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 In 1919 Quebec was being decimated by forest fires. A group of paper mills in the St Maurice Valley, under the initiative of the Laurentide Company, demonstrated some vision when they thought of using aircraft to patrol the forests. To this end, the Canadian Government acquired from the U.S. Navy two war surplus flying boats. The first was piloted by Stuart Graham, who becomes the first bush pilot in Canada.

 
Pilot Colin S. "Jack" Caldwell
Jack Caldwell, a Scottish-Canadian, was a Sergeant-Mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps (Canada) during World War.

In 1924, Jack Caldwell flew mail, freight and passengers to and from the Rouyn-Noranda Quebec goldfields for the first scheduled air service in Canada operated by Laurentide. In 1928, Jack joined Canadian Vickers but also flew a number of mail contracts. For example, when Roméo was chief pilot for CTA, Jack took part in the inaugural air mail flights of the service transporting mail to and from ships, to Rimouski and Montreal and Ottawa (May, 1928) and also the special flights organized on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Toronto Exhibition (August, 1928). Flying for Canadian Airways, he also piloted the Ontario-Montreal legs of the inaugural mail service connecting Canada and the United States (October, 1928).

In 1929, Jack Caldwell died in an aircraft accident when his Fokker Universal hit high-tension wires over the St.-Lawrence River, near Montréal, during a flight for Canadian Vickers. The existence of these wires had previously been unknown by the aviation community.


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The Saint-Maurice Forest Protective Association Ltd., created in 1919, became the Laurentide Air Service  (LAS) in 1922. It was the first commercial aviation transport enterprises in existence in Canada. The noted aviation historian, K. M. Molson, has said that LAS was key to the development of commercial aviation in Canada because those whom it employed carried with them into new aviation transport enterprises, right across Canada, the know-how and traditions first developed in LAS.

In April 1924, LAS started the first regular passenger air route in Canada from its base at Angliers, Quebec, into the Rouyn goldfields.  Because the alighting area at Angliers was somewhat hazardous, the company moved it's base to Haileybury in July 1924.  LAS issued its first stamp in August 1924 with its first flight on September 11, 1924.  While mail had been flown prior to this date, no official fee was charged and covers were assessed at the normal surface rate.

Laurentide's Flying Boat in Northern Canada during 1924
NAC Ontario (2224) 
The Pioneer and Semi-Official Air Mails of Canada 1918-1924