Aviation museum name change could cause confusion

It's going to become more confusing for teachers, tourists and aerospace geeks who want to take a closer look at Canada's role in aviation and its involvement in space exploration.

It's going to become more confusing for teachers, tourists and aerospace geeks who want to take a closer look at Canada's role in aviation and its involvement in space exploration.

The non-profit Canadian Air & Space Museum, in suburban Toronto, will soon be competing with what is now known as the Canada Aviation Museum.

That's because the 50-year-old museum at Rockcliffe airport in Ottawa is planning to expand and change its name to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in early May.

Flight paths

Canadian Aviation Museum

Location: 11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa, Ont.

Changing name to: Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Canadian Air & Space Museum

Location: 65 Carl Hall Rd., Toronto, Ont.

Formerly known as: Toronto Aerospace Museum

Christina Lucas, a spokeswoman for the federally funded Ottawa museum, confirmed a name change is in the works.

"We haven't announced it officially," she told The Canadian Press.

Lucas is communications director for the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corp., a federal agency.

It runs the aviation museum, the Canada Science and Technology Museum and the Canada Agriculture Museum, which are all located in the National Capital Region.

The name change, originally set for mid-April, is being pushed back, Lucas said.

"Part of our name change is that we're broadening our mandate a little and we're looking at expanding our partnership with the Canadian Space Agency," she said.

The delay may be related to the upstart Canadian Air & Space Museum, which is located at Downsview airport.

Toronto museum in spotlight

The Toronto museum recently held a widely publicized event to mark the 40th anniversary of the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission.

It highlighted the role played by a team from the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies in the dramatic rescue of the three Apollo astronauts.

The Canadian Air & Space Museum, formerly the Toronto Aerospace Museum, was founded in 1997. It changed its name in February 2009.

But museum curator Paul Cabot doesn't appear worried about the impact of the other name change on his visitors.

"It's a fairly big market," he said. "I don't see where there would be a great conflict between the two."

Cabot added that both museums play a role in their respective markets, informing Canadians of their aviation and space heritage.

"The Canadian Air & Space Museum really has voices here and the museum in Ottawa has a good voice in the Ottawa market," he said.

Cabot also noted that various museums share exhibits.

"We have artifacts that are on display here that are pertinent to the mandate of our museum and they are on long-term loan from the Ottawa science and technology museum," he said.

"Museums in Canada are all about relationships and working with each other."

Competing legacies

In the 1930s, the hangars where the Toronto museum is located served as the home of de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, which became the largest supplier of military, civilian and government flown aircraft in Canada.

It is currently the home of a full-scale metal replica of the controversial Avro Arrow, an advanced supersonic jet interceptor, which was being developed in Canada during the 1950s.

The project was cancelled in 1959 by then-prime minister John Diefenbaker because of continually mounting development costs.

The museum, which has more than a dozen aircraft on display, has seen an increase in the number of its visitors in recent years.

"We averaged 30,000 visitors in 2009 and that has grown from 6,000 visitors in 2003," Cabot said.

The Canada Aviation Museum, which first opened in 1960, boasts on its website that, with 130 aircraft in its collection, it has the most extensive collection of aircraft in Canada.

The Ottawa museum, which had 136,000 visitors between April 2008 and April 2009, has been undergoing a $7-million renovation.