Fonds VAC - Vachon Family fonds

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Vachon Family fonds

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  • Attributions and conjectures: The archivist chose to name the fonds a family fonds due to uncertainty over how the material was accumulated - as a by-product of Roméo's early working career or as material gathered as part of Georgette's research for her publications.

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CA ON00420 VAC

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  • 1920-1967, predominant 1920-1939 (Creation)
    Vachon Family

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Physical description

ca. 152 photographs

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Biographical history

Roméo Vachon was born in 1898 in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Québec. He dreamed at an early age of becoming a pilot, but first joined the Royal Canadian Navy as an engineer. He served during World War I on four different ships, returning to Quebec after the War. He then moved to Toronto in 1920 to enlist in the Royal Flying Corps at Camp Borden. The following year, in 1921, he was given leave to work for Laurentide Pulp and Paper Company, later Laurentide Air Services, where his brother Irénée soon also began to work. The Company watched for forest fires and created photographic aerial maps. Roméo learned to fly during this time but lacked a commercial pilot`s license. He took leave in 1923 to follow more formal pilot training with General Motors in Dayton, Ohio, and returned with an American commercial license. He received his Canadian license soon after, becoming the first French-Canadian to receive one. The Ontario government established the Ontario Provincial Air Service in 1924 and Vachoin joined the Service as a pilot. In 1927, he joined a new company, Canadian Transcontinental Airways, which was responsible for creating regular air postal service between isolated communities in Quebec on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River. By 1928, Roméo was flying a route between Sept-Iles and Moncton. That year he also provided assistance to the crew of the Bremen after their emergency landing on the first successful East-West transatlantic flight. When Transcontinental Airways expanded to create a new airmail service from Europe to Eastern Canada, Roméo Vachon was made responsible for recruitment and selection of the routes. When Transcontinental Airways was absorbed by Canadian Airways in 1930, Vachon was at first dismissed by the new company. He worked for six months as a private pilot for Bob Holt. During this period, in 1931, he was asked to pilot the Saro Cloud in the Trans Canada Air Pageant Montreal-Vancouver by Saunders-Roe. He was then invited by Saunders-Roe to come London to provide design advice on the aircraft. Vachon accepted a post with Canadian Airways again in 1932 as Operating Manager. He was promoted first to District Chief and then to Manager of the subsidiary airline Quebec Airways. In 1938, a year after it was founded, Trans-Canada Airlines recruited Romeo first as a pilot. He was made Airport Director, then Manager of fleet maintenance, before being named Deputy-Director of TCA’s Eastern Division. During the Second World War, he was seconded to the Ministry of Munitions and Supply, where he was responsible for the maintenance of the fleet for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Vachon was named a member of the Air Transport Board in 1944 and was made Advisor to the Minister on civil aviation and commercial aviation. He was part of Canada’s delegation at the international conference that created the International Civil Aviation Organization. Roméo Vachon was a member of the Air Transport Board until his death in 1954. He received a number of honours during his career, such as the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his First World War service, and the Trans-Canada Trophy (McKee Trophy) for his contribution to the advancement of Canadian aviation. In 1960, a park was named after him in Sainte-Foy, the site of Quebec City`s first airfield.

Roméo Vachon and Georgette Tremblay were married in October 1924. They had four children: Thérèse, Gisèle, Pierre and Jean. Born in Lac-à-la-Tortue in 1900, Georgette earned a degree in Music and Letters from the Université de Laval. She continued her studies in Paris prior to her marriage. When her husband`s appointment to the Air Transport Board brought the family to Ottawa in 1944, she participated actively in different voluntary organizations, notably founding the Société d’étude et de conférences d’Ottawa in 1946. She became a member of the Alliance Francaise of Ottawa in 1949 and was named as its President in 1954. She earned the title `Mother of Canadian Aviation` through her many articles on Canadian aviation and through her six years of work at the Royal Canadian Air Force Historical Records Section. She was made an honorary member of Squadron 425 (Escadron Allouette) in 1953. Georgette Vachon authored the book Goggles, Helmets and Airmail Stamps, published in 1974, as well as other historical booklets. She died on 7 February 1987.

Custodial history

Donated in 2014.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of photographs that illustrate Roméo Vachon’s early career as a mechanic and pilot. There is an item collected after the year of Roméo Vachon`s death and so it is possible some of the material was gathered together in preparation for one of Georgette Vachon`s publications. The fonds is arranged in three series: 1) Collected photographs; 2) Canadian Airways Limited photographs; and 3) Laurentide Air Service photographs.

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Initial inventory available upon request.

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Written by Adele Torrance, 2017-12-19. French editing by Céline Mongeau, Linda Larocque Linguistic Services, 2018-07.

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