New Brunswick

Edmundston's Lancaster bomber headed for rough landing

One of Canada's few remaining Lancaster Bombers from the Second World War appears on the verge of being headed to a scrap heap.

50 years of exposure to elements takes toll on Second World War plane on display near Quebec border

One of Canada's few remaining Lancaster Bombers from the Second World War appears on the verge of being headed to a scrap heap. 3:20

One of Canada's few remaining Lancaster bombers from the Second World War appears on the verge of being headed to a scrap heap.

Avro Lancaster Mk 10P KB882 marks its 50th anniversary on display at the New Brunswick-Quebec border near Edmundston this summer. But time and the elements have taken their toll on a bomber that survived 11 sorties into Germany during the Second World War, leaving the airplane falling apart.

Mychele Poitras says time is running out to save the Lancaster Bomber that will mark its 50th anniversary at the New Brunswick-Quebec border this year. (CBC)
"It's pitiful," said Mychele Poitras of the Edmundston society for the Preservation of the Lancaster. "It's really, really fragile."

The Lancaster already has a large hole in one metal wing, brought on by salt spray over the years from the nearby Trans-Canada Highway.

"Everything is hard on this plane," said Poitras. "It's been here for 50 years and all we've been doing is paint jobs, a bit of stickers to make her look nice and taking out the bird nests. And that's just not enough."

Four years ago, an inspector certified by Transport Canada assessed the Lancaster, the city of Edmundston bought from the federal government in 1964 to put on display.

"He was giving her about a five-year time span before the nose dives," said Poiras. "Once that happens, it's just basically a pack of scrap metal."

Poitras and her group have been searching for federal and provincial funding to try and restore the local landmark. They've approached the city. They've tried to raise money locally.

A hole has appeared on the underside of one wing of the Lancaster bomber in Edmundston. (CBC)
They've largely come up empty when they need to find $700,000 to $1 million to build a hangar on site to protect the plane while it's worked on. Moving the plane to a museum or some other location would cost about $500,000 said Poitras.

"A heart-wrenching decision awaits us by the end of the year," said Poitras.

"We know what we have here. This is a treasure. It's a national treasure," she said.

"We have no funding. We don't have much expertise, so we might have to decide if she could go to a Canadian museum."

The plane is one of six surviving Lancasters on display in Canada. It is the only one not in a museum setting.

"I know the value of this plane," said Poitras. "I know how important it is in the history of Canada and in the history of World War Two. 

"This plane put an end to World War Two basically. It was part of the Dambusters [that bombed hydroelectric dams in Germany]," said Poitras.

"It did a lot of work for Canada and it deserves a much better future than what we seem able to get her."


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