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Our History

Below we have gathered information from Pionair Members, Past Presidents, Directors and various historical publications to present the history of the Pionairs.

We'd like to especially thank Jannet Tricarico and John Rodger (both past presidents) for creating the current information and keeping it up to date.

  • Air Canada Pionairs Founders

    The Pionairs started in 1977 with the following founding members:

    Emily (Coxon) Munro ** W.J. (Walt) Lawlor
    D.B. (Dave) Clarke ** W.C. (Cliff) Seddon **
    J.L. (Lindy) Rood ** M.A. (Martin) Betts**
    W.N. (Bill) Sprat  

    pionairs first founding execitives 570

    Thanks to NetLetter Editor, Terry Baker, for submitting this Photo

    More than 250 retirees, spouses and widows/widowers attended the founding meeting at Miami Beach Sheraton Hotel recently to formally adopt a set of bylaws organizing an association of company employees in retirement.

    The group enjoyed themselves to the fullest, in the business sessions, at the ocean, around the pool, at the beaches, at the receptions and banquet, but more particularly in renewing old friendships and making new acquaintances.

    The meeting also elected its first executive naming Martin Betts as President. The others are Bill Spratt, first Vice President, Denny Brendon, second Vice President, Dave Clarke, Secretary, and Scott Bradell, Treasurer. All live in the Vancouver area.

    One of the articles in the bylaws stipulates that the Executives live in the same city in order to simplify meetings and organization business.

    The possibility of establishing district representatives was discussed as well although none yet have been named. The nominating committee comprised of Gil McLaren, Vancouver; Bill Rose, Winnipeg; Elwood Patton, Toronto and Norm Donnelly, Montreal.

    In a report to the meeting, Mr Betts outlined why the organization was founded and said that in the year since work began on its formation, there were 842 members, 1700 including wives and widows who all have a vote at any annual meeting.

    Mr Betts also read the purpose of the Pionairs which is as follows. "The purpose of the organization is to maintain and continue the close friendships and associations of its members; to foster a spirit of mutual interest and welfare; to contribute our goodwill to Air Canada; to assist the Company with the promotion and selling of its services and interests in whatever viable manner may be appropriate. "

    Regular membership is open to retired employees regardless of years of service and will include wives/husbands, widows/widowers of employees or retired employees. Membership fees are $5 annually and meetings will be held every year.

    A number of discussions took place on pensions, employee benefits, interline travel and tours, passes, communications, etc. Charlie Eyre, Vice President Personal and Harold Miloff, Director, Employee Communications, attended the meeting and responded to questions.

    Guest speaker at the banquet was Air Canada President Claude I Taylor who paid tribute to all retirees for "laying down the foundation on which to build a successful airline".

    At the conclusion of the banquet, Mr. Betts, on behalf of the Pionairs, conferred honorary memberships on Mr. Taylor and Chairman of the Board Pierre Taschereau, who was unable to attend.

    A special vote of thanks was given to the interim committee composed of Betts, Clarke, Cliff Seldon, Walt Lawlor, Lindy Rood and Emily (Coxon) Munro.

  • pionairs past president badge

    Past Presidents

    1977 - 1979 Martin Betts ** (YVR)  1997 - 1999  Olie Moore ** (YYZ)
    1979 - 1981 Joseph Lorimer ** (YYZ)  1999 - 2001  Saville Hambleton ** (YYJ)
    1981 - 1983 George Fox ** (YVR)  2001 - 2003  Fraser O’Shaughnessy (YYZ)
    1983 - 1985 Nancy Walchuk ** (YYZ)  2003 - 2005  John Rodger (YUL)
    1985 - 1987 Frank Dunlop ** (YVR)  2005 - 2007  John A. Hopkins (YYC)
    1987 - 1989 Mike Lewicki ** (YWG)  2007 - 2009  Norma Dawson (YWG)
    1988 - 1991 Leo McIntyre ** (YUL)  2009 - 2011  Jannet Tricarico (YVR)
    1991 - 1993 John Innes ** (YYJ) 2011 - 2013  Gregory Connon (YWG)  
    1993 - 1995 Wilse Jesse ** (YVR) 2013 - 2015  Jacques Levesque (YOW)
    1995 - 1997 Fraser Muir ** (YUL) 2015 - 2019  Val Jurkovic (YUL)


