What That Picture Was All About

Here are the details about the photo I posted earlier. It actually happened on June 24, 1918, and not June 18th as I originally stated.

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Click for larger

This was the first ever Air Mail flight in Canada. It consisted of 120 letters to the “T. Eaton Company” from Montreal to Toronto. The airplane landed at Leaside Aerodrome, which would have been located on the present day Downsview Subway station. The airport was in operation from 1931 to 1939, until the Malton Airport (now YYZ) became fully operational.

Originally, the pilots were approached by their friends in Montreal who wanted the letters to be delivered to Toronto. However, when the Post Office Department (now Canada Post) heard about the idea, they decided to make it a test for an air mail system.

The pilot was Captain Brian Peck, although I don’t know who he is in the photo.

The flight from Montreal to Toronto wasn’t without its adventure. Apparently the plane was so heavy, that it could not climb higher than 40′ AGL. In some instances, Capt. Peck had to fly under telegraph wires and around obstacles. The total length of the flight was just over 6 hours.

It wasn’t until 1954, in the book Canada’s Flying Heritage by Frank Ellis did the reason for why the aircraft was so heavy came to light. Capt. Peck was asked by a friend to bring back something for a wedding. It was a time when Prohibition was in place in Ontario and Peck had loaded his plane with cases of Mull Scotch.

A stamp was released in 1980, commemorating the first Air Mail flight by Capt. Peck. It depicted the same airplane he used, a Curtiss JN-4.

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All that is left of this flight today is a plaque on the corner of Brentcliffe Road and Broadway Avenue in Toronto.

2 Responses

  1. Al says:

    Blake,
    The aerodrome was located on the east side of Laird drive, just south of Eglinton Ave. at Laird and Wicksteed. The property had been owned by the Canada Wire Co. which made rolls of copper and aluminum wire. I have not passed by that neck of the woods in some time, but I heard that Canada Wire sold some time ago.
    … Al.

  2. ramiel says:

    wow 40′ AGL?
    must have been an easy approach …although it would have been pretty hard to find an aerodrome being only 40 feet high.