Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

No Fear of Flying

Feb 7, 2018

My friend Eve Lazarus notes the 50th anniversary of the opening of the main terminal at Vancouver's International Airport, which reminds me of a story about former mayor L.D. Taylor. (Admittedly, it doesn't take much to remind me of stories about L.D.)

Before the airport itself (as opposed to the terminal building) opened on Sea Island in July 1931 there was a makeshift airfield in Richmond. In July 1928 Mayor Taylor was aboard a BC Airways flight inaugurating passenger service between Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle. The plane was a Ford Trimotor and as it taxied to a stop an impatient L.D. scampered down the steps and straight into a still-rotating propeller.

For a few hours his life hung in the balance as doctors operated to remove pieces of skull embedded in his brain. One surgeon supposedly remarked that if the pint-sized mayor had been half an inch taller he'd be dead. A less kindly journalist observed that if he'd had an ounce more brains he would not have survived. But survive he did, and by the end of August he was back chairing council meetings.

Taylor was able to make good political use of the incident. Thinking he was going to die, the daily press had prepared obituaries including lots of complimentary remarks about his career. When the next campaign rolled around all the papers opposed his re-election but he was able to flourish their death notices and crow that "here is what they said of me when they thought I was about to die."

Lots more on Taylor in my biography of the mayor.