A-213 Totem
photo of single engine flying boat in the water, tied up at a wharf.
Role Utility and fisheries seaplane
National origin Canada
Manufacturer Boeing Aircraft of Canada
Designer Captain Edward Fothergill Elderton
First flight June 1932[1]
Introduction 1932
Status Scrapped in 1942
Primary users Canadian Airways
Boeing Aircraft of Canada
Number built 1
Boeing-Canada Totem on hoist
Boeing-Canada Totem on hoist

The Boeing-Canada A-213 Totem was a Canadian single-engine pusher monoplane flying boat intended for forestry and fisheries patrols as well as a light utility transport for the British Columbia coastline, where there are few flat places for runways, and waterways are plentiful. The sole example, CF-ARF, CB10[2] was designed and built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada. The name refers to the Totem poles used by the First Nations in British Columbia.[3]


Boeing-Canada A-213 Totem taxiing across the water
Boeing-Canada A-213 Totem taxiing across the water

The Chief Engineer, Edward Fothergill Elderton was British, and had previously worked at Short Brothers[4] and Saunders-Roe before coming to Canada to work for Canadian Vickers and Boeing of Canada.[3]

Despite being developed while the Boeing 40H-4 and C-204 were under construction, the Totem's design owed little to Boeing aside from the Boeing 103 airfoil section and the rudder shape.[3] Indeed, previous Boeing flying boats used wood extensively in the hull, and the 40H-4 used welded steel tubes for its fuselage structure. Instead, its tumblehome and heavy external ribs on the hull showed a strong Saunders-Roe influence, which is unsurprising given the Chief Engineer's background.[3] The model number A-213 fits numerically in the Boeing sequence but the significance of the 'A' prefix remains unexplained.[3] It may be a coincidence that Saunders-Roe was using an A as a prefix for all their aircraft at that time.

The bottom of the hull was built up as a three-ply Alclad sandwich, riveted to frames with external longitudinal stringers. The sides and top of the hull used sheet metal with widely spaced corrugations or ribs.[4] There were five bulkheads separating six watertight compartments, and it made extensive use of stainless steel components to limit corrosion.[4] The roomy 4 seat cabin was positioned ahead of the front wing spar and was accessed through a folding roof hatch.[4][3] Dual controls were offered, while the stick could be removed on the passenger side.[4] The main fuel tank was behind the cabin and between the wing spars, with a smaller fuel tank in the engine nacelle that was fed by a fuel pump.[4] The Wasp Jr. radial engine was mounted as a pusher, which made passenger egress safer, and reduced cabin noise.[4] Starting was accomplished with an inertial hand starter.[4]

The wings were built around two spruce spars, with ribs and leading and trailing edges in spot welded chromium-molybdenum alloy (chrome-moly) steel, all covered in fabric sealed and tightened with aircraft dope.[4] The wings were braced with parallel steel struts to the hull chines, and fitted with metal tip floats. The high mounted elevators, fin and rudder were like the ribs, made up from spot welded chrome-moly steel, covered in fabric.[4] All controls were actuated via push-pull rods, with no cables or pulleys to jam.[4] Unusually for the time, a retractable water rudder was fitted that would pivot back and up if it struck an obstacle.[4]

Operational history

The sole Totem built, serial number CB10 was registered as CF-ARF.[2] The first known flight is believed to have been on 16 June 1932, by William J. Holland.[3] Test flights were being made in July by company pilots, and on September 25, an official test flight was made, with government observers.[3] One of the test flights was to Garibaldi Lake, the first visit by an airplane to that lake, at an altitude of 4,869 ft (1,484 m) where it experienced no difficulties.

Boeing of Canada had been having difficulty selling its flying boats, and the Totem was no exception, with it remaining in Boeing's hands for almost a year before being sold to a private operator.[5]

The Totem while with its final owner.
The Totem while with its final owner.

In May 1933, the Victoria Daily Times reported that Holland was taking the president of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, (part owner of both Boeing and Boeing of Canada) for a "leisurely" flight up the British Columbia coastline to Juneau, Alaska.[6] In July 1933, Holland took the Totem to Amethyst Lake in Jasper National Park, to Lake Louise in Banff National Park and to Lake Minnewanka.[5] He gave joyrides to the locals for $5 a flight, while also occasionally doing local charters, including taking the manager of the Banff Springs Hotel to the Columbia Icefield and another longer one for a group of fishermen to Marvel Lake (north of Marvel Peak).[5] The Totem was not the first aircraft to visit Banff though, as they were preceded by a Norman Thompson N.T.2B flying boat operated by the Rocky Mountain Aviation Transport Company between 1921 and 1924.[5] Holland was notified in August that the Totem had been sold and to make haste back to Vancouver to transfer the airplane to the new owner.[5]

The new owner only kept it for a couple of years before selling it to Canadian Airways in May 1935.[7] This was despite demonstrating excellent water and flight handling characteristics during official tests and in operational service.[3] It would remain in service until January 1938, mainly carrying out fisheries patrols,[3] until they sold it to another private operator in 1938.[7] Its registration was cancelled in February 1942, and presumably scrapped.[7][3]

The Totem served most of its career in British Columbia, however it would remain a one-off as pure-flying boats were by then being supplanted by floatplanes.[3]



Specifications (Boeing A-213 Totem)

Boeing Totem drawing
Boeing Totem drawing

Data from Flight, 1932, p.890-892

General characteristics


See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



  1. ^ Milberry, 1997, p.90
  2. ^ a b Pentland, 2010, p.2
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Visschedijk, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Spooner, 23 September 1932, pp.890-892
  5. ^ a b c d e Stokalko, 2019
  6. ^ Victoria Daily Times, 19 May 1933, p.24
  7. ^ a b c Aviation History Canada, 2020