HISTORY > PIONEERS OF THE CANADIAN AVIATION
Men of courage and vision
J. Paul Laframboise
Recognized as one of the very first air cartographers, Paul Laframboise was, for about 50 years, a true leading aerial survey pioneer. Educated at the Ottawa College and Queen's University, Laframboise served during WWI with the Canadian Engineers Corps. In the summer of 1918, he transferred to the Royal Air Force to receive aviator training but the Armistice interrupted his course. He then joined the Geological Survey at the Federal Department of Mines (Canada). In 1923, Laframboise joined the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation of New York. The next year, he transferred his expertise to the recently formed subsidiary organization Fairchild Aerial Surveys Co. (of Canada), based at Lac-à-la-Tortue, Quebec.
Laframboise became a specialist in mosaic cartography, the science of assembling thousands of pictures to create a global map. As Roméo Vachon later explained: “It is no easy task to put together aerial shots, bring them to the same proportion and make a map out of it”.
Absorbed by Canadian Airways in 1930, the mapping division moved to Montreal, Quebec. Laframboise became Superintendent of laboratory work. In 1935, Canadian Airways Bulletin wrote: “Mr. Laframboise has had a long, varied and probably unequalled experience on aerial survey”. Fairchild Aviation News also revealed in 1938 that he had “more experience in mosaic work than any other man”. The same year, Roméo Vachon presented him as “the best air cartographer in Canada”. Resuming military service during World War II, he returned to Canada in 1945 to become manager of Canadian Pacific Air Lines mapping division (which had absorbed, in turn, Canadian Airways in 1942).
When CPAL sold its mapping division around 1952, Laframboise worked briefly for Spartan Aerial Surveys. He then joined A.E. Simpson Ltd at Cartierville, Quebec, with former Fairchild colleagues Walter Kahre, “Joe” Jolivet, and Albert E. Simpson. Thanks to the outstanding quality of the staff, the small firm established itself as one of the best around and operated until the mid 1960s. Laframboise later moved to Quebec city, working for Aero Photo. He retired in 1970, at age 75.
Thank you to the Quebec Air and Space Museum for this biography.