Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 7, 1888
Place of BirthWindsor, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinVera McLerie, wife, 122 Jamieson Street, Toronto, Ontario
Trade / Callingmiscellaneous aviator cadet (civil engineering)
Service Details
Regimental NumberCan 154954
Service Recordsee images below
ForceRoyal Air Force (Canada)
BranchRoyal Air Force
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment122 Jamieson Street, Toronto, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMarch 5, 1918
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 4, 1926
Age at Death37
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

McLerie, Allan Gordon

‘The RAF training program in Canada ceased with the armistice and the RAF, Canada was demobilized in late 1918. During the highly successful operation of the program, more that 9 000 cadets and nearly 7 500 mechanics were enlisted, 3 272 aircrew were graduated ‘thousands of Canadians were trained with a long-term impact upon both military and civil aviation in Canada.’ (Into the Blue: Pilot Training in Canada, 1917-18, Canadian War Museum). One such fellow that used his training as an aviator after the war was Captain Allan Gordon McLerie.

Allan was born on 7 December 1888 in Windsor, Ontario. Both of his parents Charles McLerie and Annie Dickson were born in southern Ontario to Scottish immigrants. Although he was living in Michigan at the time, Charles married Annie in Montreal on 25 February 1888. Over the years Charles’ occupation was given as commercial traveller, manufacturer’s agent, metals broker, and artificial stone seller, and the family was to live in Windsor and Detroit, back and forth across the border a number of times. Other children born to the couple were Roy Dickson, 1892 in Windsor, and John Stewart, 1898 in Detroit. All three boys were to become civil engineers. Charles died in 1904 in Detroit and Annie later married David Burnett.

By 1908 Allan was living in Winnipeg and working as a civil engineer with the Transcontinental Railway. In 1912 he moved to Golden, British Columbia to work for the British Columbia government for a year, and then back to Winnipeg where he was employed by the Winnipeg Water District, 1914-1916. On 6 March 1916 in the RM of Springfield on the outskirts of Winnipeg, Allan married Vera Alma MacTaggart Stewart. Born in what was the Territories at the time, Vera was the daughter of John James Stewart and Isabella MacTaggart. Later that year Allan and Vera moved to Detroit where Allan became a construction superintendent for the newly formed Walridge and Adlinger Company, a company that went on to be one of the top 50 construction companies in the United States.

By March of 1918 Allan and Vera were living in Toronto when he signed his attestation papers with the Royal Flying Corps on the 5th. His occupation was given as miscellaneous aviator cadet and civil engineer and previous military experience as with the 21st Essex Fusiliers. He gave his wife Vera who was living on Jamieson Avenue as next of kin. As part of his training, Allan attended a number of schools: School of Armament (Hamilton), Artillery Cooperation School (Leaside), School of Aerial Fighting (Beamsville), and the School of Special Flying (Armour Heights).  On 1 April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service were amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force and Allan was transferred to the RAF.    On 31 October he was appointed Temporary 2nd Lieutenant. Having served in Canada, Allan was transferred to the unemployed list on 1 February 1919.

Both of Allan’s brothers served during the war. John enlisted in Toronto in January of 1916, his service number indicating he was with the No 2 Canadian Army Service Corps Depot and his rank recorded as Sergeant. Roy enlisted that June and went overseas as a Lieutenant with the 238th Battalion. Other details of their service are not known.

After the war Allan was to use his training and skills as an aviator. In an attempt by the Royal Canadian Air Force to induce the Post Office Department to inaugurate air mail service, it initiated air service on 1 January 1921 by pilot Lieutenant Allan McLerie. Although weather conditions delayed the flight until the next day, the plane left Camp Borden at 11:35 on January 2nd, arriving at Leaside (Toronto) about 40 minutes later. A letter and envelope with a cancelled stamp and addressed to his wife Vera in Toronto from that first flight exists today. Allan was to run the route that winter to prove that flying was possible in a Canadian winter.

Allan went on to work as a general manager for the Fairchild Aerial Surveys Company. The company was formed in 1921 in New York by Sherman Fairchild, a man well known for his production of aerial cameras that were first used in training in the United States during the latter part of the war and accounted for 90% of all aerial cameras used by Allied Forces in WW2. In 1923 Sherman formed Fairchild Aerial Surveys of Canada after being asked by the chief forester of the Laurentide Paper Company to perform aerial surveys of Canada. Allan’s father-in-law also worked for the company as a purchasing agent.

In 1926 Central Canada Airlines was being organized in northwestern Ontario, with mail routes being set up between Kenora, Red Lake, and other communities in the area. Captain Allan McLerie was taken on by the company to assist them in their plans. Unfortunately Allan was stricken with pneumonia that summer and died of a heart attack as a result of it on August 4th in the Kenora General Hospital. A large funeral was held with many representatives of the various air services in attendance including the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Naval Air Service, Central Canada Airlines, and the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve. Also present were members of the Masonic Lodges. It was noted that Allan was one of the most prominent aviators in the Dominion, a foremost pioneer in civil aviation. He is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

Allan’s mother Annie died in 1928 in Chatham and is interred with his father Charles in the Old Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham. His brother Roy died in 1930 in Ottawa and brother John in 1959 in Windsor.

Allan was never to see their only child, daughter Allyn Ann McLerie, born that December of 1926 in Grand-Mere, Quebec where Vera’s parents were living. It appears that Vera and Allyn made Brooklyn, New York their home for her childhood. Allyn went on to become a renown actress, first appearing on Broadway and then later in numerous movies and television series out of Hollywood. Allan’s wife Vera died on 1 December 1980, on their daughter’s birthday, in Studio City, California. She is interred with Allan in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

by Judy Stockham

McLerie-Allan-Gordon-2 McLerie-Allan-Gordon-3 McLerie-Allan-Gordon-4 McLerie-Allan-Gordon-5 McLerie-Allan-Gordon-6 McLerie-Allan-Gordon-7

Allan’s service record: National Archives, London, England
envelope and letter: Canadian Pioneer Airmail 1918-1922, Ray Simrak

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