Wild Men Living Wild Times: The Story of Spartan Air Services

by Matt Ball on May 3, 2010

The Ottawa Citizen has a book review today about Spartan Air Services, a Canadian mapping firm that was born after the second world war and continued through the mid-1960s. The story recounts a series of hard-scrabble innovations that saw the firm mapping far into the Arctic region and deep into South American jungles, having to innovate on the fly in remote reaches.

The book is called “Spartan – Seven Letters That Spanned the Globe”. It appears to be out of print, but available here:


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

bob laurie October 29, 2010 at 9:09 am

Re the book review for The story of Spartan Air Services. My uncle Robert Simpson Laurie worked for Spartan in early 1950s and died in a Spartan air crash in April 1953 in Canada.
I would love to read the book review and, if possible, purchase a copy.
Can you help me.
Bob Laurie

Matt Ball October 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I’m a bit stumped as I see the Ottawa Citizen no longer carries the book review, and I can’t seem to find the book through online sources. Perhaps a reader has an answer?

Markus Knecht February 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm


Was Spartan Air Services part of the CIA or something? No trace of this book around online, except for this article, and googling the company brings up very little info, if any. The company’s name is found mentioned often enough in aviation articles, but more than that seems very hard to come by. Seems kind of strange for a company whose work was so important to Canada.

M. Knecht

ERNIE SCULLION March 16, 2011 at 11:02 am


Bob Giroux April 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

Would love to get a copy. My father, Maurice Giroux was with Spartan till 1960…

Graham Cole April 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I think all of Tanzania was photographed by Spartan Air Sevices and maps were printed in Canada. I have a sheet which was compiled in 1966, copyright of Tanzania Government 1967.

WENDY TAYLOR NEE BUCHANAN May 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

My uncle Jock Buchanan (Bobby) was part of the crew of The Artic Queen and I have newspaper cuttings of him when Lake Diana was discovered. Sadly he died when their plane crashed in Skye. I would love to get a copy of this book as his sister and brother are still alive and would like to find out more about his work with Spartan Air Services.
Can anyone help?

Jean-Yves Fillion July 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

I am searching for a helicopter pilot named Skip Walker that worked for Spartan. Any help would be appreciated.

sheila hayworth August 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Matt Ball,

My father flew for Spartan. He was a recon pilot from WWll. Weldy Phipps was Resolute Bay, my father Nairobi. I do think it was probably a spy operation. MI6 and Canadian. I too would love to find the book.

Sheila Hayworth

This is Sparta!!! August 31, 2011 at 9:17 am

Article found here:

The book is called “Spartan – Seven Letters That Spanned the Globe”. It appears to be out of print, but available here:


Dupont Claude C. August 31, 2011 at 11:08 am

hi, worked for Spartan AIR services in the mid 60 in uplands airport Ottawa as a Mag Operator, Crashed in 1965 Piper Aztec CF-NVH pilot Ed Mc Narry, north east of Winnipeg.Now retired and doing fine,

A. G. González September 8, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Do any of you former Spartan employees have any recolection if one of your P-38s flew in or through Ecuador, South America in the 50s if so if it had to make an emergency landing at short dirt strip near the town of Portoviejo but no injuries or damages. Please reply to the above address.

Gerry McArthur November 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I worked for Spartan Helicopter division from 1953 to 1959. First in Ottawa and then as Chief Field Engineer out of Calgary. I have ordered the book :SPARTAN SEVEN WORDS THAT SPANNED THE GLOBE
from CNAV BOOKS, TORONTO 416-698-7559 I had flown in just about every aircraft and helicopter that Spartan had at thtat time including a flight from Watson Lake to Whitehorse with Pilot Tustin in Mossie CR-NMP which later crashed near Neepewa in 1955 killing him and his brother. I should write a book about my experiences with Spartan Helicopter division. Maybe I will if I live long enough. email me if you wish . gemairpilot@yahoo.ca

