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Member Profiles


Joseph Pierre Roméo Vachon

Birthdate: June 29, 1898
Birth Place: Sainte-Marie-de-la-Beauce, Quebec
Death Date: December 17, 1954
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: The McKee Trophy

"His complete dedication to the advancement of manned flight in the service of frontier communities, in his dual capacity as pilot and air engineer, has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Joseph Pierre Romeo Vachon was born on June 29, 1898, in Sainte Marie de la Beauce, Quebec, where he was educated. During World War I he served with the Royal Navy as an engineer until his discharge. In 1920 he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force and the following year was granted leave to join the air service of Laurentide Pulp and Paper Company at their Lac a la Tortue (Grand'Mere) base in Quebec as an engineer. In January 1921, he qualified for his Air Engineer's Certificate, and began to learn to fly on company aircraft. He completed his flying training at the General Motors School of Aviation in Dayton, Ohio. On gaining his Commercial Pilot's Licence in 1923 he became one of Canada's earliest bush pilots, flying Curtiss HS-2L flying boats on fire patrol and photographic work.

He joined the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) when it was formed in the spring of 1924, flying forestry patrol. In 1928 Canadian Trans-continental Airways organized an air service to transport mail under government contract along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. Vachon was hired as pilot because of his familiarity with that area. He went to New York to ferry a new ski-equipped Fairchild monoplane back to Murray Bay, Quebec, and on the return trip, parachuted a sack of mail onto the Quebec City airport. It was the first time mail had been delivered in that fashion in Canada, a method the 'flying postmaster' would use almost routinely on his north shore rounds.

Vachon was assigned to fly the mail between the Quebec mainland and Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, inaugurating the first airmail from La Malbaie to Port Menier on February 2, 1928. That same year he inaugurated the airmail to Rimouski, Quebec. During 11 consecutive winters, despite adverse weather conditions, he flew the mail from Quebec City to La Malbaie and Rimouski along the north shore of the St. Lawrence, to Anticosti Island, and to the Isles de la Madeleine, serving 31 communities. His early dream of uniting a string of isolated communities along the shores of the St. Lawrence River through airmail service became a reality.

When the German aircraft 'Bremen' completed the first non-stop, east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in April 1928, and crashed on Greenly Island off the south-east coast of Labrador, Vachon flew from the base at Lac Ste. Agnes to the area with two representatives of the press, and brought back two members of the crew and the first photos and story of this event.

That same year he designed a new aerial service for the forwarding of mail to and from Europe, including the preparation of landing strips and the recruitment of pilots. The route included Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario, and Montreal and Rimouski, Quebec, based on a schedule that coincided with the arrival and departure of ocean-going ships at Point-au-Pere, Quebec. In 1930, when Canadian Transcontinental Airways was taken over by Canadian Airways Limited, he joined the newly-formed company, and became District Superintendent for Quebec and eastern Ontario.

In: 1931 a Trans-Canada Air Pageant was organized to demonstrate to Canadians how aviation was progressing in Canada, and to stimulate public interest. Vachon was chosen to pilot a large twin-engined amphibian flying boat, a Saro Cloud, built by Saunders-Roe Company of England. The pageant began in Hamilton, Ontario, on July 1, stopping at every major city across Canada in a round-trip which ended in mid-September.

Vachon was awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for 1937 to recognize his lengthy pioneering efforts in establishing airmail service in eastern Quebec and for providing radio and weather reporting stations in the same area to improve the safety of all air transport operations.

He left Canadian Airways in 1938 to become Assistant Superintendent of the Eastern Division of Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA). During World War II he was loaned to the Department of Munitions and Supply to organize the overhaul of aircraft for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).

He was a Member of the Air Transport Board in Ottawa from the time it was formed in 1944 until his death in Quebec City on December 17, 1954.

Romeo Vachon was named as a member of the ‘Quebec Air and Space Hall of Fame’ in 2001.

Joseph Pierre Romeo Vachon was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

Suggested reading:
“Goggles Helmets & Airmail Stamps” - Georgette Vachon (1974) ISBN 0-7720-0619-0

The Romeo Vachon Award was established in 1968 by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) in memory of one of Canada’s outstanding bush pilots. It is presented “for outstanding display of initiative, ingenuity and practical skills in the solution of a particular physical problem relating to the art, science, and engineering of aeronautics, space, associated technologies or their application in Canada.”

Archie Vanhee

Birthdate: September 15, 1909
Birth Place: Jabbeke, Belgium
Death Date: May 3, 2009
Year Inducted: 1987
Awards: The Back and Bevington Air Safety Trophy (B.C.)

"With his continued involvement in flying over half a century he demonstrated a unique ability in assisting many pilots in the art of instrument flying, and thus contributed significantly to the advancement of aviation in Canada." - Induction citation, 1987

Achille (Archie) Vanhee was born in Jabbeke, Belgium, on September 15, 1909. He immigrated to Canada in 1925 and continued his education at College St. Laurent near Montreal, Quebec. In 1928 Vanhee began flying training with the Montreal Flying Club, and was later hired as a helper/mechanic. In 1929 he joined Continental Aero Corporation as an engineer and continued flying training. He obtained his Air Engineer's Certificate and Commercial Pilot's Licence in 1930, then joined the Societee d'Aviation du Quebec as pilot-engineer and flying instructor.

Central Airways at Amos, Quebec, hired Vanhee as pilot-engineer in 1935. Early in 1937 he joined Mackenzie Air Service where he flew the first official airmail between Yellowknife and Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories. During the same year, he flew with Stan McMillan on the Snyder Nahanni Survey Expedition.

In 1939 Vanhee obtained his Public Transport Licence and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He was commissioned as a Flying Officer, and attended the Flying Instructor's School at Camp Borden, Ontario. After graduation he was posted to seaplane training at the RCAF station at Jericho Beach, British Columbia. In 1940 Vanhee moved to No. 13 Operational Training Unit (OTU) and instructed on several seaplane types.

In mid-1941 Vanhee was appointed to command 'C' Flight for instrument flying training. In 1942 he was transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take command of the Lockheed Hudson Training Unit, specializing in instrument flying training.

A year later Vanhee was appointed Commanding Officer of No. 160 Squadron at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. In 1944 he joined No. 45 Atlantic Transport Group to ferry flying boats from North America to the United Kingdom. After returning to Halifax, he became Director of Instrument Flying Training and in October 1945, he was demobilized with the rank of Squadron Leader.

That same year he joined Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPA), which had taken over Mackenzie Air Service. He now flew as Captain on the Lockheed Lodestar and Douglas DC-3. CPA, while still operating bush lines in northern areas, now ran scheduled air services. Vanhee flew CPA's Mackenzie District on schedules which included Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Yellowknife, Norman Wells, Fort Smith, and Fort Resolution.

In January 1949, he moved to Vancouver to fly for CPA Overseas Lines where he became one of the captains on several 'firsts for Canadian-registered aircraft': first flight to Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong, using Canadair C-4M's (North Stars); familiarization flight to Honolulu, Fiji, Sydney and Auckland; and the inaugural flight by CPA to Honolulu, Fiji and Australia carrying the first paying passengers and air mail to the South Pacific. Later that same year he was captain of the first direct Vancouver-Honolulu flight by a Canadian aircraft.

During the period from 1952 to 1960, Vanhee completed a ground school course on the new British de Havilland Comet jet passenger aircraft, qualified as captain on the DC-6B, and captained CPA's inaugural flight between Lima, Peru and Mexico. He qualified as captain on the Vancouver-Amsterdam route, and on special invitation from Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, piloted the four-jet-engine 707 prototype. In April of 1958 he became captain on the Bristol Britannia turboprop.

