Construction whiz brought aerial waterbombers to B.C.

Canadian Press Thursday, March 03, 2005

THUNDER BAY, Ont. (CP) -- The late Dan McIvor, a former Thunder Bay, Ont., resident who earned the Order of Canada for bringing waterbombers to British Columbia to fight forest fires, was known as someone who could repair almost anything.

"Anything that had to be done with his hands, he could do," said McIvor's sister, Ruth Tabor, on Wednesday.

McIvor died last week in Richmond of pneumonia. He was 93.

McIvor's daughter, Mary-Anne Forman, said just two months ago he had asked for her help with putting a new roof on his house. And not just shingling -- he wanted the pair to go down to the river and get some big cedar logs to do the job properly.

"I said, 'Dad, you're 93 and I'm 65,"' Forman recalled in an interview from her home in B.C. "He said, 'So?"'

McIvor was born in Killarney, Man., in 1911, and moved to Thunder Bay where his father, also named Dan, was elected a member of Parliament from 1935 to 1958.

Since his youth, McIvor had dreams of flying. In the 1960s he was working in B.C., appointed to a committee looking into improving methods to fight forest fires.

While on the job, he made a waterbomber out of a navy plane by adding water tanks and scoops. The plane was able to pick up more than 26,000 litres of water in less than a minute.

McIvor's idea was actually inspired by smaller waterbombers that were in use in Ontario.

His work earned him the Order of Canada in 2003 and a spot in the British Columbia and Canadian aviation halls of fame.

McIvor's distinguished career also included time in the Royal Canadian Air Force, part of that spent as a pilot. He was briefly overseas during the Second World War, before a health problem forced him to return home.

"He was a larger-than-life type of person," said fellow aviator Peter Sleeman.

"He was a great inspiration right up into his 90s."

Sleeman will give part of the eulogy at McIvor's service in B.C. on Saturday.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005