History

1987 saw the first issue of the Society’s newsletter which was sent to its five hundred members, a delegation from Nanton visited the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton which was restoring a Lancaster to airworthy condition, and in May the first “Open Bomber Day” was held. This featured public tours through the Lancaster and was most successful with long lines forming at the ladder leading to the cockpit. This was the first concrete indication that the public was interested in the Lancaster and provided momentum to the museum project.

Guided tours of the Lancaster during the months of July and August began in 1988 which also saw the opening of a Society Restoration Shop and a Society float in the Calgary Stampede Parade. During these early years, Society members made numerous “field trips” to locations in southern Alberta where Canadian Lancasters had been dispersed after the war. In the mid-fifties a company known as Found Brothers determined that money could be made by purchasing Lancasters from the farmers who had acquired them in the late 1940’s, melting down the aluminum, and selling other components back to the RCAF which now required spares for their Lancaster reconnaissance aircraft. Numerous and varied parts which included tires, undercarriage struts, turrets parts, and even crew door ladders which were not wanted by Found Brothers were left behind on the farms. Many truckloads of Lancaster parts and display material were acquired by the Society from the cooperative farmers. As well, the Society began to collect the remains of twin-engined Ansons as the historical significance of the BCATP began to be appreciated.

A building was constructed in 1991, expanded in 1998, and again in 2002 to house a growing collection of aircraft and related displays. The facility now includes almost 20,000 square feet of hangar area and 3000 square feet used for the display of smaller artifacts, aviation art, and related interpretive information. A library/meeting room, sizeable restoration shop, parts storage area, and office complete the museum. Construction was financed primarily through private and corporate donations with less that 4% of construction costs coming from taxpayers. Lottery Fund profits obtained through the provincial government provided an additional 22% of the buildings $1,000,000 value.