In 1960 Vanhee left CPA, and for the next twelve years, returned to flight instruction in British Columbia and Ontario. During this period he also worked for several airways in Ontario. In 1967 he was awarded the Back and Bevington Air Safety Trophy by the British Columbia Aviation Council.

From 1973 to 1983 Vanhee flew for White River Air Services owned and operated by Stanley Deluce. He was allowed regular leaves of absence to work for the Canadian International Development Agency's Civil Aviation Project in several countries in Africa, where he was involved with pilot training on the DHC-6 Twin Otter. When Vanhee retired in 1983, at the age of 74, he had 56 years of unbroken active service in aviation and 25,000 flying hours in more than 90 types of aircraft from the small bi-plane Curtiss JN4 to the prototype Boeing 707.

Archie Vanhee was named as a member of the ‘Quebec Air and Space Hall of Fame’ in 2001. He died May 3, 2009 in Hamilton, Ontario - just short of his 100th birthday.

Achille (Archie) Vanhee was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1987 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.


While on one of his northern mail runs, Vanhee rescued Louis Bisson and his passengers who had been missing for several days after engine problems with the Waco biplane. Bisson himself was on a mercy flight to the Fort Smith Mission Hospital with several Inuit children and a trapper who were suffering from serious frostbite.

Joseph Armand Gerard Fernand Villeneuve

Nickname: Fern
Birthdate: July 2, 1927
Birth Place: Buckingham, Quebec
Death Date: December 25, 2019
Year Inducted: 2006
Awards: A.F.C., C.D.

"His skill and dedication as a military aerobatics pilot, the professionalism of his work in aircraft accident investigation and prevention, and his long-standing contributions to the Canadian Air Cadet gliding program have resulted in lasting benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 2006

J.A.G.F. Fern Villeneuve, AFC, CD, was born at Buckingham, Quebec on July 2, 1927. His passion for aviation developed early as he watched aircraft flying at Uplands airport in Ottawa. He joined the Air Cadet program in 1943, and following that experience he worked hard to pay for flying lessons. He obtained his pilot's licence in 1946 and within two years had his commercial licence.

In June, 1950 he joined the RCAF and trained as a military pilot. The following year he was assigned to No. 441 Squadron at St. Hubert, Quebec, flying the F-86 Sabre.

In 1952 the squadron was moved to Luffenham, England. Villeneuve's innate abilities as a pilot and his desire to excel led to his initial involvement as leader of the squadron's aerobatic team. They participated in numerous official flight demonstrations in Britain, including one attended by Prince Philip on May 21, 1953.

In 1954 Villeneuve joined No. 431 Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec. He was authorized to form a four-pilot demonstration team which was invited to perform at the International Air Show in Toronto. The team later toured Western Canada, where attendance records were broken everywhere they went.

He was posted to the Advanced Flying Training School at Portage La Prairie in 1955 flying the T-33 Silver Star trainer. He accumulated over 1000 hours of instructional time on this aircraft.

He was then assigned to the Central Flying School in Trenton in 1957 where he established procedures which made forced landings more successful. He also carried out T-33 tumbling trials to determine the effect of elevator trim settings on recovery procedures. His experience and competence warranted his appointment as a Jet Flight Examination Officer.

Late in 1958 rumours began circulating about the formation of an 'official' acrobatic team. The Chief of Air Staff wanted a display team which would be part of the celebrations in 1959 saluting the 35th anniversary of the RCAF' and the 50th anniversary of powered flight in Canada. Villeneuve, with his skill, experience and penchant for perfection, was the natural choice for this larger operation. He was invited by Air Force HQ to lead this team of Sabre pilots. He chose his team members, then went on to train, choreograph and lead the Golden Hawks for two show seasons during 1959 and 1960.

The exploits and impact of the Golden Hawks are well known, as is Villeneuve's association with them. His team performed 134 air displays throughout Canada and the U.S., establishing a standard for team aerobatics that is still upheld by current military aerobatic teams. He and the Golden Hawks became an icon of Canada's jet age.

