do you remember

Jan 17, 2011

Here’s another column with installment #3 on “famous people that I saw or met while living in Gander”…thanks everyone for your contributions to this effort…this can be an ongoing thing if you care to submit your sightings to


In 1954 the Scouting groups in Gander organized a camp for youth in the movement from Gander, St. John's and Lewisporte. The camp was held at Gleneagles on Gander Lake near Glenwood. (I hope you saw the pictures Morley sent of the area a few weeks ago).

One Sunday, either before the camp or after (my memory is blurred here) almost everyone from the camp were taken to the old terminal at RAF for a visit. While there, of course, a number of planes landed and, lo and behold, one of the passengers was William Boyd the western movie actor who played the role of Hopalong Cassidy in the movies (and later on TV). A picture of the event appeared on the front page of the St. John's Evening Telegram showing several of the Scouts surrounding Boyd as he signed autographs for them. I think I have a copy of that picture somewhere. If I find it in the next few days I'd send you a copy.

My sister got a copy of Gene Autry's autograph for me one night when she was working at the hotel across the street. It was late at night and I was snug in bed at the time. That was early 1950s (probably 1952 or 53).

I remember playing baseball on summer day (mid 1950s) on the Army Side when a new Russian jet (TU-104) passed overhead. We all ran for our bikes and headed for the terminal to see the new plane. We were allowed on the ramp in those days and discovered the plane was full of Russian diplomats either going to or coming from the UN in New York. I remember seeing Andrei Gromyko and others getting off the plane and waving to the crowd of Ganderites who had gathered, more to see the plane than the diplomats.

One last celebrity I remember was at the new terminal when, in the early 1960s, I was working with CN and looking after the equipment in the weather office teletype room. On Sunday afternoon Yuri Gagarin was on his way to Cuba to meet with Castro and made a refueling stop and a trip into the terminal building. Hundreds of people were present.

That's it, more of my brushes with the rich and famous.

Jim Butler, GA Class of 1959


 Note: Ken Barnes, GA Class of 1960, who was working at the airport that summer, also shook hands with Yri Gagarin on that stop in Gander.


 I remember the Queen in Gander in 1959 as I was a Brownie and we all stood with flags waving for her visit. 

I also worked at the Airport from 69-70 and 73-80.  And I saw and met a few celebrities.  Mohammed Ali used my tweezers one day to fix his wife's glasses on a stopover in Gander.  He ate at the restaurant and posed with the RCMP dog and his handler.  He was using the phone next to the Air Canada counter and came over and asked if anyone had anything he could use to fix his wife's glasses.  He was very pleasant and a little while later half the town was at the airport to see him.  (That was when the international side was not separate from the domestic Aliside of the airport). 

Frank Sinatra also said hello to me on a stopover with his new wife.  I also saw Lauren Hutton (famous model) when she was on an overseas flight that made a stopover in Gander.  She was absolutely beautiful and all natural.  I also met Pierre Trudeau and Margaret as they used Air Canada for their campaigns.  Diefenbaker

I remember my dad gave us flags and had us stand on our lawn at 1 Bishop Street when John Diefenbaker came to town in the 50's and he actually had the car stopped and got out and came on our lawn and shook our hands.

Like Anne Goff Andrews, I met Bobby Curtola as well.  My sister, Kathryn, was cohost of Teen Talk on CBC radio and she interviewed him for the show and he signed my copy of his album at the time which my brother, Paul, still has in his collection of LPs.  I had the privilege of meeting him again in Edmonton when I was working there in the early 90's as he lives there.

I am sure if I racked my brains, there would be more memories.  But that's my contribution for now.

Patricia Deedee Lannon, SP Class of 1967


In earlier columns on our website, Rod Hippern, GA Class of 1956 recounted seeing Hopalong Cassidy and Robert Mitchum when their planes touched down in Gander; and Campbell Pritchett, CA Class of 1959,  was selling newspapers at the airport terminal when he saw Leslie Caron arrive on a flight from overseas.


I was 10 years old when the Queen came to Gander in 1959--or almost 10. Mom and Dad got to meet her due to Dad's job with TCA. Mom was pregnant with my younger sister Paula who was born in September of that year. Mom always joked that Paula was the only one of us five children that got to touch royalty as her very pregnant belly and the Queen's not so pregnant belly (she was expecting Prince Edward) touched. There is a picture of my parents at that time and on that day somewhere and I will try to find it and send it along.

Anne Goff Andrews, SP Class of 1966.


Did you notice there isn't any back ground music? This is our little surprise. Let entertainer Stuart McLean tell you about some of the celebrities that passed through Gander by clicking the play button on the audio link or the link above.

(it is possible that the audio bar may not work on your computer because of software deficiencies, if so click the link "Stuart McLean)

This audio clip is from a CBC podcast, to hear the remaining portion, visit Vinyl Cafe visits Gander

Thanks everyone for your contributions on this topic. As always, we welcome photos and memories for future posting. Please respond to and webster will help us get them posted.


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