Taking Off: Thinking Historically about Air Travel and Mobility in Late Twentieth-Century Canada

in Mobility in History
Restricted access

In some respects, the history of aviation in Canada has been capably told. Historians have extolled air travel and the accelerated mobility it has offered Canadians, helping them overcome natural geographic barriers and knitting together the country’s disparate regions. But what has not been satisfactorily acknowledged is the global historical story of Canada and commercial air travel during the dawn and maturation of jet travel beginning in the late 1950s. The jet age made air travel a quintessentially global mode of mass transportation, expanding and intensifying connections between distant locales like never before. Canada was not immune to these developments; transoceanic air passenger traffic rose sharply from the 1960s, particularly to and from its major cities. The jet age thus constitutes a pivotal phase in the history of Canadian commercial air travel, having left a distinctive footprint on late twentieth-century Canada.