Guide to the George R. Howsam Papers, 1920-1981

Collection Overview

The George R. Howsam Papers span the years 1920-1981, although the bulk of the material dates from 1930-1948. They consist of correspondence, legal papers, photographs, printed materials, writings and speeches, clippings, and miscellaneous, The collection principally relates to Howsam's career as Air Vice-Marshall in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and has a few items regarding Howsam's employment as a manager for Sicks' Breweries Ltd. and his service as Co-Ordinator of Civil Defense in Alberta. Subject areas represented within the collection include: Alberta Civil Defense, Royal Canadian Air Force Training before and during World War II, and Royal Canadian Air Force lectures.

Although the Correspondence Series primarily relates to Royal Canadian Air Force activities, personal letters are included within the series. The series offers insight into the professional life of a Canadian airman in the 1930's and 1940's, and also the network of people Howsam worked and associated with before, during, and after World War II.

The Pictures Series documents Howsam's professional military life, ranging from several personal military photographs of Howsam as a young man to photograph albums detailing such subjects as awarding of medals, “presentation of wings” for Canadian Airmen in 1941, and building of the Royal Canadian Air Force Station at Yorktown, Saskatchewan (the No. 11 Service Flying Training School, 1941). Also included is Howsam's report titled, Some Continental Flying Boats, 1932, which includes photographs and descriptions of seaplanes designed to take off from the water.

Howsam served as a lecturer and speaker for the Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, and these activities are reflected in the many folders of lectures and speeches that Howsam prepared for use in the Staff College courses from 1930-1944. These lectures are included in the Printed Materials Series and the Writings and Speeches Series.

The Clippings Series offers insight not only into World War II but also to Alberta Civil Defense, and the threat and precautions of nuclear war, 1959-1961. Howsam's work at Sicks' Brewery is documented in the Legal Papers Series, which includes a printed brochure from the brewery, letters, balance sheets, and also information regarding oil and gas investments.

Descriptive Summary

Collection Number
George R. Howsam papers
Howsam, George R.
9 Linear Feet, 6,750 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access & Use

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in the George R. Howsam papers have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and consult a Reference Archivist.

Contents of the Collection

1. Correspondence Series, 1931-1978, undated (bulk 1936-1948).

Arranged chronologically, followed by four topical folders.

1931-1943, Mar.
(18 folders)
Box 1
1943, Apr.-1947, June
(17 folders)
Box 2
1947, July-1978, undated
(6 folders)
Box 3
Chief Electoral Officer,1962
Box 3
du Park, Vicomte, 1948-1949
Box 3
Roy, R.H., 1965-1967, 1971-1972
Box 3
Royal Canadian Air Force Project, 1967-1975, undated
Box 3
Oil and Gas Properties, 1951-1977, undated
(2 folders)
Box 3
Sicks' Breweries Ltd., 1945-1954, undated
Box 3

3. Pictures Series, 1917-1960 (bulk1941).

Includes loose photographs and bound photograph albums chiefly regarding Howsam's military duties. Also includes a report by Howsam titled, Some Continental Flying Boats.

Arranged by subject or title.

Alberta Civil Defence
Box 3
Graduating Classes Nos. 25, 28,1941
Box 3
Howsam personal photographs
Box 3
Progressive photographs, 1917-1918
Box 3
Royal Canadian Air Force, B.C.A.T.P. Gates Ceremony, 1949, Sept.
Box 3
“Photographic Operation of the Belcher Islands,”1932
Box 3
Some Continental Flying Boats, 1930
Box 4

4. Printed Material Series, 1923-1981 (bulk1930, 1958-1960).

Includes Alberta Civil Defence reports, published texts, Royal Canadian College course lectures and training manuals, and serials.

Arranged by topic, then chronologically.

