International Context First Montreal-New York Postal Flight

On October 1, 1928, the Montreal-New York section, which included a stop in Albany, was opened. Newspapers described the event as the inauguration of the final section that would allow North and South America to connect via a 4,880-kilometre air route. This section connected the trans-Canada air route to the U.S. aerial postal system.

In October 1928, an agreement was reached with Canadian Colonial Airways to provide six weekly flights between Montreal and Albany. South of the border, the American Post Office Department promised to set up a complementary service between New York, Albany and Montreal. The success of this service led to the creation of aerial lines between Windsor and Detroit, and Toronto and Buffalo. The Canadian Colonial Airways agreement stipulated that each flight could carry a maximum of 454 kilos of mail, and set a $2 rate for every kilo.

What an Event!

Celebrations for the inauguration of the new international postal service took place at Saint-Hubert airport. The size of the event demonstrates its importance: the Citizen reported that more than 25,000 people attended. It was certainly the largest air show to have taken place in Canada.

Canadian Airways mechanics and pilots
Canadian Airways mechanics and pilots posing in front of a Stearman 4EM Junior Speedmail in Saint- Hubert, 1930.
Courtesy of National Aviation Museum, 2051

When W.E. Reider of Canadian Colonial Airways descended from his Fairchild and handed the first mailbag coming from Albany to Victor Gaudet, Montreal's postmaster, the crowd was ecstatic. The rest of the mailbags were transported to a temporary post office set up for the occasion, and then loaded onto a truck to be escorted by police car to the city. The post office was overwhelmed with people trying to buy special covers or envelopes. By the end of the day, more than 35,000 letters, in addition to newspapers and magazines, had been transported.

First international flight
First international flight
A large crowd of people gathered in front of the temporary post office at the Saint-Hubert airport, all wanting to mail their letters on the first regular international flight between Canada and the United States, October 1, 1928.
Courtesy of National Archives of Canada, PA-61971

The newspaper noted that spectators spent the whole day looking at the sky - and that many of them probably went to bed with a stiff neck!

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