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STAMP CORNER - YUKON AIRWAYS

By: Chris Mobsby

In my previous article in this series (Wild News # 251), I discussed a letter posted in 1928 from Richmond in Virgina via Atlanta, Georgia to Havana in Cuba from whence it was redirected via Key West in Florida and delivered eventually by a plane of Western Canada Airways to the settlement of Rolling Portage in Ontario.

The first of these “semi-official” airmail flights had been carried out in December 1924 by the Laurentide Air Service, a company that concentrated its operations in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The success of that undertaking led to the formation of a number of other companies including the Jack V. Elliot and the Northern Air Services, Fairchild Air Transport and Patricia Airways. Either individually or in mergers with other airlines, each of these was delivering the mail over large areas of north-eastern Canada by 1927 leading to the recognition of the need for a similar facility in the extreme north-west of the country. This gave rise to the formation of a new company under the title of the Yukon Airways & Exploration Company Limited. A Ryan Brougham high wing monoplane was purchased in the United States and flown to Vancouver in British Columbia where it was dismantled and sent on by boat to Skagway in southern Alaska. There it was reassembled and flown, first to Dawson and then, on the 26th of October, to White Horse. This part of the journey was accomplished in some four hours, a trip that would have taken about two weeks by dog-sled. The aircraft was christened “Queen of the Yukon” and was similar to the “Spirit of St. Louis” in which Charles Lindbergh had completed his epic crossing of the Atlantic in May of that year.
Yukon Airways presented its one and only postage stamp in November 1927, a 25-cent label that was remarkable in that it bore an extremely close resemblance to the 10-cent commemorative issue of the United States of June 1927, an airmail stamp that had been designed as a tribute to Colonel Lindbergh. Even allowing for the fact that the two aircraft were likely to have been virtually identical, I do feel that the Yukon composition smacks somewhat of plagiarism. A copy of that same American stamp was used alongside the stamps of Cuba and Western Canada Airways on the cover with which I illustrated my previous article; readers who still have that edition of the Wild News may consider for themselves whether or not any claim to originality may exist on behalf of the Yukon version. Be that as it may, the present stamp was used to pre-pay the cost of airmailing copies of the local newspaper, the “White Horse Star”, of which the edition of 13 April 1928 had been especially prepared to celebrate the first flight from White Horse and Carcross in the Yukon to Atlin in British Columbia. It was reported that, due to adverse weather conditions when flying over the Rocky Mountains, it had been necessary to jettison one bundle of newspapers in order to lighten the load. The fact that our copy bears the receiving strike of Atlin is testimony to the fact that it was amongst those that were delivered successfully.


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