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Alexander Edward Dame, 1908-1943

Arctic & Northern Biographies

    Discovering a brief article about the death of a former Yukon bush pilot who was killed in the crash of a twin-engined bomber in 1943 led me on a search to find out more about the life of Alexander Edward "Alex" Dame. I found that the Edmonton Journal covered his career before he came to the Yukon quite well. His Yukon career is well covered in Bob Cameron's "Yukon Wings", and summarized this way:
Alex Dame - Veteran pilot and aircraft maintenance engineer for Mackenzie Air Service, United Air Transport, and Yukon Southern Air Transport before joining BYN in September 1940; moved to Northern Airways in early 1942; volunteered for North Atlantic Ferry Command; killed in bomber crash, 1943.

    The highlights of his life below are mostly articles copied in their entirety from newspapers across Canada.

  • April 5, 1908: born at McNaughton Street in Galt, Ontario, the son of sales manager Allan David Dame and Anna Marie (McGee) Dame. Allan Dame had been born in Picton, Ontario; Anna McGee had been born in Toronto.

  • June 27, 1936: "Pilot Joins Staff City Air Company. Moose Jaw Aviator Will Fly North of Here. Another aviator will join the staff of Mackenzie Air service when Alex Dame, Moose Jaw, arrives here about July 1 to take up a position as aero engineer. Pilot Dame was chief air engineer and commercial pilot at the Moose Jaw flying club and on Prairie Airways, limited. Pilot Dame received his first flying instructions from Hoard Ingram, Edmonton, inspector of civil aviation for western Canada at the Moose Jaw airport in 1928 and in 1932 obtained his air engineer's license. As commercial pilot at the Moose Jaw flying field he did the majority of passenger flying out of that city for the past four years. He also piloted the club's aeroplane on most of its 'ambulance' flights in the district." (Edmonton Journal)

  • December 20, 1938: "Lonely Posts To Share Cheer At Christmas. Airmen Transporting Yuletide Goods to North Area. HEAVY SHIPMENTS. Pilots of United Air Transport Tuesday were busily engaged in transporting Christmas mail and freight loads to isolated posts in the northwest, where the greetings from outside, foods and merchandise will contribute much to Yuletide celebrations this week-end. Pilot Charles Tweed was transporting from Fort St. John 800 pounds of freight to Fort Nelson and the first load of mail since freeze-up to Fort Liard. The mail will give Liard residents their first contact with the outside since late October - a welcome Christmas gift. Ralph Oakes was taking a load of mail and express from Fort St James to Matson Creek and Germansen. Heavy load of winter supplies, including Christmas items, was being flown Tuesday by Alex Dame to trappers at Grand lakes, north of Fort Nelson. He was operating out of Fort St. John. Christmas mail from Yukon residents to friends and relatives in the south was brought here Monday by Chief Pilot Ted Field. Also aboard were two passengers and express. His arrival completed the return leg of the Edmonton-White Horse run." (Edmonton Journal)

  • December 22, 1938: "Airmen Are Busy As Yuletide Near. Last-before-Christmas mails for many northern points and isolated posts were being rushed by air on Thursday as fliers shuttled busily from place to place. Northern residents continued to arrive in Edmonton by plane to spend the Yuletide season outside, while heavy freight loads were moving out of here to add their contributions to northland celebrations of Christmas. Pilot Alex. Dame of United Air Transport was northbound Thursday from Peace River to Fort Vermilion with the last load of mail which will arrive at the latter point before Christmas. Pilot Ralph Oakes was making a similar flight from Prince George to Matson Creek in northern B.C. Pilot Charles Tweed, U.A.T., was northbound from Fort Nelson with last mail for Whitehorse, Yukon. Some northerners at least will have ice cream cake for Christmas dinner dessert, for two packages of the confection went north Thursday - one in a Canadian Airways machine piloted by Rudy Heuss and one with Pilot Al Brown of Mackenzie Air Service. Both airplanes also carried boxes of flowers, turkeys and other 'Christmas' items." (Edmonton Journal)
March 27, 1939, Edmonton Journal
On Saturday, Grant McConachie, president of the Yukon Southern Air Transport, ordered Pilot Alex. Dame to the East Pine flood area to give what assistance he could. Pilot Dame was unable to land but circled the area. His story here was telegraphed by R. L. Pickell, JOURNAL correspondent at Fort St. John.

