Canadian Pacific / CP Air has so many parallels with British Caledonian that they seem almost like sister companies. Its history is one of constant battling, attempting to compete against the chosen instrument (Air Canada) in a regulated environment where the Government rigged the fight and only occasionally threw it a few bones. Kept on a short leash its hardly a major surprise it was never the huge success it perhaps deserved to be, however it still has a rich and impressive history.
Canadian Pacific was formed in 1942 when the railway company of the same name purchased ten small bush flying lines. Early equipment consisted of Lockheed Lodestars, a Lockheed Super Electra, Noorduyn Norseman VIs and late in the war several Douglas C-47s/DC-3s. Despite government limitations on where the airline could operate it grew a large intercontinental route system from its Vancouver base from 1949 onwards pioneering service to Australasia and Latin America as well as the polar route to Europe. The first long-range equipment were Canadair C-4-1 North Stars (the Canadian built pressurized Merlin powered DC-4 variant). These were supplemented by a small fleet of real DC-4s and replaced by DC-6s in the early 50s.
In late 1952 Canadian Pacific purchased five Convair-240s from Continental Airlines (who replaced them with new CV-340s) to supplement DC-3s on provincial routes into Vancouver. CF-CUX was originally delivered to Continental in 1948 as N90847. All five were sold on, between 1962 and 1964, to TOA Airways of Japan where this aircraft became JA5131. They only served four a short period with TOA and this aircraft was retired in 1968 and donated to the Tokyo Amusement Centre in Shinjuku.
Eight Britannias arrived from 1958 replacing DC-6s but where themselves displaced in 1961 by DC-8s. They continued on routes unsuitable for jets like that to Auckland until 1965. CF-CZA ‘Empress of Hong Kong’ passed to TransGlobe as G-ATGD prior to going to ASA. With African Safari she became 5Y-ALP before being broken up at Plymouth in 1972.
At the end of the 1960s Douglas developed the ultimate DC-8 – the series 63 with the fuselage of the series 61 and wings of the series 62 making it the largest and longest range airliner of its day. CP took 5 receiving its first in January 1968. They operated the long European and Pacific routes being replaced by DC-10s in the late 70s. CPP was originally ‘Empress of Madrid’ prior to lease to UTA in 1972 as F-BOLJ. On her return in 1973 she became ‘Empress of Honolulu’ and later ‘Empress of Alberta’. In 1983 she joined Worldways. now as C-FCPP, and was leased in 1984 to Icelandair and sub-leased to Air Algerie. In 1990 she was sold to Aerolease and converted to a freighter before joining Burlington Air Express as N783AL. Reregistered as N819AX in 1995 for Airborne Express she stayed with them until 2009 when she became 9G-AXD with Meridian Airways.
In the next part of the story we'll look at Canadian Pacific's transformation into CP Air.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: