The Queen of the Yukon in the snow-covered wastes of
Yukon Territory during the winter of 1924.
The Pioneer and Semi-Official Air Mails of Canada 1918-1924

 

In 1927 a few men, using their own money and backed by residents of the Yukon, formed a private company to open up the unexplored and inaccessible territories thought to be rich in fur and minerals.  Their main office was in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories with branch offices at Dawson and Mayo.  Their first flight took off from a bumpy wooden road on Oct 25, 1927 from Skagway to Whitehorse. 

Because of difficult flying conditions, which led to frequent flight cancellations, it is not clear which flight carried the first Yukon Airways stamp, however Nov 11, 1927 is the generally accepted date. After that over 50 flights have been recorded carrying mail.  Most of the covers on these flights are of a promotional or CTO (cancelled to order) nature.  Very few commercial covers are known.  William Topping, author of Yukon Airways and Exploration Company Limited, categorizes these as follows:

  1. First flight covers: flown to mark the establishment of regular air mail service.
  2. Promotional covers: produced by the company such as the Carcross-Atlin and Champagne flights.
  3. Philatelic covers: CTO covers produced by stamp dealers (like A.C. Roessler).
  4. Cover never flown: but appear to be correctly dated thanks to a co-operative postmaster.
  5. Commercial covers: these rare items were picked up along the route, usually with Yukon return addresses and addressed to businesses outside the Yukon.

As well as the stamp the company decided to produce an official envelope with a read and blue stripe across the centre containing the words "THE YUKON AIRWAYS AND EXPLORATION CO., LTD.".  However this idea was rejected by the Post Office and a "sticker" or post band was substituted to be used on all air mail.

The Apr 13, 1928 flight from Whitehorse to Atlin was an interesting promotional flight.  In addition to 2000 covers, close to 1000 copies of a special edition of stamped Whitehorse Star were flown on the "Queen of the Yukon" (pictured above).  A few weeks later, this great plane crashed. The engine was salvaged for later use in the "Queen of the Yukon II".



Typical CTO Cover with post band sticker.
The Stamp Design
Only one stamp was issued by the company who wanted a design with the look and feel of the 10 cent Lindburgh Commemorative air mail stamp issued by the US Postal Service on June 18,  1927.

Inspiration

First Design

Second Design

Final Design