Western Canada Airways was formed in 1926 by James A. Richardson, a wealthy Winnipeg grain merchant.
One of WCA’s pilots set out from Winnipeg in 1929, dropped off a prospector at Great Bear Lk, flew on to Aklavik, across the Richardson Mts to Whitehorse and Prince George, then to Edmonton and back to Winnipeg – some 15 000 km. (In 1930 the prospector found pitchblende, striking it rich.)
By Jan 1929, WCA had established a regular air service down the Mackenzie R from Ft McMurray. One of the most dramatic events of the late 1920s was the flight of 2 aircraft, led by Lt-Col C.D.H. MacAlpine, from Churchill, Man. The planes got stranded on Queen Maude Gulf. With the help of local Inuit, the men made their way safely overland to Cambridge Bay.
The first major undertaking of its kind in northern Canada was the supply of men, machinery and materials to the west coast of Hudson Bay at a place called Fort Churchill. The airlift had to be done in the winter to permit drilling while the ice was in the harbour. The elements would prove a challenge for both man and machine but WCA was up to the task, which included the transportation of 800 lbs. of dynamite. In a government report following the completion of the largest Canadian airlift ever, the report indicated. The decision during 1927 as to the selection of Fort Churchill as the ocean terminus of the Hudson Bay Railway was made possible by these flights. There has been no more brilliant operation in the history of commercial flying.
Shortly afterwards, the company received another large contract to move men and equipment into a new mining development north of Senneterre, Quebec. The north was opening up 12 months of the year.
Western Canada Airways merged into Canadian Airways in 1930.