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North Bay, Ontario Aviation: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards

Atlantic City NJ Futuristic Fantasy Welcome, as we cruise the skies of North Bay…well, in our imagination, at least. These vintage Canadian aviation postcards from North Bay, Ontario These old postcards document the history of towns and townships in the greater Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami areas of Northern Ontario, Canada, including the Nipissing District and portions of the Parry Sound district which are in the “Blue Sky Region.” These Canadian postcards are shown in digital, virtual museum format for educational purposes. If you have images or historical information which you’d like to share with our virtual museum, feel free to do so. To navigate these pages, mouse over the top navigation bar. Drop-down menus will appear of the areas of interest. Click on the thumbnails for larger images. Close the larger image before opening another thumbnail. The occasional duplicates for sale can be found using the search box on the main (home) page of This is an ongoing project; comments and questions to the webmaster at webmaster - at sign - are welcome.

Please note that while you are certainly welcome to visit the virtual museum as often as you’d like (and we encourage you to do so), these scans are owned by and, as such, they are not to be re-used or re-purposed in any way, for any other reason — including use on another website, on social networking websites, in brochures or print-outs, etc. — without our prior express written permission. Under the terms of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), such use without permission constitutes copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. We hate to have to make that so clear, as we want you to enjoy the museum and we put these images up due to our love of Canada, but the actions of a few have prompted this notice. For further information, please see the footer of this page.

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North Bay Airport

In 1938, the first federally-constructed air terminal in Canada was built north-northeast of North Bay, with Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) starting non-scheduled flights into the city that year and scheduled passenger service using 10-passenger Lockheed 10-A aircraft beginning in 1939. Now, North Bay’s role as a transportation hub was solidified. The late 1930s postcard to the right shows a TCA refueling truck between two twin-engine passenger planes, the one on the left marked CF-TCO and the plane on the right marked as TCN. Notice the (by our standards) small radio towers on either side of the terminal. Centered below is a 1947 real-photo postcard showing the refueling of these airplanes.

North Bay, TCA Refueling Truck
North Bay, 1947 Real-Photo Postcard of Airplane Refueling
North Bay-Ottawa First Official Flight 1 North Bay-Winnipeg First Official Flight 1 North Bay-Montreal First Official Flight 1

Three interesting 1939 postal covers commemorate the opening of the airport to civilian travel that year. The cover at top left, commemorating the first official Ottawa-North Bay flight and postmarked on 1 March 1939, shows a plane flying over Chaudiere Falls, with an idealized Indian reaching skyward. The following day, on 2 March, a maiden flight was made to Winnipeg, with Fort Garry and two armed troops watching over an Indian teepee shown in the inset. An Indian brave and one of the soldiers smoke a peace pipe. The plane overhead has “CF” and “TCI” written on the left and right wings respectively. The third cover, postmarked on 11 March 1939, depicts the first flight from Montreal Harbour to North Bay. The corresponding insets are shown below, reading left to right.

Back to the main North Bay, Ontario page.

North Bay-Ottawa First Official Flight 2 North Bay-Winnipeg First Official Flight 2 North Bay-Montreal First Official Flight 2

Enlargement and upgrading of airport facilities occurred during World War II to meet the needs of the RCAF, and a new terminal was built in 1963. In 1966, the airport was renamed as Jack Garland Airport for The Honourable John Richard Garland (1918-1964), who served in Parliament as a member of the Liberal Party from 1949 until his death, representing the Nipissing electoral district and championing the airport. North Bay has owned the airport, an important link between Toronto and Northern Ontario, since 1998. It serves the districts of Nipissing, Parry Sound and Temiskaming.


