Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Heritage fair has its high flyers

Students resurrect Canadian Avros

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Hey, Mr. Harper, if you care to forget about that F-35 stuff, these two Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute students could probably build you a better, cheaper, domestic fighter jet.

Say, for instance, the Arrow.

Brandon Dyck and Luke Thiessen were super-keeners in a horde of hundreds of keen kids proudly displaying their social studies projects Thursday at the 20th annual Red River Heritage Fair at the University of Winnipeg.

"We both want to be engineers," said Brandon. No kidding.

They got seriously into their study of the demise of the Avro aircraft company under the Diefenbaker government, describing in intricate detail the engine design and flight capabilities of both the Arrow fighter and the Avro Car, better known as the flying-saucer project.

"You could take off through a hole in the ceiling," said Luke.

Alas, the model they built from papier m¢ché and a leaf blower flew about as well as the real thing did back in the day.

"It was meant to go 300 miles per hour, and only went 25. It was meant to go 10,000 feet in the air, and only went three," lamented Luke. Had the government stuck with the Avro, not only would Canada have had a great fighter aircraft, "they would have had the first hovercraft. They screwed them over completely."

The two turned the tables on one grizzled old-timer, asking him what it was like to go in the backyard west of Toronto and watch the Arrow test flight, everyone having been warned to exit the house lest the sonic boom shatter windows.

Meanwhile, for something completely different, Emma Reznichek sees organic farming as an ever-growing part of Manitoba's heritage.

"My family eats organic," said the Grade 9 St. Mary's Academy student. "Things are coming into more mainstream grocery stores -- it's no longer a niche market. It's healthier, and it doesn't have pesticides."

PhD students take note -- it's a nifty idea to illustrate complex concepts through Playmobile figures and buildings. "I dug them out of the basement," researcher Emma laughed.

The fair kept the grandmothers busy at École La Vérendrye. Grans made historical costumes for Jacob Sanchez, an usher at the Metropolitan cinema in its glory days, and for Nova Martin, a 19th-century resident of Fort Gibraltar.

Torn-from-the-headlines-time at Grant Park High School, where Kelsey Marion and Rachel Hamlin explored the threatened Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario.

"The Experimental Lakes is right near my cabin," Rachel pointed out.

Kelsey said students will be dealing with environmental consequences when they grow up, and should be learning about the ELA in school: "We looked at how it affects not only Canada, but the world. I definitely think students should be informed of this."

MBCI students Roopi Sidhu and Brianna Giesbrecht learned Moose Jaw is one of the more -- shall we say -- colourful places in Canada. They researched the tunnels of Moose Jaw.

"It was about Al Capone and prostitutes, and alcohol being sent to Chicago," said Brianna.

When they saw the tunnels on a list of possible projects, said Brianna, "I said, whoa, I went to that!"

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2013 A16

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