The Roaring Twenties was an exciting, and for some, a giddy decade. While rural life remained challenging, life in the big cities was wild. In New York the stock market was booming and the city seemed to be one big party. The Great War had ended hastening North America evolution into a grand industrial society. Art Deco was blossoming and contributions from men like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison would change the landscape forever. And the Wright brothers make that famous first flight at Kitty Hawk.
Aviation that started in earnest in 1906, greatly matured during World War I. When the war was over, the aviators returned like local heroes and were soon in great demand to exhibit the new flying machines in fairs and towns across the land. They were nicknamed the Barn Burners for their wild and daring flying. It wasn’t long before these little planes began carrying some freight and soon thereafter, a few passengers. And, of great importance to this story, the airplane opened up parts of the world that were hitherto difficult to reach. Northern Canada was such a place.
This is a little story about postage stamps. Not the regular stamps that most collectors affix to their prized albums, but rather an obscure slice of philately (stamp collecting) called “semi-officials”.
Click here for an overview of the broader world of semi-official airmail stamps
As air lines started to blossom across the land, companies were reluctant to use valuable cargo space to transport mail when no financial benefit could be gained. And in the 1920s, the Canadian government was unwilling to finance airmail flights into Canada’s remote northern regions. So, the government authorized a scheme whereby certain aviation companies could charge a fee for every letter and parcel they carried. The designated companies could even print and issue their own airmail stamps. Thus began the semi-official flights carrying mail affixed with semi-official airmail stamps.
However, the life of the Canadian semi-official stamp only existed from 1924 to 1932, after which time all mail routes had been taken over by the Canadian government, which launched it's first official air mail service in 1928.