Memories of Eonis Vorvis

My name is Eonis Vorvis and I was an employee of Dowty Canada in Ajax from 1952 until 1957, first as an apprentice in the machine shop at the South plant then as a draughtsman in the engineering department at the North plant working on drawing modifications and eventually on new design projects.

In those days a Mr. Hunt was in charge of the overall activities of Dowty Canada from his position with Dowty UK and a Mr. Hamer was the same in Ajax.

A Mr. McAffery headed the engineering department, a Mr. Stratford was the undercarriage design expert, a Mr. Erindowski (phonetic spelling) was the materials strength analyst, and a Mr. Watkins was the chief draughtsman and my superior. The supervisor of floor operations at the North plant (machine shop, fitting shop and inspection) was a Mr. Parkinson as I recall.

It was Mr. McAffery who, along with a referral from Mr. Hamer, was instrumental in arranging an interview for me with the registrar at Queens University, a Ms. Royce, which led to my acceptance there as a mature student in the Applied Science program. But acceptance wasn’t easy because I hadn’t completed Grade 13 at Whitby High School due to a failure in Chemistry along with not having completed either Latin or French. The latter failing of which my mother chided me soundly for (no pun intended) since she was from a French background. In any event, I mended the lack of Chemistry in a night course at the Oshawa High School and Ms. Royce kindly waived the requirement for a second language. So off I went to Queens and in four years plus one Spring supplemental exam had a B.Sc. (Mech.Eng.) degree in hand. But by then Mr. Diefenbaker had cancelled the Avro Arrow project so it happened that Dowty had no job for me to return to. That being the case, I took up employment with the Plastics Department of Du Pont of Canada at their Research Centre in Kingston Ontario, applying my design experience to developing applications for their new line of structurally superior polyethylene injection molding materials.

I shall always be grateful to Messrs. Hamer and McAffery for their interest in me. Without them I might still have been an apprentice in a machine shop somewhere. In the end, one the most challenging set of drawings I have ever done was with the 37-1/2 degree twisting mechanism on the Avro Arrow main undercarriage which, along with a shortening mechanism that was detailed by a draughtsman on the drawing board next to me, orientated the Arrow’s main undercarriage in such a way that upon retraction it would fit snugly into the thin delta wing of the aircraft. Kudos to Mr. Stratford who was the undercarriage design expert on this project. However, an outstanding product destined to have no future other than to wind up as a musium piece. Also, kudos to Mr. Hamer and persons unknown who are said to have “liberated” the one known Avro Arrow main undercarriage unit that escaped Mr. Diefenbaker’s attempt to literally scrap all traces that the Avro Arrow had ever existed. Even to to the extent of destroying all the drawings it is said. (All but one that I am personally aware of that is.) The root of Mr. Diefenbaker’s wrath was said to have been his dislike of the expensive high flying lifestyle of Avro’s CEO, Mr. Crawford Gordon Jr., together with the apparent fact that Avro had a cost plus contract with the Canadian Government. A witch’s brew so far as the straight-laced Mr. Diefenbaker was concerned it seems.

I neglected to mention that I was a member of the Dowty Pipe Band for little more than two years from its beginning in 1954 to my leaving Dowty in 1957. If anyone has any photos of the
Dowty Ajax Pipe Band from those years, I would be ever so
grateful to have a copy of them, so as to pictorially refresh my
minds-eye memory of those wonderful youthful days.

The attached 1957 photo does relate to Dowty indirectly since it has me in the Queens Pipe Band where I would never have been if it hadn’t been for Dowty in the first place and for the kind interest of Messrs. Hamer and McAffery. I’m the person to the left side of the Pipe Major (on his right side viewing the photo) , that is to say the Pipe Sergeant position, which switched to the right side of the Pipe Major the following year when I was nominated Pipe Major by the band. A position that I really didn’t deserve because I was at most a moderately competent band piper and nothing more than that. However I did take the position since none of the other pipers wanted it, and I went on to play for the dancers at Molson Stadium in Montreal at half time during a Queens versus McGill football game. A career highlight, but to my shame it was so cold that my fingers froze up and the dancing performance ended prematurely. Thankfully nobody in the stadium including the dancers seemed to care. We were all freezing. It can get really cold in Montreal even during early-autumn depending on wind direction.

Eonis Vorvis


Queens Pipe Band 1957
Eonis Vorvis
Eonis Vorvis at Ottawa Flight Museum c.1987
Eonis Vorvis

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