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The Launch of NEW Canadian Air and Space Museum

March 19, 2009  By Administrator

canairspMarch 19, 2009 – The saying goes that if you build it, they will come. And in further support of that notion, if you put enough valuable and important dates from aviation and aerospace history together at one time in one place, you can have an impressive media event.


The saying goes that if you build it, they will come. And in further support of that notion, if you put enough valuable and important dates from aviation and aerospace history together at one time in one place, you can have an impressive media event.

Such was the case on Feb. 20, 2009 at the former Toronto Aerospace Museum, located in Downsview Park in central Toronto.. It was on this day that the Museum was renewed and re-launched with a new image, focus and vision –  as the Canadian Air and Space Museum (CASM).

Claude Sherwood – the CEO of the Museum and a former Avro employee – proudly stood in front of the only full-scale Museum quality replica of the historic CF-105 Arrow to announce that the Museum was undertaking not only a name change, but also an extensive renewal of its focus. The centerpiece of this campaign is a $2 million, Phase 1 revitalization and expansion plan that will allow the Museum to become a living and breathing aviation/aerospace center and education facility for approximately 150,000+ annual visitors.

The current home for the Museum is a part of history itself, having once been the site of the historic de Havilland Aircraft of Canada factory, established in 1929. Over the 80 years that this building has stood, its hangar doors have opened to present many new and exciting aircraft to the world – starting with open cockpit, wood and fabric Moth biplanes, through the postwar Chipmunk trainer to the famous Beaver and Otter bush planes of the late 40's and 50's, and concluding with assembly and testing of the Alouette 1 spacecraft and its innovative STEM antenna in the 1960s  produced by de Havilland's Special Products Division – which later became SPAR Aerospace.


The revitalization and expansion project will enable the Museum to effectively showcase not only its current displays, but also the City of Toronto's rare Lancaster bomber restoration project. Plans call for inclusion of new interactive and educational displays, theaters, archive facilities, restoration space and many other elements – all coming together to make this a premier aviation and aerospace facility and tourist destination on the doorstep of Canada's largest population centre.

During any economic period, a project of this magnitude would be a challenge, to say the least. During a recession, it's a monumental task. That said, the membership, aviation community and aerospace industry have come forward and are well on the way to supporting the challenge. As with any such campaign, sponsors are welcome at any and all levels and recognition is attributed accordingly.

The campaign Title sponsor is currently Air Canada and Partner sponsors include the Ontario Aerospace Council and the Foundation J. Armand Bombardier. At the Founding sponsor level, the current participants include Bombardier Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Messier-Dowty and Sky Words Media. Presenting sponsors are Lucas Oil Products Inc., Air Combat Zone, the GTAA and Downsview Park. Associate sponsors to date are Deca Aviation, Altitude Graphics and BCNI. At the Supporting sponsor level are MX Aerospace and Honeywell and the Contributing sponsors include Canada's Air Force, COPA for Kids and the Royal Canadian Mint.

During the launch event on Feb.20, many additional companies and individuals came forward and provided donations helping to kick off this capital campaign. While the total contributions to date are not yet tallied, Museum organizers are very happy with the start to their Capital Campaign.

The launch celebration was held 50 years to the day after the entire Avro Arrow program was cancelled by the government on Feb. 20th, 1959.

Coincidentally, Feb. 20 was a young 21-year-old Claude Sherwood's birthday and the day he lost his job at Avro. It was more than a little ironic that 50 years later he should be standing in front of a stunning and fabulous replica of that iconic aircraft to present a new chapter in Canada's aviation history, having already lived through several chapters of this storybefore. Claude Sherwood is one of the dedicated volunteers who took up the challenge to lead the construction of the Museum's Avro Arrow. The memories of ex-Avro employees are strong, and their contribution to Canadian aerospace does not go unrecognized. Canadian Air & Space Museum will do more than its part to ensure their legacy continues.

The month of February was also the official 100th anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada by an aircraft that we know as the Silver Dart.

Since 2005, a dedicated group of volunteers in the Niagara region of Ontario have been working to re-create a flying replica of the Silver Dart with plans to fly it at Baddeck, Nova Scotia of the 100th anniversary of the original flight on Feb. 23, 1909. Prior to this historic anniversary, the AEA 2005 group participated in the Canadian Air & Space Museum's launch event via teleconference from Baddeck and were extremely excited about their plans to re-create an important moment in Canadian aviation history. Poor weather forced the reenactment of the Silver Dart flight to take place a day prior, on Feb. 22. In honor of the 100th anniversary, the Royal Canadian Mint took the opportunity to present the Canadian Air & Space Museum with a Centennial of Flight Commemorative Coin saluting the historic 1909 flight of the Silver Dart.

Among the numerous and varied presenters on the day were – via electronic means – actor/pilot Harrison Ford. Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley kicked of the celebration by stating "this launch celebrates the many achievements of the Canadian aerospace industry. I am pleased to be present for this new chapter in the Museum's development and to see it supported so enthusiastically by the aerospace, airline and space industries, as well as the military and other proud Canadian supporters." As many will recall, His Honour was very instrumental in the launch and support of the replica Arrow project and has long been known for his interest in aviation and space.

When he is not acting on the big screen, Harrison Ford is an avid pilot and proud owner of a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver built at Downsview. During his video message, he stated, "I'm glad to see that the birthplace of the de Havilland Beaver is being preserved along with a century's worth of stories and other great aviation achievements. I wish you all the best with raising funds to create such a world-class facility and urge everyone to donate to the Canadian Air and Space Museum."

During its 10 year history, the volunteer-driven Canadian Air and Space Museum has come a long way in to create a showcase and repository for many important chapters of the local and national history of flight and the exploration of space, and recognize the people who made these accomplishments possible. The vision of the Museum can and will be achieved over time through the dedication of its staff and volunteers coupled with corporate and community support, and lots of determination.

These efforts will ensure that future generations will have the ability to study, understand and remember the achievements of those who come before them and the proud position Canada holds within the global aviation and aerospace communities.

Visit the Canadian Air and Space Museum website.


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