brief history of the RCAC
The Origins of the Air Cadet League
To understand why and how the Air Cadet League of Canada came into being, it is necessary to recall the early days of World War II. France had fallen, the Low Countries had been invaded, and Britain was under heavy attack from the air. The critical need was for planes and more planes – and for trained young men to fly them in defense of freedom. Against this background there grew in Canada the idea of a select corps of teen-aged youths who would devote some of their spare time to preparing for the day when they would take their places as aircrew in the ranks of the RCAF.
In 1940, the Minister of National Defence for Air, Charles G. Power, who was very much aware of the need for this type of Air Cadet training, called in a group of influential civilians and asked them to set up a country-wide voluntary organization to sponsor and develop this growing movement. The response was immediate, and a civilian organization was soon created to work on a partnership basis with the RCAF. As it later developed, this partnership was to be the main reason for the striking success of the Air Cadet Movement in Canada. On the 19th of November, 1940, Order-in-Council PC 6647 was passed. This Order authorized the organization of Air Cadet Corps: Junior Air Cadet Corps for boys 12-14 and Seniors Corps for those 15-18. On April 9, 1941, the Secretary of State of Canada by Letters Patent officially granted a Charter establishing the Air Cadet League of Canada, under Part II of the Companies Act 1934 and authorizing it to operate as a charitable, non-profit corporation.
An administrative headquarters was established in Ottawa, and the stage was set for a concentrated appeal for sponsors and volunteers throughout the provinces. In the early part of 1941, a national board of key men was chosen and it met for the first time in Ottawa on June 2nd of that year. One of the first acts of the national directors was to appoint an outstanding Chairman in each of nine provinces. The Provincial Chairmen in turn set up their committees and these gentlemen traveled widely, talking to public minded citizens and recruiting local sponsorship for the squadrons. The organization of squadrons proceeded through the fall months of 1941 and by the end of the year there were 79 squadrons affiliated across the country. By May, 1942, there were 135 squadrons and 10,000 cadets; and a year later, 315 squadrons with 23,000 cadets.
The Post War Period
Immediately following the close of the war, there was a natural lessening of interest in all Cadet Activities throughout Canada. Many Squadrons that had been set up “for the duration” were disbanded and the movement settled down to a low point of approximately 11,000 cadets in 155 squadrons.
The peacetime story of the Air Cadet Movement is perhaps even more impressive than its wartime history. Commencing in late 1944, the League planned and carried out its peacetime conversion with the same vigor that it tackled its wartime responsibilities. Probably the most important job facing the Air Cadet Movement in 1945 was to provide an incentive, which would rival in its appeal the wartime goal of graduation into the RCAF. The answer was found in a variety of awards for outstanding proficiency and loyalty to the squadrons. From the standpoint of popularity, perhaps the outstanding innovation was the summer camps held at RCAF Stations. In 1946, the RCAF introduced Flying Scholarship courses on powered light aircraft through civilian flying clubs for senior cadets, a development, which gave added importance to the movement. Since the scheme began, some 14,361 Air Cadets (1997) have completed their power flying scholarship courses, in most cases to the Private Pilot level, and can now proudly call themselves pilots.
From the time the Air Cadet League of Canada came into being in April 1941 until the latter part of the 90s, close to one million young Canadians have participated in the Air Cadet training program. Today, it is estimated that some 50,000 Canadians are involved in some way with the Air Cadet Movement.
876 “Lincoln Alexander” Squadron was formed on May 15th, 1980 as 876 Malvern Squadron. It grew very quickly to become one of the strongest squadrons in Ontario. 876 Malvern Squadron was named after the community “Malvern” in the area which it paraded. From the early years, it has distinguished itself – as a whole and as individuals – in all aspects of the cadet movement. While still young, the squadron surpassed all competitors in Drill and Marksmanship, and produced many strong leaders and pilots. This happened few years after the parliament amended the relevant legislation by changing the word boys to persons, therefore permitting girls to become members of the Royal Canadian Sea, Army, and Air Cadets on the July 30th, 1975. Since then, many young people have been trained to become better individuals and have enjoyed the many benefits associated with being a part of our dynamic team of dedicated Air Cadets. Air Cadets has proven to be a valuable program for many young Canadians. The knowledge and experiences gained in the program are some of the most beneficial used throughout life. The Air Cadet organization prides itself on its ability to train young people to accept responsibility as they develop leadership skills in the various tasks that they perform. Opportunities open to Air Cadets are numerous. Few organizations offer training to their members as extensive as that offered to Cadets. The chance to become a pilot, learn about airport operations, train as a leader, develop as a musician, learn valuable bush survival skills, or travel to foreign countries are only a sampling of the opportunities available to air cadets. It is up to the cadet to choose which programs will be pursued, and a cadet’s career will develop around individual interests. In short, the Air Cadet movement has a lot to offer those who are ready to dedicate themselves to gaining the valuable experiences offered in the many programs.
876 Lincoln Alexander Squadron is a very active establishment with numerous activities throughout the year.
In 2002 we were honored when Lincoln Alexander consented to have the squadron renamed after him. During his tenure as the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario he made youth his priority. As someone who came from very humble beginnings to become a Member of Parliament, Federal Cabinet Minister and Honorary Colonel in the Air Force he serves as an excellent role model for our cadets.
Over the years it experienced a name change (see page “Hon. Lincoln Alexander), different parade locations, different parade nights and many other changes. In turn, developing with society and the different aspects of community growth.
We strive to be leaders in developing youth for today and the future.
Charles G Power