ANAVETS Shoulder to Shoulder

November 2017

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O n the 1st of April 1984 the RCAF Memorial Library and Museum officially opened at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton. A ceremony took place at the newly renovated Recreation Center (today's Gymnasium), bringing together both RCAF and RAF veterans. Media in attendance pronounced the institution "a most effective way to maintain and convey the spirit, history and tradition of the RCAF for future generations". Proudly displayed were a wide assortment of artefacts gathered over time that documented the many years of Canadian Air Force contributions made around the world. It wasn't long before the collection grew and the small space became insufficient. A larger facility was required to show comprehensive exhibits illustrating Canadian military aviation history and to properly preserve the artefacts accumulated during the first five years. Thoughts of relocat- ing the Museum began in the early 1990s, and eventually a new location was selected - 220 RCAF Road -the address of the former Base curling club. An opening ceremony took place on the 1st of April 1994 to mark the occasion. With over 12,000 sq. ft. of space, the Museum installed more exhibits, created a storage area, set up a gift shop and expanded to include an outdoor facility. Adjacent to the South side of the building is the RCAF Memorial Air Park, presently home to 24 aircraft. It would also prove to be the ideal location of a newly conceived fundraising activity called the AD ASTRA Stone Program. In addition, various monuments have been erected by a wide variety of individual and groups, highlighting both named units as well as military occupations. Shortly after its relocation, the Museum caught the attention of the Halifax Aircraft Association, a Toronto-based group of veterans. With the intention of commemorating those who lost their lives while serving with RAF Bomber Command, this group undertook the huge task of retrieving and restoring one of the iconic bombers of the Second World War: the Handley Page Halifax. In service with Britain's No. 644 Sqn., NA337 was shot down over a Norwegian lake in 1945. It was located with sonar detectors in 1981, carefully raised from the lake in 1995 and brought to Canada in 1996. An extensive project was about to begin which required above all, an adequate facility for restoration. When the RCAF Memorial Museum was chosen as the appropriate location for both the restoration and eventual display of the aircraft, further expansion the facility became necessary. In 1996 a restoration workshop was added on the North-eastern side of the old curling club. As the restoration of the Halifax progressed, it became apparent that even more room was needed to continue the project and a multi-phase expansion plan was created and put into action. Summer 2004 saw the Museum begin its first phase of the new construction project, building the current Main Exhibition Hall (MEH). The Halifax was moved into its final position early in 2005 and over the next few months restoration was complete in place. Finally, 10 years after being lifted from Lake Mjosa in Norway, on Nov 5, 2005, Halifax NA337 was unveiled before a standing room crowd in the newly completed MEH. Back in1998, the Chief of the Air Staff officially declared the RCAF Memorial Museum as the Air Force National Museum. In 2007 it was 6 SHOULDER TO SHOULDER The National Air Force Museum of Canada 1984 to the Present

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