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Canadian Airlines of the Past

CF-EPP Boeing 737-2E1 of Eastern Provincial Airways (EPA)
Toronto Pearson International Airport - 18 July 1981

CF-EPP Boeing 737-2E1 of Eastern Provincial Airways (EPA) at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) - 18 July 1981 © Caz Caswell 1981

Photographic Copyright Caz Caswell © 1981-2008

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Notes by Douglas Holland and Caz Caswell:

Antecedents and the Nordair Link  -  1949-1959 EPA the Formative Years  -  1960's EPA Does It All

1970's - Devolution and Evolution  -  1980-1987 Decline and the Long Goodbye  -  Related Pictures and Notes

Antecedents and the Nordair Link

Maritime Central Airways (MCA):
Although Eastern Provincial Airways was formed in 1949, the company historian would be sure to note that its antecedents went back another eight years to 1941 and the founding of Maritime Central Airways (MCA) . For a concise three page history of that company see: Maritime Central Airways (MCA) in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format, which forms part of an interesting website: Retired Airline Pilots of Canada (RAPCAN)

In 1963, Eastern Provincial Airways Ltd, bought Maritime Central Airways and in the process restructured itself as
Eastern Provincial Airways (1963) Ltd .

Newfoundland Aero Sales and Services Inc (NASS):
The takeover of Maritime Central Airways has a certain irony as in 1945 Eric Blackwood later founder of Eastern Provincial Airways, started an Aviation Services Company: Newfoundland Aero Sales and Services Inc (NASS) with James McLoughlin and Ren Goobie. A single Republic Seabee operated utility flights as one of the companies activities. NASS operated from 1946 until 1949, when it was sold to Maritime Central Airways (MCA)

The Nordair Link
1947 marked the founding of another Airline Boreal Airways in Quebec. In 1953 Fred Biggs one of the founders of MCA and Carl Burke bought 50% of Boreal Airways that year and formed Boreal Air Service . Although Boreal Air Service and MCA were separate entities and had separate operations, the working relationship was very close, with several exchanges of aircraft between the respective fleets.

In 1957 Boreal Air Service merged with Mont Laurier Aviation, this merger formed a new company Nordair See: Nordair 737 Picture and associated Detailed Nordair Notes
Nordair retained the close working relationship with MCA, established by its predecessor, until the EPA takeover of MCA in 1963. After the formation of Eastern Provincial Airlines(1963), the relationship, although by no means as close as in the past, did result in occasional co-operation. Which in 1969 nearly resulted in the merger of the two Carriers.

Nordair went on to become a major Quebec based Airline and EPA developed into a major Newfoundland Carrier. But a 'long way down the road', the fates of Nordair and Eastern Provincial Airways would become entwined.
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1949-1959 EPA the Formative Years
With NASS now sold, on the 10th March 1949 Eric Blackwood with the backing of the Newfoundland Businessman and Politician Chesley A. Crosbie founded Eastern Provincial Airways, based at Torbay Airport (in 1964 Torbay Airport became St John's Airport, as is now called St John's International Airport ) Newfoundland with a single Norseman Aircraft.
This Aircraft was a 'maid of all work' operating utility, passenger and cargo charters covering ambulance flights, mail services, general cargo, passenger charters, forest and ice patrols. During this startup period Eric Blackwood was performing a number of Different roles, as well as being a Director, he was also Pilot and Operations Manager.

Whilst the Norseman was the best available for small scale 'Bush Operations', for the Company to grow required a larger Aircraft Type, but one that could do the same jobs (and more) as the Norseman and in 1953 the first Consolidated PBY-5A Canso Amphibious Aircraft (Canso was Canadian designation for the Catalina) was purchased. This was followed by a PBY-5A Canso modified as a Water Bomber, allowing EPA to obtain Government Contracts for the lucrative but seasonal Forest Fire Suppression operations,

1954 and EPA wanted to grow rapidly and to do that it need to relocate to where 'aviation was really happening' and in Newfoundland this meant Gander Airport , now Gander International Airport , which at the time was a major Hub for Trans-Atlantic traffic and one of the busiest international airports in the world. At Gander, EPA began to built its ground infrastructure with administrative office and a maintenance hangar. It also brought in two new Aircraft Types, the ubiquitous Douglas DC3 and Lockheed 10 . Whilst most of the EPA Operations were Utility Operations mainly on Government Contract, these new types enabled EPA to start Scheduled Passenger Service Operations. The first routes were Gander-Torbay and Gander-Deer Lake and commenced 1955-1956. In addition Regional Passenger Charter work was undertaken.