By Pilot Alex Dame
    FORT ST. JOHN, B.C., March 27, With Engineer Danlly Trousdell I flew from Fort St. John to East Pine Saturday afternoon and circled the area many times, but we could not find a place to land because the ground is very rough and hilly.
    The ice jam appears to be mainly in the Murray river just at its junction with the Pine and seems to be about 50 or 60 feet high. The jam has backed up the water in both rivers, entirely covering the river flat known as East Pine, as well as the neck of land which extends eastward, lying between the two rivers. We saw one house and the carcasses of several horses crushed into the ice.
    The Murray river is open and free of ice a distance of seven miles above the jam. The waters are backed up about four miles. The Pine is open in only a few places, and water has backed up a mile or so.
    We saw two men on a small bench of land southeast of the flooded flat. They would have easy access to the high ground and safety. We saw another person on the roof of a barn on the neck of land between the rivers with no apparent means of being rescued due to loose ice surrounding the building. This set of buildings was set among the tall trees which probably saved them from being carried away.
    The water appeared to have reached the level of another set of farm buildings about two miles up from the jam.
    We made the trip at 4:00 o'clock Saturday afternoon. When we got to the area the ice blocks gave the appearance of a huge dam. Great cakes of ice piled up in confusion presented a desolate scene.
    We cruised around for some time trying to find a place to land. We could see the people looking at us. We went down as close as 10 feet from the river ice to make a close examination, but we decided that it was absolutely impossible to make a safe landing. We hated to disappoint the people, but we had to return. I heard later that the people who were watching us hoped that we had blankets and food aboard.
    Old-timers here tell me that the extra warm chinook of the past week probably caused the flood, because it sent down an unusual amount of water.

A lengthy article telling about an extended family of 8 who died in the flood appeared in The Vancouver Sun that same day (March 27, 1939) - it can be seen here.

  • April 3, 1939: "MAKES AMBULANCE FLIGHT - An ambulance flight was made Sunday by Pilot Alex. Dame of Yukon Southern Air Transport. He flew a sick man from Fort Liard to Fort Simpson. Name of the patient and nature of his illness could not be learned. The flight was made on R.C.M.P. instructions." (Edmonton Journal)

  • April 3, 1939: "WILL BRING FUR CARGO - Freighting in supplies and scheduled to bring a large fur load outside, Pilot Alex Dame Southern Air Transport, was northbound from Fort St. John Thursday for various points in the Yukon. Reports to date have indicated a good fur catch in the Yukon this season, Yukon Southern officials said." (Edmonton Journal)

  • June 8, 1939: "Gold Discovery Is Causing Rush. Boulder Creek district of northern B.C., about 100 miles southwest of Fort Nelson, is experiencing a minor gold rush, officials of Yukon Southern Air Transport reported here Thursday. Two Yukon Southern pilots, Alex Dame and Charles Tweed, are busy freighting mining men and supplies into the district. They are working out of Dease Lake, which lies in the northwest corner of B.C. Considerable interest is being displayed in both the placer and 'rock' gold deposits of the district. It is considerably north of the northern limits of British Columbia's Cariboo gold fields, where much placer mining is carried on." (Edmonton Journal)

  • July 7, 1939: "Pack Pony, Plane Help Sick Woman. Pack pony and an airplane both played their parts on an errand of mercy in the White Court district Wednesday. Pilot Alex. Dame, of Yukon Southern Air Transport, Wednesday landed his plane at Bear lake, 60 miles west of White Court, picked up a trapper’s sick wife and brought her to Edmonton for medical care. She was Mrs. Leonard White, who is seriously ill and now is a patient at the Royal Alexandra hospital. She had been ill for some weeks, and her husband, becoming worried, sent a boy out to White Court with a note. The trip by pack pony required three days. A telegraph message to Edmonton brought a plane within a few hours." (Edmonton Journal)

  • July 19, 1939: "Plane Goes North For Injured Man. Northbound from Edmonton for Fort St. John Tuesday, Pilot Alex Dame of Yukon Southern Air Transport was scheduled to fly on from Fort St. John to Fort Ware to pick up and bring outside an injured man. The patient is a member of the party that is surveying possible routes of the international U.S.-Alaska highway. Fort Ware is 250 miles northwest of Fort St. John. Man's name and nature of his injuries were not known here. Yukon Southern officials received a radio request for a plane." (Edmonton Journal)

