RIP Patrick Campbell, CAS member No. 1

Thank you to The Canadian Aerophilatelic Society for providing the information for the following write-up.

Long-time aerophilatelist Patrick Campbell died peacefully this November at the age of 94.

Campbell, who died Nov. 5, leaves his daughters Lorraine (Steve), Frances (Randy) and Claude as well as six granddaughters and five great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the West Island Palliative Care Residence or the Montreal Aviation Museum.

According to an obituary published in the latest issue of The Canadian Aerophilatelist, the quarterly journal of The Canadian Aerophilatelic Society (CAS), Campbell was CAS member No. 1. The society’s inaugural meeting was held during Canada 84, a national philatelic exhibition in Montréal in 1984.

Editor Chris Hargreaves, who authored the obituary, said Campbell was fond of sharing the story about how the society began 33 years ago.

“The American Air Mail Society had a table, and I think Ken Sanford was running that. … At some point the formation of a Canadian society was suggested and we all trooped off to a bleak concrete room where the subject was discussed at length. Eventually I got up and asked ‘where do I sign’ so someone produced a piece of paper and I was the first to sign. … I guess I wanted to get back to the show.”


According to Hargreaves, Campbell was “very active” in aerophilately and contributed regularly to The Canadian Aerophilatelist. In 2000, he received The Canadian Aerophilatelist Editor’s Award for his many contributions to the journal.

Campbell, who also developed an extensive collection of Russian philately, was active with the Lakeshore Stamp Club and judged at several philatelic exhibitions. He was also the chair of the judging committee at several Royal Philatelic Society of Canada exhibitions.


Hargreaves described Campbell as “a man of diverse and intense interests,” one of which was Sherlock Holmes. In fact, Campbell served for nearly a decade as sovereign of the Bimetallic Question of Montreal, the second-oldest Sherlockian society in Canada.

Campbell also published three books of Sherlock Holmes mysteries written in the style of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


The caricature illustrated above is borrowed from one of Campbell’s books, Shades of Sherlock, in the preface to which he described his early years.

“I was born in Selkirk, Manitoba, in 1923, by which time most of the Sherlock Holmes Canon had been written and published, although four of the Adventures were yet to appear.

“While I was born and brought up in Western Canada, I travelled, by ship of course, over to England and went to a boarding school. Here many of the bedrooms were lit by gas, and the heating in the common rooms, for there was no heating at all in the bedrooms, was also by gas.

“We travelled to and from school in colourful trains drawn by steam engines, and we left on holidays from Waterloo, Victoria or Paddington. To cross over to the Isle of Wight, we took the paddle steamers.

“The cries of street vendors were still to be heard in the streets of London, and horse-drawn delivery vehicles were still the norm. The houses of London were still heated, and I smile as I use the term, by coal burned in open fireplaces, so I was surprised to find, when I climbed a tree, for I was still young enough for that, to find I was filthy with soot. In Canada, I had never heard of a dirty tree!

“Those coal-burning fireplaces caused, of course, the impenetrable fogs for which London was famous, so the fogs described in the Canon are familiar to me, as I have known the strange way in which one could become entirely disoriented in what we called a ‘pea soup’ fog in London.

“It was therefore quite natural for me to visualize the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, whom I have always regarded s my contemporaries, for I am quite familiar with the world in which they lived, and with many of the places they went to solve their mysteries.”


Upon completing his school, from 1940-44, Campbell apprenticed at D. Napier & Son and was employed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough. This was followed by a sting as a disarmament officer with the Control Commission for Germany and then a year at the College of Aeronautics in Cranfield as well as some time with the Bristol Aerospace Company (Engines Division).

In 1952, Campbell returned to Canada and worked for Canadair until 1984 before beginning work on the Canadian Patrol Frigate program. He also became involved in volunteer work with the Montreal Aviation Museum (previously named the Canadian Aviation Heritage Centre), where he was the director of manufacturing and guided a number of projects including construction of a full-scale replica of a Fairchild FC-2 Razorback; the restoration of a Fairchild Bolingbroke; building a replica of a Bleriot XI; and the construction/restoration of a Curtiss-Reid Rambler, a trainer airplane conceived in 1928 for the many emerging flying clubs throughout Canada.


In 2014, Campbell received the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association Achievement Award, which is presented to “honour an individual who has over a significant period of time made a major contribution towards the preservation of Canada’s aviation history, its historic aircraft, and its artifacts.”

“Patrick may have been 94, but he stayed extremely active until very recently,” reads the obituary by Hargreaves. “At the end of October I heard from Diana Trafford that: I gave a talk last week to the Montreal Canadian Aviation Historical Society chapter on the Webster Memorial Trophy, and the Curtiss-Reid Ramblers flown by John Webster. Patrick was there and eager to show his ticket from his first airplane ride—in a Rambler. He was a key figure – probably the key person – behind the Montreal Aviation Museum’s project of building a replica of a Rambler I. The official roll-out is planned for next week. Another of Patrick’s pet projects has been to rebuild or build a Norseman for display. A few weeks ago a tractor trailer load of Norseman wings, fuselage, etc. arrived at the Museum. No one could have been more excited than Patrick.”

“Patrick was a remarkable person,” wrote Hargreaves. “He will be missed by many people.”

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