Aviation history of Slemon Park to be emphasized at hotel
Slemon Park Hotel building was first an officers mess in 1940s
Did you know that what is now known as Slemon Park in Summerside, P.E.I., was first established as an air force station in 1941, during the Second World War? It was used to train pilots and navigators for wartime.
Now, plans are underway at the Slemon Park Hotel and Conference Centre to better commemorate the property's 50-year aviation history.
"Then anybody staying here has a chance to provide some real perspective on what is this property that they're staying at and how is it significant in Canadian history," said Shawn McCarvill, the president of the Slemon Park Corporation.
The property became a Canadian Forces Base in 1968, but government closed it in 1989. In 1992 it became Slemon Park, and the hotel was developed soon after. The complex also includes redeveloped military housing and an industrial park that specializes in aerospace.
The corporation plans to help visitors and hotel guests learn more about its history — for example, the hotel was once the officers mess hall, built in the early 1940s. The rooms are named after aircraft that once flew out of CFB Summerside including the Anson and the Harvard, both used to train pilots and navigators.
'A very important story'
The story of the building will be told with updates to the hotel's website, restaurant menu, and decor, "just to tell that story a little bit better," McCarvill said. "It's a very important story."
Photos of the aircraft will be displayed throughout the hotel "so people have more of an appreciation.… A whole generation has grown up since this was CFB Summerside," he said.
They're also considering creating a video, and offering guided history tours.
McCarvill hopes to have the exhibits ready this summer at a cost of less than $3,000.
Slemon Park as a whole established Air Force Heritage Park, with a memorial wall and walk of honour, in 2011 to recognize the 50 years of military history on the property, but McCarvill noted it is only seasonal — right now it is "covered in snow." The park includes three heritage aircraft on display, including an Argus, a Voodoo and a Tracker.
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With files from Jessica Doria-Brown