  • July 21, 1939: "Pilot Is to Drop Load of Dynamite. Pilot Alex. Dame of Yukon Southern Airport Friday began a difficult assignment - dropping supplies, including dynamite, from the air into a swamp near a new mining camp at Kutze Inlet, 100 miles south of Prince Rupert on the B.C. coast. Landings are not possible at the camp. The pilot will freight the supplies and mining equipment totaling three tons into the camp from Prince George in a series of flights during the next few days. The camp has been established at gold properties by an eastern Canada mining group. The properties, described as a 'prospect,' are located about 15 miles in from the coast proper. A soft swamp has been selected for the work and the flier will be guided from the camp by radio. The equipment, and particularly the dynamite, has been specially packaged for the job. The explosive is in 30-pound packets, Yukon Southern officials said here." (Edmonton Journal)

  • August 8, 1939: "Problem Solved. KUTZE INLET. B.C. August 8. - Alex Dame, Yukon Southern Air transport pilot, delivered three tons of mining supplies though the isolated mine lacked landing facilities. He dropped his cargo in a large soft mud puddle prepared by the consignees. (The Windsor Star)

  • December 18, 1939: "Planes Are Busy On Northern Route. Planes were shuttling busily Monday on Edmonton-Whitehorse routes of Yukon Southern Air Transport, officials said. Chief Pilot Ted Field and Pilot Sheldon Luck were southbound from Whitehorse to Fort St. John with 14 passengers aboard two planes. President Grant McConachie in a third machine was flying seven passengers from Fort St. John to Whitehorse. Pilots Don Patry and Alex Dame in a fourth machine were northbound from Edmonton for Bear Lake, near White Court, and Peace River district points. Patry and Dame are flying Trapper L. D. White into Bear Lake, isolated home of the trapper who has just completed one of his few visits to the outside world. He resides in country nearly inaccessible, except by air." (Edmonton Journal)

  • December 26, 1939: "Makes Long Trip During Week-End. President Grant McConachie of Yukon Southern Air Transport spent Christmas week-end at home in Edmonton after flying more than 2,000 miles Friday and Saturday on scheduled runs between Whitehorse, Vancouver and this city. The company endeavored to bring all its pilots into Edmonton for Yule celebrations at their homes, but bad weather in the Yukon Territory delayed flights and made it impossible to implement the plan. President McConachie Friday flew the approximately 1,000 miles from Whitehorse to Vancouver with only one intermediate stop. Saturday he flew from Vancouver to Edmonton with only two stops, at Prince George and Grande Prairie. Chief Pilot Ted Field was forced by weather to celebrate Christmas at Grande Prairie. Weather delays held Pilots Alex Dame and Don Patry at Fort St. John, and Pilot Sheldon Luck at Whitehorse over Christmas. 'Barney' Phillips, company executive and acting agent at Whitehorse, spent Christmas with Luck at the Yukon town." (Edmonton Journal)

  • January 5, 1940: "Plane Takes Mail To Isolated Post. Residents of Fort Ware, B.C. a post 300 miles north of Prince George, received on Priday their first mail in two months as Pilot Alex. Dame of Yukon Southern Air Transport flew the first mail plane since the start of freeze-up into the isolated point. Unseasonably mild weather, resulting in an abnormally slow freeze in interior B.C., caused the delay. The post possesses no suitable landing field, so planes must fly in on pontoons or skis. For the past two months, nearby rivers and lakes used by planes have been the the process of freezing. There has been too much ice for pontoons and not enough for skis." (Edmonton Journal)
March 25, 1940, Edmonton Journal
    Flying 500 miles over little-mapped Arctic territory northeast of Aklavik, Chief Pilot Robert Randall of Mackenzie Air Service Sunday hopped from Aklavik to Baillie Island, off the tip of Cape Bathurst, to take a sick Eskimo woman to hospital at Aklavik.
    Second ambulance flight was made Monday, with Pilot Alex. Dame of Yukon Southern Air Transport en route from Fort St. John to Fort Grahame to pick up a sick Indian and fly him to Prince George. He will travel 400 miles on the trip.
    The Eskimo woman, radio reports indicated, was seriously burned, possibly from the explosion of an oil or gasoline lamp. Appeal for a rescue plane was sent outside by radio from a mission or trading post near Baillie Island, which is about 250 miles northeast of Aklavik.
    Chief Pilot Randall, who had arrived at Aklavik Saturday night, was contacted by radio from Edmonton. He set out at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, using a chain of lakes to guide him across the frozen tundra to the Arctic coast and Baillie Island.
    He made a speedy flight, returning to Aklavik with the patient at 7:40 Sunday, less than seven hours after his departure. Condition of the native woman was not known.
    Pilot Dame was nearing Fort Grahame, 200 miles west and slightly north of Fort St. John, shortly {ter noon Monday. He will fly the Indian 180 miles south to Prince George for hospitalization and medical care. Nature of the Indian's illness was not known.

