In his latest book, Air Canada: The History (Dundurn), Peter Pigott shares an incredibly detailed account of our national airline, from its birth in 1937 as Trans-Canada Air Lines to its bankruptcy – and recovery – in the early 2000s. Here, he reveals 10 things you may not know about our national airline.
Its first aircraft were Lockheed Electras, the plane specifically chosen by C.D. Howe, Canada’s first minister of transport. The only member of Mackenzie King’s cabinet who had actually flown in a plane, Howe admired the aviator Amelia Earhart, who was about to use the same model on her round-the-world flight. She began her flight on March 17, 1937, to disappear into history.
To the envy of BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corp.), the then-state-owned British airline, the Queen Mother in 1962 chose to fly TCA from London to Montreal as her first commercial flight. She sat in first class but professed a desire to see what economy class was like and to the delight of its occupants she explored it, even shaking a surprised baby’s finger.
In January, 1963, Air Canada introduced the world’s first computerized reservations system. ReserVec, designed and manufactured by Ferranti Canada, was two years ahead of SABRE, which American Airlines had funded at five times the cost.