Bertrand Camirand, a Quebecer, first noticed the aircraft in 1968 while passing through St.-Marc des Carrieres. Camirand wanted the aircraft for his roadside attraction business called Musee les Retrouvailles at St. Jean Port Joli and first approached Ferrand about selling the aircraft in 1971. Ferrand was not interested and over the next 14 years Camirand’s inquiries fell on deaf ears. While on a trip to Montreal in June 1985 Camirand stopped to see Ferrand and, to his surprise, Ferrand offered to sell him the aircraft for C$15,000. Camirand agreed and set out to make arrangements to move the aircraft.
Bertrand Camirand was very proud of his Super Connie
The first obstacle he ran into was the requirement for an oversized load permit. The process for obtaining a permit was long and complicated and, being in a hurry, Camirand decided to forgo this requirement and move the aircraft in the middle of the night when most of the highway weigh scales were closed. Loading the fuselage, wings and tail section onto three separate trailers on July 1 he moved the fuselage 110 miles by road to St-Jean Port Joli on July 2 leaving St-Marc at 12:45am and arriving at the St-Jean four hours later at 4:45am. Traveling at 35 mph and regularly stopping to check tie-downs, he had successfully evaded the authorities and arrived safely, having even crossed the St. Lawrence River to the south shore across the bridge in Quebec City! The wings were moved on July 4, 1985 at 12:15am after his compatriots reported that the last highway weigh station had finally closed. The tail section was moved the afternoon of the same day and the entire aircraft was now in Camirand’s possession.
Moving CF-RNR (CF-TGE) to St. Jean Port Joli. Cockpit after arrival
All three trailers were unloaded the next day and the aircraft was reassembled between July 9 and July 12, 1985. Camirand worked on the aircraft for almost two years before opening it for display at his Musee Les Retrouvailles on June 15, 1987 in faded WWA colors. The admission charge for viewing the aircraft was C$1.50.
Camirand secured many missing parts for the aircraft when, together with Maurice Roundy, they jointly scrapped L1049H N1007C at Opa-locka Airport in Florida in October 1987. Camirand recovered the $2000 cost of buying N1007C by selling two engines to Roundy and the remaining hulk to a scrapper. After repairs back in Quebec, the airplane was repainted using brush and roller.
After re-assembly at St. Jean Port Joli
CF-TGE was wearing its last registration CF-RNR
St Jean Port Joli (which means the Pretty Port of St. John) on the St. Lawrence River is a picturesque little town that my wife and I visited frequently during the four years we lived in Montreal. We have returned several times in subsequent years, the last visit being in 2003. The Connie's years there were, however, during a time when we did not pass through the town.
got to know Bertrand Camirand about a month after he brought the
aircraft to St-Jean-Port-Joli at night. He told me many times and in
detail about this epic voyage. He also gave me a VHS copy of the film
he made of this 2 days expedition between St-Marc-des-Carrières and
St-Jean-Port-Joli. It is quite a thing to watch, believe me. The story
goes like this:|
One day, he decided he needed a good size road sign to attract visitors and tourists to his museum. The price of such a sign was $12,000. so he convinced his wife that he could instead buy CF-RNR and use it as a road sign. She agreed (as loving wives always do) and in no time at all the Connie got to St-Jean-Port-Joli.
Bertrand was a truck driver and owned his company. He loved aeroplanes and often stopped at the Montreal/St-Hubert airport where I was employed as Operations manager of a small air carrier. We got to know each other and talked aeroplanes together, shared stories and in no time at all I was enrolled to help him in his adventure. I donated him a poster of a Nordair Super Connie and copies of Super Connie slides from my collection. I remember sitting with Bertrand in the first class section in the back of the aircraft for hours and hours, talking about it, of course. At the beginning, the poor thing was a mess but with time it got better and better.
Since Bertrand spoke very little English, I was the one phoning all over to find parts that were missing. RNR had no nose cone, no nosewheel, no ailerons, no flaps, no engine cowlings, 2 engines were missing and the tip tanks were nowhere to be found. The instrument panel was a mess and all the cockpit seats were missing. With my help (phone calls mainly) Bertrand bought N1007C in Miami and in 3 days took all the parts from it that he needed for his own bird. He sold 2 engines to Maurice Roundy and that paid for the trip to Florida and back with one of Bertrand's trucks. And he sold the rest of N1007C to a melting place and that paid for the US$2000. he had paid for it. (I have the pictures of that adventure as well).
After receiving the parts from N1007C, TGE got a nosewheel and 2 engines on the port side (#1 and #2). It also got the ailerons, the flaps, the three rudders and many other parts including the airport passenger stairs (on wheels).
Bertrand then proceeded to finish the assembly of the aircraft and re-painted (with brush and roller!!!). The interior became a Super Connie museum (and I have pictures of that as well). The price to visit was $1.00 and it was quite popular. Unfortunately, Bertrand died of a massive heart attack at the age of 49 and his widow eventually sold the museum. You know the end of the story.
In the museum, he collected cars, buses, fire trucks, tractors, motorcycles, bikes, helicopters, old furniture, old dishes and many more. He was buying, exchanging and trading and was always on the lookout for old things. He also had 2 preserved brand new Zero time Rolls Royce Merlin engines.
As for the right wing outer panel, it was present from the beginning as it came with the aircraft and it was outside leaning against the museum back wall. It was not installed on the aircraft because TGE was parked along the neighbour's property and there was an access road to said property along the fence. So Bertrand did not install the right wing outer panel. Two of the engines from N1007C went to Maurice Roundy and I heard they were to be installed on the Starliner that he had in Florida. If you look at the pictures I sent you of TGE after cleaning and repainting by Bertrand, you will see the said access road along the outside of the fence.
The fee to visit the museum was $1.00 and the fee to visit the aircraft was also $1.00 but if you wanted to visit both, the there was a special rate of $1.50.
I saw the
pictures of TGE that you sent me a month ago. What a beauty she became.
Bertrand would be so happy to see his airplane in such a good
condition. But I suppose he is looking down to it and he is probably
smiling. He was a very nice man and you would have enjoyed his company
and his friendship.
dismantled N1007C in October 1987 in Miami - Opa Locka. Bertrand was accompanied by his 2 nephews. You can also recognize
Mr. Maurice Roundy and his wife Mrs. Jane Théberge on two of the
The sad end of a once beautiful airplane - N1007C
Maurice Roundy and wife Jane Theberge from Maine
Maurice's two engines are believed to have wound up on his L-1649 in Polk City, Florida
After the "buzzards" had picked her clean..... Photos: Alain St-Pierre - all