Yellow Peril on a Centennial Pedestal

Have you ever seen this symbol?

If you have no idea what that logo is, well, I apologize. Because things are about to get a whole lot Canadian for a couple paragraphs.

Growing up, this logo was plastered on pretty much every public building I frequented. I’m talking indoor pools, arenas, libraries, outdoor pools, amphitheaters, parks, and countless others. I also remember it being on coins, posters, stamps, park benches, and trains. They etched that thing in stone all over the place. And why is that? Well, because all of those things were funded, in whole or in part, by a ‘Centennial Commission fund’ created to celebrate Canada’s 100th anniversary.

“Wait a minute,” some might ask, “how can Canada only be 100 years old?” Well, friends, the high school textbook answer is that a divine piece of paper appeared in a maple tree grove, and “Canada” was miraculously created ‘as of’ July 1, 1867. But, this doesn’t hold up to critical thinking. Obviously, there was a desk, an office, and drunk lawyers when and where that paper was signed. So, there had to be some sort of country north of the 49th parallel that existed up until 11:59pm on June 30 that year.

Oh, there was. But it was weird and I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, we got this here ‘Canada’ in 1867 because we kept whining about a coast-to-coast railroad and the British did not want to pay for it.

The Harvard

With that out of the way, let’s fast-forward 100 years. It seems to me the various local to national governments fell over themselves to fund these buildings, parks, and public works. But I am not sure these were distributed evenly across the country. For example, I spent my formative years getting paid to teach swimming lessons and prevent the occasional drowning in one of my city’s five Centennial Commission-funded pools. Yet, just an hour away is a quaint town called Smiths Falls. All they got was a “Centennial Park”. And I think it was already a park long before the logo was applied to it. Normally, I’d say that city got short-changed except the Centennial Commission was convinced to fund the addition of a little something special for that park:

Simply identified as “the Harvard” and dedicated to those who served, this trainer has a wonderful spot in this canal-side park. Those in the know have had difficulty tracking down exactly which variant of the Harvard this is. There seem to be parts from various Canadian marks of Harvards and the canopy was replaced at some point by one from a T-6 Texan, its American cousin.

Personally, I don’t think it matters. Harvards were built in the thousands in Canada and trained tens of thousands of pilots out of airstrips across the country. Canada’s participation in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was a monumental contribution to the Allied effort in World War 2 and is fitting for a Centennial memorial structure to celebrate.

I’d definitely trade one of our pools for it.

Last thing

I’ve been to many planes on poles in all sorts of parks. I am usually the only one even remotely interested in them. However, when I went to visit this Harvard on a sunny afternoon, I noticed that every park visitor, young and old, took the time to read the plaque and snap a few pictures of this wonderful little airplane.

I really liked that.

6 thoughts on “Yellow Peril on a Centennial Pedestal

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  1. Growing up in the small village of Frankville, roughly halfway between Smiths Falls and Brockville along Hwy 29, I was fortunate enough to be a half hour drive from this Harvard and a half hour drive in the opposite direction from the Golden Hawks Sabre jet in Brockville, both of which held a great fascination for my young imagination.
    I was also lucky enough to have visited the Lancaster at the Toronto waterfront during my grade 8 class trip to Ontario Place (an incomprehensible 38 years ago this month!), back when the HMCS Haida was docked alongside!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! Now i recall properly. i was in Windsor on New Year’s Day 1976. (My then girlfriend & i had decided to celebrate the much-hyped US Bicentennial by leaving the country for the day. Nice town, Windsor.) i remembered the display, but mis-remembered the a/c. Thanks!


  2. Here is Australia the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was known as the Empire Air Training Scheme. Thousands of Australians underwent training in Australia before going to Canada for further training before going to Britain. I can only imagine what they thought of the change in weather conditions between Australia and Canada. Your photos of the Harvard has inspired me to get out and make my kit of the CAC Wirraway which was an Australian remake of the Harvard. I also have a decal set that includes an all yellow Wirraway which would look remarkably like the Canadian Harvard.

    Liked by 2 people

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