BC Air Lines Ltd.

British Columbia, Canada


Head Office- Vancouver International Airport

Company formed in 1943 as a Charter Operator by
William Beresford (Bill) Sylvester
b- Feb 1, 1911 in Victoria BC
d- July 19, 1976 in Victoria, of a Heart Attack

father- William Benjamin Sylvester,
b- Jan 2, 1874 in Victoria BC,
mother- Emily Elizabeth “Daisy” Brooker

William Benjamin Sylvester was the son of Frank Sylvester, member of the Jewish family that owned Sylvester Feed Co, in Victoria.

Frank Sylvester was the first Jewish person in Victoria, arriving July 17, 1858

Bill was not a pilot at the time he started the airline, later becoming a very good one.
Bill Sylvester actually owned a U-Drive car rental company in Victoria, on Douglas St., before starting this Company

The U-drive was owned by Bill Morrow, A tenant of a rich businessman from Ventura California,
Mr. P. J. Hobson, who claimed the business, for non payment of rent by Morrow.
P. J. Hobson sold the business to Sylvester as a 20% loan.
Sylvester bought 2 Luscome 8A's in 1939
but due to WWII, he couldn't operate.
He stored the planes on the roof of his U-Drive. After the war he got his class 4 Charter license, and BC Airlines was started.
Home base, Cadboro Bay, Victoria
Bill Sylvester would commute each day to his base in Vancouver.

Bill Sylvester married Bill Morrow's daughter.

Received an email Apr 2013 from Bill's Step-Daughter, who added the info below, plus Bill's death info above:
“He married Joan Golby ( 3rd wife ) in the 1940's.
His first wife was named Laurie, and they lived in the Campbell River Area. ”
Then another correction came in for the 1st and 2nd wife:
“Brian's father's mother name was not Laurie, it was Dorthy and she was his second wife, and Joan Golby was his third wife,
his first wife was a Forbes from Forbes's landing. ”
They had one son named William “Brian” Sylvester.
“Brian crashed on Sept 4 1968 at the age of 31 while taking off, not landing”

From Brian's son Blain-
“That was my Dad, William Brian Sylvester, who went missing while swimming to shore after a crash following an failed takeoff from that lake”
(Muchalat Lake on Vancouver Island) on Sept 4 1968.

I think I have it all straight now.

A few years after he sold BC Airlines, Bill Sylvester then started Victoria Flying Services, Aug 29, 1959.

BC Airlines was one of the First Commercial Airlines in BC

Sylvester Sold to Frederick “Maurice” McGregor, and Paul Tak.
Sept 17, 1956, they owned 24 airplanes at the time.
McGregor was former Western Supervisor with Trans Canada air Lines.
He was President of the 12 year old company.
They moved the headquarters to Vancouver.
Built a new $200,000.00 hangar and office building.
Maurice was educated at St. Michaels School, and then Rockland Academy.
Learned to fly at the Aero Club of BC at Lulu Island, Vancouver.
Pilot with B.C. Airways Ltd. (Victoria and Vancouver, B.C.) 1928-1933.
Early activities included: stunt pilot, bush pilot and flight instructor.
Pilot for Wells Air Transport, 1933,
Canadian Airways Ltd. (Vancouver, B.C.), 1933-1937
One of two first pilots to join Trans-Canada Airlines Ltd. (later Air Canada), 1937-1940.
He was captain of the first Trans-Canada night mail flight March 1, 1937.
He had many managerial positions in T.C.A.
1956 he lived in West Vancouver.

Paul Tak was a Netherlands Industrialist, who became a Canadian citizen prior to 1957.
He came from the Netherlands ca 1947. This was his first venture in aviation.

Apr 1961 owned by Northwest Industries of Edmonton,

June 1967 owned by CAE of Montreal
PO Box 915, Station O. Montreal 9

Subsidiary of Canadian Aviation Electronics, of Montreal, when the company was sold in Sept 1970, to Pacific Western Airlines, PWA.

Operated Scheduled and Charter Services on the BC Coast from Vancouver, North to Prince Rupert.
They also operated on Vancouver Island, and the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Aug 1957
President- Frederick “Maurice” McGregor
b- May 11, 1911, in Victoria BC
d- 1995
Pilot and Executive for Trans Canada Airline at one time
flew first TCA flight from Vancouver to Seattle in 1937.
Pilot for Air-Land Manufacturing Company
flew Junkers F.13 for them.
1952, Director of Development for CP Air

May 1958
New General Manager Gordon L. Best

Nov 1964
General Manager Gordon L. Best

Chairman- James F. Tooley
b- Winnipeg MB
Chartered Accountant in Winnipeg
1953-54 he was comptroller for Canadair
He took over from the founder of CAE,
K. R. Patrick, OBE, who resigned Jan 1958,
James was shown as Vice-President , Finance, Canadair at the time.
1967 he acquired control of Nordair
1972-1977 he was Chairman of Nordair Ltd. of Montreal
1979 he was the former chairman and major shareholder of Nordair
His brother Arthur Tooley owned a barge company on Lake Winnipeg.
President- W. M. Anderson
Executive Vice-President- Gordon L. Best
Sales Manager- Sid Reynolds
Secretary-Comptroller- Doug G. Hosgood
Flying Officer #57021, rank of Flight Lieutenant
commission resigned June 25, 1947
120 employees in 1965

June 21, 1967
President- Charles “Douglas” Reekie
b- Quebec
President of Northwest Industries Ltd. when he took over from Tooley.
May 1985 elected as a Director of the Board, Canadian Pacific Ltd.
He was President and CEO of CAE at the time.
shows as Director of the Board of Imasco Financial Corp.
and Director Pan Canadian Petroleum Ltd.
1981 made Director of Canadian Enterprise Development corp.

Oct 1,1968
David R. Jacox made President.
succeeding W. L. Gillespie
Jacox was Northern Division Manager
for PWA, based in Edmonton before this.
b- abt 1920
d- abt 2004, Edmonton AB
Flying Officer WWII RCAF,
son of C.D. Jacox, Edmonton
married Mary Elizabeth “Bettie” Turpin from Vancouver
Sat Jan 11, 1941, Trenton, ON

Chairman- Charles “Douglas” Reekie
President- David R. Jacox
Sales / Traffic Manager- Sid Reynolds
Secretary-Comptroller- Doug G. Hosgood
Operations Manager- W. L. Russell
Assistant to the President- E. E. Pezzot
Purchasing agent- Vaughan Philpott
Email his son Vaughan Jr. Dec 2018- “My father was Vaughan Philpott of BC Airlines Ltd.
Dad started with BC Airlines sometime in 1953 and was with them until they became part of PWA.
He did transfer to PWA but only for a very short time.
He had the opportunity to relocate to Campbell River and was employed by Bob Langdon.
He did retire at Island Airlines and stayed on in Campbell River. ”

BC Air Lines Ltd. had 140 employees in 1969

1968 slogan, Fly the way of the Thunderbird

1954 they bought Westinghouse Airways

BC Airlines, CF-FJG, s/n 825, also N6572K, N209B
which was a RC-3 Republic Aviation Corporation Seabee

buying 6 airplanes for $350,000.00
boosting the fleet to 35.
General Manager Gordon Best

3 Grumman Mallards, 2 Grumman goose, 14 de Haviland Beavers, 9 Cessna 180's, 2 Cessna 170's, 2 Cessna 172's, 3 found FBA-2C

Nov 1968
took delivery of 3 Handley Page Jet Stream aircraft
18 passenger, turboprops, capable of 300 mph
They were distributed by Northwest Industries Ltd.
Edmonton, which like BC Air, was a subsidiary
CAE Industries Ltd. Montreal.
Per Charles “Chuck” Ford, ex BCA Pilot,
this is what he had to say about my Jet Stream Article above.
“We never took delivery of the Jetstreams in 1968.
Instead we leased 4 Nord 262s in early 1969
when we took over the interior routes (most of them).”
My info came from old newspaper clips etc, and I am sure they had errors in them, as this one.
I don't promise all this info is 100% accurate.
I do my best, from the info I can find,
and depend on fellows like Chuck to correct me.

Chuck has also kindly gave me permission to use some photos
of various planes used in BC. Appreciate that offer as well.
Here is the link to the info he contributed to another airplane site.
Note- this is NOT my site, and link may or may not work in the future.

BC Airlines, CF-BCT, a BCA Nord 262
Photo taken by Peter Stricker ca July long weekend, 1969-1970 in either Castlegar or Penticton BC, Photo donated Nov 28, 2020


  • 2 de Haviland Twin Otters,
  • 3 Grumman Mallards
  • 2 de Haviland Beavers
  • 2 cessna 185's
  • ordered 2 HP Jetsteams


June 1951
Pilot Bob Langdon, flew Valno Prami, age 51, an injured logger, from a logging camp near Campbell River to Vancouver

1952 Republic Seabee CF-FJG, sunk at Sea Island

Sept 1952
A carpenter at Kemano was injured and BC Air Lines flew a mercy flight, to fly Arthur Horrex, age 47, of Duncan, to hospital in Vancouver.
Denis Denroche was manager and pilot of BC Air Lines at the time.
Betty Renshaw a nurse for Morrison-Knudsen accompanied the flight.

