Bob Burns Remembers “Sir” Jim Irvin

Bob Burns recently passed away at the age of 80. In his honour, I am putting these stories about Laurentian Air Services from him up first.


Jim Irvin was always the “nuts and bolts” of LAS and Air Scheff. When I joined LAS the first time in 1970, he was chief pilot and flew everything – including the Grumman Goose. He was extremely conscientious and careful and later became the operations manager. At this point we shared the same office and became very good friends. He would steal things from my house then gift wrap them and give them back as Christmas gifts!

When later I re-joined around 1988 he was managing the company in Schefferville. He was not able to speak French but everyone who knew him, loved him.


“Emergency Procedures”

When I arrived in Scheff in January 1988, there was a Beaver on wheel-skis loaded to fly turbo fuel to a remote lake. The flight was delayed 3 days as Castor, the pilot, was busy bulldozing snow on a winter road to Blue Lake. I told Jim that I would do it. Jim declined as I had not yet been checked out on the Beaver. I reminded him that I’d been flying them for 15 years. “Nope, we have “procedures,” he said. 

When Castor flew the load he got stuck in slush on the lake and returned to Scheff by helicopter. That night on our way to the Legion for a beer, Jim said to me that tomorrow we’ll take the Otter and a couple of guys and dig out the Beaver. I would have to fly the Beaver back to Scheff. When I asked him about the “procedures”  he didn’t answer.


“Just Another Ordinary Charter”

He was flying a charter for LAS in the Beech Baron. I went along as his cojo. This was way back during the FLQ (Front de Liberation du Quebec) days when Quebec in the early 1970s and there was considerable tension in Canada about how radical things might become.

LAS was chartered by 2 people from the Buckingham, Quebec area to fly them to  Windsor, Ontario to pick up some packages. Arriving in Windsor, the clients asked Jim & I to come along to help get the packages. We all went up to the motel room and gathered up the boxes. Jim & I left the room first. Entering the hallway outside the room, we heard someone say, “put down the packages and put your hands up against the wall” – just like in a movie. We did as instructed and 2 detectives frisked us. We presented our ID and they told us to leave. The packages contained rifles and they had been reported to the police who had been waiting for whoever came to get them. The room contained more guns and our clients were left to explain. It turned out to be ok as the clients gave an adequate explanation to the police.

Anyway we left Windsor and departed for Ottawa with the packages and clients on board. Unknown to us, they had a bottle of Rye going in the back seats. Deplaning at the Ottawa terminal. Jim and I got out to help the paxs out of the aircraft. The  bottle of Rye fell out of their grasp and splintered into a thousand shards of glass on the tarmac. The paxs waddled into the terminal, helping each other along the way and of course Jim & I were left to clean up. Jim thought of it as just another ordinary charter!

Laurentian Air Services Personnel List

When my first book, For the Love of Flying: The Story of Laurentian Air Services, came out in 2009, I created a small do-it-yourself website to host additional ‘living’ information. Recently, I let that domain name lapse, so I am moving the photos and stories and data – like the below – over to this site so that it will still be available to the amazing folks who worked at Laurentian and Air Schefferville, as well as other researchers. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to update anything in this table.


