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Upson, George C.

George C. Upson was an early Canadian aviator who served in the Royal Flying Corps (renamed the Royal Air Force) during World War I. Afterwards he joined the peacetime Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), serving at its flying boat base at Ladder Lake, northwest of Prince Albert. Because the federal government controlled Saskatchewan’s natural resources until 1930, the RCAF was used for firefighting, forestry protection, and survey work in the province’s northern areas. A sub-base was located at Ile-à-la-Crosse, but later moved to La Ronge. When Saskatchewan acquired control of its natural resources in 1930, the federal government turned five Canadian-built Vickers Vedette flying boats over to the province for use in this work. “Uppy” Upson, by now a civilian, was flying one of these aircraft northwest of Big River on May 27, 1936, when his aircraft encountered a storm; he parachuted to safety, although his passenger, firefighter Philip Clement, was killed. Previously, only six Canadian aviators had saved their lives through the emergency use of parachutes; Upson was the first to do so in Saskatchewan. He later flew for Canadian Airways, and during World War II commanded the RCAF’s No. 6 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron at Alliford Bay, BC, from August to December 1942, at which time he was posted to a staff position at 4 Group headquarters in Prince Rupert. A lake and a river in northern Saskatchewan bear Upson’s name.

Will Chabun

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