MACLEAN’S REPORTS

THE GREAT CANADIAN AIR JUNKET

From our 90 Centennial joyriders in Miami: "Wish you all could be here."

SUSAN DEXTER December 3 1966
MACLEAN’S REPORTS

THE GREAT CANADIAN AIR JUNKET

From our 90 Centennial joyriders in Miami: "Wish you all could be here."

SUSAN DEXTER December 3 1966

THE GREAT CANADIAN AIR JUNKET

From our 90 Centennial joyriders in Miami: "Wish you all could be here."

SUSAN DEXTER

ADDISON v. PINKNEY had two reasons for being mildly distressed for a couple of hours the other day. First, he was the only paying passenger on an Eastern Airlines inaugural flight between Toronto and Miami. And second, he just happens to be the associate secretary of the American Temperance Society and a member of the conference of Seventh Day Adventists.

He didn’t realize when he queued for the aircraft early that Sunday that among his fellow passengers were famous Canadians like impresario Mavor Moore, broadcaster Gordon Sinclair, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s King Clancy and a remarkable crosssection of Canadian life. But it soon became apparent that this was no ordinary junket, let alone flight. For in Buffalo, Tampa and Miami, an Eskimo, an Indian, a soldier, a Metro Toronto mounted policeman (without a horse — he managed to borrow one briefly in Miami) and an assortment of beauty queens left from the aircraft for pictures and speeches.

The 90 Canadians aboard the flight were to spend the next two days in Miami promoting the Centennial at Eastern Airlines’ expense. Some, it must be confessed, forsook our birthday glad-handing for the ocean and the beaches and the dog races, but a remarkable number attended the ceremonial functions (it could have been that the meals were free that way) to talk to mayors and members of chambers of commerce about Canada.

PETERSON ON THE PROWL

(One participant was so inspired by the whole idea, he began a little offhours publicizing in a late-night Miami Beach Discothèque called The Wreck Room. Floyd Caza, a publicrelations man attached to Centennial Commissioner John Fisher, gave a scantily clad go-go girl two maple-leaf pins inscribed with the word “Canada.” She was excited by the present, but waited until a break in the music before pinning them on.)

There was frequently a little more than talk, especially on Sunday afternoon, when Miss Toronto, dressed in a brief bikini, took 60 pounds of Arctic char to the seaquarium. It was to be dinner for Zippy the dolphin, who sometimes stands in for Flipper the dolphin on his television show. But thanks to the efficiency of the fish packers, Zippy never had a chance at the char. It was frozen solid — which was probably a good thing.

John Fisher, Canada’s Centennial Commissioner, did the most talking — even when he promised not to. Fisher guaranteed Monday there would be no speeches at the Torontoday luncheon, but crafty Gordon Sinclair knew better and timed Fisher’s pitch at 17 minutes. Sinclair himself was uncharacteristically silent. In fact, Sinclair seemed to discourage conversation. A curvy blonde, standing in line for a floor show Sunday night, turned to her companion and asked: “How much money does Gordon Sinclair make?” Sinclair, who by coincidence was standing immediately behind her, replied gruffly: “Eighty thousand dollars a year.” (They sat at different tables.)

Explaining the Centennial participation in a commercial venture, John Fisher said: “It was to our ad-

vantage to take advantage of Eastern Airlines’ offer. It adds a little more to the sum total of knowledgeability of the Centennial of Confederation.”

The climax of the junket was a wrestling match between Harry Veiner, the 63-year-old ex-mayor of Medicine Hat (he was defeated after he was invited), and a not-so-tame alligator, “i’ll rassle any alligator just as long as he keeps his mouth shut,” Veiner had boasted. As things turned out Veiner and the alligator were locked in combat for slightly under 60 seconds. Then the audience, with a typically Canadian gesture of compromise, declared the contest a draw.