When Ladder Lake Freezes Over
By Mathias Joost
posted 1 January 2012
One of the risks of operating flying boats into the autumn months, was the risk of having the boats caught in the ice if the weather suddenly turned very cold. This had happened before to RCAF detachments and in October 1930, that’s exactly what happened in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan when these areas were subject to a rapid and unexpected deep freeze. The RCAF detachments at Cormorant Lake, Lac du Bonnet and Ladder Lake were caught flat-footed and their flying boats were caught in the ice.
At Ladder Lake, the Vedette and their Vancouver were stuck in the ice. Unable to get to the aircraft because the ice was too thin to hold their weight but too thick for their motorboat, the airmen had to wait several weeks until the ice became thicker. The Vancouver with its metal “Alclad” hull was better able to withstand the pressure of the ice; however, the Vedette suffered some damage and was disassembled and shipped to Winnipeg for repairs. As for the Vancouver, she too was disassembled in early November but spent the winter under cover at Ladder Lake.
The accompanying photographs show the Vancouver in various states of dismantlement, as the wings, engines and tail were removed to make the aircraft easier to lift out of the ice. Note too, the rig for lifting the various parts off the aircraft, and how the wheels were attached to the inner wing.
To learn more about the Canadian Vickers Vancouver, see: “The Canadian Vickers Vancouver: The Only Large Twin-Engined All-Metal Flying Boat In Pre-War Service With The RCAF” by John Griffin, CAHS Journal, Volume 40, No. 1, Spring 2002. The Canadian Vickers Vedette was featured in “Vickers Vedette” by Ken Molson, in CAHS Journal, Volume 8, No. 4, Winter 1970.