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Canadian Semi-postal Air Stamps

by Murray Lundberg


Canadian semi-postal air stamp     Carrying the mail into the wilderness has always been a difficult job - always expensive and occasionally fatal to the mail carrier. In the remote areas of Canada, bush planes began replacing sled dog teams in the 1920s, but the Post Office was not always quick to respond to the increased cost of aircraft on a particular run. This led to the official recognition of stamps issued by individual air carriers who held mail contracts. These were purchased by the person sending a letter, as a way of paying the extra costs. Although these stamps were supposed to be affixed to the back on envelopes, they are often seen on the front.

    Seen below are several of these "semi-official air post stamps", with brief histories of the carriers who issued them.


Eliot-Fairchilds Air Service Ltd. This large (56 x 44 mm) stamp, with a value of 25¢, was issued on April 7, 1926 and was first flown on April 15. Note that the yellow background is comprised of swastikas - this is back when the symbol was a good-luck sign.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Eliot-Fairchilds Air Service Ltd.


Elliot Fairchild Air Transport Limited. This 45 x 27 mm stamp, with a value of 25¢, was issued on August 11, 1926. It was used on the run between Quebec's Rouyn goldfields and Haileybury, Ontario. The aircraft is their Vickers Vedette flying boat, although the registration on it, G-CAEF, may have been attached to a Curtiss Seagull.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Elliot Fairchild Air Transport Limited


Patricia Airways and Exploration Limited. This 46 x 33 mm stamp, with a value of 25¢, was issued on July 1, 1926. It was used on the run from Sioux Lookout, Ontario, to Pine Ridge and Red Lake. The aircraft is stated to be a Curtiss Lark - the company operated both a Lark and a Stinson Detroiter. The company merged with Central Canada Airways to form Western Canada Airways Limited.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Patricia Airways and Exploration Limited


Western Canada Airways Limited. This 40 x 26 mm stamp, with a value of 10¢, was issued on May 1, 1927. The company owned a Fokker Universal, G-CAGD, which was wrecked at Edmonton on November 30, 1932. The design on this stamp could be considered a loose interpretation of that aircraft.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Western Canada Airways Limited


Yukon Airways & Exploration Co., Ltd. This 50 x 24 mm stamp, with a value of 25¢, was issued on November 11, 1927, and was first flown on the same day. This is a used copy - to see the envelope it was used on in 1928, click on the stamp image.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - British Columbia Airways Limited


British Columbia Airways Limited. This 43 x 25 mm stamp, with a value of 5¢, was issued on August 3, 1928.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - British Columbia Airways Limited


Cherry Red Airline Limited. This 38 x 25 mm stamp, with a value of 10¢, was issued on July 3, 1929.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Cherry Red Airline Limited


Commercial Airways Ltd. The black 10¢ stamp below was issued on June 2, 1930, while the orange one (also 10¢) was issued December 6, 1930. They are both 48 x 34 mm in size. The stamps came in a total of 6 colours - click here to see them all. The company, based in Edmonton, was formed in 1928 by Wop May, Cy Becker and Vic Horner and in 1930 was absorbed by Canadian Airways.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Commercial Airways Ltd.

Canadian semi-postal air stamp - Commercial Airways Ltd.



Air Mail "First Flights" in the Yukon

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