It was the summer of 1929, and 20 year old Gordon Stewart had just secured a job with Yukon Airways & Exploration Company Limited. Along with company co-founder Clyde Wann and 22 year old pilot John Melville “Pat” Patterson, the trio embarked on an adventure. Their task was to ferry the Queen of the Yukon II, the company’s new airplane, from Seattle, Washington to Whitehorse, Yukon.
Their plan was to barnstorm their way up the west coast. Barnstorming was a common method used by aviators to raise money by charging passengers a fee for short sight-seeing flights. The money they earned from the paying passengers was to finance the trip home. The trip was longer than expected as engine trouble, waiting for parts and a not too eager public plagued their plans. Yet it was an adventure, as along the way they solidified their friendship and encountered curious locals and daring madams. Their journey concluded at Whitehorse, on September 26, 1929.
On November 2, 1929 tragedy struck. Shortly after take-off, Pat crashed into the river at Mayo and was killed. He was the Yukon’s first aviation fatality. Despite his grief, Gordon stayed with the fledgling company until 1931. He married his sweetheart Wilda that same year and had three children. He named his daughter Patricia, after Pat Patterson. Gordon Stewart died in 1979 at the age of 70.
This marvellous collection of photographs, artifacts and archival documents, including Gordon Stewart’s diary of the 1929 barnstorming trip were donated to the Yukon Transportation Museum in 2006 by Jerry Stewart and his mother Wilda.
This exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Jerry Stewart, whose detailed information about the collection and his father's life made it all possible.
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