Edmonton·Video

Rare Lancaster bomber grounded in New Brunswick after Edmonton restoration plans fall flat

A rare Second World War Lancaster bomber will not live out its final days in Edmonton, after a crowdfunding campaign to bring the plane from New Brunswick failed to reach its goal.

The Lancaster KB-822 bomber was supposed to come to Edmonton, if a crowdfunding campaign was successful

Lancaster Leaving

NB

6 years ago
1:50
After 50 years along the Transcanada Highway, the old Lancaster bomber in Edmundston is heading west to its new home at the Alberta Aviation Museum. 1:50

A rare Second World War Lancaster bomber won't become a museum piece in Edmonton, after a crowdfunding campaign to bring the plane from New Brunswick failed to reach its goal.

Last year, Edmunston city council voted to transfer the aging bomber to Edmonton, where it could be restored and preserved for display. 

The Lancaster KB-822 has been sitting outside in Edmundston since 1964, when the city bought it for $1,600. Over the years, the aircraft deteriorated, and birds had built nests inside and rust had set in. 

A piece of Canadian history

The bomber has a storied history — built in Ontario in 1944, it's one of the last surviving Lancasters. It was the largest heavy bomber in the Commonwealth fleet, measuring 20 metres long and able to carry 10,000 kilograms of explosives.

It soared the dangerous skies of Europe during the war, and afterwards explored the Canadian north. 

The Alberta Aviation Museum offered to take the bomber, if a crowdfunding campaign could cover the $300,000 cost just to dismantle and ship the plane to Edmonton. 

'It is a big blow. It was something that people wanted to see preserved, and it is a national treasure.- Jean Lauzon, Alberta Aviation Museum

The Edmonton museum said the economic downturn means it was only able to raise around $60,000 of that goal, meaning the bomber will have to stay put on the East Coast.

"The funding became less and less available," said Alberta Aviation Museum executive director Jean Lauzon. "It is a big blow. We did want it here.

"It was something that people wanted to see preserved, and it is a national treasure."

Lauzon said even if the museum had raised the $300,00 needed to bring the plane to Edmonton, it would have cost much more to restore it for display at the musem.

"To throw in a restoration, that would have probably been in the millions in order to accomplish," Lauzon said. 

"All the money that we did raise, we did put it back into the Lancaster."

This Lancaster bomber, KB-822, is one of the last of its kind in the world. From Edmonton, it flew missions to explore northern Canada after the war. (City of Edmundston)

The $60,000 raised through the crowdfunding campaign was used to clean and repair the Lancaster, she said. The birds have been moved out, and the aircraft has been completely cleaned out.

Despite not being able to bring the rare aircraft to Edmonton, the museum is working on an interior revitalization and looking at other aircraft options.

The city of Edmundston is now looking at options to preserve the plane, Lauzon said. Another Canadian aviation museum has also shown interest in the aircraft.

"I think when the economy was going wonderfully well, I think it would have been something we very well could have accomplished quite handily," she said. 

"Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to come to Alberta at this point in time."

With files from Gareth Hampshire

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