But Government Contracts were the 'bread and butter' focus for the company and EPA start to carry out overseas Government contracts , including in 1958 a contract from the Danish Government for operations in Greenland .
As the 1950's came to a close, EPA was a major force in the Utility Operations Market and had 'sown the seeds' for more concerted move into more Regular Airline Activities.
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1960's EPA Does It All
1960 brought two new Scheduled Service Routes to Wabush and Twin Falls in Labrador and to operate them, the company leased Curtis C-46 Aircraft.
But for Passenger operation things were going to change and in 1962 the first Handley Page HP-7 Heralds were purchased. These were configured for 46 Seats (rather than the 50 Seat Configuration common in the UK) The introduction of turboprop aircraft was a step forward, but in 1963 EPA took a major leap by purchasing Maritime Central Airways (MCA). MCA had moved in regular Airline Operations earlier than EPA and even had turboprop Aircraft (Viscount and Heralds) in service before EPA did. The Newfoundland Market couldn't support two Independent Regional Carriers plus the Government owned Trans Canada Airlines (TCA) and perhaps only minor surprise is that the takeover was by EPA and not the other way around.

Following the takeover EPA was restructured as Eastern Provincial Airways (1963) Ltd and was now sufficiently powerful as a Regional Carrier for Trans Canada Airlines (TCA) to feel its share of the Newfound Market to be under serious threat.

But whilst EPA was now force to be reckoned with as a Regional Carrier, it was still also a major Utility Service Operator, and with a fleet made of:
4x Handley Page Heralds
6x PBY Cansos
2x Curtis C-46s
2x Sikorsky S-55 helicopters
1x Douglas DC-4
5x Douglas DC-3,
1x Beech 18
EPA could do just about anything across the wide spectrum of Civil Aviation activities, but its ambition was to become a major Airline. In March 1969 EPA and Nordair planned to merge and although this didn't happen co-operation between the two Airlines became extremely close. One indication of this being on 1st June 1969 Nordair Boeing 737 with the addition of Eastern Provincial Airways insignia started operating the Montreal-St John Services.
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1970's - Devolution and Evolution
The decade dawned with EPA having an even more diverse fleet than before:

Two Boeing 737-200, three Herald 200, two ATEL Carvair, one Douglas DC-4, four Douglas DC-3, five Canso, five DHC Otter, one Turbo-Beaver, five DHC Beaver, one Beech Baron, three Sikorsky S-55 Helicopters and finally two Piper Super Cubs.

But the mix of Airline and Utility operations which had served EPA so well, for so long, was no longer a sustainable business model to take EPA into the new decade. It was time to end 'Bush Operations' and these were spun off to a newly formed company led by former EPA Executives and with a fleet of former EPA Aircraft.

The removal of Bush Operations allowed EPA to consolidate its fleet and in 1973 it was down to only six aircraft, three Boeing 737 and three Dart Herald. But this was a base on which to build

The next few years were highlighted by increases in the Boeing 737 Fleet and the replacement of the Heralds by HS 748 Aircraft. There was a downside as in 1975 EPA Made a loss because commercial demand had not kept pace with the increase in the Boeing 737 Fleet. EPA were quick to mitigate this problem by arranging six month leases to other Airlines plus entering the Canadian Holiday Market with flights to Florida and Caribbean.

The focus of Civil Aviation in Newfoundland had shifted away from Gander to Halifax and the company began to transfer of various functions to Halifax, starting with the building of a new Hangar in 1976. The fleet meanwhile was also in the process of changing some HS748 to DHC-7 Aircraft. The Boeing 737 Fleet had grown to six aircraft with one on order.

By 1977 the Boeing Fleet stood at seven, with yet another on order, HS748 fleet, which had dropped to one, now stood at two and three DHC-7 Aircraft rounded out the Fleet. Along with so many other Canadian Airlines of the period, the company moved back a move into the Holiday Charter Market.
The move to Halifax was effectively complete, with the Administrative offices and Training Centre next to the Hangar. The Training Centre boasting its own CAE built Boeing 737 Simulator.

