Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum

BCATP Museum Site: WWII Vintage HangarBCATP Museum Site: WWII Vintage Hangar
Museum Development Plan

1. Plan View
2. Legend
3. Mission, Purpose & Philosophy
4. Mission and Goals Expanded
5. Artifacts as Assets
6. A Wider View
7. A New Building
8. The C.D. Howe Building
9. Other Buildings: "H Hut"
10. Chapel
11. MT BAT
12. Medical Building
13. Final Points
14. End Notes & Suggested Readings
Legend for Plan View
1 Hangar 1
2 West "Lean-to"
3 East "Lean-to"
4 Chapel Building
5 Medical Building
6 H Hut
8 Storage
9 Parade Square (parking lot)
10 Staff Parking
11 C.D. Howe /  G. Molgat Building
12 Tarmac
13 Brandon Flying Club
14 Flying side Tarmac YBR
15 Main entrance road

Mission, Purpose & Philosophy
Our mission is to commemorate the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan by telling its story, preserving its artifacts, and paying tribute to the 18,039 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:

a) Providing a suitable climate to experience the artifacts of the era in a visual audio and tactile manner.

b) Collecting, preserving and restoring the artifacts of the era.

c) Providing a setting for reflection and remembrance; thus the museum is a memorial to all RCAF personnel who served during WWII 1939-45.

Our philosophy for the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is to tell the story of the British Commonwealth Air training Plan with truth and objectivity, and also to preserve the memory and history of the Plan.

We are committed to the development and maintenance of a museum where:

a) Volunteers feel good about working here and become ambassadors for the Museum.

b) Visitors are made to feel welcome and leave with a better understanding of the Plan especially the reasons the Plan was created and the war effort.

c) All stockholders are satisfied about their interactions with us.

The Commonwealth Air training Plan Museum is the only museum dedicated solely to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, 1939-45, operated by a group of highly motivated people oriented volunteers including veterans.

Mission and Goals Expanded

The "Plan" as it is called in this document and within the Museum is a very significant part of Canada's history. Just after the end of WWII, Winston Churchill referred to the implementation of the BCATP during WWII as, "Canada's greatest contribution to the Allied Victory." This Allied Victory stopped Hitler's Third Reich from continuing the worst terrorist acts ever perpetrated against a people.

In the early stages of WWII the need for trained aircrew was very evident. The British wanted to develop what they called the "Empire Air Training Plan". Mackenzie King's government suggested that it would be better to call it the Commonwealth Air Training Plan and have all Commonwealth countries involved. What better place than Canada to train aircrew?  The implementation and success of the BCATP is a very significant part of our Canadian History.

We believe that support and development of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum will create a valuable asset to Brandon, the Western Manitoba community, the Province of Manitoba, Canada and indeed to the wide World. Our goals are to fulfill our mission by:

a) Developing the CATPM into a World Quality Museum about the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, drawing on the wealth that our collection provides; a museum which will give visitors an unique vantage point from which to view that past, and to look into the future;

b) Preserving the past, connecting it to the present, and helping future generations realize what was done to create the society we have today. Thus providing a tool that leads to an understanding that helps each of us to define who we are.

c) Providing a reference library of books documents and other forms of media related to the Plan and other WW II air operations made possible by the success of the Plan. This Library would be accessible on site and through the CATPM website.

d) Our philosophy is to be honest in our presentation of the purpose and story of the Plan. We are committed to using genuine original artifacts and materials in the presentation of the museum's exhibits and displays. Substitute parts and materials will be used only when there is no alternative.

Artifacts as Assets

We are fortunate to have an extensive collection of several thousand artifacts. These artifacts, when properly catalogued and preserved, will become instrumental in telling the story of the BCATP. The artifacts collected and preserved by the dedicated volunteers of the Museum, are the core from which the story of the BCATP can be told with truth and objectivity. The catalogued artifacts, used in ever changing exhibits, will provide new experiences for repeat visitors.

 The same modern technology used in creating these exhibits will also allow the serious student of history and technology to access information found within the Museum’s archives, while still preserving the artifacts for future generations. With the increasing use of technology such as the Internet, students of history are able to access data from museums all over the world. The Current CATPM website is a step in that direction. The virtual reality of our computer age allows anyone with access to the technology, to visit the CATPM on the World Wide Web. This is an important aspect of the Modern Museum however…it will never replace the experience of being in the presence of the real thing! (This is the real justification for the maintenance of the collection and the continued support of Museums of any nature.)