Chrome postcards, the name for the modern glossy views which we’re accustomed to seeing, debuted in the late 1940s. Here are two c. 1950s chrome postcards of CF 100 jet interceptor aircraft at the North Bay airport. The image on the left has rounded edges popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and was published by Alex Wilson of Dryden, ON. The photo at right was taken by John McNeill and published by Forder. The center chrome postcard shows the terminal as it appeared in the 1970s. It’s in the larger “continental” style of postcards which began to appear in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

North Bay RCAF CF 100 Aircraft North Bay Airport Terminal North Bay Jet Interceptor Airplane
North Bay, RCAF CF-104 Jet Fighter in Lee Park

Here’s an RCAF CF-104 on display in Lee Park in the late 1960s to 1970s. Built by Canadair and based on the Lockheed Corporation’s F-104 Starfighter, these planes entered Canadian service in March 1962 and were used primarily as interceptor aircraft and fighter-bombers. While 200 of the CF-104s were built, about 110 of them were destroyed in accidents, leading to the nickname of “Widowmaker” or “Lawn Dart.” The CF-104s were retired from service by 1987. Most of the remaining aircraft were given to Turkey, until they were permanently retired in 1995.

North Bay Futuristic Aviation

Speaking of aviation, here’s a scarce c. 1910-11 futuristic real-photo postcard titled “Flying High in North Bay, Ont.” The photograph has been manipulated and the airplane inserted into the North Bay scene. After Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio flew the first “heavier-than-air machine,” as airplanes were known, on 17 December 1903, airplane images began to be inserted into town-view postcards, as part of a civic-minded boosterism intended to promote the forward-thinking and progressive nature of the town shown. It’s believed that J. W. Richardson flew the first plane in North Bay, in 1928. If you know differently, please let us know. The message on the back of this card also reflects the boosterism of the era, saying in part: “You will notice by this card, that we are right up-to-date in North Bay.”

North Bay Birds Eye View

Further proof that the image was manipulated is demonstrated in this c. 1913 postcard, published by Rumsey & Co. of Toronto and showing exactly the same view sans airplane. While we were originally under the impression that the picture was taken from one of the twin towers of St. Vincent de Paul (1265 Wyld St.), the church wasn’t completed until 1932. Looking closely, one can see what appears to be the north or northwestern side of the first high school, seen in an earlier image on this page. This likely places the location where the image was made as the old “Priest’s Hill,” where St. Joseph’s Hospital was located.

Atlantic City NJ Futuristic Fantasy

In the extreme, futuristic fantasy postcards could result in such fanciful images as this c. 1901-1907 undivided-back view, entitled “Atlantic City, N.J. in the Future.” Any number of abnormally large pleasure craft are seen in the water, while the sky is filled with a variety of improbable contraptions such as a bicycle held aloft by a balloon, with the cyclist pedaling to power a propeller behind the balloon; a monorail which never was; hot air balloons; a dirigible whose partial name is “Mars,” below which there is a platform crowded with travelers; and a sort of propeller-driven rocket straddled by a man waving a patriotic red, white and blue flag.

Toronto Futuristic Fantasy

A Canadian example advertises an August 1911 aviation meeting at the Walker House Hotel in Toronto. During that month, the first intercity airplane flight in Canada traveled from Toronto to Hamilton. A hot air balloon advertises the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, while numerous dirigibles bear advertising for the GTR (Grand Trunk Railway) International, the Niagara Navigation Co., the CPR Transcontinental and the Transcontinental Mail. An improbable airborne vehicle to the right pulls a banner for the CNR Flyer, while numerous other small planes, including one based on the Wright Brothers’ design, fill the sky.

See our North Bay military history page for related content. A Mattawa military history page is also available, as is a Sundridge military history page. Information on Alderdale military history is also available.


Learn more about collecting vintage postcards on the postcard collecting, Northern Ontario Postcard Photographers, and Canadiana pages, and more about the author on the page About Us.


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For collectors of vintage postcards, old postcards and the antique postcard. Deltiology, the hobby of collecting vintage postcards, is one of the fastest-growing collectibles hobbies. Old postcard collections interest collectors of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera; collectables such as old vintage postcards are used by museums and historians to document what was.

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