At the end of the 1960 Golden Hawks season. Squadron Leader Villeneuve was transferred to the position of Chief Ground Instructor at No. 1 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit at Chatham, NB. On November 7, during a routine night training exercise, he was involved in an air incident that would again show his professional integrity. When the engine of his Sabre failed, he remained with the aircraft, ensuring that it would not crash into the houses below. For his courage and determination in avoiding a more tragic accident, he was awarded the Air Force Cross, which was presented on July 16, 1961 by Governor General Georges Vanier.

In the early 1960s, the RCAF was bringing the CF-101 Voodoo and the CF-104 Starfighter into service. While still recovering from his injuries, Villeneuve was appointed Staff Officer for Flight Safety at Air Defence Command at St. Hubert, QC. Being in charge of accident prevention at this time was a challenging task. However, with his knowledge of aircraft and operating procedures, he was able to assist in a smooth transition.

In 1965 Squadron Leader Villeneuve was appointed Commanding Officer of 434 Squadron, flying CF-104s at Zweibrucken, Germany. He was promoted to Wing Commander in 1967, and soon assumed command of 430 Squadron, also at Zweibrucken. His squadron maintained an operational capability second to none, making a significant contribution to the Western "Cold War" posture.

In 1969 he attended the Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto, and upon graduation in 1970, he assumed command of No. 414 Electronic Warfare Squadron in Ottawa. This position had its own challenges, as he had to manage deployments of aircraft that were constantly on the move around the country and into the U.S. He also oversaw re-currency flight training for RCAF pilots on staff tours at National Defence HQ.

In 1972 Villeneuve was appointed head of the Accident Investigation Branch of the Directorate of Flight Safety in Ottawa. Here he was highly praised for his work in not only investigating the causes of accidents but finding ways of preventing them. He understood both human and aircraft factors very well and how the two interacted.

Following four years in this capacity, he was assigned to CFB Bagotville as the Base Operations Officer in which he flew the CF 101 Voodoo operationally with No. 425 Squadron. Three years later, in 1979, Villeneuve was posted to CFB North Bay as the Base  Administration Officer where he maintained his currency status on the T-33 until his retirement from the regular force on July 2, 1982. He was a high performance jet pilot for over 30 years, with a total military flight time of 8,317 hours.

Although he retired from active service, Villeneuve's flying career was not over. He and his family relocated to the Trenton area where, in 1983, he re-emerged in uniform as a reservist, assigned as Operations Officer of the Central Region Gliding School in support of the Canadian Air Cadet Gliding program. While in this position, he introduced formal exercises for each training flight, which greatly improved the level of training and standardization of instruction. These lesson plans were later introduced as a national standard for air cadet glider training across Canada.

During 1984-87, Villeneuve also served as Commanding Officer of the Regional Cadet Gliding School at CFB Trenton. By 1988 he had overseen more than 400 Air Cadets undertake training as glider and tow plane pilots. He remained on staff as a glider and tow pilot instructor, chief tow pilot and maintenance test pilot until he retired from the reserve force in 1992. He then stayed on for 10 more years as a civilian instructor, amassing over 3800 hours on the Bellanca Scout tow aircraft and carrying out more than 20,000 glider tows for the Air Cadet League gliding program. His military service totaled 42 years.

Fern Villeneuve continues to be an advocate of aviation, promoting flight training to young Air Cadets. He is an active member of the Air Cadet League and a Director of the Ontario Provincial committee. He and his wife Lynda live near Belleville, Ontario. He continues to fly his own aircraft, a Swift, and assists in the test flight programs of numerous amateur built aircraft.

W/C (Ret'd) Fern Villeneuve was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame at ceremonies held in Montreal on May 27, 2006.

The Royal Canadian Mint recognized Villeneuve’s contributions to Canada’s aviation history in 1997 by minting his cameo likeness on a $20 silver and gold coin depicting the F-86 in its famous Golden Hawk role.