Stories from Clarence Simonsen’s lifelong research
Clarence Simonsen was born in a small farmhouse six miles from Acme, Alberta on 24 March 1944. During the postwar RCAF era, Simonsen watched bright yellow Harvard trainers buzz across the farm on the flying instructor’s course from Medicine Hat to Penhold, Alberta. That thunderous sound left a lasting impact on the young farm lad, who always seemed to be drawing aircraft in his spare time. In his early teens, Simonsen had his first exposure to artist Alberto Vargas and subsequently discovered the world of aircraft nose art and the pin-up in time of war.
During a four-year stint in the Canadian Army (Provost Corps, Simonsen was posted to Cyprus with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in 1965. As he left Canada for the first time, he wondered if this was how bomber crews felt twenty-five years earlier. For the next six months he conducted Military Police duties with members of six other countries. In his spare time he painted unit cartoons and did his first large mural art work. He began to understand the effect art can have on isolated military men. By late 1966, Simonsen was a member of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force with his major avocation being the research, collection and repainting of aircraft nose art.