In Celebration of

William Carr

March 17, 1923 -  October 14, 2020

Lieutenant General Carr, RCAF, Rtd, First Commander of Air Command
“Father of the Modern Canadian Air Force.”
William Keir "Bill" Carr, CMM, DFC, OStJ, CD
Order of Military Merit
Commander of Military Merit
Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame
Executive Vice President Foreign & Military Sales Canadair Bombardier
National Commissioner of Boy Scouts of Canada

OTTAWA, Ontario, Wednesday, October 14th, 2020, the family is saddened to announce the passing of Lieutenant-General William Keir Carr the morning of October 14, 2020 at the Civic Hospital.

William Keir Carr was born on St. Patrick’s Day, 1923 at Grand Bank, Newfoundland, son of Percy L. Carr and Eleanor H. (Harris) Carr. He attended Mount Allison University, New Brunswick receiving a BA degree. Carr joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. He graduated, as a pilot, from Flying Training School at Ottawa (Uplands) July 31, 1942

After arriving overseas, he piloted Spitfires with 541 Squadron Royal Air Force. Then in Italy and Malta he flew Spitfires with 683 Squadron RAF carrying out 143 risky and death-defying missions, many involved photographic reconnaissance of great accuracy and thereby contributed substantially to the success of the Allied 8th Army in Italy. On December 18 1944, Carr was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). His citation was for his outstanding skill and courage both as a pilot and as a flight commander.

In 1948 he met Elaine Mulligan of Ottawa on a blind date, pronounced her a ‘living doll” and promptly married her on December 22nd, 1948.
Continuing to serve in the postwar RCAF, Carr was first attached to 413 Squadron Ottawa. Next he attended Rochester New York Institute of Technology where he received his MSc degree. In 1953, he graduated from the RCAF Staff College in Toronto with the rank of Wing Commander.

Wing Commander Carr was a staff officer with the RCAF’s Air Transport Command in the mid-1950s. He then commanded 412 VIP Squadron, which included the transportation of many dignitaries such as Princess Margaret and, Queen Elizabeth, plus piloting the aircraft for Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s 1958 around-the-world tour.

Promoted to Group Captain, in 1960 Carr was deployed to the Congo where he commanded air units from more than a dozen nations in support of United Nations Peacekeeping operations.

Upon his return to Canada, Group Captain Carr became commanding officer of RCAF Station Namao (just north of Edmonton), and later in the 1960s held command and staff appointments with Mobile Command, Training Command, and as NORAD Chief of Operations in Colorado Springs, USA, in 1970.

In 1973, Major General Carr was appointed Chief of Air Operations for the Canadian Armed Forces. In 1974 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and became the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. He was responsible for centralizing all Canadian air power under a new Air Command, of which he became the first commander upon its establishment in 1975. For this appointment, Bill Carr became known as the “Father of the Modern Canadian Air Force.”

In June 1976 Carr was made a Commander of the Order of Military Merit (CMM) and in April 1977 was admitted to the Order of St. John (OStJ) with the rank of Officer and to the Companionate of Merit with the rank of Commander with the Military and Hospitalier Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem.

Carr served as the National Commissioner of Boy Scouts of Canada from 1972 to 1977. At his suggestion Queen Elizabeth attended the second Arctic & Northern National Boy Scout Jamboree in Churchill, Manitoba in 1970.

From 1977 until 1993, Carr was Executive Vice President, Foreign and Military Sales, Canadair Bombardier. He sold significant numbers of the Challenger jet worldwide. On occasion Elaine accompanied Bill; together enjoying the travel and playing golf.

In 2001, General Carr was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. “His achievements in both military and civil aviation, along with his proven leadership and organizational abilities, have been of outstanding benefit to Canada.”

In 2013 Bill Carr was honoured by Vintage Wings of Canada founded by Michael Potter; “To acquire, restore, maintain, and fly classic aircraft significant to the early history of powered flight and to inspire and educate future generations about the historical significance of our aviation heritage and their pilots as they dance with them in their natural element in the skies in their natural element.”

In 2016 General Carr was conferred Honorary Doctor of Laws by Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Bill and Elaine remained devoted to each other until her death in 2008. They had three children; Virginia, David (deceased) and Peter. General Carr is survived by Virginia Baldwin and Peter Carr, his grandson, Zackary Carr, and one of five siblings, the Reverend Eleanor Moreithi.

A Memorial Service will take place at Stittsville United Church, 6255 Fernbank Rd, Stittsville, on Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. To attend the Memorial Service you must RSVP at: .
A Maximum of 40 people will be permitted to attend in person. Masks are mandatory and for safety, strict COVID precautions will be enforced.

Live Stream and view the Memorial Service at 11:00 am Saturday, October 31st online at:

A Graveside Committal will follow at Pinecrest Cemetery, 2500 Baseline Road, Ottawa. If you wish to attend the Graveside Committal, you must RSVP here:

A Maximum of 25 people will be permitted to attend the Graveside Benediction in person.

Live Stream and view the Graveside Service following the Memorial Service online at:

In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to; Royal Canadian Air Force Association Trust Fund,, The Royal Canadian Legion, https://www.legion or Vintage Wings of Canada Foundation,

Sic Itur Ad Astra Per Ardua Ad Astra


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Brenda and John MacKay (Friend)

Entered October 21, 2020 from Oakville On

A Canadian treasure and icon, so grateful to known Bill. A wonderful companion for our mother in her later years

Dean Black (Colleague (Air Force))

Entered October 22, 2020 from Renfrew, Ontario

From all members of the RCAF Association - As Executive Director of the RCAF Association, General Carr would call like clockwork, every three months when our magazine would be released. He never had a bad thing to say, though. What he did say – every word, every time – would serve as “architectural” context forming not just a foundation, but bricks and mortars to an edifice of great importance to countless Canadians. He wasn’t just the architect, of an institution, he was the caretaker of the RCAF, but in the most humble way. At that level of leadership – the founding leader level – ‘letting go,’ is simply not possible. How many of us can claim to being an architect like that? I suppose any and all of us who find ourselves responsible for a family – but in General Carr’s case, his larger family all wore the same uniform, and it was huge. In a generations-temporal sense, forty-five years later, his ‘great-grandchildren’ now run the enterprise he helped to create - Air Command. How fortunate we are to have known someone with such a unique caliber of leadership.

Sic Itur Ad Astra

George Miller (Colonel (Ret'))

Entered October 22, 2020 from Abbotsford BC

LGen Carr was one of the greatest leaders of the RCAF

LGen (Ret'd) Lloyd Campbell CMM CD (Friend and Colleague)

Entered October 23, 2020 from Ottawa

I first met Bill when he was DCDS and I was a CF-104 pilot on 421 Sqn in Baden-Soellingen. I flew him in a 'two-seater' on a four-plane mission through really crappy weather and was most impressed with his enthusiastic comments post-flight about how "operational" the trip had been and how impressed he was. While this was just a peacetime training trip, clearly it brought back some vivid memories of his own exciting flying career, in peace and in war, and we fledgling aviators very much appreciated his sincere vote of confidence.

Many years later, as Commander of Air Command myself, I had the pleasure of getting to know Bill better, as a peer and a friend. While he was always supportive of those of us who followed in his footsteps, he never hesitated to let us know his views on the issues of the day….with both candour and colour, as I recall. While I sometimes may have disagreed with him, I certainly never questioned his sincere desire to continue to support the RCAF and its members. Bill was an outstanding airman, a loyal Canadian and a friend to all who got to know him. The aviation world will miss his presence.

Per Ardua Ad Astra

Ian Struthers (Junior officer)

Entered October 23, 2020 from South Surrey

My father in law Gen Jim Tedlie and Gen Carr worked together.


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