Maritime Central Airways Flight 315, 1957

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In doing some genealogy research a few weeks ago, I came across the obituary of an extended family member who had died in a plane crash. I started investigating and discovered that the crash of Maritime Central Airways Flight 315 in Quebec on August 11, 1957 was, at the time, Canada’s deadliest air disaster.

The plane was a charter flight that departed from London’s Heathrow International Airport and refueled in Reykjavík, Iceland. It bypassed its scheduled refuel in Goose Bay, Labrador and outside Quebec City it flew into a bad weather, lost control and crashed into muskeg, as the result of a near vertical dive, killing all 79 people on board.

The plane had been chartered by the Imperial Veterans of Ontario and all of the seventy-three passengers were Canadians, with a large number from the Toronto and Hamilton area. Most had been on holiday overseas. Many were described as British servicemen and their wives who were making trips home to see family in various locations in England, Scotland and Ireland. Many of the passengers had been involved in Legion work. Three of the passengers were infants.

Lionel Runciman “Jack” Taylor, my extended family member, was born in Rangoon, Burma, India (now Yangon, Myanmar) in 1897. He was the husband of Alice Hudson, a British Home Child who came to Canada with her sister Sarah in 1911 as members of a group of girls with Dr. Barnado’s. We aren’t certain but we know that Jack’s mother lived in Glasglow at the time and it is likely he made this trip home to visit.

I will spare you the gory details that are described in some of the newspapers at the time but needless to say, the task of recovering the bodies was both treacherous and grim. In December of 1957, the collected remains were buried at Prospect Cemetery in a mass grave. The names of all the dead are listed on the west side of the marker.

And what of Alice, Lionel’s widow? She lived to be 96 years old, and when she died in 1995 she was laid to rest in the Court Mausoleum at Prospect Cemetery which is a very short walk south from the 1957 Quebec Airplane Crash Memorial. The location no doubt chosen so she could be close to where her husband lies with all the other victims of that ill-fated flight.

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I have been interested in history for almost as long as I can remember. My mother and grandfather took me to see the King Tut exhibit at the AGO in 1979 when I was six years old. An interest in “Dead Canadians” might seem a far distance from ancient Egypt, but not really when you consider that both relate to the study of funerary practices and remembering the deceased.

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