 Last Name  First Name  Role at Laurentian  Dates with the company  Additional information
 Adam  Lynus  Fire patrol observer
 Allard  Steve  Pilot with Air Schefferville  1983-4  Air Canada captain
 Amy  John  Pilot
 Argue  Doug  Pilot and base manager for Labrador City  1967-8
 Armstrong  Lyn  Pilot  1967-8
 Arpin  Pierre (Peter/Pete)  Chief pilot  ex-director General for civil aviation with Transport Canada
 Arsenault  A.  Maintenance/engineer in Ottawa  1968
 Barkey  Eric  Pilot-engineer  1967-9
 Battista  Bernard  Pilot
 Bennett  Ted  Base Manager at Schefferville and Pilot  1950s-1972
 Beach  Ken  Pilot
 Best  Lester (Les)  Pilot at Schefferville  1950s
 Beveridge  George  Chief Engineer  1936-1970s
 Bogie  Craig  Summer work  1970s-1980s
 Bogie  Iain  Chief engineer and Operations Manager in Schefferville and President of Air Schefferville  1979-1998
 Bogie  John  Pilot, VP, President, and Chairman  1947-1998
 Bonnam  Gordon (Gordie)  Engine Shop  1970s
 Bovell  Les  Pilot (“Cessna 340 and cojoed on the DC 3 with Ken Dempster to Calgary and also to Schefferville many times.  The 340 was used on charters.  I flew Bob Andras the minister of manpower and Immigration to Sarnia and Sudbury April 26, 1974 on one of the flights.”  January to July 1974.
Has been retired for 13 yearsfrom Air Canada off of the B- 767.
 Brick  Bob Pilot
 Brickenden  Stu  Pilot
 Brown  Buster (Bus)  Pilot  1940s
 Browning  Monty  Delay River Outfitters  1980s
 Burford  Glenn  Dock-hand, dispatcher and office clerk at Wabush Lake base in Labrador City  Summer 1971
 Burke  Bob  Pilot  early 1960s
 Burke  Fred  Maintenance/air engineer  late 1960s
 Burns  Bob  Radio dispatcher, sales, chief pilot of IFR  1970-2  Passed away in 2017.
 Byl  Ben  Pilot  1960s
 Campbell  Geoff  Maintenance apprentice  1980s
 Chamberlain  Barry  Pilot  1960s
 Chapman  Earl
 Chapman  Stu (Stewart)  Pilot and manger for Labrador City
 Charleson  Jack  Pilot  1938-1940
 Charlebois  Gilles  Pilot  1970s-1980s
 Charron  Vince  Pilot for Air Schefferville  late 1980s  Retired from Air Canada Jazz – DHC-8 Captain from 1989-2004
 Childerhose  Bob  Pilot 1990-1
 Chisholm  Mark  Chief engineer for Alliance Aviation  1970s
 Clark  Dave  Pilot  1970s
 Classon  Harry  Maintenance/engineer  1970s
 Clement  Michel  Pilot  Pilot in Thailand
 Clifford  Ernie  Dockhand  International DHC-6 pilot
 Cloutier  Pierre  Pilot  Pilot with Transport Canada
 Cole  Tim  Chief pilot  1960s-1974
 Costello  Denis  Dockhand and Pilot  1971-1976  Pilot with Air Jazz
 Costello  Kevin  Pilot with Air Laurentian
 Cote  Claude
 Coupland  Dr. Doug  Pilot based out of Labrador  1953-4
 Crichton  John  CEO of NavCan
 Curtis  Mark  Pilot for Air Laurentian  1993-1995  Now in Florida
 David  Eric  Pilot in Schefferville  1982-4  Pilot
 Davis  Philip
 Deisher  Walter  Co-founder of company  1936-7
 Dempster  Ken  Pilot on DC-3s  1970s
 Denis  Mike  Maintenance and pilot  1970s-1980s
 Dennis  William (Bill)  Supervisor in engine shop in Ottawa  1968
 Desrosiers  Dick  Pilot in Schefferville  late 1960s
 Doyle  Paddy  Pilot Chief pilot with First Air
 Dumont  Monty  Chief pilot for DC-3s  1970s
 Dunham  Don  Pilot
 Dupuis  Jacques  Pilot  1974-8
 Emmans  John  Pilot  1970s  Went to fly for Ontario Northern Airways after LAS and now operates a cable tv and internet service in northern Ontario.
 Este  Brent  Pilot-AME
 Ethier  Gilles  Pilot
 Fahlgren  Douglas  Pilot  1950s
 Favilla  Chris  Pilot-mechanic with Air Laurentian and Air Schefferville
 Fisher  Bryce  Pilot  Transport Canada
 Fletcher  Dave  Pilot  1980s
 Foulkrod  Bob  U.S. Marketing manager for Delay River Outfitters  1980s
 Fleming  Jack  Pilot  1948, 1955
 Fournier  Dan  Pilot  1973-77  Captain for Air Jazz
 Gagnon  Roger  AME in Ottawa, pilot in Schefferville  1968-1970s  Retired in Montreal
