When I was eight years old I attended what was likely the greatest auction sale ever held in Canada. Okay, let me qualify that. It was the without a doubt the greatest auction sale of “as is” antique cars, trucks, tractors, steam locomotives, and assorted farm implements ever held in Canada. Toss in a few hundred antique gas pumps, piles of antique signs, row upon row of antique motorcycles and a 20 acre field full of vintage aircraft, and you’ve got the Mother of all scrap sales.
If you’re interested in antique planes and farm equipment, simply Google “Ernie Simmons Auction” and you’ll find numerous accounts of the sale held near Tillsonburg, Ontario on 4th and 5th of September, 1970.
I’ll spare your the details of my interest in the subject except to say that my mom snapped a photo of me sitting in a Harvard Bomber marked “3430”. As you can see below, it was in rough shape. I’ve since read that many of the planes that were a foot deep in Oxford County topsoil in 1970 have since found their way into the collections of aviation museums around the world and some have been restored to flying condition.
So when I was driving through Nanton, Alberta, this morning and came across the Bomber Command Museum of Canada, I had to check it out. A quick peek inside the open hanger door confirmed that they did indeed have a Harvard Bomber in the collection. It sat towards the back of the hanger, dwarfed by a hulking Lancaster Bomber with its bomb bay doors open.
I paid the “by donation” admission and spent 45 minutes poking around the hanger and perusing displays depicting Alberta’s rich wartime aviation history. I’d like to report that I found ol’ Number 3430 but alas, the Harvard Bomber on display in Nanton is #419 and actually appears to be slightly shorter than the one I sat in as a child.
The hunt for Harvard #3430 continues.