Museum History

The Museum had its beginnings in 1980 when a local group headed by Ed Baker became concerned that several trainer aircraft owned by Wes Agnew of Hartney, Manitoba, would be sold to foreign interests. Mr. Agnew was a RCAF Flight Instructor in the BCATP and had a desire to see a Museum formed to honour the men and women who trained under “The Plan”. A deal was struck with Mr. Agnew and his five aircraft formed the nucleus around which the Museum was formed.

The mandate of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (CATPM) is to collect, preserve, restore, and display artifacts of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and to commemorate the 18,039 who gave their lives while in the R.C.A.F. between 1939 and 1945. The museum was incorporated in the Province of Manitoba as a non-profit, charitable organization March 4, 1981. Registered with Revenue Canada November 1, 1981 as a charity under Registration No. 10106 9029 RR 0001. The Museum had its’ official opening on July 3, 1982 in Hangar No. 1 at the Brandon Airport. Located one mile (1.6 km) north of the city, the airfield was the site of No. 12 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) operated by the BCATP during World War II. Construction of the SFT school, in which the museum is located, began on November 14th, 1940 and was completed and opened for service on May 10, 1941. The Hangar was one of five built at #12 SFTS and was used to hangar the Cessna Crane aircraft which were used for pilot training. The hangar was decommissioned on March 30, 1945.

The airport is now administered by the City of Brandon and the Museum premises are leased from the City under a long-term lease at nominal cost. Museum aircraft have access to the airport runways for flying activities. Funding for initial operation was by way of Charter Member fees, individual and service club donations. In 1984 a “Destination Manitoba” grant enabled the Museum to improve the premises and secure title to several trainer aircraft. During the museum’s formative years, a concerted effort was mounted by volunteers to retrieve and store over fifty air frames and hundreds of parts for various aircraft from farms across the Prairies. This cache of parts enabled the Museum to rebuild several aircraft and served as a source of restoration material for many years. Once the Museum opened, individuals began to donate other artifacts used during training and actual operations overseas.

Harvard being loaded.
Anson – in pieces!
Anson after restoration
In the hangar

A Dedication Ceremony on June 4, 1984 dedicated the museum as a Memorial to all of Canada’s airmen and airwomen who died in training and operations during World War II.

Museum volunteers and staff have undertaken several major projects of the years. One of the major undertakings was the research and the compiling of a memorial book, They Shall Grow Not Old, containing the names and short biography of each of the Canadian airmen and women who lost their lives in training and operations during World War II. Also included are the names of airmen from other countries who served & died with the RCAF. This book contains over 18,000 biographies and is displayed in the Museum’s Chapel. The first edition was published in 1992, sold out, and the second edition was printed in 1996. You can learn about other major projects, including the Memorial Wall, aircraft restoration, and more elsewhere on this web site.

Our mission is to commemorate the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan by telling its story, preserving its artifacts, and paying tribute to the over 18,000 RCAF personnel who gave their lives during WWII.

Our purpose is to tell the story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and its place in history to the world wide community by:
• Providing a suitable climate to experience the “artifacts of the era” in a visual, audio and tactile manner.
• Collecting, preserving and restoring the artifacts of the era, providing a setting for reflection and remembrance, thus, the museum is a memorial to all RCAF personnel who served during WWII 1939-45.
• We are exclusively dedicated to preserving the memory of “The Plan”. We preserve the memory of all components including, air crew, RCAF Women’s Division, Nursing Sisters, ground crew and civilians. • We have a human orientation, eg: memorial book, chapel, personnel effects, photos, and so on. We also, we have a mechanical aspect, eg: static and flying aircraft, engines, motor transport vehicles and other training artifacts.
• We consider the “story” is as important as the “inventory” and many current stakeholders were involved with “The Plan,” eg; veterans, civilian staff. The facility and artifacts are history and not re-creations.
• We serve the world wide community as a comprehensive source of information and materials of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and its story.

The philosophy of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is to tell the story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan with truth and objectivity with the purpose of preserving the memory and history of “The Plan”.
We are committed to the development and maintenance of a museum where:
• volunteers feel good about working here and become ambassadors for the Museum;
• visitors are made welcome and leave with a better understanding of “The Plan,” especially the reasons “The Plan” was created and the war effort;
• all stakeholders are satisfied about their interactions with us.

You can learn more about the museum, our collections, and special projects by browsing the various pages of our web site, or better yet, coming to visit us in person!