 Gardiner  Paddy  Did freelance technical drawings for LAS  late 1960s  Living in Kuujjuuaq, QC where he continues to draw and write
 Garel  Alain  Pilot
 Gaumont  Sylvain  Pilot  Pilot with Air Transat
 Gendron  Peter  Pilot  1968-1973
 Gill  John  Pilot  1950s-1990s
 Girard  Jean
 Gomeau  Sylvain  Pilot  1970s  Now a captain for Air Transat
 Goodwin  Lou (Peter)  Pilot  1960s-1970s
 Gorman  Joseph (Joe)  Director of LAS  1970s
 Greenberg  Fred  Accountant  1980s
 Gregoire  Alphonse  Pilot in Schefferville  late 1960s
 Guay  Roger  Engineer in Ottawa  1960s-1970s
 Hamilton  John  Pilot – flew fire patrol  1960s-1970s
 Hansen  Claude  Engineer  1970s to early-1980s
 Harrasma  John  Pilot-engineer  Living in Vancouver
 Harris  Jim  Dock hand in Schefferville  1972-78  Captain at Air Canada and grandson of Barnet Maclaren
 Harris  Peter  Pilot  1965-68
 Hart  Sandy  Summer employee  1969
 Henry  Kay  Office
 Henstra (nee Anderson)  Donna Air Laurentian  early 19990s
 Hollingsworth  Art  Pilot  1938
 Hume  Jack  Ran Laurentian Ungava Outfitters  1970s-1980s
 Hume  Martine  Clerical work and operated radio in Schefferville  1970s-1980s
 Hume  Wendell  Dispatcher and base manager in Schefferville  1970s-1980s
 Irvin  Danny  Pilot for Air Schefferville (and Jim’s son)  Went to B.C. and flew Twin Otters and Turbo Otters
 Irvin  Jim (James E.)  Chief pilot and operations manager for LAS and Air Schefferville  1960s-1998  Passed away in early 2000s.
 Irvin  Mike  Engineer in Schefferville (and Jim’s son)  Currently works at Canada Aviation Museum
 Irvine  Bill  Pilot  1937
 Jac (or Jak)  H.  Engineer/maintenance  1968
 Jarvis  Wayne  LAS controller in Ottawa  1974-1981 and 1987-1992  Now lives in Syria
 Kalus  Mark  AME in Schefferville on the Twin Otter
 Kalutta  Ron
 Keller  Andy  Pilot in Schefferville  1975-79
 Kelly  Paul  Cook in Schefferville
 Kenny  Allan  Mechanic at James Bay  1970s  Competitive drag racing. Based in Kingston, ON
 Kenny  John  Engine shop  1970s  Currently operates Kenny Aviation in Ottawa, ON
 Kerr  Mark  Pilot for Air Laurentian 1990s  Pilot with Air Canada
 Kershaw  Jim  Pilot  1971
 Kiley  Jack  Pilot  1953-6
 Kyle  Ron  Passed away July 13, 2010
 Lafontaine  Jean-Yves  Pilot for Air Schefferville  mid-1980s
 Lalancette  Lawrence  Flew DC-3s during the winter  1970s
 Lalancette  Paul  Flew DC-3s during the winter  1970s
 Langil  Mervin  Pilot early 1970s  Died in a crash in Middle East.
 Lapworth  Shaune  Apprentice and Engineer for Air Schefferville  1987-1990
 Lebourhis  Gilles  Pilot  1979-1984
 Lejeune  Jean-Guy  Base manager at Maniwaki  1960s  Passed away.
 Lejeune  Glen  Apprentice mechanic in Schefferville
 Logan  J.H.  Maintenance in Ottawa  1968
 Lord  Eddy  Pilot  1968-1974  Went on to fly waterbombers for Quebec government. Passed away in 2017.
 Lukos  Ed  Engineer apprentice in Schefferville  1980s
 Macintosh  Carl  Engineer
 Mackenzie  Real  Pilot in Schefferville  1980s  Went on to become chief of the Montagnais Indian Band and work for Indian Affairs
 Mackie  Brad  Pilot  early 1970s
 Maclaren  A. Barnet  Co-Founder, President, and pilot  1936-1968
 Maclaren  Alexander  Director  1936-1938
 Maclaren  Gordon  Director  1930s-1950s
 Makis  Harry  Managed Laurentian Ungava Outfitters  mid-1970s
 Malle  Serge  Pilot in Schefferville  early 1970s
 Maraviglia  Fabian  Pilot for Air Schefferville  1990s
 Marks  Ken J.  Maintenance coordinator for Alliance Aviation  late 1970s
 Martineau  Paul  Pilot in Schefferville  late 1960s
 Maxsom  Allen  Summer student
 Maxsom  Bellamy
 Maxsom  Keith  Engine shop supervisor  1968-1982
 Maxsom  Clark  Engine shop  1970s
 McAninch  Les  Pilot  Pilot with Air Jazz
 McCurdy  Ronald G.
 McGee  Ned  Pilot  1979 and 1981-85