 The CATPM will become a learning centre for students of all ages. Instructional packages including lesson plan materials will be developed and made available to educators. Younger students can learn of the physics of flight and the mechanics of structures while taking guided tours of the museum displays and workshops. A multipurpose room will provide a place for tour classes to be oriented to the Plan and the Museum. Older students of aviation can see examples of aircraft types no longer common in the general aviation field. The history student can gain an understanding of the Plan's important role in Canada's political and wartime history, an undertaking that led Franklin Roosevelt to call Canada "the Aerodrome of Democracy".

The successful undertaking of Canada to build 231 Flying Training Establishments across our nation to train aircrew from the Commonwealth is an amazing feat. It was the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in our history!

The BCATP was a greater undertaking than the building of the CPR and was accomplished in only a few years. Understanding of the Plan will lead students to realize what can be accomplished when we work together for a common goal.

A Wider View

Presently housed in Hangar 1 at Brandon Airport, the CATPM Museum occupies a small part of what was formerly Service Flying Training School 12 (SFTS 12) during WWII. The Hangar is therefore an artifact, in that it survives as an example of over 700 hangers constructed to meet the requirements of the Plan. The preservation of Hangar 1 as the Museum's home will ensure that an example of these massive hangars, of wooden construction, remains for future generations. Work to repair, maintain and develop Hangar 1 is currently nearing the end of a Provincially funded $500,000 contract to stabilize the structure.

Within Hanger 1 will be the main display area containing exhibits and the Chapel dedicated to the memory of the 18,039 RCAF personnel who sacrificed their lives in WWII. The lean-to additions to Hanger 1 will continue to be used for display and administration functions. The CATPM will become much more than "just a hanger full of old things". Focus groups and studies have indicated that a successful museum must go beyond the accepted image of a museum and provide a facility useful for a variety of functions and events. Plans to restore and duplicate other buildings from the Plan are being actively developed so that a typical BCATP setting will be available for the museum visitor.

The restoration of these buildings will be carried out in a fashion that allows for modern heating, wiring and fire suppression methods while retaining the ambiance of the 1939-45 WWII time period. The setting of the Museum grounds will provide a useful backdrop to community and social events. Landscaping and RV friendly parking with restore facilities, will provide a pleasant stopping place for tourists passing through the western Manitoba (Westman) area.

A New Building

The CATPM would like to name a new structure at the Museum site in honour of C.D. Howe and the prominent role he played in the success of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The following paragraphs are taken from an Internet website dedicated to C.D.Howe.

"Clarence Decatur Howe, widely known as the “Minister of Everything” in the government of Prime Ministers Mackenzie King and Louis St. Laurent, organized and managed Canada’s industrial war effort throughout World War II. With foresight and determination, he forged an industrial powerhouse that mobilized millions of Canadians and established Canada as a leading industrial power. He set the stage for a postwar economic boom that propelled Canada into becoming one of the leading industrialized nations.

Born in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1886, Howe graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1907 with a Bachelor of Science. In 1908 he moved to Canada to become the first professor of engineering at Dalhousie University in Halifax. From 1913-1916, during which time Howe was the chief engineer for the Board of Grain Commissioners, he resided at Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Ontario.

In 1916, C.D., as he was colloquially known, started his own engineering and construction firm that specialized in designing and building concrete grain elevators. It soon expanded into building all types of structures including docks, bridges, and factories. By 1935 his firm had built over $100 million worth of infrastructure. His reputation for quality construction was unsurpassed.

In 1935, Howe was talked into running for Parliament as the Liberal member for Port Arthur. With no prior political experience, he won his seat in a Liberal sweep of the country and was given a dual Cabinet position as Minister of Railways and Canals and as Minister of Marine, but these ministries were soon combined into the Ministry of Transport.

In his first term he reorganized both the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canadian National Railways, created a National Harbours Board, and set up Trans-Canada Airlines. During this period he established a reputation as a man who could talk sense with businessmen and industrialists. He scorned red tape and long circuitous conferences as much as they did - because at heart he was one of them.

Howe believed firmly that, in many sectors, Canada was too small a country to support more than one company. He preferred a system of either private monopoly regulated by government controls or Crown-owned corporations. In crafting the economic system and companies that are still evident today.

