Construction on new Winnipeg aviation museum cleared for takeoff with federal funding
New home for Royal Canadian Aviation Museum of Western Canada had been in limbo since October
A Winnipeg institution celebrating the history of flight in Canada has soared past a major hurdle in its quest to build a new home to house its vast collection of artifacts.
The federal government announced it will contribute $8.8 million for the construction of an 86,000-square-foot facility for the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.
With the federal funding commitment, along with previously announced provincial funding and $15 million in private donations, construction on the new facility can now begin, says the museum's president and CEO.
"It's the piece that we've all been waiting for years for, to … have $35 million in hand to be able to move forward and build our museum," said Terry Slobodian.
International trade diversification minister and Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr announced the federal funding in Winnipeg Tuesday afternoon.
Inside its walls will be the story and the rich traditions of aviation in Western Canada, and how in so many ways it led the world.- MP Jim Carr
The museum has been in limbo since the end of October 2018, when it was forced to leave its previous location — a converted hangar on Ferry Road owned by Exchange Income Corporation — after its lease expired.
The federal government had committed $1.2 million in October 2016, with the promise of matching additional provincial funding. That commitment came in December 2017, when the province announced $8.75 million for the museum.
By the end of last October, however, the federal funds for the new facility, to be built on Wellington Avenue, hadn't arrived and the museum was forced to disperse its collection across hangars and other facilities while it waited.
Some of the pieces were to be stored near the new location on the Winnipeg Airports Authority campus, others in St. Andrews, Brandon, Portage la Prairie, and some in private hangars.
The museum's new space is expected to feature nine exhibition galleries, a children's centre, a library, and a workshop, among other facilities.
"Inside its walls will be the story and the rich traditions of aviation in Western Canada, and how in so many ways it led the world," Carr said.
The collection, the second-largest of its kind in Canada, includes several one-of-a-kind aircraft such as Canada's first helicopter, the CL-84 "tilt-wing" plane, an Avrocar "flying saucer," historic military jets, bush planes, and commercial aircraft.
The museum also has 2,700 boxes of library and archive materials.
Many of the artifacts were salvaged from remote locations, including the sides of mountains and bottoms of lakes, Slobodian said.
"Our pioneers of aviation were innovators," he said.
"They were courageous adventurers who braved the elements, overcame obstacles, flying where no one had flown before, in wooden and fabric airplanes, establishing the networks that still connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast."