For Ann Roger, visiting the Sault’s Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre for the first time Monday was a wish fulfilled.
It had been a long-held wish for Ann, a Manitoulin Island native now living in Inniskillin, Ontario, to visit the Sault’s Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre with her husband Bruce, a former bush plane pilot.
It was through bush planes that Ann and Bruce met.
A former Killarney resident, Ann, now 81, told SooToday “he was our bush pilot. There was no road back then. Bush pilots would bring us back to Manitoulin to visit.”
“One of the other pilots knew our family and Bruce came in to take over for a few weeks flying, and the other pilot was dating a friend of mine, and said ‘there’s a new guy in town, would you like to go out on a blind date with him?’ and I thought ‘why not?’”
“So, when I got home from the blind date with Bruce my mother asked me ‘did you have a good time?’ and I said ‘oh yes, he’s very nice but he’s so quiet.’ My mother said ‘Ann dear, you can talk enough for the both of you,’” Ann chuckled.
“I didn’t see him again for another three months. He went back to Midland to fly. Then he got posted to Manitoulin, so when he came back he called me and asked me if I wanted to go out and the rest is history. I got my diamond ring in 1959 and we got married in 1961.”
The couple heard of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and planned to visit the museum, but Bruce died after suffering a stroke in 2016.
Not long afterward, doctors told Ann she had cancer.
“I had 45 weeks of treatment and now I’m here. It’s looking good,” she said.
Bruce, originally an RCMP officer before becoming a bush plane pilot, rejoined the Mounties, the couple moving to Ottawa, then Toronto. After leaving the RCMP, he worked as an electronics technician.
To Ann’s surprise and delight, Sault RCMP detachment Constables Dan Chevalier and Earl Dalphy greeted Ann at the Bushplane Museum’s entrance and presented her with copies of Bruce’s discharge papers and photos of his days as a Mountie.
“It feels absolutely amazing (to visit the museum for the first time). When I walked in I felt like crying. It’s terrific to see everything. The people here are amazing. I didn’t expect to see the RCMP here. The bush planes bring back a lot of memories of Bruce,” Ann said.
“It was terrific to see the RCMP in their red serge (official uniform). The first time I got Bruce ready with his red serge I put a crease in the breeches and you’re not supposed to do that so I had to re-iron them and get it out,” Ann chuckled.
Ann was taken on a tour of the museum by volunteer Gerry Brazeau.
“I’ve had a nice tour,” Ann said.
“I would absolutely come back again.”
Ann was accompanied by her daughter, Sara Roger.
Sara is a Chartwell Retirement Residence lifestyle and program manager in Whitby, Ontario, Chartwell a nationwide group of retirement homes.
Chartwell is a supporter of Wish of a Lifetime Canada, a program which helps nominated seniors fulfill lifelong dreams.
“My Mom and Dad wanted to come here because he was a bush plane pilot, and after he passed away my Mom said she still wanted to come up, so I said to her ‘let’s put your name in.’ She does a lot of fundraising for Wish of a Lifetime, so they granted her wish and here we are,” Sara said.
“I think I was more emotional than her when we walked into the museum,” she smiled.
“It’s unbelievable. She and my Dad were never ones for wanting too much. This means a lot. This is how they met, so it’s very sentimental, very emotional.”