Vickers Vedette, CF-MAG

  • Status: On display


    This small wooden flying boat is one of 60 that were designed and produced by Canadian Vickers Ltd. of Montreal between 1924 and 1930. It was the first aircraft manufactured in Canada and was used for aerial photography and production of the first aerial maps of Canada’s north, as well as for forest inventory and fire patrols.  Many of the topographical maps in use today are based on photographs taken from Vedettes.

    The Vedette was able to rise off the water quickly which was an important characteristic.

    Several were based in Manitoba and flew off the Red River in Winnipeg or from locations like Victoria Beach and Lac du Bonnet. Vedettes also patrolled the coast of Nova Scotia and were used at the seaplane training base at Jericho Beach in BC. They were eventually replaced by the more versatile (all-season) aircraft such as the Fairchild, Bellanca and Norseman. The remaining Vedettes were destroyed or made into boats until no complete aircraft were left.

    The RCAF purchased 44 of the 60 Vedettes and retired the last one in 1941.


    CF-MAG was built in 1929 and was placed in storage until it was purchased by the Government of Manitoba in 1934, along with five ex-RCAF Vedettes (for $1 each) to be used for foreset fire patrols. In 1937, the engine of CF-MAG failed while on a flight to Cormorant Lake. The pilot touched down in a swamp, then walked to an area where he could be rescued. A week later, an attempt was made to retrieve the downed aircraft, but the swamp was too small to permit takeoff. After all the usable parts were salvaged, the hull was soaked with fuel and the Vedette set on fire.

    A 22-Year Road to Replication

    Decades later, our museum’s retrieval team recovered the remains of this and two other Vedettes to guide the development of a replica. Museum volunteers pieced together information from the three wreckages. Plans had to be re-drawn before construction could begin (the Vedette plant had since burned down so no original plans remained). Over 100 volunteers contributed to the build effort. Since CF-MAG contributed the bulk of information to the build, those are the letters which are painted on the hull. On May 24, 2002, a dedication was organized at the museum for the opening of the Vickers Vedette exhibit.

    This aircraft is the only example of this type in the world. Although it is airworthy, according to the standards of the late 1920s, it has not been certified as we do not plan to fly it.

3 Responses and Counting...

  • Boni Penna

    What is its powerplant?
    How many seats?

  • Karen

    The Vedette is fitted with an Armstrong Siddeley “Lynx” 215-230 HP Engine, and has two seats, for pilot and co-pilot, in the cockpit, and a bench for the photographer in the forward ‘bucket’ position.

  • Desmond Markus

    Charles Tindal Travers AFC (1898-1969) was a Vickers Vedette pilot and appears to have been one of the original Manitoba Government Air Service intakes.

    Born in England, he became interested in aviation at an early age thanks to his elder brothers, James Lindsay Travers OBE (1883-1924) and Herbert Gardner Travers DSC (1891-1958).

    During WWI Charles was commissioned in the Wiltshire Regiment before getting a transfer to the RFC and RAF.

    He moved to Canada in 1928 – initially staying with John Armistead Wilson (1879-1954), Controller of Civil Aviation, whose wife’s family were friends of Charles’s family. He joined the RCAF but was among those who were later let go following severe budget cuts. He then joined the fledgling MGAS as an ‘Air Engineer (mechanic) and spare pilot’. Although he and J. C. Uhlman (I believe James Cornelius Uhlman) appear to have had a personality clash.

    Towards the end of 1936, he joined the Department of Transport’s Civil Aviation Branch, and spent the rest of his career on the administrative side (including, it appears, serving on the Canadian Government mission that purchased the Vickers Viscount).

    Excerpts from his letters home, published by his niece Eva, indicate that two more Vickers Vedettes were purchased from Vickers in Montreal for $5,000 in 1934.

    A Winnipeg Free Press article names him as the pilot who found the ill-fated DH60x Moth G-CAJZ and the bodies of its crew George O. Mackie Jr (22) and Leonard Blackwell (19) lost in bad weather while attempting a rescue mission in August, 1934. However, the article does not mention the aircraft type Charles was flying at the time.

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