Québec has played a historic role in the conquest of air and space.
A mainstay of Canada’s aerospace industry since the 1920s and 1930s, Québec can claim to be the birthplace of bush and commercial aviation in Canada.
Here are some key milestones in the history of Québec’s aerospace industry:
Creation of Marconi Canada that will become Esterline CMC Électronics in 2001
Laurence J. Lesh, a 14-year-old Montrealer, achieves the first glider flights in Canada. Lesh’s gliders were pulled by a galloping horse, an automobile and even a motorboat over the Saint Lawrence River.
An aviation week is held in Pointe-Claire during the summer. A first in Canada, the event was a huge success, drawing 20,000 visitors a day.
The first airplane developed in Québec, in a garage on Ste. Catherine Street, flies to Cartierville. The plane was a prototype made by Percival Reid, considered to be one of the pioneers of aerospace manufacturing in Québec.
Stuart Graham, his wife Madge and mechanic “Bill” Kahre make the first bush flight in Canada on an HS-2L seaplane called “Vigilance”. The aircraft lands on Lac-à-la-Tortue in Québec after flying from Dartmouth (Nova Scotia) in June.
Laurentide Air Service is launched to patrol forest fires. In 1924, Laurentide Air Service inaugurates the first regular air service in Québec, linking Angliers with Rouyn in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. The one-way fare is $40 and roundtrip $75. The first stowaway in history is discovered during one of these flights!
The Vedette, the fi rst seaplane with a cabin, is developed in Montréal by Wilfrid T. Reid and built by the aerospace division of Canadian Vickers, at the time the only aerospace builder in Canada. The Vedette became the most built aircraft between the two world wars (61 units).
Pratt & Whitney Canada was founded by James Young in 1928 with a mandate to repair and overhaul Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines. The company began developing the PT6 engine, Canada's first small turbine engine, in the late 1950s.
The Noorduyn Norseman is designed and manufactured in Montréal. More than 900 of the legendary bush planes, as powerful on pontoons as on wheels, were built, making the Norseman the first bestseller in Montréal’s aerospace industry.
The first Canadian transcontinental airline is created under the name Trans-Canada Air Lines, today Air Canada. In its early days it flew between Vancouver and Seattle.
Creation of Air Canada Technical Services which will become Aveos.
Héroux-Devtek is born.
Canadair is born from the aerospace division of the Canadian Vickers. The company is sold in 1986 and will become Bombardier Aerospace
CAE and Rolls- Royce Canada are born.
Quebecair is launched in Rimouski.
Launch of Alouette I. Canada became the third nation to put an artificial satellite into orbit after the United States and the USSR.
Héroux-Devtek provides the landing system for Apollo’s Lunar Module when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their successful landing.
MDA manufactures the Canadarm, launched aboard the Columbia shuttle.
Quebecer Marc Garneau became the first Canadian astronaut to go into space aboard the Challenger Shuttle.
Launch of the Canadian Radarsat satellite in orbit 800km from the earth. This satellite has exceeded its life expectancy of 5 years => 17 years!
The Canadian Space Agency is founded and establishes its head office in Saint-Hubert.
Since 2000, new companies, including several from abroad, have set up in Québec to take advantage of its industrial expertise, quality manpower and the aerospace sector’s capacity to innovate.
Launch of Radarsat 2 (still active).
The official date of entry into service of the Bombardier Aerospace CSeries aircraft family. CSeries aircraft will be the “greenest” in the 100-149 seat category.