1954 – The Project Moves South, and into Quebec and Maine

Revisions October 27 to 31 2019.

New Brunswick

Over the winter of 1953 to 1954, the entomologists found no evidence of a decline in the budworm outbreak. In fact, a new infestation had been detected south of the preciously sprayed areas, in the younger forests of the Miramichi area west of Newcastle. Eventually, 1,141,000 acres were sprayed in the province.

1952-1955 spray areas_2019-01-22-0001
This image maps the extent of the spray areas in New Brunswick and Quebec (but not Maine) in 1954, and shows the locations of the airstrips used. The area sprayed in Quebec is only a small area south and west of Patapedia.

Airstrips: Existing airstrips Boston Brook, Budworm City and Rose Hill and newly constructed airstrips Renous and Sevogle were used in 1954. No new airstrips were built. Eighty percent of the spraying was conducted from Renous and Sevogle, with a small amount from the other three. Nictau was not used in 1954. The object was to cover the Miramichi region in south-central New Brunswick. A small airstrip in northern New Brunswick near the Quebec border was used to spray forests in Quebec.

Renous airstrip, NB, 1950s. Canada Dept. Agriculture photo #40650-12.
Renous airstrip in the 1950s. About 14 Stearmans are visible. Canada Dept. Agriculture photo #40650-12.

 

Sevogle airstrip_PANB_0237
Sevogle airstrip, probably in the 1950s, showing what could be Stearmans parked. PANB_0237 (Provincial Archived of New Brunswick).

Aircraft
5 Cessna 170 observation planes
42 Stearman, no details, although an unpublished report states 56 Stearmans

Helicopter: A military helicopter was present on standby at the Sevogle airstrip to aid in communication and rescue, but it was not needed during the spray period; no civilian helicopter was available. This helicopter was a Sikorsky HO4S from the Naval Air Facility at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, pictured below. (The Crowsnest, Vol. 6, no. 10, August 1954 (The Royal Canadian Navy’s Magazine))

Spray Period

The spray period started on June 8, 1954, which was a bit later than in 1953, and continued for 19 days. Wheeler Airlines of St. Jovite, Quebec, was again the prime contractor, and Stearmans came from all over North America, similar to those in 1953. Unfortunately, very few details are available to determine the aircraft and individuals involved.

H.J. “Bud” Irving was the assistant to Barney Flieger for the New Brunswick operation.

Partial list of Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1954

It is almost impossible to confirm the presence of aircraft sprayers in 1954, so I have listed some possibles, based on their occurrence across the years 1953 to 1958. FPL literature states that 42 Stearmans worked in New Brunswick in 1954, and some of them would have worked on the Quebec and Maine projects. An unpublished report gives the figure of 56 Stearmans. Below is a list of possible suspects, based on images presumed to be from 1954, grouped together by company. FPL literature from this year does not contain any information of aircraft and pilots.

The list of aircraft below is presented in rough numerical order. Much of it needs to be confirmed.

FARM-AIR COMPANY, West Sacramento, Calif.

#1 N1065N, #2 N56806, #3 N53084, #4 N1074N, #5 Nxxxxx

CENTRAL AIRCRAFT INC., Yakima, Wash.

#8 N1262N, #9 N57049, #11 N56464, #15 N68441, #16 N58850, #17 N59553, #19 N1728B, #20 N1729B, #21 N1731B, #23 N75521, #37 N62630, #47 N59727

BAXTER AIRCRAFT, Yakima, Wash.?

Some of the Central Aircraft have appeared with the name BAXTER on their sides, presumably under some plan involving the Central owner, Al Baxter. This mystery has yet to be researched.

#55 N55774, #56 N60666

ARIZONA AVIATION, Safford Ariz.

#28 N1310N, #29 N56716

QUAADMAN DUSTERS, Corcoran, Calif.

#34 N68461, #36 N6845

AERO-AGRICULTURAL SERVICE, Location?

#43 N75868

RUSSELL DUSTING COMPANY, San Antonio, TX

#45 N4747N

HAMMER CROP DUSTERS INC., Sacramento, Calif.

#54 N62834, #55 N62955, #57 N9129H

WHEELER AIRLINES LTD., St. Jovite, Quebec

These seven aircraft have appeared in each year from 1953 to 1958.

