Aaaaaaaaah......be still my Canadi>n heart!
I personally have a very strong emotional connection to the late great
Canadi>n Airlines International. I guess you can say I was literally weaned
on all things CP
Allow me to tell you my story.
My dear late father joined Canadian Pacific airlines in the late 1950's right out of university, where he worked his way up the CP
ladder to an executive position in the finance and marketing departments. He was VERY much a pro-CP kind of guy, and he, like many other Canadian Pacific employees, had a very strong love and loyalty of this carrier. Dad also was stationed at various CP
destinations worldwide, where he managed the set-up and subsequent day-to-day ops of local stations. He loved the travel and time spent around the globe.
My dear late mother joined CP
2 years after my father as a flight attendant.
She worked "the line" for about 5 years, ending up as an in-charge FA
. I have photos of my mom in her old CP
uniform, and she was an absolute knockout, if I do say so myself. She was offered a lucrative post as YVR
base manager (cabin services), but turned it down as she had a great love of actual flying. My mother absolutely LOVED her career as a CP
Stew, and with her seniority, flew many "exotic" routes, ie South Pacific, Asia (she especially enjoyed her layovers in Beijing) and South America. Lucky for her, she joined at the right time, as to be able to bid and hold international blocks.
"Till the one day when the lady met this fellow, and they knew it was much more than a hunch.....". Yes yes, as the "Brady Bunch" song goes, dad said he first saw my mother (in full CP
stew uniform) in Australia. He said "she was a real looker!". He was returning home to YVR
after being stationed in SYD
; she was working the first class section where he was seated. Ohhhhhhhhhh! Dad always said he took one look at mom and fell "head over heels" at first sight. Unfortunately, mom, while acknowledging the fact that dad was, as she put it, "one hell of a good looking guy!" thought he was cocky, arrogant and full of himself. Besides, at the time, she thought he was a pax, and CP
had a very strong policy about not fraternizing with the paying customers. Dad always said he acted this way because he was so nervous around my mother on that flight. Dad tried to "chat mom up". She was having none of that. Dad said he continually asked my mother for coffee, tea, drinks, anything so he could talk to her. Mom said she eventually said to him, "you do realize there are OTHERS on this flight?". LOL. Dad then told her he worked for CP
; she demanded I.D (true!). Dad showed her the I.D. Mom was "intrigued, yet in a very reserved way". Dad offered to take her to dinner in YVR
. She said, "we'll see". She was playing hard to get, and dad always said he was impressed by the fact she was not "a cow offering the milk for free!" LOL, this is how my parents told me and my siblings this tale.
Well, eventually dad softened mom up (he had his charm and suave ways about him!). They went out for dinner, and they both said it was true love on the first date. They "courted", yet were apart a lot as mom continued to fly her CP
blocks, and dad went to Europe to be stationed in AMS
for a while. Together, my parents dated "all over the world", as they utilized CP
passes and travelled the CP
route network. They said it was one of the best times of their lives. My dad, ever the CP
guy, called my mother "Empress of my Heart", a name that he recited for the rest of their married life together. Eventually, they married, and honeymooned in Fiji and Tasmania (flights courtesy of CP
!). By this time, dad was at YVR
H.Q full time, and mom flew for a bit after giving birth to 3 of us, then happily left "the line" to raise her brood. But, as we shall see, mom never really got over her love of flying and aviation. It was in her blood, and dads too. Their common aviation gene was passed down to their offspring.
Growing up, to say CPAir was a huge part of our lives is an understatement.
We had CP
plane models, posters, and everything else you can imagine in our home. Dad would always take us out to the CP
hangar, where we would spend weekend days happily roaming around DC-8's. I remember how excited we were (and my parents) when CPAir acquired its first B-747-200, "Empress of
Canada". Later, we joined the Canadi>ners in welcoming the DC-10-30
aircraft to the "family". Mom "happened to get her hands on" a lot of CP
cabin service items, much to the frustration of my father! He was always nervous when CP
people came to our home, and made my mom "hide the loot". One thing though: the name "Air Canada" was never, ever to be spoken in our home. My parents were very loyal members of the CP
Family, as almost all CP
folk were. We kids would often tease our dad by mentioning AC
, and he was bemused, to say the least. Mom kept all of her old FA
uniforms, and my sister would love to dress up in them and play "stewardess". And my mom never tired of telling her offspring stories of her travels. Looking back, my parents were trying to instill in us the benefits and education/rewards offered by travel. We learned their lesson well.
My siblings and I had the wonderful and incomparable experience of seeing the world, a la CPAir. Family passes took us to Hawaii, Australia, Hong Kong, along with Amsterdam, Lisbon, etc. Those beautiful orange CP
Honolulu, Lisbon, Italy, Canada", etc., took us on many unforgettable journeys with our parents. Later, as we became teens, we set off on our own, and
CPAir was there to take us. Orange, indeed, was beautiful. The flights and on-board service was always superlative. Then again, do you think I was a wee bit biased? heheheheh.
I grew up seeing the growth and transformation of Canadian Pacific to
CPAir, then Canadian Pacific/Pacifique, and finally, Canadi>n Airlines International. One of my brothers joined Canadi>n in 1985, and worked his way from an FA
to OSM (On-board service manager) to base manager, then director of FA
Initial training. He is now, today, with Air Canada (oh, if mom and dad were alive to see that, and the buyout!). My oldest brother worked summers and part time as a CP
"ramp rat" while attending university. Later, after university, dad got him a job at YVR
H.Q, where he worked in the finance department for 2 years before leaving for a non-airline related career. My dad was a little disappointed at that.
