Wilfred Rutledge was born in Fort William in 1891, one of two sons of Edward S. Rutledge, both of whom became pilots in the Royal Flying Corps.
Wilfred enlisted in the 28th Battalion, Saskatchewan Regiment in 1914. For some reason his military records list his middle name as ‘Lloyd’ rather than ‘Laurier’. In 1915, as a member of the CEF, he went overseas and serving with distinction in France, he was awarded the Military Medal and Bar in 1916 for gallantry.
The following year he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and after training in England he went back to France as a lieutenant in 48 Squadron, which was equipped with the new Bristol Fighters. Returning to Britain in mid-1917, he remained with the squadron until early 1918 when he transferred to a training squadron as an instructor teaching new pilots to fly. His brother Stanley Arthur Rutledge was also an instructor, who unfortunately died in a flying training accident in England in 1917. Following a stint as an instructor, Wilfred became a member of 119 Squadron, which was training as a day-bomber squadron, but the war ended before it became operational. His final posting was with 1(Can) Squadron, one of two squadrons that made up the Royal Canadian Flying Corps at that time. In 1919 he was awarded the Air Force Cross in recognition of his service.
Read newspaper articles about Rutledge’s exploits during the war.
Wilfred Rutledge was demobilized in July 1919 and returned to Canada with his English-born wife and two daughters in March 1920. The family settled in western Canada, where he worked for CPR, but in the late 1920s he put his flying training to use by becoming the instructor for the Calgary Flying Club, and establishing Rutledge Air Service. In 1930 he became the first man to fly a single engine plane across the Rockies between Calgary and Vancouver.
The family returned to Fort William in 1934, where Wilfred, among other things became involved in the city’s politics. He died as the result of an accident in his home in 1946.
For more information on Wilfred Rutledge’s activities in municipal affairs see: F.B. Scollie (2000) Thunder Bay Mayors and Councillors, 1873-1945, published by the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society.
Read Rutledge’s military records through Library and Archives Canada.