Fedex’s 35 years in Canada

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by Emily Atkins

Thirty-five years ago, Canadian consumers and businesses wanting to ship quickly and around the world had few options. That was until FedEx expanded into Canada, its first international market.

Fast-forward to today, FedEx Express Canada connects Canada to over 220 countries and territories.

In 1987, FedEx purchased its Canadian licensee, Cansica Inc., and established FedEx Express Canada, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario. Two years later, another FedEx-first milestone was achieved when full domestic service was launched across the country.

From its origins as a team of just under 400 employees located across Canada, FedEx Express Canada today employs nearly 14,000 team members. Its operations are based out of 70 locations, supported by a domestic air fleet of 32 aircraft, and ground fleet of roughly 5,000 vehicles – including a large e-bike fleet

“For 35 years, FedEx has played a critical role in helping to move the Canadian economy with drive and purpose,” said Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada. “In doing so, we have built one of the country’s most respected companies and remain one of the most trusted employers in Canada. Our investments in Canada and Canadians are reflective of our belief in our country and our people’s potential.”

With the pandemic-inducing surge in e-commerce, most Canadians associate FedEx Express Canada with the shipment and delivery of everyday goods.

But the company has been involved in numerous behind-the-scenes activities that many don’t know about.

Vaccine transport

FedEx Express Canada (along with Innomar Strategies) was selected by the government of Canada to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to each province and territory, as well as many Canadian missions abroad. The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Canada aboard a FedEx B777 on Christmas Eve, 2020. By the end of July, 2022, over 52 million doses of vaccines had been distributed from coast-to-coast and to 36 international destinations, with similar deliveries continuing to this day.

Supreme Court challenge

In the well-publicized 2018 case of R. v. Comeau, involving the transportation of alcohol from one Canadian province to another, FedEx Express Canada was the only transportation company granted intervener status. This allowed the company’s legal counsel the right to stand before the Supreme Court of Canada and argue to the court an interpretation of Canadian constitutional law that favours a view of intra-provincial trade.

FedEx Express Canada supported many Canadian wineries in their advocacy to ship wine directly to consumers in other provinces. The company’s advocacy, in part, inspired many provinces to adopt legislation that allowed the intra-provincial shipment within Canada.

Panda moves

When Canada was chosen to host giant pandas from China, FedEx Express Canada donated two charter flights to accommodate their arrival. The first took place in 2013 with the arrival of Da Mao and Er Shun from Chengdu, China and the second in 2018, when Da Mao and Er Shun, along with their two cubs, travelled from Toronto to the Calgary Zoo. Throughout their five-year stay, FedEx also made weekly deliveries of bamboo to the zoos from various locations in the United States and Asia.

Retail Alliance

The rise of e-commerce created a demand among Canada’s transportation and logistics industry for expanded brick-and-mortar solutions for consumers needing convenient drop-off and pick-up services. Rather than compete with Canadian businesses, FedEx entered in strategic alliances with some of Canada’s well-known retail brands, such as Home Hardware, Staples, Super C, Metro, Kent, and Penguin Pickup.

Sustainability and charity

Toronto was selected as one of the first markets within the FedEx Express global network to pilot e-bikes for last mile deliveries in an urban area.  Over the last two years, the pilot has expanded into a cross-Canada e-bike fleet.  Since its roll-out in July 2020, the Canadian e-bike fleet has travelled more than 32,000 emissions-free kilometres, preventing over nine tonnes of CO₂ emissions.

In the company’s last fiscal year, FedEx Express Canada reached $1 million in donations to Tree Canada; offered its support to Ecotrust Canada—an organization that works to build economies for social and environmental well-being with a focus on assisting rural, remote, and Indigenous; and renewed its Plane Pull for Sight campaign in support of Orbis International.


Lisa Lisson, who started her career as a marketing associate, became the first woman and first Canadian president in FedEx Express Canada history. As well, key global FedEx executives once called Canada home, including Raj Subramaniam, president and CEO of FedEx Corp., who served as president of FedEx Express Canada from 2003 to 2006; and Brie Carere, the chief customer officer for FedEx Corp., as well as the co-president and co-CEO of FedEx Services. Carere first began her career with FedEx as a marketing associate with FedEx Express Canada.