This Week in History
The First Transcontinental Airmail Flight!
For the week of Monday February 27, 2006
On March 1, 1939, C.D. Howe officially opened the first Trans Canada Airlines transcontinental airmail service flight from Victoria to Montréal. This flight took almost 16 hours to reach its destination, and made many stops to refuel. Today, it takes approximately 5 ½ hours to fly non-stop from Victoria to Montréal, one-third of the time it took in 1939. The first transcontinental passenger flight followed on April 1, 1939.
In 1935 he was elected to the local Liberal leadership of Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario, and ran in that year’s federal election. Easily elected, Howe was assigned Minister of Railways and Canals and Minister of Marine, which was later amalgamated into the Ministry of Transportation. Howe introduced and oversaw a large number of important policies and measures while in political office.
Many international flights were introduced between 1949 and 1953. Two main Canadian airline carriers, as well as a number of charter companies, remained responsible for Canadian travel needs until the early 1990s when Canada and the United States reached an agreement allowing their respective countries' carriers access to cross-border markets. Later discount airlines emerged making air travel cheaper and more accessible to Canadians.
Once a luxury mode of transportation, used by only a few, flight is now recognized as a major form of travel and is used frequently by many. For his contributions to the civil air industry in Canada, as well as many other accomplishments, Clarence Decatur Howe was designated a National Historic Person in 1984 and a commemorative plaque was erected in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
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