Western Canada Airways

Western Canada Airways Ltd.

The company formed when "Doc" Oaks left Patricia Airways and Exploration in late 1926. Teaming with Oaks was James Richardson and the two intended to fly out of Sioux Lookout into Red Lake, Woman Lake and Narrow Lake. By March 1927, postal authorities allowed the company to issue their own comapny stamps. By 1928, the company opened a new base at The Pas in Manitoba as well as a new service to Favourable Lake. The company also expanded into Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton. In 1929, Western Canadian Airways opened a new route to Aklavik which was inside the Arctic Circle. This route was later granted to Commercial Airways.

In early 1930, Western Canada Airways merged with Canadian Pacific and CN Railways along with the Aviation Corporation of Canada to form Canadian Airways Limited.

Stamps Issued

CL 40 issued on May 1, 1927.

An inscription reads "ONE OZ. TEN CENTS" which was printed at the top and bottom margins on each sheet of 200. This was added to reduce the cost of each stamp from 25c to 10c.

CL 40i.

This is the "Skis on sun" variety.

Flight Covers

May 10, 1927. Red Lake to Rolling Portage.

This is part of the first official flights made by the company with the CL 40 in use. A two line cachet was used in green. Other cachets are seen in red and in purple. This route was eventually taken over by the Canadian government in early 1928.

April 5, 1928. The Pas to Bermuda.

This flight cover is unlisted in the AAMC. On the back of the cover is a faint Bermuda receivership marking, making this a unique and rare destination for a semi-official cover.

June 4, 1928. Goldpines to Favourable Lake.

This mining outpost was situated 250 miles north of Sioux Lookout and was totally dependent upon air transport. A special mail flight was made on June 4th, and a special diamond cachet was added for this flight.

June 4, 1928. Goldpines to Favourable Lake.

Front of Cover

Back of Cover

This is a company official cover. It has the company letterhead at the upper left, and a map showing the various points served by the company.

June 12, 1929. Waterways to Fort McPherson.

This cover was part of a series of flights made by "Punch" Dickens along the Mackenzie River. The cover has been signed at the upper left by pilot Dickens. The cover was received at Fort McPherson on July 2, 1929.

June 27, 1929. Fort McMurray to Arctic Red River.

Front of Cover

Back of Cover

This cover was part of a series of flights made by "Punch" Dickens along the Mackenzie River. While almost 10,000 covers were carried, the intermediate flights are the most scarce. Arctic Red River was one of the scarce destinations. Also note the upper left hand return address. It has a "Subsidized by W.C.A. Semi-Official" marking which is unusual.

Company Notes

-First official flight was May 10, 1927. Earlier flights took place, but all mail bore Patricia Airways and Exploration or Elliot Fairchild Air Service stamps.

-18 different cachets were used.

-Official covers had a two line inscription "WESTERN CANADA AIRWAYS LIMITED; AT POINT OF MAILING" on the front of the envelope. The reverse side showed a map and various points served by the company.

-2 company cancels were used.

-Pilot F.J. Stevenson was killed testing aircraft for the company.

-Imperf pairs of the company stamp are known.

-Perforation through the company stamp are also known.

-Numerous aircraft were owned by the company. Of note: 6 crashed, 2 were destroyed by fire, 1 was overturned by severe weather, 1 capsized, and 1 sank.

See the Web Site re: The History of Mining in Red Lake

[ History of Red Lake Web Site ]