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Tuesday November 20, 2012

Frederick Anthony

Home Guard, member of the Avro Arrow team, Canadian Aviation Museum volunteer. Born March 3, 1923, in London, died Sept. 8, 2012, in Ottawa after a heart attack, aged 89

Frederick Anthony would have been born a Cockney, except that the Bow Bells were under repair at the time, and to be a Cockney one must be born within the sound of the bells of London's St. Mary-le-Bow church.

When he was young, his family moved to the Harrow area, where he was schooled, and all traces of a cockney accent gradually disappeared. Curiously, it re-emerged much later in life after a series of strokes affected his speech.

Frederick, also known to family and friends as Mark - for obvious reasons - trained as an instruments technologist. During the Second World War, he worked at Dollis Hill laboratories on the development of radios used by Royal Air Force bombers. The facility, which was very hush-hush, came to be known not only for ground-breaking research, but also as a second underground site for the Cabinet war rooms.

Mark was considered to be in a reserved occupation, and could not join the regular forces. However, he did serve in a Home Guard or reserve unit of the Royal Fusiliers. It was at Dollis Hill that he met and married Gladys Wye and began a family.

Post-war conditions in London were bleak, so Mark decided the family would seek greener and greater pastures in Canada. They set foot on Canadian soil on Feb. 6, 1952, the day Princess Elizabeth became Queen. They had $200, a suitcase each and the clothes they wore.

They took a small flat above a store in Toronto, and Mark soon found work on the Avro Arrow CF-105 project, working for Orenda, the Avro subsidiary developing the supersonic jet's Iroquois engines. He was transferred to Nobel, Ont., where Orenda had its test facilities.

Nobel was full of British expats who came to Canada to be part of this promising project. It was an exciting time, but it was not to last. In 1959, the Diefenbaker government scrapped the Arrow program.

Many British personnel went home, but hundreds went to the United States to work for Boeing, Lockheed or the nascent NASA. Mark felt going back to England would be a sign of defeat, and going to America would be terribly un-English and therefore unthinkable.

After a painfully long search, he found work at the National Research Council and moved with his family to Ottawa. He enjoyed a long period of service at the NRC until a stroke forced him into early retirement.

He and Gladys had many happy years after his retirement. Another great source of happiness for him was volunteering at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, where the remains of one of the Arrows is on display.

Mark and Gladys moved into a long-term care home when Mark suffered health problems that needed professional care.

Late this summer, their younger son Steven died in London of brain injuries, a terrible blow to Mark and his family. A few weeks later, Mark was admitted to hospital for the last time. He had a heart attack, became unconscious and unresponsive, and on Sept. 8 slipped away forever.

At the time, the media were full of stories about a proposal to revive the Arrow as Canada's next-generation fighter, but Mark was unaware of the brief but passionate public debate.

Brian Anthony is Frederick Anthony's remaining son.

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