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.
Canada and Airport Refugee Claimants in the 1980s
This article surveys Canada’s regulatory response to global aeromobility in the late twentieth century. It examines the Canadian state’s strategies to restrict the movement of refugee claimants landing at airports during the 1980s and the national discourse around this process. Mass air travel enabled more refugees, particularly from the Global South, to travel to Canada and, in the process, challenged how the country governed aerial and cosmopolitan populations. In response, Canadian authorities erected an enforcement regime at the country’s international airports, which transformed them into contested entry points to national space and normative citizenship where links between mobility, borders, and nation were simultaneously reinforced and contested. This article thus provides an integral case study of national ambivalence toward global aeromobility in the late twentieth century.