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Nice cover from the famed Red Lake Mining district with a Western Airways Semi-Official air mail stamp.
Signed at top left by sender (post master) R.C. Cockburn P.M. Snake Falls
Written in pencil "1st flight cover Snake Falls signed by P.M.".
Addressed to 'A.C. Roessler East Orange N.J.'
At bottom left Semi-Official stamp #CL 40 from ‘Western Canada Airways Airmail Service 1 oz.’
Circular cancellations ‘SNAKE FALLS ONT AU 20 27’ and ‘RED LAKE ONT JAN _ 28’. Also a cancellation on the Semi-Official stamp ‘RED LAKE ___ JAN __’. Based on other covers, the Red Lake date would be January 4th.
Cancellation smudge on back.
Snake Falls is located some 31 kms. northwest of Goldpines. The original purpose for the creation of Snake Falls was for a timber milling center to service the Red Lake gold mines; but this venture failed due to various mishaps with the transportation of the steam-driven milling equipment to this site. The settlement lay approximately at the halfway point between Goldpines and Red Lake, and so its main purpose became providing travelers, between these two points, overnight bunkhouse facilities, both during summer and winter.
On March 4, 1927, the District Postal Service Superintendent formally gave permission to Western Canada Airways to carry airmail in the Red Lake mining area at a fee of 25 cents per mail ounce, which, prior to the issuance of the "sticker", was to be paid to the Company's representatives at the various points in the mining area. When the stamp was issued on May 1, 1927, it was sold for 10 cents per mail ounce.
At that time the only operating WCA plane in the Red Lake District, flew mail from Hudson (Rolling Portage) to Goldpines and Red Lake and return on June 1,1927, but did not stop at Snake Falls that day, or ever. In later times, WCA's planes did occasionally land at Snake Falls, but only to land passengers, never to transport mail. In considering the above information, it is quite probable that the Snake Falls covers addressed to Brown and Roessler were prepared in good faith, as WCA had been granted permission to fly mail from Snake Falls.
The probable reason why the flights did not occur is that Snake Falls was not a trading post and only had a miniscule permanent population, so it is obvious that the amount of mail and express business would be correspondingly small, so landing here would prove uneconomic.
Possibly the Snake Falls' covers were flown but, if they were, the flight would have originated at Goldpines and the covers would then more likely have traveled both north and south, instead of both sets going to Red Lake. It is a far more realistic consideration that the two sets of airmail, when the expected plane did not show, were transported on a barge going to Red Lake