 McKenzie  Bob  Pilot in Schefferville  1975-1985  Now works for Transport Canada
 McIntyre  J.P.  Office manager  c. 1930s
 McKintyre  Eddie  Dispatcher in Ottawa  1940s  Passed away
 Mead  Ted  AME  1980-1
 Mirehouse  George  Pilot
 Moore  Keith  Guide  1960s-1980s  Passed away
 Moorehead  Bob  Pilot-AME  1971-6
 Morel  Pierre-Luc  Guide  1970s
 Morneau  Gus  Pilot
 Moxin  Jim  Engineer
 Nickel  Bill  Pilot-Engineer
 Patterson  Pat  Chief pilot in Schefferville  1980s
 Patten  Ed  Mechanic in Schefferville  late 1960s  Recently retired from Canada Aviation Museum
 Patry  Jerry  Engineer  Ottawa Fire Department
 Payne  John  Pilot
 Pelnault  Denis  Pilot  1974-1976
 Phillips  Reg  Pilot in Schefferville  1961-1964  Went to work for M.J. Boylen and then DOT. Passed away
 Pichet Gilles  Pilot in Schefferville  1970s
 Pickering  Douglas  Chief pilot and operations manager  1940-1975  Passed away
 Pickering  Bob  Engineer in Schefferville  mid-1970s
 Pilon  Jules  Pilot
 Poitras  Gerry  Engineer
 Poitras  Serina 1996-2000
 Powers  Gordon  Worked in camps  late 1960s
 Rask  Paul  Pilot
 Recoskie  Earl  Pilot-Engineer  1975-81
 Recoskie  Reid  Pilot
 Rennie  Norm  Pilot  1960s
 Ringuet  Francois  Pilot  Captain with Air Transat
 Riopel  Pierre  Worked at Maniwaki flying school  1968
 Robertson  Doug  Pilot  1968-70
 Robertson  Laurie  Pilot  early 1970s  Was killed in Beaver crash in 1975
 Roper  Meg  Office
 Roper  Vicky  Office  1980s
 Roseborough  Jim  1960
 Ross  Gary  Hangar worker
 Routhier  Don Operations manager and pilot  1955-58 and 1962-1971  Went to work for Transport Canada as a civil aviation inspector. Passed away
 Row  Richard  Engine shop  1970s  Engineer with First Air
 Ruel  Pierre  Pilot
 Sams  Kim  Pilot  Pilot with Air Jazz
 Samuels  Sharnie
 Saunders  Paul  Chief pilot  1950s-1968  Passed away
 Saunders  Wayne  Worked at Rockliffe and Uplands  Summers of 1975 and 1976
 Schafer  Harry  Pilot  1980s  Now a captain with Air Canada
 Schock  Peter  Ran Laurentian Ungava Outfitters  early 1970s
 Scobie  Bernie  Sales and a pilot  1970s
 Scoles  Jim  Pilot for Air Laurentian  1990s
 Senneville  Pierre
 Smith  George  Pilot  1971
 Smith  Harry E.  Maintenance supervisor  1980  Went to work for Personal Plane Services
 Smith  Roy A.  Engine shop supervisor  1968
 Smith  Steve  Pilot for Air Laurentian  1990s
 Sprong  Sandy  Assistant general manager for Alliance Aviation  1973-1980
 St. Laurent  Marcel  Pilot  early 1980s
 St. Laurent  Richard  Pilot in Schefferville  1980s
 St. Onge  Marcel  Pilot  1969  Went on to be a captain for Canada 3000 and a pilot for Air Canada
 Stevenson  Mike
 Stoodley  Dwight  Pilot for Air Laurentian  1990s
 Syrine  Rene  Hamilton base manager
 Szwalek  Joe
 Taillon  Arthur  Schefferville manager  1988-89
 Tamme  Sylvia  Pilot
 Tamme  Ingrid  Pilot
 Taillefer  Gerry  Sales and Cessna dealer  1960s  Passed away
 Tanner  Frank  Director of LAS  1978 and 1989
 Therrien  Michel  Pilot  Summer of 1973  Retired pilot for Air Canada. Now in the Phillipines
 Thierny  Danny  Pilot  1950s
 Thompson  Del  Pilot
 Tolley  Alvin  Observer  1970
 Tunis  Bob  Engineer
 Vaillencourt  Michel  Schefferville base manager  1972 to mid-1970s
 Vaisanen  Harry  Maintenance in Ottawa  1968
 Vanasse  Daniel  Guide for Delay River Outfitters and pilot  1987-1991  Has been a pilot for Air Transat since 1996
 Vanderheid  Martin  Maintenance in Ottawa  1968
 Vanoosterhout  Ed  Manager of Hamilton base
 Vario  Josie  Worked in Hamilton
 Wagner  Claude  Pilot in Maniwaki
 Weight  T.  Pilot
 White  Paul  Engine Shop
 White  Stanley  Apprentice and Air Engineer in Ottawa and Northern Quebec  1951-1958  Went to work for RCMP Air Services for 27 years until he retired.
 Whiteduck  Jean-Guy  Chief pilot  1970s
 Wilson  Dave  Engineer  1960s
 Young  Barbara  Dispatcher



