Proposed name change to portion of 4th Avenue NE in McLennan to “Wop May Avenue”

Wilfred Reid ‘Wop’ May

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

The McLennan Leisure and Recreational Society approached the Town of McLennan with a proposal to rename a portion of 4th Avenue N.E. to Wop May Avenue.
Council has requested administration to gather further information from utility companies, emergency services and residents.
McLennan Leisure and Recreational Society’s proposal in renaming a section of 4th Ave NE is in tribute to the famous “mercy flight” from Edmonton to Fort Vermillion piloted by Wilfrid Reid “Wop” May, that landed en route at McLennan on January 2, 1929.
The Wop May flight from Edmonton carried serum to curtail a potential outbreak of diphtheria that had already resulted in one death in the Fort Vermilion and Little Red River area.
On the morning of January 2, in windy minus-28 weather with ice fog, Wop May, accompanied by Vic Homer took-off in an Avro, wheeled Avian biplane. Using the Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway as a flight path north to Smith, they then flew along the south shore of Lesser Slave Lake to McLennan, landing on Kimiwan Lake at approximately 4pm that evening.
It being wintertime and almost dark at 4pm, May and Homer spent the night in McLennan.
The next morning, they flew to Peace River and then on to their destination at Fort Vermillion, delivering the serum to Dr. Harold Hamman.
Dr. Hamman insisted that everyone in the communities of Little Red River and Fort Vermilion be inoculated, a decision that contained the potential diphtheria outbreak and prevented any additional casualties.
Wop May and Vic Homer returned from the 2,000 km flight, landing in Edmonton to a hero’s welcome.
Although the proposal to rename the section of 4th Ave NE is still in the early stages, the idea so far has received an enthusiastic response.

View from the junction of 1st Street NE and 4th Avenue NE in McLennan

Share this post