BC Airways.
Destroyed at Bamfield, BC. on July 29, 1958.
Aircraft stalled and crashed into water while making a turn at low altitude.
Floats broke off and the aircraft sank.
One passenger injured.
As of March 25, 1958 total time was 9,735 hours

(note 1) Pacific Western Airlines bought Queen Charlotte Airlines Ltd,
founded by Jim Spilsbury, which operated from 1943-1955.
It was the 3rd largest airline in Canada in 1955.

Living in a remote area, meant either helicopter, fixed wing plane, either on floats, or amphibious, or by boat/ship, were the only means of access.
Sometimes these flights ended in disaster.

Oct 18, 1951, a Queen Charlotte Airlines Twin Engine Amphibious Plane, CF-FOQ, crashed into Mount Benson, near Nanaimo BC, near the end of a 400 mile flight to Vancouver,
from Kemano, killing 20 passengers and 4 crew. (one source said 23 total)
Crew names I found, Pilot Doug McQueen,
Jaginder S. Johl, First Officer, and Ray Williams, Crewman
CF-FOQ was a Canso PBY flying boat, same as one above.
I have read since this entry, that this plane was carrying
all of the Alcan Kitimat Directors, which caused QCA problems.

Jan 27, 1953 a Central BC Airways, Grumman Goose, went missing, with 7 men on board, in Fraser Reach.
6 passengers were on their way to Kemano from Butedale.
Company founded and owned by Russell (Russ) Baker at the time.
Pilot was Jim J. Siddle
They started their flight in Vancouver on Jan 26, 1953, and flew to Port Hardy overnight,
Then last heard of on a radio check-in at Butedale.
As it turned out, Jim Siddle, age 38 at the time, was rescued, by a fish boat after a 26 hour ordeal on a rock, after the plane crashed.
All the other passengers drowned while swimming to shore.
they took a vote to swim to shore.
He made an emergency landing due to a snowstorm ahead.
And hit something in the water, and flipped the plane over.
It stayed afloat for a couple hours, 150 yds from shore.
I believe Mr. Siddle is now deceased.
The body of Gustavus Olsen was found washed ashore.
Michael Fedyk, age 34, from Poland, was presumed dead
and as far as I can find out, others were presumed drowned as well.
Have not found a record on other missing names.
Apr 1953 the plane deaths were ruled official by a court.

Aug 10, 1955 a search was called off for a PWA plane,
a custom built, Grey and Red, Grumman Mallard Amphibian.
missing for a week, with 5 on board, on a flight from Kemano to Kitimat.
It disappeared Aug 3, 1955
found ca July 25, 1958 by an Okanagan Helicopter Crew.
after an extremely hot summer, which melted all the snow.
Aboard were 3 prominent Vancouver Business Men.
David Milton Owen, BA,
School Trustee, Deputy Chairman of the Vancouver School Board, and prominent Vancouver Lawyer.
b- ca 1913
died age 42
He was in WWII, Army, 72nd Regiment,
Seaforth Highlanders of Canada,
wounded in action in Ortona, Italy.
Attained rank of Major.
Attended UBC 1930-1934
Vancouver Law School in 1934
Called to the Bar as a Barrister,
admitted as a Solicitor in 1937.
Joined his brother Walter in the firm
Owen and Murphy.
Member of the Masons.

Lt. Col. MacGregor Fullerton MacIntosh,
Industrial Relations Consultant,
and former member of the BC Labour Relations Board.
BC MLA, 1931-1933, Conservative, the Islands.
b- Aug 25, 1896, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland
d- age 58,
Came to Manitoba and Canada, when he was 7.
Served in WWI, enlisting at age 18.
He was 19 when he lost his right arm.
Retired in 1930 from the Army
Father- Robert Fraser MacIntosh,
b- Mar 1862 in Scotland
occupation- 1911, Traveller, (salesman?) Groceries
Mother- Jane MacIntosh, nee Fullerton,
b- Jan 1861 in Scotland
Brother- John MacIntosh,
b- Feb, 1890 in Scotland
Brother- William MacIntosh,
b- July 1894 in Scotland
Sister- Winnie MacIntosh,
b- Oct 1899 in Scotland
1911 family living in SE Section 28, township 13, Range 2, E 1st M,
All Presbyterians
occupation 1915- Chainman
married Margaret S. McBride, Sept 1, 1926 in Victoria BC,
daughter of Sir Richard McBride, former Premier of BC
MacGregor and Jane had 4 children

