Alexander 'Al' J. Lilly OC 1910-2008
Alexander John Lilly was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in 1910.He was a son to Harold Lilly, owner of an automotive and farm equipment dealership that specialized in Ford automobiles. Through his dad’s business, Al came in contact with the RCMP who used the dealership to service their vehicles. It must have been an indelible impression, for Al eventually enlisted in 1932. It was with the RCMP that Lilly’s early affection for aviation, first ignited as a boy when he had encountered ace pilots of the First World War, could finally be realized as a career path rather than just a passion or a hobby. It wasn’t until 1937 that Lilly requested permission to take flying lessons and petitioned to join the Aviation Section the following year. He was a strong advocate for advancing aviation in policing having seen first hand the limitations of dog-sled teams and the canoe and recognized that planes could better serve the North. Although flying during his brief career with the RCMP was the catalyst to greater accomplishments in aviation, Al Lilly’s tenure was best acclaimed for encouraging canine services in policing. As the story goes, Al’s dog, Prince, joined him on a search for a missing trapper and, in the course of the rescue effort, Prince was able to find shelter from the encroaching poor weather for both Al and the found trapper. Al instinctively knew there was value in K-9 skills and shared this insight with the RCMP. By 1935, the police dog-handling services were officially formed and Al was one of the first to be assigned his own dog, a German shepherd named Black Lux. The two formed a fond friendship.