International Context June 24, 1918: Canada Takes Off!

Canada's first postal flight was initiated by the Aero Club of Canada. The event took place before an official government policy on air postal service had been established, but the flight had been authorized by the Post Office Department.

In the summer of 1918, Captain Brian Peck was the first pilot in Canada to transport mail by plane from Montreal to Toronto. Originally from Montreal, but based at a Leaside aerodrome squadron in Toronto, Captain Peck decided to use the occasion of an airshow in the Montreal area to visit family and friends there. At the same time, he would transport the mail.

Captain Peck also carried a rare and precious freight on board his Curtiss JN-4 Canuck: alcohol, by the case load - prohibition was over! The plane was so heavy that it could not fly above 12 metres.

Curtiss JN-4 Canuck Canadian postage stamp
Curtiss JN-4 Canuck Canadian postage stamp
Issued on November 10, 1980. Canada's first official airmail was carried on board a Curtiss JN-4 Canuck, on June 24, 1918.
Canadian Postal Museum, Scott 875

Newspapers all over the country covered the historic flight. Alhough its effect was not felt far afield, the event nevertheless set a precedent, having been santioned by postal authorities.

Approximately 120 letters were selected, and stamped with the special cachet: Inaugural Service Via Aerial Mail Montreal 23.6.1918. The date, was, in fact incorrect, since the flight took place on June 24.

Mailbag used to transport the 120 letters carried on Canada's first official postal flight, made by Captain Brian Peck on June 24, 1918.
Courtesy of Canadian War Museum

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