He was born in Montreal, Quebec on April 25, 1920 to the late Joseph Alcide Therriault and Marie Louise Mollot. He grew up with six siblings in Timmins, Ontario where his love of the outdoors blossomed and he learned to fly floatplanes. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Joan Margaretta Watson of Sault Ste. Marie, three sons, John Theriault of Sault Ste. Marie, George Theriault Jr. of Foleyet, Ontario, Richard Theriault of Cambridge, Ontario and three daughters, Elizabeth Pasco of Oxford, Mississippi, Jody Terio of Toronto, Ontario, and Jane Deans of Vlodrop, Netherlands, as well as a sister, Cecile Mestan of Orlando, Florida. George also has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
George was a well-known bush pilot and entrepreneur in Canada and author of the book “Trespassing in God’s Country” published in 1994. After graduating from high school in Timmins he was awarded a hockey scholarship at UCLA where he enrolled in the Aeronautical Engineering program. In 1941, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and obtained his wings in 1942. During World War II he was posted in Prince Edward Island and later at the Central Navigation School in Rivers, Manitoba as a pilot-navigating instructor.
While on the RCAF Reserve after the war he flew for Wheeler Airlines in St. Jovite, Quebec and Northland Aviation in Timmins and Temagami before re-enlisting in the RCAF in 1948 to participate in a project to survey the Arctic and lay the foundation for the DEW line during the Korean War. He was stationed in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, where he piloted dignitaries and politicians including Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Lester B. Pearson, and HRH Prince Philip of Great Britain.
He was stationed in Goose Bay, Labrador and Edmonton, Alberta before his honourable discharge from the RCAF in December 1953, when he was awarded a charter to establish his first business, Theriault Air Service, in Chapleau, Ontario. He later established air services in Wawa (Hawk Junction), Ontario and Foleyet, Ontario as well as outpost lodges on the Belcher Islands and Long Island in Hudson Bay. In 1996 George was honoured as a Pioneer Aviation Bush Pilot in Sudbury, Ontario.
He moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 2001 with his wife Joan. He was an avid golfer and continued to fly his Cessna 180 on numerous fishing trips with his nephews Marc Theriault, Dan Theriault and Shawn Theriault from Timmins and his friends in the Sault Ste. Marie area. His son George Jr. continues the family fly-in fishing and hunting business on Ivanhoe Lake near Foleyet, Ontario operating it as Air Ivanhoe with his wife Jeanne and son Joel. The day before he passed, May 25, 2015, George was decorated with a medal from the Sault Ste. Marie and Chapleau branches of the Royal Canadian Legion commemorating the 90th anniversary of Royal Canadian Legion.
A reception for George will be held in the lower lounge at Northwood Funeral Home Cremation and Reception Centre (942 Great Northern Road 705-945-7758) on Monday, June 1, 2015 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm.
Memorial donations to Bushplane Heritage Centre would be appreciated by the family.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.