Stratford: first view of itself from the air, 1919 by Vince Gratton

This series of four aerial photo-cards were taken in a circular flying path over Stratford in 1919. This is the first time Stratford residences had an opportunity to see their city as it appeared from the air. Aerial photography was a direct result of air-photo reconnaissance flights developed during the First World War to assist in map-making for war strategy.

There were no better pilots to take these photos than the owners of the Bishop-Barker Co. of Canada. Operated by Canada’s top two First World War flying aces, this short-lived enterprise travelled throughout Canada taking aerial photos of communities. Using open cockpit two-seater Martinsyde Bi-planes, when not photographing, they entertained with barnstorming acrobatics.

William Avery (Billy) Bishop was Canada's No. 1 flying ace and held the Allies' record for aerial kills. Only Germany’s ace, Baron Von Richthofen (The Red Baron), bettered Bishop's record. 

William George (Will) Barker was and still is Canada's most decorated war hero, was ranked as Canada's No. 2 wartime pilot.

This peacetime business venture ended in its first year as a result of their aerobatics stunts at the Canadian National Exhibition that year. In a reckless unexpected move, they dove down and skimmed over the crowd at about the 30-foot level. They caused    pandemonium as the spectators stampeded. With lawsuits pending, the aces abandoned their business venture.

The average lifespan of a First World War pilot was only 11 hours of airtime. These Canadian icons' survival, notoriety and war heroics would continue to sustain, as well as haunt, them for the rest of their lives.  Source: Vince Gratton

William Avery (Billy) Bishop VC                by S. J. Payne Royal Air Force Museum  

William George (Will) Barker