Maritime aviation community marks RCAF centennial in Shearwater

Hundreds of attendees gathered at the 423 Squadron hangar for the black-tie Gala Dinner.

Maritime aviation community marks RCAF centennial  

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff 

LGen Lise Bourgon, Acting Commander, Military Personnel Command, was the keynote speaker during 12 Wing Shearwater’s RCAF 100 Gala Dinner on April 11.

While the evening of April 11 was all about celebrating 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at 12 Wing Shearwater, the event’s keynote speaker also found time to honour the RCAF’s long-time partner in maritime aviation, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). 

The RCAF 100 Gala Dinner took place on a Thursday – when the Naval toast of the day is typically made to the RCN itself (Our Navy), explained Lieutenant-General Lise Bourgon, as she invited attendees to raise their glasses to both the RCN and the RCAF to cap off the evening. 

“I think it’s very applicable – given the special relationship between the Navy and the RCAF, to honour both” she said. 

LGen Bourgon, now the Acting Commander of Military Personnel Command, previously served as Wing Commander in Shearwater, and said she was thrilled to be marking the 100-year anniversary in the hangar of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, a familiar locale which was fully glitzed up for the occasion. 

She gave a presentation focused on the history of the Wing, from its origins as United States Naval Air Station Halifax during the First World War, through the many different names and commands (RCAF Station Dartmouth, Royal Canadian Naval Air Station Dartmouth, CFB Shearwater, etc.) that led up to 12 Wing Shearwater as it exists today. 

“Whether in days of peace or war, under different commands, and wearing different colours of uniform, Shearwater has always made major contributions to Canada, to the RCAF, and to the RCN,” LGen Bourgon said. 

“We might complain – and we do. We might bicker – and we do. But no matter what, we get the job done.” 

The night also included speeches from dignitaries and government officials, including the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Arthur Leblanc, and Premier Tim Houston. Entertainment came from hosts Tom and Bob Murphy of CBC Nova Scotia and the Stadacona Band, with their Celtic band, brass quintet, and pop band “Boarding Party” performing through the evening. 

Colonel (Col) David Holmes, the current Commanding Officer at 12 Wing Shearwater, offered thanks to many individuals and organizations who helped make the event possible, including his own teams across the Wing, Personnel Support Programs (PSP) Halifax, corporate sponsors, government partners, and others. 

“A big thanks also goes to all the Canadian Armed Forces veterans, members, families and friends who were able to be with us for this evening. It’s a wonderful occasion and I can’t image a better way to mark this centennial,” he said.