Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) Weather Office - 1968

Gov. General Roland Mitchener Drops in at the Frobisher Bay Upper Air Station (Spring 1969)

Top row (l to r) (Upper Air / Seismology staff):  Brian Kahler; Michel Lafrance; Joe MacLeod.
Middle:  WT (Bill) Appleby; Al Sutherland.
Bottom row:  ?, Michel Lafrance, ?, ?, Penny Appleby; Brenda Cooper, Rick Cooper.

Background:  C. Louis Schwam (with Michel Lafrance who is in the above photo) was posted to the Upper Air Station at Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) from January to April 1969.  He was doing vacation-replacement duty at that time and saw service at Maniwaki, Fort Chimo, Frobisher Bay, and Clyde during the one year period from July 1968 to July 1969 and has added the following anecdote:


Gov. General Roland Mitchener Drops in at the Frobisher Bay Upper Air Station (Spring 1969)

The Story in Louis' words:

One morning in March 1969, Michel Lafrance and I were on duty at the Upper Air Station for the morning rawinsonde observation.  Michel was at the L&N chart recorder and I was at the wind plotting station. The wind plotting station had a small window looking out onto the road that passed in front of the office.

Shortly after the launch, I was at the plotting station working up the balloon track when I though I saw something flash by the window.  I was not looking at the window but I saw a white object cross in the periphery of my vision. I thought a ptarmigan had just flown by.

A few seconds later, someone knocked on the door. We were kind of busy, so we just called out (loudly) for whoever was there to "come in".  Whoever was there must have heard us and we heard the door open and someone came in.  A couple of seconds after the door closed, I looked over my right shoulder and saw a fairly tall, rather distinguished looking man standing at the office door.

I recognized him immediately as Roland Michener, the Governor General of Canada at the time.

Needless to say, we both paused for a few minutes to introduce ourselves. The Governor General was out on his morning jog (unaccompanied by any security detail or aide as would be required today).  As he came down the road, he saw this rather interesting set of buildings and, not knowing what their function was, and seeing the lights on inside, decided to stop in and find out. After the short introductions, we proceeded to give the Governor General a short description of what we were doing.

The Governor General, being the gentleman that he was, saw that we were very busy and made his excuses to leave - I'm sure he had plenty on his agenda too.  We asked the Governor General to sign the observing log book below the morning's record. This he, of course, did graciously.

One of the things I remember most about the encounter was Michel's parting words "Thanks Governor" after the Governor General had signed the log book.  I had been in the military before and knew that the proper form of address was "Your Excellency".  I ribbed Michel about this afterwards.

The Governor General and Mrs. Michener were in Frobisher Bay for that year's annual Toonik Time spring festival.  We knew the Governor General was in town but never expected to meet him in person, especially under such informal conditions.

I met Mr. Michener one other time when, as Chancellor of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, he presented me with my Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in May 1976.

C. Louis Schwalm

January 2013

Return to Index