Alberta Civil Defence, Reports,1923, 1951-1960
(6 folders)
Box 4
Minutes of Meetings, 1942-1945
Box 4
Published, Canadian War Museum Papers No. 2, 1972-1981, undated
Box 4
Published, Spitfire-The Story Of A Famous Fighter, 1961
Box 4
Royal Canadian Air Force, Photocopied documents, 1918-1919
Box 4
Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, course lectures, 1928-1930
(6 folders)
Box 5
Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, training manuals,1924, 1934 1938-1939
(5 folders)
Box 5
Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, training manuals, Defence Forces List, 1934
Box 5
Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, training manuals,1938
Box 5
Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, training manuals, The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, 1939
Box 5
Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, training manuals, 1943-1944
Box 5
Serials: Air Force Officers' Association of Vancouver Island, 1957-1971
Box 5
The Circular, 1951-1961
Box 5
Royal Canadian Air Force List, 1945
Box 5
Wings, 1941-1974
Box 5

5. Writings and Speeches Series, 1935-1979

Contains written speeches that Howsam gave while a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Also included are cassette recordings of Howsam giving interviews.

Interviews, cassette recordings, 1971-1972, 1977-1979
(3 folders)
Box 6
Speeches: Howsam, 1935-1969
(2 folders)
Box 6
Speeches: Howsam, notebook, 1940-1942, 1948-1953
(2 folders)
Box 6
Speeches, miscellaneous, 1959-1967
Box 6

6. Clippings Series, 1942-1961, undated (bulk 1958-1961).

Consists of four folders of photocopied clippings.

Calgary Civil Defence, 1958
Box 6
Nuclear War, 1959-1961, undated
Box 6
World War II, 1942-1946, undated
Box 6
Miscellaneous, 1962-1967
Box 6

7. Miscellaneous Series, 1945-1967 (bulk 1964-1967).

Includes one scrapbook, Americana and Canadiana, personnel evaluations, and road maps.

Miscellaneous, 1930-1945, 1964-1965
(2 folders)
Box 6
Miscellaneous: Scrapbook, Americana and Canadiana, 1964-1967
Box 6
Royal Air Force, photocopied documents, 1918-1919,Restricted
Box 7
Wings, 1941-1974
Box 7
Serials, miscellaneous, 1941-1943
Box 7
Maps, Royal Automobile Club, undated
Box 7
World War II, 1942-1946, undated
Box 7
Scrapbook, Americana and Canadiana, 1964-1967
Box 7

Historical Note


Date Event(s)
1895, Jan. 29 Born, Lake Scugog, Ontario
1916-1918 Enlisted in 116th South Ontario Battalion, Accepted into Royal Canadian Expeditionary Force, Promoted to Lieutenant
1918, Sept. Joined Canadian Air Force, stationed in France and Belgium flying bombing missions for various government departments
1921 Worked with Royal Canadian Air Force photographic survey, NW Canada
1923-1926 Worked for Canadian Air Board (mapping early radio communications, aircraft and radio equipment, flying)
1929 Senior member, Royal Canadian Air Force 1st Aerobatics Team, (Siskin) Display, Cleveland, OH
1930 Joined the Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College, England, Director of Civil Administration
1931-1932 Staff member CGAO Operations at Air Force Headquarters
1933-1936 SASO, MD2 Toronto
1937 OC 2, Army Co-operation Squadron, Ottawa
1938-1940 SASO, No.4 Training Command, Regina
Director of Training for Royal Canadian Air Force, Ottawa
1941 Directed and organized the funding of the building of the Service Flying School, Yorktown, Saskatchewan
1942-1943 AOC Air Staging Route to Alaska
1942-1944 AOC No.4 Training Command, Calgary
1945 Chairman, Organization Committee, AF HQ, Ottawa
1946 Retired from the Royal Canadian Air Force as Air Vice-Marshal
1948-1949 Director, Sicks' Breweries Ltd. and Sicks' Edmonton Brewery, President of the United Services Institute of Edmonton
1950-1951 Co-Ordinator of Civil Defense, Alberta
1960, Oct. Canadian Delegate to Emergency Measures NATO Assembly, Paris

George R. Howsam was awarded the following awards of merit: Legion of Merit in Degree of Commander (United States, 1945), Order of White Lion (Czechoslovakia, 1946), and Commander de l'orde de la Couronne (Belgium, 1948). His works include: Rocky Mountain Foothills Offer Great Chance to Guilders (1923), and Industrial and Mechanical Development: War (1931).

Subject Headings


The George R. Howsam papers (1920-1981) were donated to the Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1990 by Peter Howsam.

Processing Information

Processed by: John Gribble; Assisted by Dave Daily and Sandra Hack Polaski

Completed July 10, 1993

Encoded by Stephen D. Miller