JoycE Roynon February 15, 2012 at 7:34 am

I am the daughter of Royden Moran an engineer for Spartn Air Service
From 1947 until his death in 1951 He die d in a crash of a Buchans Mining Co. Norseman 5 plane on September. 21 1951 along with one other Spartan employee Douglas Derry.I was 3 years old at the time my sister was 1 and my moybern was expecting a third child.
any story detail or comment from anyone who knew my father could put me in contact with anyone would be much appreciated
I am in the dark with no memories

Marilyn Gerwing August 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm

My Father Robert Lambert worked for Spartan Air Services in Calgary from 1956 until its closing . He was a Canadian in the RAF and flew Spitfires and Mosquitos for recon missions over Europe. He mapped Northern Alberta and the NWT as well as spending 18 months in Mendoza Argentina in 1960. Was curious if anyone remembers him from this time and in particular his mission in Argentina that we know very little about. He passed away in 1975 and our family would love to hear from anyone who might have worked with him.

Robert Stitt December 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Am writing a history of Spartan Air Services. Would very much like to be in touch with Bob Laurie, Ernie Scullion, Wendy Taylor, Sheila Hayworth and Claude Dupont re the above postings.
Email is: robstitt@brookhouse.bc.ca

Ron Lawruk February 24, 2013 at 11:23 am

Hi . I worked at Spartan from 1952 to 1958. Was Accountant at Calgary office in 1958. Looking for info on years and locations of air crashes in Labrador and Whitehorse.

Victoria Air Maintenance Ltd March 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

For anyone who is interested, we are restoring one of the deHavilland Mosquitos that flew with Spartan. We managed to get our hands on some old photos taken by Ray Lachance who flew for spartan. They are available on our facebook page facebook.com/vicairmtnc

David Bradley March 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

I flew with Spartan Air Services,and Howard McLaughlan from Nairobi West Wilson Airport,Kenya,as a trainee Photogramatrist in 1957/58.The Pilot was Al McNut,and the Nav was Vince Fernier,both exRCAF,but had to leave when the Contract ran out and joined the British Army.I would love to learn of their wareabouts .John Pell was also a Trainee with me I also flew in Airspeed Oxford, Miles Gemini Dornier(Former Feisler Storch with Zebra Camo) and a Bell Bubblebug Chopper. Happy teenage years.
Please RSVP. I now line in Berkshire UK,close to Heathrow,and White Waltham

Joyce Royno n nee Moran April 1, 2013 at 5:57 am

I am unaware of a srah in Labrador but am familiar with a crash in Newfou ndland in September (21)1951. two Spartan air services employees passengers on a Bucan.s Mining Company plane. (A Nordsman) crashed ne’er Deer Lake Nfld.
I am looking for anyone who might have known my father Royden(Roy)Moran either from his RCAF time or with Spatan Ir services or any information.on Doug Derry. Also a victim of this crash and an employee of SpartanAir services .Anything to know them better would be much appreciated
Sincerely. His daughter
Joyce Roynon( nee)Moran

Joyce Roynon April 1, 2013 at 6:15 am

David BradleyYou may want to get in touch with Gordon Townsend
he was a helicopter pilot with Spartan Air Services for many years he lives in Bath Ontario and does not have e mail but has agreed to giving you his contact number please e mail me directly if you would like me to
Pass along his number

Marilyn Lambert Gerwing April 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm

My father, Bob Lambert worked for Spartan in Calgary from about 1956 til it closed its doors. He spent a lot of time in the Yukon and in Argentina in 1960. I was wondering if you might have any memories of him at that time. He passed away in 1975 after spending his last years at Spartan as Western Division Manager.

Ken Moen May 16, 2013 at 12:30 am

I worked for Spartan out of Calgary in 1969. I was the camera operator, the pilot was Bob Bell, the navigator was Ian Adams and we flew in A Cessna 320 Skynight

Robert Stitt November 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

Repeating an earlier post, am writing the history of Spartan Air Services and would be pleased to be in contact with anyone who has posted here.
Robert Stitt

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