Early aviation- history of Remi Lake and Airplane Island
The very first flight into James Bay was achieved from Rémi Lake into Moose Factory in an HS-2L Flying Boat. The very first ambulance flight in Canada landed on Remi Lake. The very first airmail shipment also originated from Remi Lake toward Moose Factory.
La Vigilance was a Curtiss HS-2L plane that was based on Remi Lake. On September 2nd, 1922, after a delivery flight of gasoline to a Lake that was 90 minutes away, the plane was returning to Remi Lake when a storm hit. With low fuel and heavy rain hitting the plane, the Pilot, Don Foss, decided to land the plane on a small, unknown lake to wait out the storm.
When the weather cleared, the men decided to head towards Remi Lake. The take-off attempt failed; as the pilot was taking off this small lake while manoeuvring to avoid the trees, one of the wings hit the water and the plane dove in the lake. The mechanic, Caldwell, was ejected from his seat and survived. He was able to pull the pilot out of the plane. They both survived and found help; they met a trapper who brought them to Fauquier.
The plane remained at the bottom of the lake for decades; it was discovered in 1967 by a Kapuskasing resident.
The Vigilance Trail is dedicated to that moment. The plane was later retrieved and reconstructed and it’s now on display at the Museum of Aviation in Ottawa. It is one of the Museum of Aviation’s proudest acquisitions as it is the only complete HS-2L in the world.