Billy Bishop Airport Honours RCAF Centennial

Representatives of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the RCAF Association and the Royal Canadian Military Institute, along with RCAF commander Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, were at the airport’s mainland pavilion where earlier this week they unveiled a permanent exhibit that honours the centennial of the RCAF. The display also commemorates the airport’s connection to Canada’s military history.

A wall-mounted propeller from a Curtiss Canuck JN-4 biplane, a Toronto-built biplane that flew during the First World War, joins a collection of nine original pilot’s wings badges that span not only the history of the RCAF, but also ‘wings’ worn by Canadian pilots before the RCAF’s founding, as far back as 1912. The display joins the two life-size bronze statues of First World War flying aces William Barker and William ‘Billy’ Bishop, both Victoria Cross recipients.

The airport on Toronto’s waterfront was established in 1939 and initially served as a training base for not only the RCAF, but also the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It was the presence of the Norwegian contingent surrounding the base that led to the naming of the Little Norway Park nearby.

“As we celebrate 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force, it is an honour to be able to unveil this exhibit to commemorate the historical connection the Royal Canadian Air Force has with the Greater Toronto Area which encompasses the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport,” said Lt-Gen Kenny.

The site of the airport, on one of Toronto’s nearby islands, was initially selected by a committee appointed by the city that included Billy Bishop.

“Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport’s iconic location on the Toronto waterfront was selected in the 1920s,” said Ports Toronto CEO R.J. Steenstra, owner and operator of the airport. “The airport went on to play an important role in the war effort serving as a training base for Royal Canadian and Royal Norwegian Air Force pilots.”

Today, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (CYTZ) offers commercial passenger service to over 20 cities in Canada and the United States and generates greater than $2.1 billion in economic output.