The Avro Arrow

The Avro Arrow, a Canadian designed and built prototype jet fighter interceptor, was at the cutting edge of aircraft technology in the 1950s.

At its peak in 1959, A.V. Roe Ltd. (Avro) and its sister company, Orenda, employed more than 15,000 IAM members in Local Lodges 1922, 717, 2030 and 717T. Avro was the third largest corporation in the country and more than 45,000 Canadian workers had a connection to the Arrow project.

Arrow prototypes reached speeds of Mach 1.96 and their newly designed, Canadian engines promised to set new world speed records. But it was not to be.

On February 20, 1959, blaming cost overruns and changing needs, the federal government cancelled the project. In one afternoon, 45,000 Canadians — including 15,000 Machinists — lost their jobs and a dream. A source of national pride was erased, along with Canada’s status as a world leader in aviation.

Since its inception in 1997, the Toronto Aerospace Museum has dreamed of an Arrow replica as its centerpiece exhibit. In 2006, the dream was realized, partly thanks to the experience of Peter Allnutt, a flight-test mechanic on the original Arrow and former shop steward with LL717.

“I was proud to be a part of it then and I’m proud to be part of this one,” he said.

IAM Local Lodges chartered in the month of February:

February 1: LL544, Cornerbrook NL (1956); LL1788, Batawa ON (1944); LL2418, Newcastle NB (1971)

February 2: LL2332, Sault Ste. Marie ON (1968)

February 10: LL741, Winnipeg MB (1941)

February 21: LL771, Fort Frances ON (1947)

February 26: LL922, Sherbrooke QC (1952)

February 27: LL1722, Edmonton AB (1945)