With the proven value of aircraft as a weapon during
the First World War, many believed that aircraft would play a very important role
in Canada’s economy. In response to this, the federal government
passed legislation in the spring of 1919 to create the Air Board
to control aeronautics in Canada.
The first regulation passed by the Air Board was to prohibit
dangerous flying. The Board worked quickly to set up a
Certificate Branch to licence and certify pilots and aircraft
The highly trained pilots and ground crew from the war effort
returned to their homes across Canada, and many were interested
in using their skills to build a new aviation industry. These
desires became a reality when the British agreed to sell surplus
aircraft to Commonwealth countries. Canada received critical
equipment that included 80 aircraft, parts, wireless equipment,
sheds, and hangars.
Veterans from across Alberta saw a future in aviation, but
had to finance the cost of the Curtiss JN4s, which sold for about $2,500
Many veterans were like H.H. Fitzsimmons and J.E. Palmer of
Lethbridge, Alberta, who formed the Lethbridge Aircraft Company
in 1920. Their prospectus set out the scope of what the two
airmen wanted to do, and included everything that could be done
with aircraft. They wanted to carry out summer flying
demonstrations, passenger and freight services, advertising,
aerial photography, surveying, instruction, and even aircraft
repairs. They were able to raise the money they needed with
these promises and receive their aircraft in May 1920.
Many of these early aviation companies carried out any kind
of flying they were asked to do, from very daring demonstrations
at summer fairs to carrying passengers. For most aviation
entrepreneurs, the fees they received just covered the cost of
the operation. As aircraft aged and became too difficult to
maintain, and with new aircraft too expensive, many of these
companies curtailed their work in the sky.