Yukon Nuggets

  • Lloyd Chadburn.

1944 Yukon Nuggets

Chadburn Lake


Is there a more peaceful, easy feeling in midsummer than to sit on a drift log on the shores of Chadburn Lake near Whitehorse, and let the rest of the world go by? I don’t think so. Such a beauty - this little lake in the wilderness near town.

So where did the name "Chadburn" come from? The lake is named for a Canadian hero who died during wartime so that the peace and freedom found in the hills and valleys near Whitehorse are there for all of us to enjoy.

Lloyd Chadburn was born in Montreal and grew up in Aurora, Ontario. He might have ended up a banker because his first real job after high school was with the Bank of Toronto. But in 1939, when World War Two began, the world changed for the nineteen-year-old. He tried to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Air Force, but was turned down by both.

In 1940, the RCAF accepted him as an Air Gunner, but he was shortly re-mustered as a pilot. Chadburn was the first graduate of the famed British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to command a squadron at age twenty-one. In January 1941, Chadburn flew on the first mission by a Canadian squadron over German held territory.

In early 1942, Chadburn became the leader of a fighter squadron and flew dangerous cover missions over Dieppe, saving many Canadian lives in that ill-fated raid on Europe. His skill and leadership of the squadron earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

His Canadian squadron was the most successful fighter squadron of the day. Chad, as he was known to his friends, was made a Wing Commander of the so-called Digby Wing, in June 1943. He earned high praise from American bomber crews for his fighter escort duty during dangerous air-raids on Germany. In sixty sorties escorting American bombers, only one bomber was lost to enemy fighters. The Americans called him their "Angel."


By the time Chadburn left the Digby Wing in December, he had received the Distinguished Service Order twice - thus becoming the first RCAF officer to be so decorated, and one of only four who were. Chadburn had become one of the most honoured Canadian pilots of the Second World War.


On June 13, 1944 - a week after D-day - Chadburn was on patrol from makeshift airfields on the French coast, protecting allied troops as they advanced on German positions. In a mid-air collision with another Spitfire, the 24-year-old Wing Commander was killed. Canadian and British fighter pilots and American bomber crews openly wept at the news of the death of "Their Angel."

So the next time you visit Chadburn Lake, think of Lloyd Chadburn and the peaceful easy feeling he fought to preserve.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.