- Maritime Central Airways
Maritime Central Airways Douglas DC-4 Skymaster of Maritime Central Airways at Manchester England in 1956
Maritime Central Airways was a predecessor of Eastern Provincial Airways and was founded by Prince Edward Island native Carl Burke and Josiah Anderson in 1941 out of Moncton, New Brunswick and provided standard passenger, cargo, and charter flights throughout the Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador - at the time not yet part of Canada. This early fleet consisted of a Boeing 247 and a Fairchild 24.
MCA participated in the Second World War effort with various projects, including a search and rescue mission for the U.S. government in Greenland in 1942. This charter was typical of the mixed-bag operations that most Canadian carriers, including MCA, survived on: in addition to the scheduled passenger runs we are familiar with today.
Early postwar history
By 1946, the fleet had grown to include a Douglas DC-3, de Havilland Rapide, Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Cessna Crane, and PBY Canso. In addition to passenger and cargo runs in the Maritimes, MCA tasks in the late 1940s consisted of a twice weekly service to the Magdalen Islands, carrying mail, seal surveys in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the coast of Labrador, ice patrols, and charters from Charlottetown and Yarmouth to bring lobsters to Boston and New York. In 1948 alone, MCA carried almost two million pounds of freight and its fleet had grown to two DC-3s, 1 Canso, 4 Lockheed 10, 1 de Havilland Rapide, 2 Cranes, and 2 Stinsons.
The 1950s and closure
The 1950s were another period of tremendous growth for MCA. By 1953, MCA was the third largest carrier in Canada. MCA launched the first air service to the French island of St-Pierre and won contracts to provide air transportation for seventeen of forty-two Distant Early Warning (DEW) Stations being built in the Canadian north. By the time the DEW projects were finished, MCA had added a Vickers Viscount, Bristol Freighter, Avro York, Douglas DC-4 and Douglas DC-6 to its fleet. Post-DEW line work included such far-flung charter jobs as a four year contract transporting Hungarian refugees and several trips shipping monkeys from India and Pakistan.
In 1957, tragedy struck when an MCA DC-4 loaded with vacationers from the UK crashed near Quebec City. All seventy-nine aboard were killed. Also in 1957, MCA set-up Nordair as a subsidiary with operations based at Dorval in Montreal. Nordair, soon on its own from MCA, would go on to become a major Canadian regional carrier in its own right before being absorbed by Canadian Pacific Air Lines in the mid-eighties.
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