Howe developed a personal style that was described as no-nonsense, even authoritarian in its pursuit of industrial development. This style carried over into the House of Commons where he would not speak on a subject until he had thoroughly researched it and decided what needed doing, after which he rarely deviated from his position.

Canada entered World War II in September 1939 unprepared both militarily and industrially. In the next few weeks legislation was rushed through Parliament creating a War Supply Board headed by C.D. Howe that was given wide-ranging powers over private industry to direct arms production. During the “phony war” that winter, Howe started a massive rearmament program that involved the manufacture of ships, aeroplanes, small and large arms, clothing, vehicles, and other items required by the allied armed forces. To manage this effort, Howe hired his famous dollar-a-year men, corporate executives with solid management skills who were called to Ottawa to organize the economy as efficiently as possible. As Canadian author Peter C. Newman concluded, “It was the network of connections and interconnections between business and government, fathered by Clarence Decatur Howe, that became the Canadian Establishment - its great dynasties spreading into every form of commercial enterprise across the country.”

The war mobilization involved transforming Canada, in just a few years, from a country with an agricultural economy to one with a modern industrial economy. Canada’s GNP grew from five billion dollars in 1939 to twelve billion dollars in 1945 as Howe and his staff from the new Department of Munitions and Supply directed 1.1 million Canadian workers. The volume of war material produced by Canadian industry was staggering. In a few short years, over 500,000 vehicles, 600 ships, 85,000 heavy guns, and millions of tons of military supplies were manufactured and shipped overseas. By the end of World War II, Canada had the second largest navy in the world, produced 40 percent of the world’s aluminum, and was a leading producer in many sectors of the world economy.

The Joint Air Training Program or British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was the most visible war program that Howe’s team managed. It involved the construction of 120 airports run by 40,000 staff who trained 131,000 Commonwealth aircrew. Howe experienced the war first-hand on a visit to Britain to co-ordinate this Canadian effort when his ship, the Western Prince, was torpedoed and sunk on December 14, 1940. After being picked up by a passing collier and taken to London, he negotiated not only the training program for pilots but an aircraft production program as well. By the end of the war, Canada had produced over 12,000 aircraft.

During the war, Howe’s great foresight became evident as he worked with Dr. C.J. Mackenzie, the head of the National Research Council (and one of his former students at Dalhousie University), to establish Canada’s nuclear industry. Starting with the Eldorado Mine in the Northwest Territories, which the Federal government purchased in 1944, Howe initiated a Canada-wide search for uranium and established a nuclear research program that evolved, after the war, into the CANDU reactor program and the construction of Canada’s first nuclear reactor at Chalk River. He was also instrumental in supporting the National Research Council in its efforts to establish Canada’s scientific research capabilities in other fields."

The C.D. Howe Building

There are many good reasons for investing in a new building at the CATPM. I cannot think of a more fitting name for the building than to dedicate it to C.D. Howe.

 This new building, built in out ward appearance to resemble a "Half Hanger" of the BCATP, would house the Interpretive Centre. A labyrinth photographic display panel within the building would be used to provide the visitor with a reference point in history from which to view the BCATP. The time period leading up to WWII would be illustrated from the perspective of Canadians who survived the Great Depression, as well as from the European point of view at the outbreak of the war. The visitor to the CATPM would after viewing the displays in the Interpretive labyrinth have a vantage point from which to view the rest of the CATPM's exhibits.

There will also be a General Purpose Room that could be used as a Board room or as a Classroom for instructional purposes as well as meeting room for conferences etc.. The educational value of the Museum should be developed to appeal to Primary, Secondary and Post secondary institutions. We hope to have a curriculum developer on staff to prepare packages that would assist educators in discovering the great resources  of  the CATPM. Library space and part of the administrative offices as well as the gift shop could be housed in this building..

The rest of the Hanger floor would be used as modern shop space to prepare new and improve existing exhibits. The need to isolate and separate the restoration work from the rest of  the museum is one of the most pressing concerns. This new workshop would be  modern in design with a definite mindset towards safety and risk management. The newer construction methods used in  the building will allow for adequate ventilation and fire suppression systems in the hazardous work areas of the restoration shop.

The design of the building can take into consideration the public's desire to see what is going on in the shop area. The shop is an essential part of the Museums ability to constantly change and improve exhibits and the presentation of the stories of the BCATP.

