Lambair HistoryLambair, which was incorporated in 1935 as Lamb Airways Limited, began with one aircraft - a Stinson SR8 five passenger plane. This plane was used to haul fish from The Pas, Manitoba to the rail head at Comorant before the fish froze and before the market fell in Chicago. Tom Lamb, who established the airline, bought the Stinson in 1930 and taught himself to fly it.
Lambair grew from public demand, as there was no other means of transportation for fish to market at the time except horse-drawn sleighs. Airplanes shortened the time to market and ensured higher quality fish to the large North American market. While transportation of fish, fur, trappers and fisherman were its primary business, the largest expansion of Lambair was during the construction of the mid-Canada line during the 1950's. The airline served all of Canada and parts of the United States and Greenland during its years in service. Lambair continued to haul fish, but its primary cargo was people - Inuit families from Resolute, Northwest territories to the far Arctic island hunting camps; equipment - oil drilling rigs to Sable Island from Halifax and food supplies. Medical evacuations and emergency mercy flights also accounted for a substantial amount of the company's traffic from the far north.
As development in the north progressed, Lambair opened new bases and served Wabowden, Thompson, Churchill, Norway House and Gillam as well as The Pas. These bases were established to serve all of northern Manitoba and the North West Territories. It carried out its own maintenance operations in its hangers at Churchill, Thompson and The Pas and in 1965 built a new headquarters at The Pas.
At the time, Lambair was Canada's oldest airline still under the original management. Upon the death of Tom Lamb in 1969, the founder's six sons, all pilot-engineers, ran the airline. By 1979, Lambair had a fleet which included Bristol freighters, twin otters, Otters, Beavers, Cessna 180s, Bell G4A helicopters, Twin Islanders, Aztecs and DC-3s. The planes were purchased from all over the world including Norway, England and Afghanistan. This fleet offered the greatest variety of aircraft to look after the traffic of the north, according to Donald Lamb, President of Lambair, in 1973. The combination of heavy freight aircraft with short takeoff and landing aircraft, to the fast light instrument flight rules (IFR) twin engine planes allowed the company to take on assignments for governments, oil companies, mining operations and continue to haul passengers throughout the north. The helicopters were for prospecting, hydro-electric development and forestry operations.
Lambair's history is detailed in the autobiography of Jack Lamb, "My Life in the North". This book is available through McNally Robinson Booksellers in Canada