“The Job for Me” for Legion Magazine now up!

“Whiplash is how they described it. In 1980, when captains Nora Bottomley, Deanna (Dee) Brasseur and Leah Mosher walked anywhere in their Canadian air force blue flight suits, heads snapped around. The three women were the first in the country to receive their wings for active duty, and they knew they were under the microscope from their fellow pilots, superiors, the media and Canadian society. As Major Brasseur said later of that time, ‘If one of us burped, Ottawa knew.'” Read the whole article by clicking here.


A Q&A with Dean Jobb, author of Empire of Deception

Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation (Algonquin Books / HarperCollins Canada). By Dean Jobb. Now available as Hard cover, paperback, and e-editions.


I love historical true crime and creative nonfiction, so I was excited when I found out about this latest book by Dean Jobb, an author, journalist and instructor in the MFA program at the University of King’s College in Halifax, NS.  It’s still in my to-read pile by the side of my bed because of my research-heavy project on the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital, but Dean and I had the chance to chat about this book and his work-in-progress (which makes me think of Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City!). ~ DMC

EmpireDeception-pbk-high-res1. Tell us a bit about your book.

Empire of Deception is the untold story of Leo Koretz, a master of the Ponzi scheme and one of the most brazen and successful con men in history. He was the Bernie Madoff of the 1920s and ran an elaborate swindle in Chicago that raked in as much as $400 million, in today’s terms. He claimed to control vast oilfields in Panama and was so successful that some investors begged him to take their money. Not even the exposure of Charles Ponzi’s infamous scam in 1920, which gave the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul investment fraud its name, aroused their suspicions. Koretz’s grateful investors nicknamed their financial guru “Our Ponzi,” never suspecting – until the fraud was exposed in 1923 – that the joke was on them.

It’s a story grounded in an era of wealth and glamour and a timeless tale of greed and gullibility. And Koretz’s story is inseparable from the crime and corruption of 1920s Chicago. Robert Crowe, the state’s attorney who brought Koretz to justice, was a controversial figure with underworld ties and, by coincidence, he and Koretz knew each other – they had worked together as young lawyers. Crowe’s lust for political power became a parallel story in the book, playing out as Koretz established and operated his massive fraud.


