First time flying was on the meat plane

From our October 2012 issue

By Anne Cott – Winnipeg, Man.

I boarded the train in Eldersley, Sask. in late August of 1947 and headed for Dawson City, Yukon to teach Grades 5 and 6.

The train took me to Dawson Creek, B.C. where I spent the weekend with old friends of the family named Haddow. Don Haddow even took me to a dance in the country which was fun.

On Monday morning, I boarded the bus that would take me to Whitehorse, Yukon. Each day we travelled 300 miles and stopped for the night because there was only one driver.

Arriving in Whitehorse I discovered the last riverboat had left and my only option was to go by plane, however, the plane had a full load.

The only alternative was I could go on a plane taking a load of meat to Mayo, a mining town to the northeast on Thursday, stay there overnight and take the Friday plane from there to Dawson City. This would be my first plane ride.

When I boarded, I found every seat but one was holding a huge white sack of meat. Off we went. We flew low over the country and I enjoyed the scenery.

Just as we were to land I heard the pilot say to the co-pilot, “It’s such a nice day let’s try landing by instruments.” They covered the windshield and we landed safely.

In Mayo, the plane was met by the RCMP and the pilot introduced me and explained the circumstance. He introduced me to the Mayo schoolteacher and she looked after me – including taking me to a lady’s house to play bridge. The hotel had warned me to be back in my room before 11 or 12 when the lights would be turned off. (I was.)

The next morning we awoke to rain, but the Whitehorse plane arrived. The weather hadn’t improved by the afternoon and a decision was made to fly us all back to Whitehorse. A very nice young girl, Shirley Whitehouse, sat with me and we shared a hotel room. She was to be one of my pupils.

I was getting short of money and I decided that I must go to the Bank of Commerce for a loan. I’d never done that in my life. I was very shy and nervous as I asked to see the bank manager.

I told him my situation and that I would have a cheque waiting for me in Dawson City. I detected a smile from him as I replied $10 to his question, “How much do you want?”

“You’d better take $15,” he said and then added, “Of course you’ll go to the Bank of Commerce there.” (I did.)

More Mounties greeted us as we got off the plane at Dawson City and a taxi drove us into what would be my hometown for the next two years.

My girlfriend, Thelma Woods, greeted me because we were to share a cabin. Then we went for a walk “over town”. Being a small community, everyone knew I was arriving and my name. It was “Hello, Miss Woods. Hello, Miss Edmunds,” and a happy two years began for me.

The summer of 1947, I stayed there and Jamie Mellor, who worked in the post office, asked me to work for him during my summer holidays which I did. My Mountie friend took me to the local detachment to fingerprint me. I never forgot the look on the prisoner’s face. He probably thought I may be joining him.

It was a busy time at the post office because not only did the gold bricks go by registered mail but the inhabitants ordered their year’s supplies so they could come in by boat.

In 1947, I went to Whitehorse to teach and while there I met a young man who had been overseas during the war and who was now teaching there. We fell in love and got married in ‘The Old Log Church’ which now is a museum. More adventures over the next 53 years followed.

Plane flying service to Dawson City in 1948.


Dawson City public school in winter of 1948-49