Pilots abound in the family of Vernon resident Lois Weixl. Three of her grandsons – the Shavers, top row, second from left to right – were slated to drop the ceremonial faceoff puck on Canadian Forces Appreciation Night in Toronto Sunday, March 27, prior to the NHL game between the Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. (Weixl Family photo)

Pilots abound in the family of Vernon resident Lois Weixl. Three of her grandsons – the Shavers, top row, second from left to right – were slated to drop the ceremonial faceoff puck on Canadian Forces Appreciation Night in Toronto Sunday, March 27, prior to the NHL game between the Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. (Weixl Family photo)

Vernon woman’s grandsons honoured by Toronto Maple Leafs

Lois Weixl’s three RCAF grandsons were to drop puck on Canadian Forces Appreciation Night in Toronto

Everywhere Lois Weixl of Vernon turns, she jokes, she runs into a pilot.

She married a pilot who flew fighter jets in the 1950s and 60s. Her brother was a decorated Second World War ace with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Her uncle is a First World War fighting legend.

And Weixl has three grandsons in RCAF cockpits scattered across the nation. One is a fighter pilot flying CF 18s; one is a transport pilot; one is a pilot in training.

The trio – three of four sons of Weixl’s daughter, Laurie Shaver – were to be honoured Sunday, March 27, at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. It was Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night at the NHL Maple Leafs’ home game against the Florida Panthers and the Shaver boys – Lee, Luke and Pat – were to drop the ceremonial puck for the game, escorted to centre ice by their brother Michael, a recent graduate of the Ontario Provincial Police academy.

The Shavers’ father, and Laurie’s husband, is Carl Shaver, who flew with the legendary Canadian Snowbirds Demonstration Team in 1984 and 1985, and also piloted radar planes in the first Gulf War.

Six people, including her son, Don, gathered at Lois’ Vernon home to watch the pregame show and puck drop ceremony.

Problem?

The game was blacked out and unavailable in Vernon.

And the scheduled ceremony, which included a video presentation, was cancelled because of a fire inside Scotiabank Arena Saturday, March 26, that damaged the arena’s audio-visual system.

“We’re hoping if they did drop the puck there might be a YouTube summary of it,” said Don Weixl.

The Leafs did wear special camouflage warm-up tops for the pre-game skate.

Normally a woman who watches golf on Sunday afternoon, Lois Weixl – former member at Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club – was delighted to have her family around to attempt to watch the celebration with her grandchildren in Toronto.

“I’m very excited,” said Lois. “I want to hear everything being talked about my grandsons. It’s very special having the family around.”

Weixl is a native of Listowel, Ont., where the town Legion is named after her uncle, First World War flying ace Andrew (Hawkeye) McKeever, the “King of the two-seaters,” who won the Distinguished Flying Cross and recorded 31 air victories in the war.

Her brother, Jim Thompson, also won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts in the Second World War.

Maple Leafs team president Brendan Shanahan was hosting the Shaver brothers for dinner. The Canadian Forces had hired a video production crew to head to Laurie Shaver’s home in Ottawa for an interview that was to be played on the arena’s Jumbotron scoreboard prior to her children being introduced.

Luke and Michael Shaver are also former Canadian Football League players. Luke had a stint with the Calgary Stampeders while Michael had a short stay with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Both played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

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