Canada's major two airlines both sprung from railroad companies at quite a late stage, when it was clear war was approaching and aviation was growing rapidly in the neighbouring USA. Trans Canada Airlines was started by the Crown Corporation Canadian National Railways (CNR) in 1937. From 1943-1947 TCA operated the Canadian Government Trans-Atlantic Air Service to provide trans-Atlantic military passenger and postal delivery service using Avro Lancastrian (modified Avro Lancaster) aircraft. Postwar the service became a civilian route.
Trans Canada based its immediate post-war fleet needs around the Canadian Rolls-Royce Merlin powered pressurised version of the DC-4: the North Star (as well as the DC-3). The first aircraft was leased from the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1946 and was followed by a further 26 examples between 1947 and 1948. The North Stars enabled the start of full transatlantic services to London, Glasgow, Shannon and Bermuda.
The North Stars were gradually replaced by Super Constellations from 1954 but the last wasn’t withdrawn until 1961. By then CF-TFE was with Overseas Aviation and was sold again prior to being written off on 27th August 1964 at Miami during Hurricane Cleo. At the time she was operating for LEBCA, a Venezuelan cargo airline, as YV-C-LBU.
Trans-Canada received fourteen L-1049 Super Constellations from 1954 enabling expansion of the long haul network to include Paris, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Tampa, Nassau, Kingston and Mexico City. CF-TGA-E were delivered as L-1049Cs, TGF-H L-1049Es, TEU-X L-1049Gs and TEY-Z L-1049Hs. Early machines were upgraded to be L-1049Gs. TCA ordered DC-8s for its future long-haul operations and traded in its Connies to Douglas after the jets arrival from 1960. TEV left the fleet in February 1962 and became N9641Z. Sold on to California Airmotive Corp in 1963 she was broken up that year.
For short and medium haul routes TCA built up a fleet of 50 44 seater Vickers Viscount turboprops from December 1954. Registrations ran from CF-TGI-Z, THA-THZ and TIA-TIG with the last aircraft arriving in May 1959. As such TIB was one of the last Viscounts delivered. She was withdrawn from use at Winnipeg in October 1972 and sold to United Aviation Services in April 1974. Sold to Beaver Enterprises the next year, in 1978 she was sold to Zaire Aero Services and became 9Q-CPP. She never entered service however and was repossessed in 1980 and leased to Air Caravane and Air Cardinal. In 1986 she did go to Zaire with Air Charter Service as 9Q-CTS moving soon after to Scibe Airlift and then Filair. With the latter she was written off in 1988 when the nosegear was ripped off in a landing accident at Tshikapa.
TCA itself was already known as 'Air Canada' by the French part of the population and in 1964, an Act of Parliament proposed by Jean Chrétien changed the name of Trans-Canada Air Lines to "Air Canada" effective 1 January 1965. The DC-3s had been retired in 1963 leaving the Viscounts, Vanguards and DC-8s to take up the maple leaf.
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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: