Recently, YVR discovered that some of the memorial benches that live along the south side of the airport by the river dyke were showing signs of age. As our maintenance team began reaching out to the families with memorial benches, the team quickly learned that these were more than just benches. It was a reminder that the Sea Island community we serve is more than our valued passengers and employees. It is about our whole community. And this is a big reason YVR exists to serve our community and the economy that supports it.
This is a story about YVR’s amazing maintenance team and how they went above and beyond for families who have lost loved ones.
Prior to implementing YVR’s plan to restore the memorial benches, YVR contacted the families to discuss our proposal. From these conversations, we learned about the story of a retired Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPA), Captain Jack Rennie.
Jack began his career as an airplane mechanic in 1938 before becoming a bush pilot and found himself stranded in the extreme north with his crew on a couple occasions. Their plane once caught on fire while flying to the Eldorado Mine in the Northwest Territories. Thankfully, Jack and his crew managed to escape before the ammunition they were transporting set off. They survived for nine days in brutal weather conditions of -40°C to -50°C before a bush plane finally rescued them.
Jack later flew for CPA when Grant McConachie formed the airline in 1942 and retired in 1975.
His son, John, now tells his story and recalls with fondness the memories his father shared with him. Our previous development projects from 50 years ago were still fresh in John’s mind and we were once again reminded of the long-lasting impact YVR has on individuals and communities.
When YVR invited John to come and fasten the last piece of Jack’s bench, he joined us wearing his father’s old flight suit and with all the memorabilia to go along with the stories he had shared.
This was a magical moment and made us remember what our community needs and expects from us. It was a reminder that we are more than just an airport.
YVR’s memorial bench program is not currently accepting new applications.