The Tarmac area adjacent to C.D.Howe building would be non "airside", in other words it is not part of the Brandon Municipal Airports aircraft operating space. This would allow visitors to be able to walk around static displays of aircraft and equipment outdoors weather permitting. The Museum's tarmac would be connected to but separated from  the Brandon airports "airside" tarmac. A large gate in the airport perimeter fence would  allow the aircraft of the collection to be moved to or from the main Hanger 1 to the shop as complete aircraft.

The multipurpose function of the new building will allow the original Hanger 1 to revert to a state closer to its original purpose. In appearance externally and internally Hanger 1 would be WW11 period. The new C.D. Howe building would be period only in its outward presentation. The Visitor to the Museum would be able to stand amongst the buildings and gain a sense of what a Commonwealth Air Training Base looked like.

This view may also be useful in the making of motion pictures. The CATPM's setting was very prominent in the making of the film "For The Moment"

Please refer to "Plan View"

Other CATPM Buildings

H-Hut Airmen's Barracks
(Plan view. Not to scale. Approx. 120'x120')

This building of the 1940 era, currently being moved from CFB Shilo, has been gifted to the CATPM by DND. Once on site and renovated, this building will have one of its four wings (A) dedicated to the building's original use as barracks.

The adjacent wing (B) will be fitted as a Link Trainer flight simulation room.  The centre portion, sections (E) and (F) will be washrooms, plumbing and heating, it will remain as it was in the original building, the Lavatory and Mechanical section.

The third wing (C) will be used to archive smaller artefacts of the museum collection. In accordance with modern acceptable museum practices, we hope to use modern high-density shelving and provide a climate-controlled environment for the archives.

The fourth wing (D) will be used for small exhibit preparation. Ongoing preparation of quality exhibits, explaining the BCATP and its role in Canada's developing history, will encourage repeat visits and an interest in the Museum for many generations to come. Changing of exhibits and themes from time to time will continue to provide a new and rewarding experience for visitors.

Chapel Building

Chapel Building
This building was the Chapel at SFTS 12 and is currently at the Brandon Airport, but not on the museum site.
Note: Not to be confused with the CATPM Chapel in the Hangar.

The building will face west towards the RV friendly parking lot. (The parking lot dimensions will be the same as the original Parade Square.) { See scale model, 1": 20' }

The current CATPM Chapel will remain where it is, in the west lean-to of Hangar 1. One half of the Chapel building could be used as the CATPM Administration Building and Gift Shop. The other half will be a multifunction room. It will appear to be a Mess Hall and could be used as a restaurant. But more importantly it could serve as a classroom. The lean-to at the back of the building will be reconstructed to modern standards as a catering and restaurant kitchen. (The feasibility of a restaurant at the Airport needs further study). There are several locations on the museum grounds that could accommodate large tents for hosting special functions during clement weather. (The ability for the CATPM to host special functions for the community at large will help to ensure long-term viability of the CATPM. An example of such a function would be a Swing Era Dance, or a conference backdrop.)

Beam Approach Training (BAT) and Motor Transport (MT) Garage

BAT & MT Building

This building will be used to house the Museum's MT collection. The MT collection is comprised of functioning ground vehicles used by the BCATP during the 1939-45 time period. The building will be a direct copy of a BCATP MT building using parts, measurements and patterns taken directly from the remains of existing MT buildings.  None of the available MT buildings in the Westman area are in good enough condition to preserve. Volunteers have dismantled and stored components of MT and Beam Approach Training buildings formerly located in Brandon and Douglas

Plans are in place to heat the MT Garage floor to help protect the vehicles from damage caused by condensation in times of atmospheric humidity changes.

A special feature of the building will be a BAT (Beam Approach Training) room. Beam Approach was the method of homing in on radio beacons to locate airports and facilitate landings. The original Beam Approach methods led to the development of modern radio navigation and were also a necessary adjunct to RADAR. (Radio Direction and Ranging)

The Medical Building

Located on the Brandon Airport Grounds, this is the original Dentistry Building from SFTS 12. It is not located on the Museum's allotted space at the Brandon Airport and will need to be moved. It will be renovated to original quality (with concessions to modern safety in heating and fire suppression) and have displays of the Medical, Dental and Barber shop equipment used in the Plan.

