It existed before the Second World War and its central location became a strategic link for the military as the battle was born.
That’s just the beginnings of Gander’s colourful history, and there are plenty more stories stories to tell about the people and circumstances that shaped the town.
Jean Edwards Stacey has married a lot of those stories with first-hand accounts of the townspeople in her latest book, “Voices in the Wind: The History of Gander, Newfoundland.”
The book includes a historic account of the former town site, including the original airport and the people who worked there, Gander’s military history and a whole slew of first-hand accounts from people who remember what Gander was like 70 years ago.
The book paints a detailed picture of Gander’s history from its beginning until today, including more recent history such as Project Yellow Ribbon, which saw more than 6, 000 international passengers stranded in Gander following the 2001 terror attacks in New York.
Edwards-Stacey, whose father served overseas during the Second World War, grew up on Memorial Drive where her parents settled in the 1950s after abandoning the former town site.
“I remember Memorial being a place of veterans,” said Edwards-Stacey. “My father was a member of the 125 Squadron and so were many other veterans who lived there.”
In the book, the experienced author writes a detailed account of the 125 RAF Squadron and the men who came to Gander following the Second World War.
For every book sold, $3 will be donated to the Gander Heritage Memorial Park, which is to feature a honourary plaque in remembrance of the squadron’s members.
Edwards-Stacey has written a number of historical and cultural books, and was inspired to tackle her latest endeavor while visiting a local bookstore.
A woman came into the store looking for a complete history of but was unable to find what she was looking for. With that, the veteran author started scribbling down ideas.
The project got a lot of positive response right from the beginning and people were quick to help out by adding their first-hand perspectives on the history of Gander.
The title also has an interesting story.
“It was suggested by Carol Peyton-Fitzpatrick who is a former Ganderite, and her father, who was also a member of the 125 RAF Squadron. She suggested the title because when she goes back to the old town site it’s like she hears these voices in the wind.”
A lot of detailed research went into the book, said Edwards-Stacey and she’s thankful for the help she received.
“When people pick up this book I think they are going to get a very comprehensive history of Gander and aviation in the province. The town that I knew as a child, it’s like it didn’t even exist and I want people to be able to learn about it.”
Edwards-Stacey will launch and read from the book at the Gander Public Library, 3-5 p.m. on Dec. 12. She will also host a book-signing event, 1-3 p.m. on Dec. 13 at The Bookworm.