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Memorable Manitobans: Garnet Robson Harland (1914-1993)


Born in Rural Municipality of South Norfolk on 2 February 1914, son of Abraham Harland (1866-1944) and Frances Mary Ethel Storry (1877-1961), he attended Arbroath School, West Treherne School, and the Portage Normal School. He taught at Barclay School (1938) and Durban School (1940) before enlisting the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in June 1940. His training took place in Ontario, including at the Manning Depot No. 1 in Toronto and the Bombing and Gunnery School No. 6 at Mountain View, prior to graduating as a Pilot Officer at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in December 1941. He advanced in rank to Flying Officer and Flight Lieutentant.

On 2 January 1943, he married Phyllis Ruth Hardcastle (1918-2013) at Windsor, established a home at Riverside (Ontario), and had four children, one of whom was Patricia Anne “Patsy” Harland (1945-1999). By 1944, he was stationed at the Royal Air Force facility at Goose Bay, Labrador serving with the RCAF’s No. 10 North Atlantic Squadron. On 18 February 1944, he was the Navigator of a B-24 Liberator flight from Reykjavik (Iceland) to Gander (Newfoundland) that encountered a severe storm, multiple engine loss, and ice build-up on the airframe, the latter which disabled the radios. Unlikely to reach Gander, he skillfully re-directed the plane towards Goose Bay, though with three engines out of action and the fourth on fire, the crew would not make it the full way there. The plane crashed over 20 kilometers south of Goose Bay with all but one on board surviving the impact and wreck, as well as a three-day ordeal in the freezing wilderness before rescue and extraction. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross in May 1944 and continue to serve until the war’s end. Following demobilization, he and his family returned to Manitoba where he was Principal of Great Falls School (1946-1955), during which they resided at the teacherage in Great Falls. He then departed Manitoba for Clinton, Ontario where he lived the rest of this life.

He died at Clinton, Ontario on 7 February 1993 and was buried at Baird’s Cemetery at Brucefield, Ontario.


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1916, 1921, & 1926 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

“Durban,” Swan River Star, 24 October 1940, page 3.

[Royal Canadian Air Force - Air Observers], Canada Gazette, 21 February 1942 page 16, Library and Archives Canada.

“Local notes,” Western Prairie Gazette, 14 January 1943, page 1.

“5 fliers struggle to safety after Labrador crash which kills officer,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 April 1944, pages 1 & 9.

“Crash survivor native of Treherne,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 April 1944, page 10.

[Royal Canadian Air Force], Canada Gazette, 5 May 1944 page 1, Library and Archives Canada.

“[Photo caption; Flt. Lt. Garnet R. Harland],” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 May 1944, page 4.

[Distinguished Flying Cross], Canada Gazette, 13 May 1944 page 30, Library and Archives Canada.

“Durban,” Swan River Star, 18 May 1944, page 3.

“The people of Great Falls are glad to see [...],” Springfield Leader, 21 October 1947, page 3.

“Great Falls [Mrs. Garnet Harland],” Springfield Leader, 18 November 1947, page 3.

Obituary [Ethel Harland], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 July 1961, page 47.

“Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Garnet Harland [...],” Springfield Leader, 22 May 1956, page 6.

“Lambert Harland of Gimli [...],” Shoal Lake Star, 30 July 1986, page 9.

Portage la Prairie estate file #6669, Abraham Harland, Archives of Manitoba.

Winnipeg estate file #62999, Frances M. E. Harland, Archives of Manitoba.

Hart/Storry family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 23 December 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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