A large part of the motion picture movie FOR THE MOMENT was filmed at the CATPM. The Museum provided the perfect historical background for that movie. The Aircraft of the CATPM, both Flying and Static are prominently featured in the movie. The setting of the future Museum would lend itself well to this type of use. The motion picture and documentary film making industry continues to work with the museum. We expect to continue these relationships.

Visitors to the Museum will be able to stand amidst the buildings of the CATPM and develop a sense of what it would have been like to be on a BCATP base. The buildings of the CATPM are only a small sampling of the various types of structures employed in the Plan. Most schools of the Plan would have occupied the whole of the Brandon Airport property.

Some Final Points

This document outlines a vision of the future of the CATPM viewed from today's perspective. We, the CATPM Planning committee, are sure it will change and improve as the Museum continues to grow. With the support of community and government we can develop the CATPM into a World-Class facility.

 The CATPM’s potential is limited only by the knowledge and imagination of those willing to develop the Museum.

The CATPM is the only museum in Canada solely dedicated to the BCATP and the training of 131,533 aircrew, We are in a unique position to tell of the important contribution Canada made to help the Allied Victory in WWII.

This Victory set the world stage for the development of the society we have today. Many of the technological advances we now enjoy have their roots in the work undertaken in times of great duress by many ordinary people. To these people we owe a debt of gratitude.

The efforts of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum will ensure the present and future generations will benefit from the story of Canada's role in defeating the Nazi regimen and the growth of Fascism in the 1930's and 1940's. It is a shame so few Canadians understand what was done. Perhaps we can change that.

Developing the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum CATPM into all it can be is an admirable goal.

We ask you to help the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum CATPM reach that goal.

The CATPM maintains working relationships with many other Museum Groups and Associations across Canada and World Wide.

Association of Manitoba Museums    AMM
Bomber Command Association     BCA
Canadian Aviation Heritage Society    CAHS
Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association  CAPA
Canadian Heritage Information Network    CHIN
Organization of Military Museums of Canada   OMMC
Manitoba Historical Society      MHS
Mozzie Aircrew Association     MAA
Thomas Sill Foundation

The CATPM has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the Western Canadian Aviation Museum in Winnipeg. This memorandum states that the two museums will work together to further the preservation and presentation of Canada's aviation history. The two museums have been working together for decades. The MoU will be expanded to include all Museums of the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association. (CAPA) We also have reciprocal membership with the other CAPA museums which currently number 30 across Canada.

Special Theme Museum

The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, the Costume Museum of Canada, in Dugald, the Manitoba Agriculture Museum, Austin, the Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach, the New Iceland Heritage Museum, Gimli and the Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, have all received the honour of being designated by the Province of Manitoba as Special Themes Museums. This designation is aimed at selected museums which showcase special collections and have the potential to be significantly enhanced heritage tourism Attractions.

Awards and Achievements

60th  Anniversary of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Pennant
Awarded by Her Excellency Governor General Adriane Clarkson
Province of Manitoba Grand Prix Award
Attractions Canada Provincial Indoor Attraction Site Award. 1999
City of Brandon Municipal Heritage Site
Brandon Mayor’s Volunteer Service Award 1999

Suggested Readings and References

Aerodrome of Democracy: Directorate of History DND, Ottawa, Canada 1983
 ISBN 0-660-11443-7

Wings for Victory: Spencer Dunmore, McClelland & Stewart Inc.,
481 University Ave., Toronto Ont., M5G 2E9
 ISBN 0-7710-2927-6

Behind the Glory: Ted Barris, Mcmillian Canada,
 ISBN 0-7715-9176-4

The Plan by James N.Williams

Aircrew Unlimited by John Golley

Royal Canadian Airforce at War 1939-45 by Millberry and Halliday

 1 "The future of the CATPM", Strategic Planning Committee, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Inc.,  Bernhard Consulting Inc., August 1998


3 "Aerodrome of  Democracy" iv L.B.Pearson Mike, The Memoirs of the Right Honorable Lester B. Pearson,  University of Toronto Press 1, 1972, 208

4 Governor General Adriane Clarkson visited the Museum in August. The Pennant was awarded to only two museums in Canada

Prepared for the CATPM Financial Campaign Committee
J.R. McNarry, VP, CATPM
with assistance from
R. Forbes, President CATPM


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