    Honorary Life Patrons

    Pierre Jeanniot  John Rodger 
    Alexander R. Stevenson John A. Hopkins
    Lamar Durrett Norma Dawson
    Ed Leckett Bruce Aubin
    Ed Storrie Jannet Tricarico 
    Fraser M. O’Shaughnessy Gregory Connon

    Honor Roll: (Surviving Spouse)

    June Dalziel - (J. Gordon Dalziel**) Jean Muir - (Fraser A. Muir**)
    Elaine Rowe - (Willian (Bill) Rowe**) Laura Innes - (John Innes**)
    Mary Moore - (Olie Moore**) Mary Jessee - (Wilse E. Jessee**)
    Barbara Hambleton - (Saville Hambleton**)  


    Air Canada Pionairs Ex-Officios

    Carol Zoeller Louise-Hélène Sénécal
    Kevin Howlett Inas Assaad
    Calin Rovinescu Gretchen Dawson
    Susan Welscheid Brad Gajria
  • Pionairs Past Presidents and AGM History

    1978 Martin Betts* (YVR) 1st AGM Miami, FL
    1979 Martin Betts* (YVR) 2nd AGM Anaheim, CA
    1980 Joseph Lorimer* (YYZ) 3rd AGM Anaheim, CA
    1981 Joseph Lorimer* (YYZ) 4th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1982 George Fox* (YVR) 5th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1983 George Fox* (YVR) 6th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1984 Nancy Walchuk* (YYZ) 7th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1985 Nancy Walchuk* (YYZ) 8th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1986 Frank Dunlop* (YVR) 9th AGM Seattle, WA
    1987 Frank Dunlop* (YVR) 10th AGM Seattle, WA
    1988 Mike Lewicki* (YWG) 11th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1989 Mike Lewicki* (YWG) 12th AGM Anaheim, CA
    1990 Leo McIntyre* (YUL) 13th AGM San Francisco, CA
    1991 Leo McIntyre* (YUL) 14th AGM San Francisco, CA
    1992 John Innes* (YYJ) 15th AGM San Francisco, CA
    1993 John Innes* (YYJ) 16th AGM San Francisco, CA
    1994 Wilse Jesse* (YVR) 17th AGM Miami, FL
    1995 Wilse Jesse* (YVR) 18th AGM Vancouver, BC
    1996 Fraser Muir* (YUL) 19th AGM Ottawa, ON
    1997 Fraser Muir* (YUL) 20th AGM Montreal, QC
    1998 Oli Moore* (YYZ) 21st AGM Toronto, ON
    1999 Oli Moore* (YYZ) 22nd AGM Vancouver, BC
    2000 Saville Hambleton * (YYJ) 23rd AGM Vancouver, BC
    2001 Saville Hambleton * (YYJ) 24th AGM Calgary, AB
    2002 Fraser O’Shaughnessy (YYZ) 25th AGM Halifax, NS
    2003 Fraser O’Shaughnessy (YYZ) 26th AGM Ottawa, ON
    2004 John Rodger (YUL) 27th AGM Edmonton, AB
    2005 John Rodger (YUL) 28th AGM Niagra Falls, ON
    2006 John Hopkins (YYC) 29th AGM Quebec City, QC
    2007 John Hopkins (YYC) 30th AGM Victoria, BC
    2008 Norma Dawson (YWG) 31st AGM Houston, TX
    2009 Norma Dawson (YWG) 32nd AGM Winnipeg, MB
    2010 Jannet Tricarico (YVR) 33rd AGM Montreal, QC
    2011 Jannet Tricarico (YVR) 34th AGM Vancouver, BC
    2012 Gregory T. Connon (YWG) 35th AGM Toronto, ON
    2013 Gregory T. Connon (YWG) 36th AGM Ottawa, ON
    2014 Jacques Levesque (YOW) 37th AGM Calgary, AB
    2015 Jacques Levesque (YOW) 38th AGM Halifax, NS
    2016 Valentin Jurkovic (YUL) 39th AGM/APC Winnipeg, MB
    2017 Valentin Jurkovic (YUL) 40th AGM/APC Vancouver, BC
    2018 Valentin Jurkovic (YUL) 41st AGM/APC Calgary, AB
    2019 Valentin Jurkovic (YUL) 42nd AGM/APC Halifax, NS
    2019 Valentin Jurkovic (YUL) 43RD AMM Montreal QC

    Largest Attendance:         
    Lowest Attendance:
    1985 - Anaheim - 700 2008 - Houston - 165
    1990 - San Francisco - 870  
    1995 - Vancouver - 860