After learning that the Canadian Air and Space Museum ( http://casmuseum.org/
) at Downsview was evicted I can’t begin to tell you how outraged I am.
My column this week was somewhat of a Public Service Announcement, you can read it here:
My family enjoyed the anual wings & wheels festival which included watching planes taxi, take off and buzz the base, everything from early WW2 trainers to CF-18s.
It is through this museum I was able to reconnect with a plane that my great uncle trained pilots in during WW2 as recorded in his pilot logs. After the war years my uncle stayed on at DeHavilland as a test pilot at the Downsview base.
Inside the museum exists a full scale replica of the Avro Arrow. Bus loads of school children went through the museum every day.
It is going to be DEMOLISHED and replaced with a privately owned hockey rink on Federal Government property.
This isn’t a simple matter of a tennant not paying their rent. This is hundreds of volunteers, thousands and thousands of man hours to build something of lasting importance for the people of Canada on a site where your ancestors worked and made history.
This building was where Canada’s space program began. The Alouette satellite was built and tested there. The DeHavilland Beaver was designed and built there. The World War II fighter the Mosquito was built there. They are in the midst of restoring a Lancaster bomber.
Something that is equaly disconcerting is that this museum gets not one dime of support from the taxpayer. For 12 years it has been PAYING money to the taxpayer.
Something to consider when you contact your local M.P. to tell them how unacceptable this whole thing has become.
The Toronto Star ran an excellent series of pics from the museum here:
The Star also recently ran an article regarding a flying ace:
So what were Aurora’s contributions?
The most notable is Lloyd Vernon “Chad” Chadburn DSO & Bar, DFC
Chadburn was the first graduate of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to lead a Fighter Command Squadron. He was also the youngest Squadron Leader in the Air Force at age 21.
Chadburn received the Distinguished Service Order twice, the first RCAF officer to be so decorated and was one of only four in history.
He was made a Chevalier (knight) in the French Légion d’honneur and awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. Only three RCAF officers received the Légion d’honneur, and Chadburn was the only one to receive the Croix de Guerre.
The following is a great site one can visit to delve deeper into Chadburn’s service:
“Gone is the Angel” is Chadburn’s official biography available through an Oshawa Squadron that bears his name:
The image included at the top of this post is a painting by Rich Thistle titled “Dieppe Dawn” depicting Chadburn.
A close friend to Chadburn was Wing Commander Norman Hobson Bretz D.F.C.
The following is from a family website :
In the Spring of 1946, Norman received his discharge from the R.C.A.F. and. returned. to civilian life, moving to Aurora, Ontario; buying a very large three storey turret style home from Mrs. Allen, the mother of the late Wing Commander Lloyd Chadburn. She helped to arrange
the financing for the house. Unfortunately, Norman didn’t obtain, a regular civilian job but rather hired a housekeeper, and rented rooms (and board) by the month to fellows who were working with the Ontario Hydro north of Toronto (when Norman died, he left the use of the house to the housekeeper for as long as she would want it.
Here’s a picture of that very unique home, which still stands on the west side of Yonge St:
I’m confident that there are several important stories to tell of Aurora’s contributions and that a couple visits to our local legion will provide the leads to explore.
There is a huge difference between those that bravely earned their awards through devoted service, and those that stand around emply plaques and awards for photo shoots.
Without the Canadian Air & Space Museum, or an Aurora Museum one wonders how exactly any of the latter can argue how we are properly honouring our past?