From Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force
On September 1, 2017, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was proud to receive a new stand of Colours from the hands of the Governor General at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
I am pleased to tell you that our former Colours, originally presented to us in 1982 and reflecting our organization and identity as Air Command, will have a new home at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in Toronto, under the guardianship of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Colours will be entrusted to the Maple Leafs at approximately 7:10 p.m. on February 10, 2018, immediately before a Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators at the ACC. At the end of February, they will be unveiled in a new, specially built display at Gate 6 of the ACC where they will be visible to the public from both the interior and exterior of the building.
The RCAF has a long and proud relationship with the city of Toronto. Canadian military aviation began in Toronto 101 years ago when the Royal Flying Corps Canada was established in Toronto and the surrounding area to recruit and train Canadian aircrew for service overseas during the First World War.
Our relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs is even more personal. Wing Commander William George Barker, a First World War Ace and Canada’s most highly decorated war hero, was appointed as president of the Maple Leafs’ hockey club in 1927 by its manager, Constantine Falkland Cary (Conn) Smythe who was seconded from the Army to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 to fly as an observer. When Wing Commander Barker died in 1930, his funeral procession was the largest public event Toronto had ever seen, with a 2,000-man guard of honour and more than 50,000 spectators. He is interred in his wife’s family crypt in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleum in Toronto where a monument was raised to his memory in 2011.
Given this unique history, the ACC is a fitting location for our retired Colours and the Maple Leafs are well-suited to be their guardian.
I invite you to watch the historic passing of our former Colours to the custody of the Maple Leafs on February 10, and take the opportunity to see the laid up Colours at the ACC when you are in Toronto.