The History of Long and Brier Islands


by | Jun 28, 2022 | Freeport, Miscellaneous, people, Videos | 2 comments

Rodney’s Wish

I was the 31st Wish for “We Are Young Association”

Me (About 6-7 years old)

After nearly 70 years of wondering and wishing what it would look like hovering in a helicopter over the city of Halifax a dream or wish has come. I have learned in life if you wish for something long enough and want it with all your heart it will become reality.

          I’ll take you readers back to my younger days when things were little tougher than today. In the early 50s life was tough and work was not always available here on our Islands. My father, Clyde or Dad is I called him, had gone up north to work on the DEW LINE (Distance Early Warning Line).       When that job was completed he then was asked by Maritime Central Airways (MCA) which is Air Canada today. They wanted him to work for them. He was employed as a aircraft mechanic helping to keep their fleet of aircraft working.

         The rest of our family moved to Mont Joli, Quebec, during the summer of 1954. The trip from Digby to Halifax was on the DAR train, the old steam locomotive. I remember the black smoke coming from this train as we kids took on a different color.

         While at the train station in Halifax I went up on the observation deck over the station. I looked up in the sky and there was this object hovering not too far from me. At first I thought it was a large dragonfly, this was the only thing that look similar. Helicopters were first used during the end of the second World War, and where I live, none of these machines ever visited our  islands.

          I have had this image burned in to my brain all these years, I guess if you think about something long enough and wish for it long enough, you better watch out “it may come true”.

         I received answers to my many questions that I asked Dave Johnson (Pilot for Vision Air), he had the patience to answer them all. I felt that I had received the best answers that I could get, and that was from a well-qualified helicopter pilot/mechanic. I can never thank Dave enough. Once  again, thanks Dave, for your wisdom, and you being our pilot for my first experience in a helicopter. Vision Air is the best.

  Dave Johnson(Right), Leta (Centre) Me (Left)

After almost 70 years this wish was fulfilled, over that same spot in Halifax. My original plans with “We Are Young Association” (WAY), was for my flight to go to Peggy’s Cove and do the lighthouse view. The foggy weather changed that so Dave flew us over Halifax and areas. There is no way Dave could have known my thoughts. Thanks again to all that made my wish come true.

Article for Passages (By Leta Stark)

Before the days of Covid Rodney and I were watching News at 5 on evening and they featured the story of a senior citizen who had a lifelong dream wish granted through an organization called “We Are Young”. I immediately went online, found their application and filled it out, knowing Rodney had always wanted to fly in a helicopter. Then Covid happened, life happened and I completely forgot about the whole thing.

In April of this year I got an email from Cara Chisholm, one of the co-founders, wanting to set up a telephone interview with both Rodney and I. Now I had to tell Rodney about making out the application. Yeah! He was surprised! We set a date for the call and during the call Cara told us that the wish had been granted! AND I could go as well. It would take a few weeks, she would get back to us with the details. A couple weeks later Cara called again and said the date for the flight would be June 13th, sounded perfect to me, that is my birthday. So on the 13th we were at Vision Air Helicopter Services at the heliport in Halifax and off we went with a professional photographer, Steph McNamara (also provided by WAY); CTV videographer, Mike Lamb; the pilot, Dave Johnson; Rodney and I. The rest is now history. Have a look at the pictures.

WAY was founded in 2015 by two young Nova Scotian women, Cara Chisholm and Katie Mahoney. Through their work and donations, (corporate and private), and with the help of their other team members they arrange and honour the fulfillment of wishes. Some of the wishes they have granted include helicopter trips like Rodney’s, MLB game trips, meeting celebrities, skydiving and even trips to Sable Island. The application is very easy and the organization welcomes new nominations. Their website address is:

Check out their website, while you are there nominate a senior that you love, who knows maybe their wish will come true as well. Make their heart smile! We are so very grateful for WAY granting Rodney’s wish of a lifetime.

Photographer’s Remarks (Steph McNamara)

And It was nothing short of a magical day. Rodney has wanted to ride in a helicopter since he was a little boy and saw one from the train on the way to Quebec. Through his little fella eyes he thought a helicopter was a huge ‘dragonfly’ and he was transfixed. The child like wonder was in Rodney’s eyes as we approached the helicopter on the day of his wish. He asked the pilot Dave more questions than any passenger has probably ever asked Dave! Rodney wanted to know literally everything about the helicopter and how it works and it was really beautiful to capture his genuine interest and then to capture him during the flight.

Rodney was so grateful for his wish being granted and for his wife Leta nominating him. Rodney survived four heart attacks prior to getting his wish granted so he felt so lucky to be able to take flight ?. I felt so lucky to be in the presence of someone so truly inspiring.

Rodney has accomplished the following:

He was a paramedic

He was a power engineer

He and Leta raised a family now with grand kids and great grand kids

He is a historian and presently has a blog about where he lives on Long and Brier Island

And the list literally goes on..

He told me he is a believer in life-long learning and therefore was going to take the opportunity to learn everything about helicopters before his flight. How incredible is that? How incredible is Rodney? It was a truly inspiring day.

You are never too old to learn literally anything you want to and you are never too old for a lifelong wish to come true … thanks to the beautiful charity @thewayassociation_

Part of my Interview with CTV

A Nova Scotia senior had his dream come true Monday, thanks to a local charity, and his wife.

Rodney Stark has dreamed of flying in a helicopter since he was a young boy.

“In 1954, I was around six years old, I looked up at the sky and I saw a helicopter and I thought it looked like a big dragonfly,” said Rodney. “I’ve always wanted to go and I wanted to learn about the helicopters as much as I could. So, I thought, someday I’d like to get a ride in one.”

Rodney has survived four heart attacks and lives with chronic pain.

His wife, Leta Stark, says she’s always known getting to ride in a helicopter has been a dream of his.

“We’ve been together almost 50 years and he’s had a lot of health issues. He’s always wanted to do this, I’ve always known that he wanted to do it, and we just never had the opportunity to,” Leta said.

“And then when I saw the first interview on TV with the We Are Young Foundation, I just opened up my computer right then and sent off an application and just never really thought that it would come true.”

But that dream did come true.


  1. Jackie Down

    This makes my heart so happy for you both Uncle Rodney and Aunt Leta! Your smiles are radiant and the excitement is palpable. Love you always!

  2. Carol Crowder

    Truly amazing! Love this site and the work that’s gone into it. It’s a proud statement of you, your home and roots and will be viewed by so many, not only islanders but people who visit from all over the world!


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