This story was covered by several newspapers from across Canada.

  • April 22, 1940: "Continue Flying On Yukon Route. Operating on both wheels and skis, pilots of Yukon Southern Air Transport Monday were continuing their flying over main company routes between, Edmonton and Whitehorse and Vancouver. Pilot Alex. Dame Monday was en route from Fort St. John, B.C., to Edmonton, and Pilot Sheldon Luck was en route from Prince George to Vancouver. Luck flew from Whitehorse to Fort St. John and Prince George over the weekend." (Edmonton Journal)

  • May 7, 1940: "PLANES USING PONTOONS. First flights on pontoon-equipped | planes into Fort Nelson and Lower Post in northern B.C. were being made Monday by Pilot Alex. Dame of Yukon Southern Air Transport. Break-up is proceeding rapidly in B.C. areas touched by company lines and operations soon will be on a summer basis in all sections. Chief Pilot Ted Field left Edmonton for Fort St. John Monday and Pilot Sheldon Luck was bound from Fort St. John to Vancouver." (Edmonton Journal)

  • May 29, 1940: "Air Line Opening Office in Alaska. Yukon Southern Air Transport of Edmonton plans to establish a passenger traffic agency at Fairbanks, Alaska, it was announced Wednesday by officials of the firm. Leo MacKinnon, member of the city staff for several months and formerly of Vancouver, flew north Wednesday to open the new traffic office. He was traveling to Fort St. John with Chief Pilot Ted Field and to Whitehorse with Pilot Alex. Dame. He probably will go to Fairbanks from Whitehorse via the U.S. airline which operates between the two points and makes connections with Yukon Southern planes at Whitehorse. Expecting a big increase in US.-Alaska traffic on the inland airline route via Edmonton, the firm also has established a passenger agency in New York." (Edmonton Journal)

  • June 17, 1940: "Short Night Aids In Rescue Flight. The short nights of the north country played an important part in the mercy flight of a Yukon Southern Air Transport plane last week. Pilot Alex Dame set out from Prince George at 8 o'clock at night for Finlay Forks where Carl Johnson was seriously ill and in need of immediate medical treatment. Dame made the return trip in about four hours, landing on the Fraser River at Prince George a Yew minutes after midnight. It was just like dusk on a summer evening in Vancouver, Dame said. Yukon Southern officials have been advised that the man's condition is still critical." (The Vancouver Sun)

  • August 20, 1940: "Northland Draws Nimrods from U.S.. Popularity of big game hunting via airline in northern British Columbia is increasing each year among American sportsmen, and several parties from various U.S. points are flying in. Alvin P. Adams, former president of Western Air Express, now president of Seaboard Airways whose run is from New York to Miami, with a companion, Rufus Parker, flew with Pilot Alex Dame via Yukon Southern Air Transport from Vancouver to Fort St. John, B.C., and 150 miles northwest to Henry Lake, this week. V. O. Figge, vice-president of a Davenport, Iowa, bank, Jay Schwind, Dodge Motor company official, and John Quail, all enthusiastic hunters, were flown from Edmonton to Dead Man Lake, northwest of Fort St. John by Pilot Dame. Four more parties of Americans are scheduled to fly to that region next week, Yukon Southern Officials said." (Edmonton Journal)

  • August 21, 1940: "B.C. TRAPPER SOUGHT. Believed Lost in 'Tropical Valley' Early in Spring. Fort Nelson, B.C. August 20. - (CP) - A search in one of the 'tropical valleys' of northeastern British Columbia for Ollie Holmberg, a trapper unreported since early this spring, was opened today by Corporal H. J. Engelson of the British Columbia Province Police. Cpl. Engelson was flown into the valley by Pilot Alex Dame of Yukon Southern Air Transport yesterday and after he makes a search, he will be picked up again in two weeks. Holmberg's cabin lies 150 miles northwest of here. He flew into the valley for the spring beaver trapping and was to be picked up along with another trapper early in June. Holmberg did not show up and it is feared now that he may have drowned during the spring break-up." (The Gazette, Montreal).

