October 17, 1919 – June 27, 2014
Vi passed gently on June 27 surrounded by caregivers and her good friend Marilyn. In the
background Vera Lynn was singing White Cliffs of Dover while goldfinches looked in from their
feeder just outside her window.
Born in Toronto October 17, 1919 to Edith and Harold Milstead, Vi had one brother Fred. All
have predeceased her.
As a young teenager Vi wanted to be a surgeon, but when her mother opened a wool shop, Vi
was taken out of school, thus ending that dream. Vi helped out in her mother’s shop, saving all
of her earnings to pay for flying lessons. When she began flying lessons, her instructor had a
film made, Let’s Learn To Fly, starring Vi. No doubt he chose Vi to demonstrate that “even girls
can learn to fly”. Soon after she completed her Private Pilot Licence, her mother sold the wool
shop and Vi lost her income source. So she started her own business to earn money to pay for
her commercial lessons.
Within the next 10 years, besides owning and operating a business in north Toronto, Vi taught
others to fly at Barker Field. When civilian flying ceased during WW II, Vi joined the Air
Transport Auxiliary in England, delivering airplanes from factories to the military bases. With the
ATA Vi logged over 600 hours on 47 different types of aircraft, 74 if we count different marks.
After the war, Vi instructed again at Barker Field. One of the highlights of this time was flying
1946 Miss Canada, Marion Saver to Washington to invite the President of the United States to
Toronto for Canada’s first international airshow. While at Barker Field Vi met Arnold, the man
she later married. They moved to Sudbury, instructing and flying as bush pilots. They also
worked stints at the Windsor Flying Club, and then on the Sagamo on Muskoka Lakes before
moving to Indonesia where Arnold did taught flying. Though officials gave Vi a piece of paper
allowing her to fly, they would not hire her as an instructor.
Once Arnold completed the terms of his contract, they returned to Canada where they found
more lucrative jobs, Arnold at a community college and Vi as a librarian at Orenda and then the
Ontario Water Commission. They continued to fly recreationally, after retirement between the
Magdalen Islands and Colborne.
Vi was active in several Colborne organizations such as Inner Wheel (Rotary), Second Helping,
Meals on Wheels and volunteering in the elementary school. Some of the Rotary exchange
students continue to keep in touch with Vi. Vi was a gracious hostess, warmly welcoming
guests and wanting them to be comfortable. Vi deeply missed Arnold after his death in!
June, 2000, but she welcomed new friends in her life, particularly Marian Carter. They enjoyed
wonderful times together until Marian’s passing.
Vi knew how she wanted to live her life and could be feisty if she sensed other people’s plans
interfered with hers.
Her wish to stay at home in her beautiful log house was possible because of the loving care of
Bea Mutton and her team of caregivers, the St. Elizabeth personal support workers, nurses and
others who attended to Vi’s personal needs. Neighbours, relatives and friends visited, often
bringing some of Vi’s favourite food, a book, article or photos, and usually stimulating
Vi will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by several nieces and nephews and their
families, Arnold’s three daughters and their families as well as neighbours and friends. This tiny
woman will leave a huge hole in our lives!