Delayed for three years by the COVID pandemic, a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Great War Flying Museum was a special occasion for the museum volunteers and Town of Caledon representatives.
Located at the Brampton Caledon Airport on McLaughlin Road, the museum was the major recipient from the 2019 Caledon Council Community Golf Tournament.
A donation of $77,000 from the tournament was instrumental in enabling the museum to undertake a major expansion of its hangar to house and maintain its significant collection of replica World War 1 airplanes which are maintained and flown by its volunteers. The expansion was completed in 2019.
But then COVID hit, forcing the cancellations of the 2020 and 2021 golf tournaments, and it wasn’t until this October that the museum and the town were able to arrange the ceremony.
Assisted by former president and curator Natalie McHaffie and building maintenance director Geoff Dilley, Mayor Allan Thompson cut the ribbon, as well as presenting the museum with an official Town certificate.
“One of our major limitations to our operations was for many years a lack of hangar space,” said current president Earl Smith, who oversaw the ceremony and used the event to thank the Town for the donation, as well as McHaffie and Dilley in their role in spearheading the expansion project.
“As with most projects of this sort, financing would be the greatest challenge. Natalie worked with Mayor Thompson, and his office came forward with a very kind pledge to donate the proceeds of their annual charity golf tournament to aid in the funding of the project.”
Kicked off by then-president McHaffie, the project was managed entirely by Dilley and completed under the presidency of Jim Charters, he said.
“As our collection has grown the issue has been a lack of space,” said Smith in an interview.
The project allowed the museum to expand the hangar by 18 feet to the north. But it wasn’t an easy one to undertake from both a construction and a financial perspective, he says.
Although the museum had been designated at the main recipient of the 2019 golf tournament, “there wasn’t a clear indication of much we would receive, as it depended on its success.”
Although the museum received $77,000 from the Town, the actual project cost was $140,000 and the difference had to be covered by donations by members and supporters, says Smith.
Since the project was an extension to the existing hanger, the old building envelope remained intact until the new exterior was weather tight, after which the wall separating the old from the new was removed. The existing lunchroom was also modified and updated as well as the ceiling in the existing hangar space.
But the year-and-half project had little impact on the day-to-day activities of the hangar and the work carried out by the volunteers, he says.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was held just a few weeks after the Brampton Caledon Airport’s well-attended Airport Day.
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