Today in Postal History

Canada Bush Mail

May 27, 1929

In the 1920s the remote areas of western and northern Canada were being developed.
Gold, oil, timber, and other resources all caught the attention of explorers.
Small aviation companies were needed to provide supply and communications to the remote areas.
However, such firms needed to be subsidized to survive; even then, many failed.
The subsidy was provided by permitting the air services to receive a surcharge for their mail.
The mail was required to have regular Canadian postage but the carrier could sell his own stamp.
The result is a very interesting body of postal history.
Because of their official authorization such items are considered semi-official.

This cover was flown by Western Canada Airways from
Sioux Lookout, Ontario, to Red Lake, Ontario.
Red Lake is in western Ontario about 270 km northeast of Winnipeg
and about the same distance north of International Falls.
Sioux Lookout is about 400 km east of Winnipeg.
The two towns are about 170 km apart.
Look these up on a map to see just how remote the sites were.
Red Lake was the site of gold mining boom during this period.

The Canadian stamp and the Patricia Airways Exploration stamp
were cancelled with two strikes of the Sioux Lookout CDS.
The stamp was also hit with a oval of  bars killer.
Note that the Patricia Airways Exploration stamp was handstamped RED LAKE.
Can someone explain why this was done?

The cover was received in Red Lake on May 30.
It was then returned to Sioux Lookout where it arrived on May 31.
This suggests that it was a favor cover of some sort although
there are no postal markings to suggest that a return was being made.
I suspect that these small post offices were operated quite informally.

You may have noticed that I attributed the cover to Western Canada Airways
but the semi-official stamp was for Patricia Airways Exploration.
This practice of using another carrier's stamp was fairly common.
In this case, I believe, it came about as a result of Western Canada Airways'
acquisition of Patricia Airways and Exploration Ltd. in 1928.
The two air services had been competitors in the Red Lake District.

When the stamps of a another air service were used,
the envelope was stamped to identify the carrier.
This practice led to the "TRAVEL BY AIR | WESTERN
CANADA AIRWAYS | LIMITED" handstamp on the back.

The Canadian stamp is a 1928 2c green King George V (Scott 150).

Note:  There is a pencilled note on the bottom of the back which referred
to the predecessor company, Patricia Airways and Exploration Ltd.
which had a relatively short existence from 1926 to 1928.
Western Canada Airways did grow to be the largest airline
in Canada operating as Canadian Airways Ltd.


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