COPA beginnings: 1952 to 1957

Margaret Carson
Ottawa-based pilot and aircraft owner Margaret Carson proposed that a pilot’s association be formed in Canada patterned after the AOPA in the United States. Margaret acted as COPA’s first manager and staff (unpaid) for the first four years working out of her house.
Photo courtesy Chris Grant of the Carson family
First chairman
John Bogie was one of the founding members of COPA and its first chairman of the board. At the time of the association was formed, Bogie worked for Laurentian Air Services in Ottawa, a company started by his uncle, Barnet Mclaren. Bogie was flying Cessna Cranes, de Havilland Beavers and Wacos in support of logging, mining and survey work in eastern Canada. “I grew up in New York City but worked for Laurentian in the summers after the war while in college.” Bogie must have liked Canada as he is still here fifty years later and still works for Laurtentian. Bogie has been made an honourary COPA director. As recently as July this year he attended a COPA Board of Director’s meeting adding his experience and historical perspective. Photo courtesy COPA archives
Canadian Flight magazine
In 1955, COPA launched Canadian Flight, “The pilot’s magazine.” The first edition carried a “June 1955” label on it. The 52-page magazine was compiled by Margaret Carson, who by now had moved the COPA “office” from her basement to her garage, and Art Macdonald, manager of the Air Cadet League of Canada. The initial issue sported a colour cover and black and white insides covering early ELTs (called “SARAHs”), civil defence, converting to a helicopter licence, tips on buying a used aircraft, an business aircraft buyer'’ guide, building a single-strip airport, weather, gliding, “The law and you,” “It could happen to you,” OMNI, RCFCA news, accidents, model aircraft, and “Places to Fly.” Advertisements appeared for Avro, CAE, de Havilland, Piper, Shell, Dare OMNI, Cessna, Sperry, RCAF, Gilles Flying Service, Lear OMNI, Carl Millard Ltd., several insurance companies and Orenda. An ad for “From the Ground Up” offer the textbook for $3.00 postage paid.
AOPA Silver Tray Award
Keith “Hoppy” Hopkinson. In 1955, Doc Hartranft, president and general manager of AOPA, offered to donate a trophy to COPA to be presented to “the person who contributed the most to the advancement of private flying in Canada.” Keith Hopkinson of Goderich, Ont. was named the first recipient of the award. Hopkinson was considered by many as the father of aircraft homebuilding in Canada. The award was retired in 1998 when it was replaced by the COPA President’s Award. The tray now hangs on the wall in COPA’s headquarters.
Photo courtesy COPA archives
Joyce Else
COPA’s first paid and longest serving staff member was Joyce Else who worked for the association from 1956 to 1997. In 1998, the COPA board of directors awarded her the top honour at COPA of the time, the AOPA Silver Tray Award.
Photo courtesy COPA archives

In April, 1952 Laurentian Air Services pilot John Bogie was having lunch in the Ottawa Flying Club lounge with Spartan Air Services pilot Bill Peppler and Paul Saunders when Ottawa pilot Margaret Carson came storming in and declared that something had to be done about the way small aircraft owners and operators were being mistreated by the government.
“At the time, flying clubs were represented by the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association and the Air Industries and Transport Association represented the manufacturers and air carriers,” Bogie recalled in a recent visit to COPA’s office in Ottawa. “No one was looking after the small operators and individual aircraft owners in Canada.”
One of the issues that sparked Carson’s initiative was the application of highway tax on aviation gasoline.
As a result of that informal discussion, interested local Ottawa pilots chipped in $5.00 each to pay for printing and mailing of notices. An organization meeting was held on Friday, December 12th, l952, at 1:30 p.m. in the Ottawa Flying Club lounge. Minutes were taken. The meeting was “…in connection with the organization in Canada of an association such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of the United States.”
John Bogie acted as chairman of the meeting and Margaret Carson acted as secretary.

John Bogie, Laurentian Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
Angus Morrison, Air Industries and Transport Association, Ottawa, Ont.
Doug Wagner, Kingston Flying Club, Kingston, Ont.
Carl Millard, Carl Millard Ltd., Toronto, Ont.
Joe Reed, MacNamara Construction Co., Toronto, Ont.
Doug Fahlgren, Laurentian Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
Robert Kenny, Hanson Mills Ltd., Ottawa, Ont.
Jim Kenny, Hanson Mills Ltd., Ottawa, Ont.
Evan Jones, Spartan Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
R. Drinkwater, Spartan Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
B. Towler, Spartan Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
Alf Lord, Spartan Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
Margaret Carson, Ottawa, Ontario.

Absent: Interested but unable to attend due to bad flying weather or previous engagements.
William Oliver, Curtiss-Reid, Montreal, PQ.
Jack Scholefield, Laurentide Aviation Ltd., Montreal, PQ.
William Attrill, Montreal Flying Club, Montreal, PQ.
George Hurren, R.C.F.C. Association, Ottawa, Ont.
Doug Pickering, Laurentian Air Services, Ottawa, Ont.
Russell Bannock, de Havilland Aircraft Co., Toronto, Ont.
Dorothy Rungeling, Welland, Ont.
Dr. H.R.T. Mount, Ottawa, Ont.
Ernie Warren, Ottawa, Ont.
Russell Bradley, Bradley Air Service, Carp, Ontario.
Edward Clark, Gananoque, Ont.

