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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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The Edmonton Aircraft Company

May Airplanes Ltd.

May-Gorman Airplanes Ltd.

McCall Aero Corporation

Yukon Southern Air Transport

Canadian Airways Ltd.

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Yukon Southern Air Transport

Yukon Southern Transport evolved in 1939 from an earlier company called United Air Transport, owned and operated by Grant McConachie, who wanted to be the dominating figure in northern air transportation. McConachie’s efforts were impressive from as early on as 1934 to 1935. At that time, his company consisted of four planes, four mechanics, and four pilots who hauled half-a-million kilograms of fish from Peter Pond Lake in northern Saskatchewan to Cheecham, Alberta.

McConachie owned a Ford tri-motor that he used for exhibitions at summer fairs and to make a profit transporting businessmen across the Rockies to Vancouver when they needed to get there fast.

Grant McConachieBy 1937, Grant McConachie’s United Air Transport was providing regular mail and transport to the Grande Prairie and Peace River area. Results of the importance of air travel efforts were underway to improve the air in Grande Prairie. McConachie announced that he would start flying once a week between Edmonton and Whitehorse in April, with stops at Grande Prairie, Fort St John, Fort Nelson, and Lower Post (located on the British Columbia and Yukon board). This service would travel to Whitehorse and beyond to Dawson. The first flight occurred in July 1937. By 1939, there was so much flying activity in the Grande Prairie and Peace River region that a new company called Peace River Airways was established locally . Two other air companies, Mackenzie Air Service and Canadian Airways, were also in business at this time. Yukon Southern Transport purchased a new Barkley-Grows aircraft with twin engines to keep up with the demand.

With changing demands and tough competition, most air companies servicing northern communities found that they were facing financial difficulties by 1940. With the Second World War underway, factories were producing wartime supplies, and parts were expensive and hard to find, which only added to the troubles faced by Yukon Southern Transport.

The effect of the Depression and the beginning of the Second World War culminated in the creation of Canadian Pacific Air Lines Ltd. on 24 March 1942. The Canadian Pacific Railway formed the new company by buying ten smaller regional air companies that were located across Canada. Among the companies purchased were Yukon Southern Transport, Arrow Airways, British Yukon Navigation Co., Dominion Skyways Ltd., Mackenzie Air Service, Prairie Airways Ltd., Quebec Airways Ltd., Strarratt Airways and Transportation Ltd., Wings Ltd., and Canadian Airways.

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