#61 CF-EQS, #62 CF-EQT, #63 CF-EQU, #64 CF-EQV, #65 CF-EQW, #66 CF-EQX, #67 CF-EQY

UEDING FLYING SERVICE, Vincennes, Indiana

#68 N9955H

BRADLEY AIR SERVICES LTD., Carp, Ontario

#70 CF-HKZ, #71 CF-FBD, #72 CF-DZC, #73 CF-DQP, #74 CF-IBA

LEAVANS BROS. AIR SERVICES LTD., Essex, Ontario

#75 CF-FRY, #76 CF-FRW, #77 CF-FRZ, #78 CF-GAR

SKYWAY AIR SERVICES LTD., Langley, British Columbia

#81 CF-DFC, #82 CF-DQL, #83 CF-FBU

MARSH AVIATION CO. LTD. Mesa Ariz.

#86 N68162, #87 N56383, #88 N53025, #89 N56805

MEDFORD AIR SERVICES, Medford, Oregon

#90 N1054N, #100 N58065, #101 N9386H

Quebec

In 1953 it was determined that major areas of neighbouring Quebec should also be sprayed. A five-year program of spraying the St. Lawrence – Gaspé region of Quebec was launched, calling for the construction of an airstrip located on the Patapedia River. DDT was applied on 318,000 acres by 14 Stearman [Webb et al. 1961; Blais et al. in Prebble 1975]. Spraying commenced on June 15 and was completed on June 26.

W.L. “Slim” Johnson was the assistant to Barney Flieger for the Quebec operation.

Airstrips: Horne’s Gulch, a small airstrip in northern New Brunswick near the Quebec border, was used to spray forests in Quebec’s Matapedia Valley and Gaspé, as well as the newly contsructed Patapedia in the Patapedia Valley just over the Quebec border. Eight Stearmans operated from Patapedia and six from Horne’s Gulch. Stearmans, with their powerful 450 hp engines, were most effective in the terrain of steep slopes and narrow valleys in this part of Quebec.

 

 

Patapedia airstrip, Quebec, probably 1954, with eight Stearmans parked. Richard Arliss photo.

In subsequent years, “extensive airstrip construction in Quebec was necessary, with six more fields — Laverendrye, Nouvelle, Farm Lake, Cap Chat, Pabos and Lesseps — being carved out of the bush. Along with existing airfields at Rimouski, Gaspé, Matane and Murdochville, they came to form an extensive grid of bases, some 30 to 50 miles apart, which covered the entire region.” The five-year program with the government of Quebec ended in 1958.

Accident: There was only one accident in 1954, and that was in Quebec. “A pilot braked his plane too suddenly to avoid collision with another aircraft, and it flipped over on its back. Wing parts were brought in from Toronto, repairs were made on the spot, and the damaged plane was back in action in five days.” Pilot George A. Mower of Quaadman Dusters, piloting N68461, escaped without a scratch. The accident occurred at Patapedia airstrip on 28 May 1954 (DOT accident card). I don’t know why why an aircraft was spraying in in Quebec in May when the season apparently started in June. Perhaps the date on the card is incorrect?

N68461 1954 1

Helicopter: It is very likely that this helicopter, a 1952 Sikorsky S-55 owned by Kenting Helicopters and registered as CF-HNG and with C/N 55-278, was on standby at Patapedia in 1954.

Kenting Helicopters CF-HNG at Patapedia airstrip, Quebec, probably 1954. Richard Arliss photo.

Maine

Also in 1954, the budworm spray program extended south of the border to the Caribou forest in extreme northeastern Maine near the New Brunswick-Quebec borders. Although the area was small — 20,000 acres — it was considered a threat. The Maine spraying was handled by six Stearman from the Canadian fleet. They arrived at Caribou Airport on June 14, 1954, and finished the job in less than four days. This marked the only spraying in Maine until 1958.

Sources

Much of the above has come from two Department of Agriculture Bi-monthly Progress Reports, an unpublished report and an article:

MARITIME PROVINCES: Aerial Spraying against spruce budworm in New Brunswick–1954, by F.E. Webb, Vol.11(1), Jan-Feb 1955, pg. 1-2.

QUEBEC: Aerial spraying against the spruce budworm in Quebec in 1954, by Lioel Daviault, Vol.11(1), Jan-Feb 1955, pg. 2-3.

Men and materials mass for assault on budworm, by D.W. MacDonald, source unknown.

A history of Forest Protection Limited (1952 – 1992) To protect the forests, by William Seto (Draft Report).

An unpublished report in the FPL files, with no title and no author mentioned, which covered the years 1951 to 1958.