The next couple to years saw the DHC-7 Aircraft leave the fleet and the Boeing 737 Fleet vary between 6 and 7 Aircraft.
But as the decade closed, recession was in was beginning in Canada and this was exacerbated by introducing a new Management Style reminiscent of People Express, rather than traditional airline Management methodology.
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1980-1987 Decline and the Long Goodbye
As the decade s started the recession was biting deep, the new Style of Management did not suit the current commercial conditions and and business difficulties became a corporate crisis.
1981 was particularly bleak as the Airline struggled to survive by making large number of staff redundant, immediately leading to a month long battle with employees, this coupled with the overall commercial situation seriously weakened the Airline. The only bright spot being the granting of a licence to serve Toronto, the busiest Airport in Canada, this being part of the new deregulated aviation policy in Canada.
Although EPA Survived the crisis, not only was it weakened, but following deregulation the Canadian Major International Carriers were beginning to think of ways of leveraging traffic on Regional and Commuter Airlines to their benefit. But for the moment at least EPA carried on as before and during 1982 formed Air Maritime as the operating company for its HS748 Fleet, although the livery remained the same.

In 1983 EPA made its first tentative formal relationship with one of Canada's major airlines, when it coordinated its Schedules with those of CP Air (See: CP Air Boeing 727-217 and associated CP Air Notes ). For CP Air this provided a major boost to its coverage East of Montreal.
So in 1984 EPA and CP Air firstly entered into a strategic commercial agreement, almost immediately followed by the purchase by CP Air of Newfoundland Capital Corporation , the holding company for EPA.

EPA now entered the twilight zone, it was owned by CP Air, but the merging of operations would take until January 1986.
Once the operational merger was complete, CP Air re-branded itself as Canadian Pacific Air Lines , with a new Livery (See: Canadian Pacific Airlines 737-317 and associated Canadian Pacific Airlines Notes ).

Whilst the final stages of the takeover of EPA was still being completed CP Air had been buying a majority stake in Nordair (See: Nordair 737 Picture and associated Detailed Nordair Notes ) , by the time total ownership and integration of the Nordair Jet Fleet had been completed in January 1987 CP Air now re-branded as Canadian Pacific Air Lines was in the process of being taken over by Pacific Western Airlines (See: Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) CV-640 and associated Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) Notes ), this being completed on the 1st February 1987.

Normally, one of the first things that happens after a takeover/merger is a rapid Fleet repainting exercise, but due to all the major changes involving, CP Air, EPA and Nordair, followed by the take over of the now Canadian Pacific Airlines by PWA, repainting was not a priority. with both the EPA and CP Air liveries lingered on through 1986 and through 1987. This meant that some Aircraft were still not repainted until sometime after PWA re-branded all its Airlines into Canadian Airlines International (Aircraft Titled as Canadian/Canadien on opposite sides of the fuselage).

One result of this was so EPA faded away rather quickly disappearing, with aircraft remaining in EPA livery and then just having Canadien/Canadian Titles applied. See:
Boeing 737 in EPA Livery and Canadien Titles - September 1987 - Wait A Minute; that's! Album

However by early 1988 all the Aircraft were in Canadian/Canadien Livery and EPA was not even a ghostly presence any more.
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Related Pictures and associated Notes
Boeing 737 in EPA Livery and Canadien Titles - September 1987 - Wait A Minute; that's! Album

Nordair 737 - Another Company taken over by CP Air Picture and associated Detailed Nordair Notes

The CP Air, Canadian Pacific Airlines, Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) and Canadian Airlines International (CAI) Related Pictures, Notes and External Links

CP Air See:
CP Air Boeing 727-217 and associated CP Air Notes

CP Air became Canadian Pacific Airlines See:
Canadian Pacific Airlines 737-317 and associated Canadian Pacific Airlines Notes

Canadian Pacific Airlines was taken over by Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) See:
Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) CV-640 and associated Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) Notes

PWA operated the combined company as Canadian Airlines International (CAI) see:
Canadian Airlines International 737-242A and associated Canadian Airlines International (CAI) Notes
This was often shortened in documents to Canadian Airlines, or just CAI.

In 1989 Canadian Airlines International purchased Wardair See: Wardair 747-1D1 and associated Wardair Notes

In 1990 Canadian Airlines formed Canadian Regional Airlines which purchased a number of airlines see:
Ontario Express (OEL) Jetstream and associated Ontario Express (OEL) Notes
Inter-Canadien Boeing 737-219 and Detailed Inter-Canadien Notes
These Airlines and those in which Canadian Regional either held minority stakes, or with whom it had Commercial Agreements operated under the: Canadian Partner Programme.

Air Canada formally took over Canadian Airlines International on the 1st January 2001 - See:
Air Canada Web Site and Air Canada - Wikipedia Entry

Canadian Regional Airlines along with the Air Canada connector carriers Air BC, Air Nova, Air Ontario, consolidated into a new entity Air Canada Jazz : See:
Air Canada Jazz Web Site See Also: Air Canada Jazz - Wikipedia Entry
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