Minutes: The minutes of the meeting record:
Discussion took place regarding the organization of an association, the possible exchange of services with AOPA of the United States, and matters which might be dealt with by a Canadian Association.
The following temporary committee, to assist in the organization during its formation, was appointed:
Advisory: George Hurren, Angus Morrison
Toronto: Carl Millard, Joe Reed
Ottawa: Doug Pickering, John Bogie, Evan Jones, Margaret Carson
Carp: Russel Bradley
Kingston: Doug Wagner
Montreal: William Oliver, Jack Scholefield, William Attrill
Gananoque: Edward Clark
It was moved by Margaret Carson, seconded by Angus Morrison, that the committee contact J. B. Hartranft, Jr., of Washington, president of AOPA to ask if he could arrange to come to Ottawa during January to meet with the committee to discuss organization of an association such as AOPA in Canada and exchange of AOPA services. Carried.
A very kind offer was received from Morrison of AITA of the temporary use of office space, a desk, telephone, addressograph and mimeograph machines by the proposed association.
Millard advised that he had contacted R. Keith of Canadian Aviation Magazine and Bob Halford of Aircraft Magazine and they both offered to cooperate with publicity in connection with the formation of this Association with no charge.
Morrison suggested that the AITA could advise its members of the plans for the formation of this proposed association in a bulletin and it was suggested that the committee ask George Hurren if the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association would do the same.

Canadian Advisory Council
AOPA’s “Doc” Hartranft accepted the group’s invitation to come to Ottawa. A meeting was scheduled for January 30, 1953. Word spread of the proposed new organization for light plane pilots and operators. Forty-eight people filled a meeting room at the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa.
John Bogie was appointed acting chairman, Dorothy Drew of the RCFCA was the recording secretary.
Hartranft addressed the group outlining how AOPA was run. He pledged financial support.
A Canadian Advisory Council was proposed to initiate the groups activities until a formal organization to be called “AOPA of Canada” could be chartered.
The group adopted the following objectives:
1/ A strong need exists for an organization in Canada such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in the United States for suitable representation for these aircraft owners and pilots.
2/ The aim of this organization should be to make flying more useful, less expensive, safer and more pleasurable.
3/ In no way should this organization be considered as a union to deal with wages and working conditions of aviation personnel.
4/ Although the need for such an organization exists, there is some doubt that sufficient numbers could be obtained within the next three years or during the initial stages of the Canadian organization to maintain a permanent office staff, office facilities, and to provide services to the members.
5/ Therefore, it is proposed that subject to official agreement with AOPA USA, that an organization similar be set up in Canada to be known as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Canada.
6/ That this be effected by Canadian aircraft owners and pilots joining AOPA of the United States and that from these Canadian members there be elected a Canadian Advisory Council to deal with problems specifically affecting Canadian aviation.

7/ That such Canadian Advisory Council be composed of sixteen members, eight of whom will be aircraft owners and the other eight will be active pilots together with a representative from the west coast, the middle west, central Canada and the Maritimes in addition to representatives from the RCFCA and the AITA.

When COPA was formed in 1952:
There were less than 7,000 pilots in Canada:
Private – 4,560
Commercial – 1,240
Transport – 775
There were 966 privately-registered aircraft in Canada and 1,294 commercially registered.


The Canadian Advisory Council, the forerunner of COPA, included:
Chairman: John Bogie
Vice-chairman: Ernest G. Warren
Secretary-Treasurer: Margaret Carson
Board Members:
Carl Millard, Toronto, Ontario.
Paul E. Cote, Montreal, Que.
Russell Bradley, Carp, Ontario.
Doug Wagner, Kingston, Ontario.
Edmund Hall, Ottawa, Ontario.
Dr. H.R.T. Mount, Ottawa, Ontario.
Doug Pickering, Ottawa, Ontario.
James H.F. Kenny, Ottawa, Ontario.
Jack Scholefield, Montreal, Que.
Four geographic representatives were to be appointed, one each from the west coast, middle west, central Canada and the Maritimes. Angus Morrison and George Hurren were asked to sit on the board representing AITA and RCFCA.

The first meeting of the CAC was held in Kingston, Ont. on February 13, 1953.
It was decided to write to the Department of Transport objecting to it making nautical miles mandatory in Canadian aviation. (The manufacturers in the United States were using statute miles.) The Departments of Highways in each province was to be sent a letter objecting to road taxes on aviation gasoline. The DoT was to be asked to make ground controlled approaches available to civilian aircraft and to install radios in military radar stations for communicating with civilian aircraft.
A group from the CAC was to travel to Washington, D.C. to visit AOPA headquarters.
A meeting in Ottawa on March 4, 1953 the group set the membership fees for AOPA of Canada at $5.00 per year. A Canadian newsletter was sent to be included in an AOPA (U.S.) mailing. (This newsletter was being produced in Margaret Carson’s basement.)
By May, 1953, members of the proposed AOPA Canada were being offered:
Assistance with personal flying problems;
Legal aid in Canada;
Employment assistance;
Flight routing service;
Map distribution;
AOPA Canada newsletter;
Group aircraft insurance;
A subscription to Canadian Aviation magazine for an extra $2.
At a June 1953 meeting it was decided to rename the proposed organization the “Canadian Owners and Pilots Association” to avoid confusion with AOPA in the United States.
In 1956 Robert (Bob) Thomas, a retired RCAF Wing Commander, agreed to assume the duties of manager of COPA. That same year, clerical staff was hired including Joyce Else and Norma Girard. One of their first tasks was to move COPA’s operations from Margaret Carson’s garage to an office on Wellington St.

Changing of the guard
At a meeting in Ottawa on Nov. 3, 1956, a new COPA Executive Committee was elected from the board of directors.
President: S.F.D. “Sid” Sampson
Vice-president: Carl Millard
Secretary/treasurer: Margaret Carson