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Remember Colonial Airlines, Northeast, Trans Canada? Patty Henchy does, as she worked for them for many years, beginning in 1941. Agnes Braceland was the seventh child in a wonderful Montreal family, and her tales of growing up are poignant and warm — from the death of her little brother to burning down (with a little help) her friend’s house.

Her stories of the early days of the air travel industry take place in the hub of the city, notably in the old Mount Royal Hotel. When she began work as a passenger agent (at age 16) her boss warned her, “Don’t ever use the word parachute!” We see a parade of colourful passengers and their adventures, as she learns, amid mishaps, the business of travel and the business of growing up.

When Agnes married Gordon Henchey, she had to “retire”. In her “retirement” she raised a family of four, fodder for even more stories. When the nest was beginning to look empty, she found a job in a travel agency on the West Island, which would prepare her for the day she would start her own agency, Bel-Air Travel. In these jobs she made many friends in her capacity as travel arranger and facilitator. She also taught a course at John Abbott College on the travel industry.

In spite of the fact that this book has everything — history, romance, pathos and humour — there is no excess baggage. The author tells her story with a wry sense of the absurd and amazing, and readers will appreciate her Travelling Light.

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