As aviators began to explore Canada from the sky in the early 1900s, there became a need to move not only people, but goods and product, faster and over longer distances. Airmail became a service the airlines and pilots provided. At that time, a flat fee was charged for postage. The points of departure and arrival were prominently displayed on the mail, and the pilot signed each envelope. Here is an article from 1931 describing the business case for airmail service.
February, 1931, The Western Canada Airways Bulletin
by Editor William Burchall
There are certain developments in our social structure with regard to which it is not safe to prognosticate, but of one thing all may rest assured, and that is, dating from February 2, 1931, a new factor – the International Airmail – is going to make a marked impression on the economic life of Western Canada. About twelve months ago, something along these lines was said regarding Prairie Air Mail Service, but the limitations imposed by the want of airmail connections with Eastern Canada and the United States have made themselves felt. Now that this condition has been rectified, one may look forward to a much more rapid expansion in the use of the airmail in the West.
In modern business, the four economic processes – ‘Production,’ ‘Exchange,’ ‘Distribution,’ and ‘Consumption’ are subject to certain indispensable conditions, ‘Time’ and ‘Space.’ When a manufacturer in Eastern Canada has a supply of new breakfast food or hygienic shoes or some patent stoves ready for market, it is obvious that in order to promote sales and distribute these goods he has to spend considerable time mailing enquiries and advertising. The goods are then shipped by express or freight, maybe by train and boat, and in due course are handled by the western wholesalers and retailers. It will at once be apparent that the time and space factors are considerable.
Perhaps in no other country of the world – and this applies especially to the Northwest, where distances are so great and communication is slow – are to be found such striking examples of the effect which may be produced by the modification of these conditions – ‘Time’ and ‘Space.’ Thus, it is that the airmail by the disturbance of the ‘Time-Space’ conditions will make a very profound impression on our business methods and routine.
Whether we are alive to these advantages that will accrue through such modification of this fundamental condition in business depends on our mental attitude towards it and as is usual with all innovations the attitude of the business mind towards the new airmail service will be critical. The critical mind will probe the facts, enhance its knowledge and react accordingly; making adjustments as may seem necessary and profitable in such matters of business as may be influenced by the use of the airmail.
In this modern mechanized, scientific age our progress in business depends largely on the rate at which we absorb the proven theories of science into our commercial institutions. The man of initiative is receptive. Should a novel idea appeal to him a trial is made. On the other hand, there is the man who is antagonistic to new ideas and does not act until competition compels him. So it follows that the alert businessman will set the pace and, provided that the claims of the airmail for reliability, safety and timesaving are justified, nothing in the world can prevent an ever-growing demand for a business adjunct, which will supply these aforementioned qualities.
Business development creates its needs. The business man seizes on the productions of science, links them with industry, and so, not only provides a solution for present day needs, but is ever on the watch to increase the efficiency of the methods by which those demands are satisfied.
This article originally appeared in the February, 1931 edition of The Western Canada Airways Bulletin