During World War II, Canteens at
British Commonwealth Air Training
Plan (BCATP) stations were a place of happy refuge for students, staff
and civilians. They were a place where an airman or airwoman could go to
meet and socialize with friends, write a letter home or play a game of
cribbage while enjoying a favourite beverage and munching on a sandwich
or a doughnut. They were sanctuaries where ordinarily rigid RCAF protocol
was relaxed and one could forget, for a few hours at a time, the rigours
and stresses of training and a world a war.
With our restoration, we hope we
have done justice to the structure of this building and more importantly,
the spirit contained within. We wish that those who experienced BCATP canteens
first hand, those who now come to see what a BCATP canteen was all about
and those who will be utilizing our beautiful facility for business or
social functions will feel this spirit -- take a moment inside the canteen
and see if you can feel it too. We look forward to meeting our visitors
and wish them many more happy times in our newly re-opened canteen.
The Canteen restoration is a key
component in Phase I of the Commonwealth
Air Training Plan Museum Redevelopment Plan. Broadly speaking, we have
adopted the objective of replicating a British Commonwealth Air Training
Plan station through the restoration of our existing buildings and new
construction of other buildings typical of such a base.
Although we are situated on the
site of No. 12 SFTS (Service Flying Training School), we take a generic
approach to the exhibition of artifacts with hope that a visit to our museum
will conjure the experience and feel of any and all BCATP stations during
World War II.
To this end, we are building on
the phenomenal achievements of our volunteers since the museum opened to
the public on July 3, 1982. We are currently in the midst of Phase I of
our $3,099,639 Redevelopment Plan.
We are proud to be at the Commonwealth
Air Training Museum today for the dedication and formal re-opening of our
Canteen Building. The Canteen is one of three CATPM buildings which are
original artifacts of No. 12 SFTS of the BCATP. It and Hangar No. 1 sit
in their original "footprints" while the dental building, although authentic
to the plan, was formerly located on the west side of No. 12 SFTS.
Since embarking on Phase
I of the Redevelopment Plan, over $236,000 raised by the CATPM Capital
Campaign and thousands of volunteer hours have gone into rebuilding this
As the pictures on this page show,
the Canteen was temporarily moved off of its badly deteriorated foundation
to be replaced by a modern concrete pad complete with state-of-the-art
geothermal heating coils within. Great care was taken by our builders to
ensure that the Canteen was placed back in the exact location from which
it was lifted. The restoration of the canteen involved pretty well every
component and system within the building. Items restored, rebuilt and newly
installed include windows, doors, the lean-to, siding roofing, HVAC, plumbing,
electrical and interior finishes.
In addition to the extensive work
committed to the Canteen, further restoration plans include Hangar No.
1 and the Dental Building. Under the plan so far, a new building has been
completed replicating a World War II RCAF Motor Transport / Beam Approach
Training Building. Work continues on the restoration of an authentic World
War II H-Hut building, generously donated to the CATP Museum by Canadian
Forces Base Shilo. Future building projects included in the Redevelopment
plan are new construction of a BCATP hangar-inspired Interpretation Centre,
a Guard House and the Victory Memorial Garden to be located by the entrance
to our facility.
To date $1,679,718 of the proposed
budget for Phase I has been received as cash donations, gifts-in-kind and
volunteer labour. It seems appropriate that half way through our 10 year
redevelopment plan, we have received actual contributions and commitments
for more than one half of our proposed costs.
The remaining $1,420,921 is yet
to be found -- however, our fund-raisers and patrons are a dedicated lot.
They are not about to let us forget our obligations toward completion of
this plan, just as the CATPM is not willing to let us forget the contributions
of the BCATP to the world today.