Feb 1, 1955
crash involving pilot and 6 passengers on Queen Charlotte Islands, on a flight from Alliford Bay to Aero Camp.
Injured and dead were taken to Sandspit.
de Haviland Beaver
2 persons were killed. 5 injured.

Aug 1957
Captain William Frederick “Bill” Waddington. 36, of Lulu island, flying a Cessna 180, from Pender Harbour to Vancouver,
collided into a Beban Logging Company Plane, crashing into the waters of Georgia strait
both airplanes were in the blind spot of each other.
F. Maurice McGregor was President of BC Air Lines at the time.

June 1959
BC Air Lines twin engine 10 passenger Mallard amphidian, flew Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, into Pennask Lake, near Kamloops, for a 3 day vacation.
The plane was freshly out of overhaul, and repainted red and white.
this same plane flew Princess Margaret to Kelowna for her week long holiday, in July 1958

Jan 2, 1966
Pilot and 2 passengers of a Grumman Goose died when plane crashed on the tidelands, after overshooting the runway, at Vancouver airport, during a snowstorm.
Flight to Tahsis, plane returned to Vancouver, due to the weather.
2 links online show 9 died, but one says there was 10 on board.
Looks like a few errors in some online documents
email today shows CF-UAZ had 3 fatalities per Chuck Ford
Feb 24, Chuck sent this
-finally got correction on the G21 crash in VR. It was CF-GEB
Grumman G21A Goose, c/n 1077
Pilot Frank McCarville and 2 passengers

3 were killed and 6 injured in a newspaper column from the day
Frank McCarville age 54 died, a Senior Pilot with the airline at the time
2 Passengers, William Hirst Pearsell, age 44 of New Westminster,
Kevin Campbell, age 4, son of W. T. Campbell of Tahsis
Article listed the other injured passengers and all were in fair condition the next day
so think this one is finally recorded correctly.

Apr 1968
2nd fatal crash, for a BC Air plane at the Vancouver airport.
Leased twin engine white Piper Aztec crashed killing 4 men, in the Gulf of Georgia,
2 mi from Vancouver airport.
scheduled flight from Port Alberni to Vancouver.
Pilot, Captain John “Johnny” Boak, age 46, Vancouver BC.
former RCAF pilot, had flown 15,000 hrs.
b- 1922 in Victoria BC, graduate of Royal Roads.
Mother Dorothy Boak.
Served in WWII, joined BC Air, 1953.
Married May 1, 1948 to Barbara Boak.
passengers George Norman Kievill, age 35, Richmond BC,
Vancouver station manager for BC Air Lines.
joined BC Air June 1958
wife and 2 children
Charles Raymond Sexton, age 45, Port Alberni,
wife and 4 children
Ernie Wilson, abt 35, Port Alberni
wife and 3 children
Director of Marketing and Customer Relations
at the time Sid Reynolds.

Sept 1966
W. L. Gillespie appointed President retired as a Captain in the RCAF.

Aug 1969
Captain Stewart “Stu” Spurr, Vancouver, flew for BC Air

Dec 1969 ads
announcing new Thunderbird Service to Smithers, with stops in Williams Lake.

1970 ads, flights to Smithers, Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Castlegar, & Cranbrook
Vista Liner Jet-Prop service to Tofino, Ucluelet

1970 they had 24 passenger, Nord 262, turbo prop airliners, built in France
CAE Industries Ltd. was the owner.
David Jacox was President at the time.

Bill Waddington
Went on to be Captain of a Mars water bomber for the “Flying Tankers Ltd.” Company, that owned the 4 Mars bombers.

Tommy Walsh, Chief Engineer

1948-1951, Hugh Thomas, Engineer worked for BC Airlines

Pilot- William Hodges

“Here is a photo of William Hodges, off loading his Beaver that he flew for BC Airlines. My brother standing there watching while my mother and I stay at a distance. Mom takes the photo . Bill flew out of Port Hardy , Campbell River . Then the family moved to Richmond were the airline became ( PWA ) Pacific Western Airlines . I remember as boy my father used to hang native art in the hallways up stairs at the YVR main terminal. Bill used to sell whales teeth in the souvenir shop at the main terminal and Stanley Park gift shop . I used to clean the teeth in a cement mixer and trim the ends with a bandsaw dill a hole in the end and put a leather strap with a information tag about the teeth. He would get the teeth from the whaling station in Port Hardy. They used to burn the teeth and my father offered to buy them . He went on to trade teeth with Inuit and aboriginals that would carve them. Bill like flying remote locations and flew the C-130 Hercules for many years in the Arctic , Then Africa for a Dozen years . If you are interested in more on my father please just ask as he passed 2017”
Photo and info submitted by Howard Hodges, Dec 12, 2020

BC Air Lines Ltd., Grumman Goose Photo

  • Last modified: 2020/12/12 15:11
  • by dlgent