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The Newfoundland Airport Club

by Frank Tibbo

It wasn't just any old club. In 1938 Gander (known then as Newfoundland Airport) and for many years later, it was considered the club to belong to. Not only that, as late as 1957, a person who applied for membership was put on a waiting list.

The Newfoundland Airport Club was established on December 7, 1938, for the purpose of "providing social and athletic amenities for its members." The Objects also noted that "the Club may promote and/or assist non-profit organizations which function for the benefit of the Gander community."

The Club occupied space in what was known as the Old Administration Building. Later it acquired building No. 106 on Johns Street (Canadian Side of the airport) and finally in 1960 moved to the new town in a building on the TransCanada Highway where it operated for several years before going out of business. In the beginning, membership was confined to Airport staff living in the old Administration Building. The original membership totalled 34. The Club became the first in Newfoundland licensed to operate a bar outside of St. John's. The licence was granted in February 1939. The Club operated the first movie at Gander and presented the first show in January 1939.

Bldg 106

From the beginning, the Club became the centre of the social life of the community. During the war years, its activities were somewhat curtailed; but when the Airport reverted to civil control, the Club quickly resumed its former status and played a prominent part in all community affairs for many years. All profits from the Club went to the local schools for scholarships for students.

The Bylaw read in part: "Membership in the Newfoundland Airport Club shall be at the discretion of the Executive Committee and shall be limited to a total of 275 paid Members who are residents of Gander (i.e. within a five-mile radius of the Gander Railway Station), and 25 Non-Resident Members. Of the 175 resident paid Members not more than 150 shall be Voting Members, the remainder being known as Associate Members. Non-Resident Members shall not be eligible to become Voting Members."

H.A.L. Pattison was the first President, Tom McGrath was Secretary and the Treasurer was Gerry Flynn.

The charter members were as follows:

Temple Baird - Met.
Hughie H. Bindon - O.I.C. Met
Charlie B. Blackie - Supervisor, Signals
Charles M. Brant - O.I.C. Signals
Harry J. Carter - Met.
W.J. (Bill) Collins - Signals
Frank Coughlan - Signals
Jim Dempsey - Signals
F.E. Feaver - Signals
Pat Fleming - Signals
Gerald Flynn - Secretary to the Airport Manager
W.H. (Bill) Heath - O.I.C. Signals
Gibson Henry - Met.
A.C. (Abby) Knee - Signals (Maintenance)

H. (Hughie) Lacey - Met
W.J. Lahey - Signals
F. Lewis - Signals
John J. MacDonald - Signals
T.M. (Tom) McGrath - Assistant to the Dir. of Civil Aviation
P.D. McTaggart-Cowan - O.I.C. Met
D.W. Mote - Signals
V.T. (Vince) Myrick - Signals
H.A.L. Pattison - Airport Manager and Director of Civil Aviation for Newfoundland
A.C. (Art) Pittman - Signals
F.L. Ratcliffe - Signals
J. Ritchie - Signals
Jack Rolls - Signals
J.W. (Jack) Robertson - Signals
J. (Jack) Sheppard - Signals
John Simon - Signals (Secretary)
A.M. Sparkes - Signals
J. Gordon T. Stanley - Signals
Hughie Stone Signals - (operator)
W.J.G. (Jim) Strong - Signals (technician)

Honourary Members:

H.A.L. Pattison, C.B.E. (Honourary President); Reverend Father P.J. McCarthy, Venerable Archdeacon E.M. Bishop; A.C. Pittman, Reverend J.H. Moss, Reverend N.B. Hodder

Three of the members, Bill Collins, Frank Couglan and John MacDonald, were among the five radio operators who lost their lives as crew members on Ferry Command.

Submitted by F. Tibbo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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