In Canada, the word "bush" has been used since the 19th century to describe the hostile environment beyond the clearings and settlements. In bush flying it has been used to refer to flying in adverse, if not hostile, conditions in the remote expanses beyond the ribbon of settlement in southern Canada, into the "bush" of the Canadian Shield and the barren Arctic. By the end of WWI most of southern Canada had been linked by railways, but the North remained as inaccessible as ever by land. Its innumerable lakes and rivers did, however, provide alighting areas for water-based aircraft in summer and ski-equipped aircraft in winter.
Prior to the 1920's, vast portions of the Canadian north were uncharted and unknown. Bushflying was intrumental in opening up those vast regions.
The aircraft used for bushflying had to be capable of transporting people, supplies and equipment over large distances to areas which were otherwise inaccessible. It especially had to be very rugged, easy to maintain and capable of taking off and landing very short distances; dependability, not speed, was the most important feature. Since Canada's many lakes proided natural "airstrips" most of the aircraft were equipped with floats or hulls to land on water. The use of ski's in winter allowed year-round use.
The Bushplane was used for transportation, exploration, timber surveys, forest fire spotting, aerial photography and mapping. The bushplane transported everthing from sick babies and miners to fresh eggs and dynamite to remote sites easily, quickly and cheaply. By the 1930's, Bushplanes flew beyond the Arctic Circle and fuel caches were established at remote points for refuelling.
Today the float-equipped bushplane is still used for flying into remote tourist locations, however, most northern communities now have paved airstrips for wheeled aircraft.
Bushpilots were the life-force of the exploration, development and protection of Canada's forests, resources and remote communities. They were a rare and unique breed They had to be resourceful, independent, innovative and hard working as well as lacking fear of the unknown and the having the ability to endure many hardships They worked in an un-charted and largley unknown area where mistakes were often fatal.