Max Ward International petition presented to Senate


Petition aims to rename Edmonton International Airport for Max Ward, aviation icon and founder of Wardair

Max Ward International
A Wardair DC-10 taxis in Toronto in this undated photo (submitted/Bill Powell).

A petition aimed at renaming Edmonton International Airport in honour of Max Ward has hit the floor of the Senate. The petition, launched by Western Aviation News, was presented by Edmonton Senator Paula Simons Tuesday.

“I have the honour of tabling a petition from resident of Alberta calling for the Edmonton International Airport to be referred to as the Edmonton-Max Ward International,” said Simons.

Ward died in Edmonton in November, just shy of his 99th birthday. He served in the Second World War as a flight instructor for the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1946, he was a bush pilot and founded his own company, Polaris Charter Co. in Yellowknife, flying a Fox Moth around the Arctic. Seven years later, he founded Wardair, using an Otter that could operate on wheels, skis or floats.

Wardair would go on to become Canada’s third-largest scheduled airlines, and would help usher in the era of airline deregulation in Canada.

“To explain,” Simons later said in a Tweet, “tabling a petition in the Senate doesn’t necessarily mean I endorse the campaign. I’m on the fence about the idea, myself. But tabling a public petition is something a Senator can do, to bring the voices of Albertans to the Senate, on a matter of federal concern.”


12,000 signatures

Senate petitions have grown exceedingly rare in recent years. The change.org petition on which it is based garnered 12,713 signatures from all over the world.

More than 600 people also explained their reasons for signing on.


“I signed because Max Ward was a true aviation pioneer,” wrote Wayne Atherholt of DeBary, Florida north of Orlando. “Not just for Canada, but for many around the world.  Those of us who worked for Wardair did so and served Floridians, Scottish, English, Welsh, Washingtonians, Hawaiians, French, Germans, and so many others. It was a pleasure to serve and we served proudly.  We worked in various corners of the Wardair world, whether it was in our London reservations office or the building on Convair Drive in Mississauga or at the headquarters at YEG.”

“What a wonderful history and contribution to Canada Max and Marjorie have made,” wrote Jana Corrigan of Toronto. “Honouring this pioneering gentleman is the right thing to do!!!”

“It’s only fitting to have our airport named Max Ward international airport,” wrote Lambros Tsiandos of Edmonton. “After all, he was an aviation giant in our city.”

“I’m signing because Max Ward is an Edmonton and northern Alberta icon,” wrote Lynn Parker of Sherwood Park, Alberta. “Wardair was a class act. His story is a true Northern Albertan entrepreneur and hero.”

Some 2,094 Canadians signed a second petition, due to be presented in the House of Commons as early as next week. Commons rules require the government to respond to the Commons petition within 45 days of its tabling.

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