When William (Bill) J. Wehrle founded Perimeter Aviation in 1960, it was Canada’s first private Instrument Flight Rating (IFR) School. Today, Perimeter has a fleet of over 30 aircraft and offers regularly scheduled passenger services and cargo shipping to 33 communities in Manitoba and Northern Ontario.
The Province of Manitoba contracts six Perimeter Aeromed aircraft for ambulance services. The company is an Approved (Aircraft) Maintenance Organization (AMO) and provides custom chartered flights to any destination in North America.
“Perimeter facilitates leisure and business travel, but we also fly for food delivery, medical purposes and in emergencies,” said Joey Petrisor, President & CEO, Perimeter Aviation. “We are an essential service for many northern communities, and this is a responsibility we take seriously.”
In 2023, the company announced the expansion of its Winnipeg terminal by 20,000 square feet. The expansion will be finished by February 2025 and will be completed in 11 phases.
“The terminal expansion will enable us to increase services, which should help us deliver enhanced service to northern communities and enable the movement of more goods,” said Petrisor.
Many places Perimeter flies are air access only, which means residents are cut off from other modes of transportation.
“It’s quite difficult for those of us who live in cities to imagine, but only two destinations we fly to are accessible by road year-round. Aircraft are providing the basic necessities of daily life, which can be costly. By adding more frequent flight departures, we will help increase the amount of cargo shipping out on combination flights and enhance operational efficiency,” said Petrisor.
Exchange Income Corporation (EIC), Perimeter’s owner, acquired the airline in 2004. Perimeter was the first of six. EIC also owns Calm Air, Keewatin Air, Bearskin Airlines (a division of Perimeter), Custom Helicopters and Provincial Airlines, as well as more than 20 niche, profitable companies.
“Perimeter is Manitoba’s largest airline, and we employ 850 employees, including over 250 who self-declare as women and over 140 who self-declare as Indigenous–in addition to hundreds of others who self-declare as visible minorities or as having a disability. Perimeter hires local Indigenous employees who load baggage, greet passengers, de-ice the aircraft and more. We also hire pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers from the communities we serve.”
As part of the terminal expansion, the company is refreshing many passenger areas, enhancing experiences with modern amenities, improving accessibility throughout the terminal and reconstructing the apron to accommodate more boarding gates.
How Perimeter Aviation gives back to the communities it flies to
Here are a few of Perimeter’s community investment priorities and projects:
Addressing food insecurity
Perimeter began working with Harvest Manitoba in 2022 to deliver shipments to northern communities and has already shipped over 125,566 pounds of food to St. Theresa Point, Island Lake, Red Sucker and Wasagamack.
In 2023, Perimeter partnered with the Province of Manitoba and Bison Fire & Safety to deliver more than 2,200 smoke alarms to five northern communities. Perimeter also defrayed the cost of a new scoreboard in St. Theresa Point’s new arena and hosted the annual Perimeter Cup men’s hockey tournament.
Investing in youth
Perimeter organizes career fairs and designs opportunities to reward youth who show particular interest in aviation, science or related activities. This year, the company sponsored the 2nd annual Reclaiming Our Future Youth Conference in Norway House. Perimeter also flew four students and their chaperones from the remote community of Brochet in Northern Manitoba for a science-focused experience.
Reconciliation through Aviation
Perimeter invests in talent development through the Bill Wehrle Scholarship, which provides financial assistance and encouragement for Indigenous students looking to join the field. There have been three scholarship recipients to date, the first of whom, Atik Mason of St. Theresa Point, went on to develop the Indigenous Pilot Pathway Program with EIC. The program helps Indigenous community members learn to fly and build careers as professional pilots in Northern Manitoba.