Canada Aviation and Space Museum | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Canada Aviation and Space Museum

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum has the most extensive aviation collection in Canada. Located in Ottawa, the museum focuses on the history of Canadian aviation in an international context. Its collection includes more than 130 aircraft and artifacts.

Museum History

The museum opened in 1960 as the National Aviation Museum and highlighted early air manufacturers and bush flying in Canada. In 1964, military aircraft from the RCAF and Canadian War Museum were added. Renamed the National Aeronautical Collection, the museum was relocated from the Uplands Airport to the Rockcliffe Airport in Ottawa. Since then, it has continued to acquire military and civilian aircraft and aviation artifacts. Renamed the National Aviation Museum in 1982 and the Canada Aviation Museum in 2000, it became the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in 2010, reflecting the expansion of its mandate to include aerospace technology.

The museum joined with the National Museum of Science and Technology (now known as the Canada Science and Technology Museum) in 1967. The two museums incorporated in 1990. Together with the Canada Food and Agriculture Museum, they now operate as Ingenium: Canada’s Science and Innovation Museums.

Museum Collection

The museum’s collection includes more than 130 aircraft and artifacts that chronicle the ancient dream of flight and the significant part played by Canadians in the development of aviation. The Main Exhibition Hall provides an overview of the major themes of aeronautical history, including the efforts of pioneering individuals to build and fly their own aircraft, the many Canadians who flew the legendary machines of the First and Second World Wars and the birth of air transport. (See also The Great War in the Air; RCAF; Battle of Britain.) It also includes examples of jet engine technology, as well as displays focusing on the uniquely Canadian experience of bush flying and the phenomenal growth of the aerospace industry in Canada. Current exhibits include “Canada in Space” and “Life in Orbit: The International Space Station,” as well as exhibits about engines and air traffic management.

The museum's collection policy is to illustrate the development of the flying machine in both peace and war from the pioneer period to the present time. The collection gives particular but not exclusive reference to Canadian achievements. Consequently, aircraft from many nations are represented in the collection — a fact that has earned it a strong international reputation.

Among other aircraft, visitors to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum will see a Silver Dart (the aircraft that made the first powered flight in Canada in 1909), the A.E.G. G.IV (the only First World War German twin-engine aircraft in existence), the Lancaster bomber, the 1947 prototype of the world-famous de Havilland Canada Beaver, the only known remains of the controversial Avro Arrow, and examples of a Sabre, MiG-15 and Harrier and the Messerschmitt Me 163B, the first rocket fighter.

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum's website offers access to the collection and resources of the museum. Internet visitors can find detailed information and photographs for each aircraft in the museum's collection.