Fly High!

Another month, another caption! In August, our prompt for the Caption This series was an image of His Majesty’s Airship R-100 at the St-Hubert Airport during its 13-day trip to Canada in the summer of 1930. 


The British government launched the Imperial Airship Scheme in 1924, aiming to provide commercial airship service between various parts of the Empire. This led to the construction of two airships, the R-100 and R-101. As opposed to the R-101, which was built by the government-owned Royal Airship Works, the R-100 was built privately by the Airship Guarantee Company. Nevil Shute worked on the R-100 team as a stress engineer. 

Crowds flocked to see the ship; an estimated 800,000 people went to St. Hubert to catch a glimpse of the R-100 during its thirteen days in Canada. The airship flew over 5,000 kilometres nonstop from England, making it quite a spectacle. At the time, the R-100 and R-101 were the largest airships in the world (219 metres long), built to transport 100 passengers and 37 crew members.

After the R-101 crashed in October 1930, the Imperial Airship Scheme came to an unfortunate end, and the R-100 was scrapped.

Community Captions

As per usual, we had some humorous submissions, including our top choice for this Month:

Twitter user @bswbarootes: “Boop”

Vicky Shemie: Stop blowing!!!

Richard Orlando (MLS ’79) : Dirigible Home Won

One caption gave us some food for thought:

Michel L. Tremblay: “Like the climate, a ticking clock!”

We also found like-minded literal thinkers among our participants:

Doreen Gryfe: “Hanging by a Thread”

Jayne Watson-Sevigny: “Hanging on by a thread”

Others recalled people who were a part of this historical moment:

Ron Williams: “Nevil Shute’s non-literary masterpiece at Saint-Hubert, Quebec. Reference to the engineer of the successful British airship of the 1930s and its transatlantic voyage to Canada. Not a very funny caption but it does refer to an author. Events described in Shute’s autobiography Slide Rule, published 1954.”

Judith Rodger (BA 1961): “My Mother Was There! Mildred Higginson Maclean, (1911–2018), BHSc 1932, my mom went to see the R-100 at St Hubert in 1930 when she was a student at McGill. She never forgot the experience.”

Many thanks to everyone who participated.

Community Content

This month we received a number of emails from people who have photos and memories of the Airship’s Quebec visit. Thanks to all of you who reached out, we are always interested in hearing about complementary content to what exists in our holdings.

Until next month!

Image citation:

Photograph. Airship R100 at its mooring mast likely near St. Hubert, Quebec. From scrapbook of Wilfrid J. Bovey. McGill University Archives, PU027478

I share as a postscript the idea that immediately came to Jacquelyn Sundberg’s mind on seeing this month’s photo. Feel free to set this as your Zoom backdrop for the month!



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