Category Archives: E.L. Britton
For the Moment is a 1993 film written and directed by Aaron Kim Johnston and starring Russell Crowe and Christianne Hirt. The plot revolves around airmen training in rural Manitoba, Canada, with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The main focus of the story is the wartime romance between Russell Crowe’s character and a local girl.
Johnson was inspired to write the screenplay based on the stories of his father who was an instructor and bomber pilot in the war, and his mother’s experiences as a young woman on the home front.
With principal photography taking place over August–September 1992, one of the first jobs for the production was to scout possible locations. The film was shot at former Royal Canadian Air Force stations in Manitoba used during the War, including Brandon Airport and Rivers itself.
Although there isn’t much flying in the movie, it gives a good sense of the locations. It’s possible to watch clips and match them against images from the bases. The brightly painted barracks at Rivers still feature on the town’s website. It probably falls under the category of a ‘romance’ more than anything else, but the beautiful scenery and the yellow Harvards and Ansons offer an emotive glimpse into Earle’s world.
The Town of Rivers, named in honour of The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway’s president Sir Charles Rivers-Wilson, was conceived when the railway was being planned and a division point was required. Construction of the roundhouse, coal shed, water system and repair shops began in 1907. The needs of the 350 railworkers and their families were met by the construction of houses and businesses. In 1911 the settlement had grown to village size and was incorporated as a town in 1913. Earle’s father worked as a locomotive foreman for the railway.
Earle’s logbook doesn’t include any mention of his earliest training (his first entries date after his transfer to High River, Alberta), but perhaps it was inevitable that he would be drawn into the air. In reading records of Rivers, it seems that there were two definitive forces that shaped the town: the railway and the RCAF.
The Federal Government established a Central Navigational School known as #1 CNS just south of Rivers, near the city of Brandon. It was opened under the British Commonwealth Air Training plan. It quickly grew and with the construction of runways became an air-training base. Closed at the end of hostilities, it was reopened in the late 1940’s and became a Joint Training base with all three of the military branches represented. This base was considered redundant in 1968 and closed in 1969/70.
The base didn’t officially open until 1942, so it’s unlikely that it was the location of Earle’s initial training (as we pick up his log book in 1941). I suspect he may have made his start at Brandon itself before moving further West to Alberta. However, I think about his family, left behind in Rivers, watching aircraft come and go, wondering if their youngest son would ever make it home.