Albert Patrick “Al” Gorman,
Assistant to the Manager of Sagenay-Kitimat Co.
b- ca 1912, in Chicago IL. USA
died age 43
Boy Scout Supervisor in Tennessee
Lifeguard for 7 years in Indiana
Attended Colleges in Indiana and Louisiana
Played Professional Basketball in Chicago
Took 3 years of Medicine in University,
then switched to Engineering.
Mid 1940's he worked in Labour Relations for US Gov't
in Bolivia, earned that countries highest honour,
the Condor of the Andes.
then went to Peru, and in 1951 to India.
wife 2 sons, and a daughter.
His parents lived in Garry Indiana.

plus pilot Edward “Ed” Norman Bell,
d- in his late 30's
Veteran Coast and bush flier,
born in Grand Forks BC
Father a Fleet Surgeon in the Royal Navy
Ed went overseas with the RCAF in 1942.
Bomber shot down over France,
survived with French Resistance for a while.
spent a year and a half in POW camp.
His younger brother David died in the war in England.
Lived with his mother in Vancouver.

and Kendall King,
died age 23,
a young co-pilot,
who started his commercial career only a few days earlier.
Irony in this flight, the 3 men supposedly argued
with PWA crew, to bump 3 other passengers,
to go on this flight, due to a mix-up in flight times.
They flew from Vancouver to Kemano, the scheduled flight,
discharged 7 of the passengers there,
and instead of returning to Vancouver as sheduled,
Mr. Gorman wanted to show the other 2,
the transmission line to Kitimat,
so the pilot, Ed Bell, flew the line.
They left Kemano at 5:04 PM and were never heard from again.
the plane was found high in the mountains,
about half way between Kitimat and Kemano.
Only a small amount of wreckage was found.
PWA acquired the Mallards from the BC Airlines takeover

More Walker photos

top photo- Fairchild 82, Single engine, on wheels.
seems to have arrived next to a log cabin?
Bud Walker was in this plane
plane identified by Lars Opland, with thanks

bottom photo- CF-FJG, s/n 825, also N6572K, N209B
which was a RC-3 Republic Aviation Corporation Seabee,
made in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York.
a single engine, 4 seater, all metal, amphibian plane,
designed by Percival Hopkins Spencer.
It used a 215 hp Franklin engine 6A8
weight 1950 lbs.
Range 560 miles
Can land on 700 ft of water, 400 ft on land.
Had a large door in the nose of the plane for docking etc.
plus 2 side doors.
Retractable wheels, reversible pitch propeller.
120 mph with wheels, 105 mph without.
Wingspan- 37ft 8in, length 28ft
It was unique in it's shape and design.
this one was sold to McDonald Aviation Co. Ltd,
Edmonton AB, May 15, 1947
The Company stopped production of the RC-3 in late 1947
so this was one of the last years production.
CF-FJG- was owned by BC Airlines in this photo.
obviously crashed or sank, and is being lifted by a crane
by it's nose in this photo, top of wing shown
with Reg # clearly visible.
It does have the BC Airlines logo on the side door.
BC Airlines was an entirely amphibious operation
owned by Bill Sylvester, until 1956,
was one of the first commercial airlines on the west coast.
There is pictures of it on the net.

Morrison-Knudsen Company had a boat built in 1951
called the “Kemano” built by Allied shipbuilders, North Vancouver.
it was their hull #10, classified as a work boat.

All photos courtesy Grant Walker, from his father, Thomas Raymond Walker's collection

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  • Last modified: 2018/02/20 17:03
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