My sister, much to my mothers delight, and my fathers displeasure (at first) joined Max Ward on his odyssey to transport charter pax in high style. She became a Wardair flight attendant in 1979, and flew "the line" for 6 years, then left the "line" to work in the YYZ
office/hangar complex. She eventually worked her way up to director of Market Planning. My parents were very proud of her. Dad may have been a staunch CP
man, but he had a lot of admiration and respect for Max Ward, seeing as how Ward was a Western Canadian Aviation Pioneer. With the 1988 buyout of Wardair by PWA
, my sister was offered a job at Canadi>n in YYZ
. My dad was very happy about this, and teased her that she ended up at the perfect airline after all. My sister left Canadi>n in 1990 to get married and raise her 2 sons.
In 1980, my mother, with most of her children grown and out of the nest,
became restless, and her mind returned to her flying days at CP
. She discussed this with my dad, the result of which was that, for one year, my mom joined Canadi>n again. She just wanted to fly long enough to get it out of her system. She returned to "the line" and flew the CP
wide-bodies B747-200 and DC-10-30. She was in heaven! All of us absolutely and without question supported her decision. My dad figured this way he could get out to the golf course and enjoy many and long games without her nagging him to spend more time with her!
She absolutely enjoyed every moment of it. And good for her that she was able to return to her "passion", for my mother passed away in 1984.
My dad decided to retire from Canadi>n in 1988. He passed away in 1993, therefore did not live to see (nor did my mother) the Air Canada buyout of Canadi>n, which is perhaps a good thing.
Our parents left their children a rich legacy, of which Canadi>n was a significant component. When Canadi>n Airlines International proudly
unveiled their "Proud Wings" livery and slogan, my siblings and I flew to YVR
for a special ceremony and function to celebrate the new image. Out parents were very much on our minds that evening, and we know they both would have been so happy and proud to have seen the return of "The Goose".
Needless to say, that evening was a very emotional one for myself and my brothers and sister. Our pride was the result of knowing that our parents played a significant role in the superlative reputation and image Canadi>n
Sadly though, we and Canadi>n people knew the carrier was in deep deep trouble. But if there was ever a slogan that best summed up the collective spirit and pride of the Canadi>n people, "Proud Wings" was it. It may be difficult for those not in the aviation industry to comprehend, but Canadi>n really and truly was a family. A family which had been through numerous challenging and difficult times throughout their history, yet remained joined together and supportive of one another, and above all, they never lost faith or their love for their airline. I truly believe the bond amongst CP
employees was by far stronger and deeper than that at Air Canada, for facing adversity and challenges together united the people of CP
like nothing else did. But make no mistake about it, by no means did CP
people consider themselves,
"the underdog". There was a certain "cachet" and "first class" feeling about being with CP
. And for good reason, as the airline offered its passengers
what many feel was among the best service in the industry. By this time, Canadi>n Airlines International now represented a very rich mosaic of the Canadian aviation industry. Pacific Western Airlines, Wardair Canada Ltd., Eastern Provincial Airways, etc., were all now integrated into the Canadi>n system.
As for me, I had the opportunity to join Canadi>n in the mid-80's. I was out of university, and like my parents and siblings, had aviation in my blood. I spoke with my father about joining Canadi>n, and he was all for it. I wanted to fly the CP
skies like my mom before me. However, seniority at CP
being what it was, I realized I would never enjoy the blocks and pairings my mother did (somehow, Prince Rupert, Whitehorse, and the Canadi>n Shuttle did not
grab my attention or interest). So, happily and with no regret, I joined the YYZ
based international charter carrier, Worldways. What a great little airline! Dad was pleased with this, as he felt Worldways posed no threat to CP
! Plus, he felt there was definitely a "CP" connection there, as Worldways had purchased 4 of CP
's DC-8-63's. He gave me his blessing.
And actually, when I think of it, I was working the same aircraft my mom had worked at CP
years ago. It was definitely a very good feeling. I had 5 great and fun-filled years, with great WG FA
colleagues, and very good blocks that took me to Europe, Hawaii and South America (and we're talking 3-4-5, even 6 day layovers being the norm, unlike the 24 hour layovers that make up most FA
Worldways ceased operations in 1990. Very sad time for all WG people. Today,
I am still lucky to be travelling the globe by working for a YYZ
based global corporate meetings/events planning co. in 1998 and 1999, I even did quite a bit of business travelling with....yep...good ole Canadi>n! I flew one of the
last DC-10-30 flights in 1999 from YVR
And there, for what it's worth, is my "Canadi>n" story. I will be perfectly honest and state that I was deeply saddened by the AC
buyout. It truly was the end of a very significant and special era in Canadian aviation history.
part of me was relieved that CP
employees (for the most part) would not lose their jobs. However, "The Goose" and "Empresses" would be laid to rest, and
that upset me a great deal. Or perhaps the pride of the Goose lives on in the collective spirit of those ex-Canadi>n employees now at Air Canada. I like to think it does indeed.
So long, Canadi>n. Thanks for the lifetime of wonderful, exciting and heartwarming memories. You showed me the world, and for that I am indebted to you. And thanks for being very much a part of my family. To say I miss you is an understatement. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Above and Beyond" was a marketing slogan attached to the wrong (AC) carrier. They are three words that, along with "Proud Wings" best sum up what Canadian Pacific Airlines/CPAir/Canadian Pacific-Pacifique and Canadi>n Airlines International were all about.
Cheers, and happy and safe flying!
And that's why I call myself, "Canadi>nBoy".