In the 1950s, Wardair Canada provided cargo charter operations from Yellowknife to remote points in the Northwest Territories using a rugged fleet of Bristol Mk. 31 Freighters, De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver and DHC-3 Otter general utility bush planes. Other than local Yellowknife operator Northwest Territorial which was launched in 1962 by American transplant Bob Engle, the market was small and competition was cut-throat. Therefore, it seemed only logical expand his business to other, more profitable areas.
Thus, in the mid, 1960s Wardair Canada expanded from Northern cargo operations based in Yellowknife to the affinity passenger charter market using a small fleet of Douglas DC-6B aircraft. Affinity charters were flight specially arranged for people in common interest area associations and groups, and this afforded people much lower fares than those charged by the established airlines.
This was a time when most people still travelled overseas by ship due to the very high costs of international air travel, which was largely the domain of government, business and the most affluent people in society. Buccaneers like Max Ward and his Wardair Canada demonstrated that every day people could also travel overseas by air, and naturally the established airlines and their managements of the day loathed him and did everything in their power to try and stop such flights from taking place.
This fascinating promotional film from 1965 explains the operation and shows what a typical Wardair Canada DC-6B flight from Edmonton to Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen was like. From the very beginning Wardair differentiated itself from flag carriers by providing their passengers with the highest level of inflight service logistically possible, which included hot meals served on fine glassware with linen napkins and an open and complementary bar service on all flights. his mantra served Wardair well through their growth in the 1970s and 1980s until the airline was eventually acquired by Pacific Western Airlines to form Canadian Airlines International in the late 1980s.
But back to this fascinating little films. Airline fans and history buffs will surely agree that what we have here is pure nostalgia, as it takes us back to an era more than half a century ago, when the airline industry was very different than what we experience today when flying by air.
Very special thanks to former Wardair employee Nick Hughes who had this gem of a film salted away in a box for the past 50 years, who provided it to us so we could share it with the JetFlix TV community. Had Nick not unearthed this amazing film, the history would have been lost forever, and we are honoured to have been able to digitize the film for everyone’s enjoyment.