1945: The Canadian Preparatory Committee and PICAO into action


Montréal – Postcard showing the Dominion Square Building

The Executive Committee of the Chicago Conference recommended that the seat of the provisional ICAO be located in Canada, taking into consideration the war circumstances in Europe and the wish to start its work rapidly; Canada was also a logical choice as an important aviation nation and one with strong links with Europe. However, the permanent seat of the Organization would be determined at the final meeting of the Interim Assembly of the Provisional ICAO.


On 6 June 1945, the required number of twenty-six States had adhered to the Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation, so that the Provisional ICAO (PICAO) could come into being, as per Article 17, paragraph 3 of the latter Agreement. The host country, Canada, set up on 22 June 1945 a working group, called the Canadian Preparatory Committee (CPC), for the purpose of studying the intended functions of PICAO, planning the organization that would be required to carry out these functions, and formulating the procedures that would necessarily lead to the commencement of PICAO’s activities; Wing Commander P.A. Cumyn of the Canadian Cabinet Secretariat was nominated Chairman of the CPC. The Government of Canada made available the necessary funds and personnel for the CPC.  Over a period of six weeks (from 27 June until 15 August 1945, the date fixed for the first meeting of the Interim Council), the CPC held 18 meetings in Montréal, Ottawa and Washington, D.C.; a small secretariat of twenty-five staff had been seconded from the Canadian Government and was located in the Windsor Hotel. The Preparatory Committee drew up the agenda for the first session of the Interim Council and prepared administrative regulations, organization charts and personnel schedules, rules governing staff recruitment, a draft budget and financial regulations.


Dr. Edward Warner

Dr. Albert Roper

In June 1945, Dr. Edward Warner, Vive-Chairman of the US Civil Aeronautics Board and Member of the US Delegation to the Chicago Conference, assisted the Canadian Preparatory Committee to make the necessary arrangements for the first Interim Council of PICAO. Dr. Albert Roper, long-time Secretary General of the International Commission on Air Navigation (ICAN) had been invited by the Canadian Government to assist in the preparatory work for the first meeting of PICAO; he arrived in Montréal early in July 1945.


While war hostilities essentially ended on the day before, on the invitation of the Government of Canada, the first session of the Interim Council met on 15 August 1945 at 14:30 in the Rose Room of the Windsor Hotel, adjacent to Dominion Square, and began PICAO’s activities. Among the twenty country-members of the Council invited, Brazil and Mexico could not arrive on time for the opening meeting. Canada's Minister of Reconstruction C.D. Howe welcomed the Interim Council and noted that this was "the first post-war organization of the United Nations to get under way...". The first session of the Interim Council opened under the temporary chairmanship of the representative of Canada, Mr. A.C. McKim, with Wing Commander P.A. Cumyn as Temporary Secretary General.


At its first session, the Interim Council decided that, to perform its functions effectively and promptly, it should remain in substantially continuous session, with short recesses to enable members to confer with their respective Governments. The agenda and documentation prepared by the Canadian Preparatory Committee greatly assisted the early work of the Organization, and the Interim Council expressed to the Prime Minister of Canada its deep appreciation for the generous assistance given by the Canadian Government in general and the Committee in particular.


On 17 August 1945 during the third meeting of the opening session of the Interim Council, Dr. Warner was unanimously elected the first President of the Council of PICAO (for a period of two years) and then continued as President of the ICAO Council until his retirement on 18 April 1957. Dr. Roper was appointed Secretary General, on the understanding that he would continue his association with the ICAN until that Organization should have been superseded by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Both had played major roles at the Chicago Conference.


The eighth and last session of the Interim Council was held from 29 April to 7 May 1947.


The regular method of keeping Member States informed on the work of the Organization was, of course, through correspondence and the dissemination of official publications. The PICA0 Journal having failed to serve this purpose, the monthly Bulletin was introduced in November 1946 and had been appearing regularly since. It reviewed, in brief compass, the whole range of PICAO’s activities, as well as those of other international agencies working in related fields. The results of the Organization's work were incorporated in the more specialized publications, such as the final reports of Divisions, the Recommendations for Standards, Practices and Procedures, the Procedures for Air Navigation Services and other official documents.


Montréal – Postcard showing the Windsor Hotel


15 August 1945 - PICAO – First Session of the Interim Council.

Board in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel.


15 August 1945 - PICAO – First Session of the Interim Council (Windsor Hotel).


Edward Warner (left) and Albert Roper (right) in August 1945.


August 1945 – Interim Council in Session at the Windsor Hotel.


Letter of staff appointment dated 5 December 1945, on PICAO letterhead paper.



August-September 1945

Front page of the first issue of the PICAO Journal (Number 1), which recorded the activities, studies and progress of PICAO.

The PICAO Journal had 8 numbers and the last one was dated September 1946 – May 1947



In November 1946, the PICAO Journal was replaced by the PICAO Monthly Bulletin.

7 May 1947 – Last day of the final Session of the Interim Council (Sun Life Building).