HISTORY > PIONEERS OF CANADIAN AVIATION
Men of courage and vision
(1910 - 1987)
Born in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Arthur Fecteau started his career in 1930 at the Bois Gomin airfield in Québec City. For a few years, he and his brother Joseph tried to make a living in aviation, giving flying lessons and barnstorming the countryside.
In 1936, Arthur left for Abitibi and settled in Senneterre, two regions northwest of Montreal, Quebec. At the end of the railroad, he offered the passengers to continue their journey by airplane. Fecteau also started to give rides to fur traders searching for Indians to trade with, thus saving long and tedious dog sledge expeditions. But competition among traders arose and one night his Fairchild aircraft was set on fire! Not the kind to be intimidated, Fecteau repaired the airplane in two months. The beginning of WWII in 1939 forced Fecteau to slow down activities.
The same year, his brother was reported missing during a flight in Labrador, Newfoundland. Arthur left to go to work in the area, hoping silently to find some clue of Joseph (in 1940, hunters located the body in an abandoned camp). After a brief course in Cartierville, Quebec, Arthur returned to Senneterre in 1941, reorganized his business and bought other airplanes. After the war, A. Fecteau Transport Aérien launched its conquest of the northern region. Secondary bases were established in Matagami, Amos, Lake Caché, Chibougamau, Fort George [Chisasibi], and Fort Rupert [Waskaganish] (all in a vast area of northern Canada).
Operations were varied and included supplying trading posts and Indians reservations, aerial photography, medical evacuations, mail carrying, transport of prospectors, land-surveyors, woodmen, hunters, fishermen, etc. Capitalizing on the mining boom, A. Fecteau Transport Aérien became in the 50's the biggest bush operator of the province of Québec, flying mostly de Havilland Beavers and Otters. In 1967, the company was sold to Québecair. Starting with seven dollars in his pocket, Arthur Fecteau became, during more than two decades, the undisputed leader of bush aviation from Abitibi to James Bay.
Thank you to the Quebec Air and Space Museum for this biography.