Old Colony Airways Land at Hodge’s Cove, 1934

by Jim Peddle, February 2022

On January 13th, 1934, in a blinding snowstorm, an aircraft was heard circling the community of Hodge’s Cove as it came lower and lower. It was obvious to many that it was going to land. Either it was in trouble or there was some other reason.

Douglas Cowan Fraser (1904-1990) was born and raised in St. John’s and was one of Newfoundland’s pioneer pilots who was well known in aviation circles and started his own airline with a single plane. He delivered mail to remote locations, transported emergency cases to St. John’s, carried out aerial surveys for the Newfoundland Government and his was the first aircraft to land at the Gander airport when it was constructed. On one occasion he dropped the latest newspapers to the sealing fleet.

On that January day in 1934 Fraser was transporting a patient from somewhere in northern Newfoundland to St. John’s and became lost in the snowstorm. When he spotted a community through the snow with what seemed like a level place to land, he put down his ski equipped plane to get directions and regain his bearing. He had landed on the snow-covered pond in Hodge’s Cove.

First to arrive on the pond were my uncle Robert “Rob” Drover (1909-946) and Norman Peddle (1915-1993). It wasn’t long before quite a crowd gathered in spite of the storm.

As soon as Fraser learned the name of the community and regained his bearings he taxied up to the head of the pond and took off down.

At that time there was no causeway across the pond but there was a bridge out near the entrance to the boat basin. However, there was a telegraph line crossing where the causeway is now located. Telephone lines at that time were nothing like those of today. They were heavy galvanize wire almost pencil size. Frazer barely cleared it. He probably didn’t see it. It could have easily taken down his small plane. Newspapers reported Fraser’s landing in a storm but named a different community. For the people of Hodge’s Cove there was no doubt as to the community. For our family it was also noted as the day that my cousin Gerald Peddle (1934-1981) was born.

In the late 1980’s I was chairman of a project for the local Lion’s Club. I thought it would be a good time to invite Fraser back to the community if he was still living. After all there were still a number of people in the community at that time including Norman Peddle who remembered the landing.

After some effort I tracked down one of Fraser’s sons. He told me that his father was in failing health, but he would pass it along and get back to me. A day or so later the son called back and told me his father said that he could well remember the incident and he would love to come but he just wasn’t up to it. He thanked me for the invitation. He died a year or so later.

Note: Click here to learn more about Douglas Cowan FraserHe is a member of the Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.


Uploaded by Wanda Garrett, February 2022