Air Canada marks 85 years since first Vancouver flight

Precursor airline Trans-Canada Air Lines flew between Vancouver and Seattle in 1937

lockheed
Air Canada is donating an original Lockheed L-10A Electra airplane to Winnipeg's Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada | Air Canada

Canada's national airline, Air Canada (TSX:AC) is celebrating its 85th anniversary thanks to its precursor airline, Trans-Canada Air Lines, on September 1, 1937, flying its first commercial flight – to Seattle from Vancouver.

That 50-minute flight on a Lockheed L-10A Electra airplane reportedly cost its two passengers $14.20 each for a round-trip ticket, and its cargo included bags of mail. Despite Trans-Canada Air Lines' name, transcontinental routes between Vancouver and Montreal would not launch until April 1,1939.

To mark the anniversary, the airline today announced that it is donating an original Lockheed L-10A Electra airplane to Winnipeg's Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

The concept of flying for vacations was far from mainstream when Trans-Canada Air Lines, a Canadian National Railways subsidiary, made its fateful trip. 

Historically, travel was arduous, travel author Rick Antonson told BIV. 

The word “travel,” is believed to have derived from the French word “travail,” which means to work, explained Antonson, a former CEO of Tourism Vancouver, which has evolved to become Destination Vancouver.

"Moving from one place to another was always a chore," he said. "Before the average person could travel, those who did so were explorers, or merchants, and it was done for the business of trade, or trade development, or trying to get to new places. That meant that it had elements of danger, and making it up as you go."

The average consumer did not conceive of travelling long distances for pleasure until after World War II, he added.

The airline changed its name to Air Canada in 1965.

In 2017, Air Canada marked its 80th anniversary by conducting a series of flights on a vintage Lockheed L-10A airplane. The public was not able to buy tickets for the flights but people could view the plane.

That same year, on September 8, Icelandair marked its 80th anniversary with a flight between London, England, and Reykjavik, Iceland, which included an in-flight theatre performance.

The Icelandair play centred on the character of Edda Johnson, who was a real-life flight attendant at the airline in the 1950s.

gkorstrom@biv.com

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