Canadian Air & Space Museum
On September 20, 2011, the Canadian Air & Space Museum in Toronto was issued an eviction notice by the property landlord, Parc Downsview Park Inc., a Crown Corporation (PDP). Refusing to turn in their keys just yet, volunteers have launched a campaign to save the museum, which has gained widespread media and public attention.
According to their media statement on the day of the eviction notice, the museum admits that they were over $100,000 behind in rent payments. Still, they say that they had been in close contact with PDP about their financial situation and were caught off guard by the eviction notice. Just a week prior, the museum sent PDP three cheques totaling around $20,000, which were returned uncashed.
As the story unfolded, the museum discovered that all of the tenants of the 65 Carl Hall Road building received eviction notices. It was also revealed that plans are underway to redevelop the area into a hockey rink.
The building was constructed in 1929 by de Havilland Canada and has played a central role in Canada’s air and space history ever since. The factory was the largest producer of aircraft during the 1930s and the facility had to be expanded to accommodate the demand created by the Second World War. The Mosquito fighter, DHC-1 Chipmunk, Beaver bush plane, and the Alouette I satellite are among de Havilland’s greatest contributions to Canada’s air and space heritage.
The private, volunteer-run museum was founded in 1997. Today, it houses a number of heritage aircraft, artifacts, and images, along with a full-scale replica of Canada’s famed Avro Arrow. They have developed a number of public and school programs to complement their collection. The museum has been given 6 months to vacate the building, but volunteers are first going to try their hardest to save the building and the museum.
Their campaign has caught the eye of many supporters, including the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, who wrote a letter of support this month. With a new Public Service Announcement and continued media coverage, it looks as though museum volunteers are just getting started.
What you can do
Educate yourself about the topic. Visit the museum’s website at casmuseum.org to learn more about the building and the museum’s history, and the current situation.
To learn more about Parc Downsview Park’s perspective, you can listen to this podcast with PDP Chairman David Soknacki.
Sign the petition to express your support for the Canadian Air & Space Museum. Visit the museum's "How You Can Help" page, to find out more ways to get involved.