Can James Bond call Huron County home?

By Jenna Leifso, Archivist

There are a lot of stories shared about the BCATP schools in Huron County, some are true, others are not. Over the next few days we’re going to dispel two myths that involve the rich and famous.

Myth #1: Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond series, trained at either No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School (Sky Harbour) or No. 31 Air Navigation School (Port Albert). While he was wandering around the Maitland Cemetery, located just outside of Goderich, he came across a grave marker with the name “James Bond”. After seeing the grave stone, Mr. Fleming was inspired to name the main character of the successful spy series after Huron County resident.

The Facts: There is actually a James Bond buried in the Maitland Cemetery. His grave marker is near the memorial stone for the unidentified seamen who died in the Great Storm of 1913. James Bond was born in 1859 and died in 1931. However, there is no evidence that Ian Fleming ever attended a WWII training school in Huron County. In the Second World War, Fleming was in the Royal Navy, the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence. He would have no reason to train as a pilot at No. 12 EFTS or to learn navigation at No. 31 ANS. Mr. Fleming would have no reason to be in Huron County, let alone have the time to take a tour of Maitland Cemetery.

James Bond was actually named after an ornithologist from Philadelphia. According to Mr. Bond’s obituary in the New York Times, Fleming thought that the name was, “brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine… just what i needed…”.

Next week: Louis B. Mayer’s connection to No. 31 Air Navigation School (Port Albert).



Happy New Year (Beer)!

My favorite group of photos from the Henderson air training collection are the ones taken during the 1944 New Year’s Day meal at No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School, Sky Harbour, Goderich. Compared to all the individual head shots and formal class photos, these are refreshingly candid. For the most part, the airmen pictured in this series are members of the British Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (hence the sailor-looking uniforms). By 1943, the RAF had a surplus of trained pilots, so the British Navy started training their airmen at No. 12 EFTS to continue making use of the facilities.

Due to the indoor lighting and the general state of merriment it’s hard to make out a lot of detail in these photos. As soon as I saw all those bottles, however, I needed to know what kind of beer they were drinking. Luckily, there is just enough detail across the series to be able to make out a few kinds: O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock Ale, Black Horse Ale, and something made by Montreal’s Dow Brewery.


Detail from image no. A992.0003.339, showing a closeup of an O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock Ale beer bottle, New Year’s Day at Sky Harbour, 1944. J. Gordon Henderson, photographer. Rights: Public domain.

The O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock was confirmed by this photo:
Through some internet sleuthing, I also found out the the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library has a very nice collection of historical Canadian beer labels, including an era-appropriate O’Keefe’s label.

beer label

O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock Ale label, c. 1933-1967.

The Black Horse Ale was confirmed by beer boxes visible in a couple of the photos (for instance, the first photo in the top gallery, bottom right). The Dow Brewery beer might be obvious to a Canadian beer historian, but I couldn’t pin it down. If you can identify the beer, contact us, we’d love to know.

Closeup of beer bottles

Detail from image no. A992.0003.328, New Year’s Day at Sky Harbour, 1944. J. Gordon Henderson, photographer. Rights: Public domain.


Men With Pipes

For this project, we have scanned 868 images. About 9%, or 77 photographs, are portraits of individual airmen. Of those, only two of the men chose to pose with a pipe.

While I don’t condone smoking, I do think posing with a pipe is an excellent choice when having your picture taken professionally.

See for yourself:


Close up of RAF Officer holding pipe.

Unknown Royal Air Force Officer, about 1940-1945. J. Gordon Henderson, photographer. A992.0003.481a. Rights: Public domain.

Close up of RAF Officer with pipe in his mouth.

Unknown Royal Air Force Officer, about 1940-1945. J. Gordon Henderson, photographer. A992.0003.520. Rights: Public domain.


Bonus pipe pic:

Group of men standing with three in centre wearing kilts & tartans holding bag pipes.

Opening of Elementary Training School at Sky Harbour, October 1940. J. Gordon Henderson, photographer. A992.0003.429. Rights: Public domain.