A northern bush pilot who built a regional carrier into Canada’s largest charter airline has died. Max Ward collapsed Monday at his Edmonton home and died in hospital shortly after, surrounded by family. He was 20 days shy of his 99th birthday.
“He’d been in failing health for some time,” said family friend Jacquie Perrin, who confirmed Mr. Ward’s death. “He did his best to hang in for the 99th, but he didn’t quite make it.” It was a rare example of Mr. Ward not reaching his goals.
Born in Edmonton in 1921, Mr. Ward got his pilot’s licence in 1941 during the Second World War, a conflict he spent training fellow pilots across Western Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. After the war, with his new bride Marjorie Skelton, he headed north to Yellowknife to fly the Arctic skies.
Mr. Ward flew passengers and freight in his tiny de Havilland Fox Moth. He was one of the pioneers who opened the North, said Yvonne Quick, a northerner and long-time friend.
“If it hadn’t been for people like Max Ward who came to Yellowknife back in the day and started working with the mines, there never would be a Yellowknife,” she said. “The mining industry grew because of the aviation. Max was one of those pioneers.”
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