2. How did you come up with the idea for this work?


Leo Koretz

When Koretz’s scheme collapsed, he fled to Nova Scotia, the Canadian province where I live. He took the name Lou Keyte, posed as a wealthy literary critic and lived like a king on his ill-gotten gains. While researching another subject in the provincial archives, I stumbled on a reference to his arrest in 1924 in Halifax, the Nova Scotia capital. I had never heard of Koretz, and soon learned that little had been written about him. I knew it was a great story and I was determined to find out everything I could about this charming, flamboyant character.

  1. How did you research your book?

My research turned up a wealth of material on Koretz and his scam in court files and archives in the United States and Canada. I also discovered the first-hand accounts of some of his associates and victims. The most valuable sources, however, were newspaper accounts of the fraud and the year-long manhunt for the fugitive swindler. Chicago boasted six daily newspapers in the 1920s, and their extensive coverage provided the detail I needed to recreate the story of Koretz’s scam and his times.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

This is the stranger-than-fiction story of a larger-than-life character, which made this book a joy to research and write. The challenge was to do justice to the material. Narrative nonfiction should bring people and events to life, transporting the reader to another time and place. The celebrated American author David McCullough, a master of narrative history, encourages writers to “marinate” their heads in a time and a culture so they can produce engaging, vivid accounts of lost worlds. He’s right. I thoroughly researched every aspect of the story and read as many books, memoirs and historical records as possible that touched on the subject and the era.

  1. What was the most exciting/surprising thing you learned?

My most amazing discovery was that Koretz acted alone. He didn’t have a company or a sales force to attract investors, like Charles Ponzi did. He operated in secret and didn’t have a high profile in the investment world, like Bernie Madoff did. Koretz created a make-believe world of phantom oil fields and fake profits, and fooled everybody he dealt with, even his closest friends and family, for the better part of 20 years. And he did it all single-handedly. It was a remarkable accomplishment.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m researching a new true-crime book for Algonquin Books and HarperCollins Canada, the publishers of Empire of Deception, with the working title The Case of the Murderous Doctor Cream. It chronicles the crimes of Thomas Neill Cream, a Canadian doctor who was one of the world’s first serial killers. He murdered at least nine people in Ontario, the United States and Britain in a rampage that eclipsed the notorious crimes of his Victorian-era contemporary, Jack the Ripper. The press dubbed Cream “The Lambeth Poisoner,” after the London neighborhood where he poisoned four of his victims. This dark tale of murder and madness will be told in tandem with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes, the iconic sleuth who transformed crime fiction. As Doyle’s creation solved crimes on the page, police forces on two continents struggled to link a string of seemingly random killings to a single, mysterious suspect.


Book Review: Separate Beds

Separate Beds is an excellent academic treatment of the system of Indian Hospitals set up in Canada. Dr. Lux says from the outset that she is focusing on understanding the government bureaucracy through the documentary record, but still balances this well with some oral histories from Indigenous Elders, leaders and former patients of the hospitals. In particular, I found her exploration of the Blackfoot and Blood hospitals in southern Alberta really showed the hypocrisy and paradoxes inherent in government policy at the time – as well as the medical pluralism (traditional and biomedical) that occurred in these institutions. The Hobbema (Mascwacis) and Battleford examples in particular demonstrated how Indigenous communities fought for access to health care – a treaty right – on their own terms, especially in the face of discrimination in community hospitals. Finally, Lux shows convincingly that government and medical bureaucrats were often motivated by prejudice, avarice, and their own self interest, even as they cloaked their work in humanitarianism.
Separate Beds is an essential companion book to James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains and Ian Mosby’s work on nutritional experiments on reserves and in residential schools. It shows so many of the root causes of health disparities between Indigenous communities and the rest of Canada, and how Canadians have benefited not just from the signing of the treaties, but through the medical cost savings the government squeezed out of Indigenous peoples. While Canadians are incredibly proud of our Medicare system and count it as a defining feature of our identity, it was in large part funded by the creation of a parallel system that penalized and underserved Indigenous individuals and communities.
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.