  • September 23, 1940: "A wrecked raft, a jar of honey and some camping equipment found near the camp of Ole Holmberg, trapper, missing in the Tropical Valley on the Liard River since June, today gave evidence that the man had come to grief while attempting to go down the river. This is the word that has been received by Yukon Southern Air Transport from Cpl. R. H. Engelson of the B. C. Police, who flew into the area from Fort Nelson nearly a month ago. Cpl. Engelson arrived back in Fort Nelson today with Pilot Alex Dame of Yukon Southern. No trace was found of the trapper's dogs and, while it was expected a note might have been left if he had been ill, nothing of this nature was discovered. Holmberg was well known throughout the North and was an experienced trapper. His health had been failing in recent years and he carried a portable broadcasting and receiving short-wave set to keep in touch with outside stations if he became too ill to 'get outside' himself. Yukon Southern stations and planes have been listening and watchmg for him since he was first reported missing." (The Vancouver Sun)
December 24, 1940, Edmonton Journal
    Most of Edmonton's northland pilots, busy ferrying last-minute cargos of Christmas mail and express to settlements in the far north, Tuesday were hoping for fair weather and tail winds to bring them back here in time for Christmas dinner.
    Pilot Jack Moar was southbound from Fort Norman Tuesday; Pilot Assist. Supt. North Sawle, Canadian Airways, was southbound from Fort Smith and was assured of his Christmas dinner here; Pilot Alf Caywood was northbound for Yellowknife and will return here Christmas day. Pilot Fred Meilicke will eat his Christmas dinner at Yellowknife.
    Pilots Alf Brown, George Gilmour and Bud Potter, Mackenzie Air Service, will be southbound to Edmonton on Christmas day.
    Pilot Bob Randall, southbound trom Fort Resolution, is hoping to get here by nightfall. Pilots Archie McMullen and Page MacPhee are in Edmonton.
    Yukon Southern Air Transport pilots, including President Grant McConachie, have given up hope of spending the big day beside their own firesides - all except Pilot 'Scotty' Moir, who is hoping a second load of mail and express will not accumulate to go north to Dawson Creek Wednesday.
    President McConachie and Pilot Sheldon Luck will get their turkey and trimmings at Dawson Creek; Ted Field at remote Fort Liard; Don Patry at Whitehorse. Yukon; and Alex Dame at Fort McLeod.

  • March 14, 1941, travelled from Vancouver to Seattle on a North West Airlines flight. His border crossing entry states that he was married, 5 feet 6½ inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes, and lived at 11534 122nd Street in Edmonton.

  • June 29, 1941: married 19-year-old Olive Eva Raemer in Port Moody, BC. (according to Find A Grave).
March 19, 1943, The Montreal Gazette

    Death of three members of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command when their twin-engined bomber crashed near St. Urbain de Chateauguay, twenty miles southwest of Montreal, during a test flight Wednesday night, was announced here by R.A.F.F.C. officials yesterday.
    The dead are:
    Capt. Alexander Edward Dame of Westmount, and Moose Jaw, Sask.
    Test Observer George C. Denton of Montreal and Toronto; and an unidentified Royal Air Force aircraftman.
    The plane crashed on Antonio Mallette's farm. Farm hands, who saw the crash, searched the area for several hours before they found the bodies. An ambulance from Dorval airport brought the bodies to Montreal.
    Capt. Dame, a former Yukon bush pilot, is well known in the Canadian Northwest and the Arctic. A native of Moose Jaw, Sask., he was 37 years old and began flying 15 years ago. He was one of the original members of the Moose Jaw Flying Club. In 1938, Capt. Dame went to Edmonton, where he joined the Mackenzie Air Service under Lee Brentnall. Later he flew in the Yukon-White Horse Area with the Yukon Sutherland Air Transport Company, now part of Canadian Pacific Airlines. He joined the R.A.F. Ferry Command 11 months ago, and delivered a number of bombers to Britain and Africa via North and South Atlantic routes. During the last three months he has been in the testing branch of the R.A.F.F.C. He is survived by his wife and two children at 47 Windsor avenue, Westmount, and his mother in Toronto. Two weeks ago his brother, PO. Jack Dame, was killed in a ferry command crash near Nashville, Tenn. PO. Dame's wife had died in Nashville a few weeks before the crash.
    Denton is a son of the late Judge Frank B. Denton and brother of Judge Frank Denton of Toronto Survivors include his wife, 4677 Decarie boulevard, and his mother in Toronto. After graduating from the University of Toronto Law School, Denton became, a salesman. At the outbreak of the war he tried to enlist in the R.C.A.F., but was turned down for health reasons. Later he was appointed to the instructional staff of the air training school at St. Johns' Que., and 10 months ago he joined the ferry command.

  • Captain Alexander Edward Dame was buried at Cimetière Mont-Royal in Outremont, Quebec (as of 2000, part of the city of Montreal). He has a memorial page at Find A Grave.

  • May 15, 1943, The Vancouver Sun