A flight with Air Canada’s oldest employee

Stewart Grant, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, was among the first wave of employees of a newly formed Trans Canada Airlines

Steward Grant celebrated his 100th birthday on Sept. 12. Grant is also Air Canada’s oldest living past employee having started working for Trans Canada Air Lines back around 1937

Steward Grant celebrated his 100th birthday on Sept. 12. Grant is also Air Canada’s oldest living past employee having started working for Trans Canada Air Lines back around 1937

Stewart Grant is the oldest living employee of Air Canada. The Cranbrook resident just celebrated his 100th birthday on Sept. 12 and currently resides at the F.W. Green Home.

Grant was a part of the company before it was called Air Canada. Back then it was called Trans Canada Airlines.

Grant said things were quite different back then. That was a time when the Canadian government decided it wanted to compete against other nations with a national airline. Grant worked for one of the smaller companies that would eventually be brought together to form the company.

“I’d been interested for years before that,” he said, recalling seeing an ad for Trans Canada Airlines when he was 16 years old. “The Canadian government was going to start a new airline because all the other nations were doing the same thing.

“It was to be a Trans Canada flight — from one coast to the other. But it turned out to be several sectional airlines covering certain areas.”

Grant worked with Air Canada from 1937 to 1976.

He started in Winnipeg, where the head office of Trans Canada Airlines was at the time. Then there was another office in Montreal for the Trans Atlantic service.

He later transferred to the Montreal location.

“I was one of the early employees, but not the first by any means,” he said, adding modestly that he was only one of many employees working at that time.

His job was with the engineering department.

Grant once built a dance floor on one of the airplanes, a Victor Viscount. The planes were in service from 1955-1974.

Then when the Queen came to Canada, Grant was responsible for the interior furnishings of the aircraft.

“The passenger service group specified what they wanted, and it was up to the engineering department to incorporate it,” he said. “I was in charge of that section of Air Canada engineering. We had to divide the aircraft up into three cabins for this trip.”

One of those three rooms was the Queen’s dressing room.

“I remember the significant thing about that was that I had to try to find a full length mirror so that she could stand back and look at herself from top to toe,” he said.

For 20 years, he also flew his own airplane — a Cessna 172.

When his first wife died in Montreal, he used the plane to fly back and forth to his hometown in the Stratford area to visit family.

Then he met his current wife, Cathy, and would fly back and forth to Iroquois to meet her. They flew off in the plane on their honeymoon as well.

When the Second World War began, Grant tried to join both the airforce and the army, but was not admitted.

“They wouldn’t take me because I was wearing glasses at the time,” he said. “They figured an enemy would have a bullet through me before I ever saw it coming.”

He said the big change he’s seen in the airline industry is in organization.

“It became much more organized,” he said. “Originally, it was just a couple of pilots that got together and formed their own airline.”

He moved to Cranbrook in 2002 from Montreal with his wife Catherine Grant, to be near his daughter Ann Miller.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Most Read