The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum was founded in 1972 and is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to acquire, document, preserve and maintain a complete collection of aircraft that were flown by Canadians and the Canadian military from the beginning of World War II to the present. Our role is to preserve the artifacts, books, periodicals and manuals relating to this mandate. The Museum now houses almost fifty aircraft, an extensive aviation Gift Shop and Exhibit Gallery.
The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's collection has grown through the friendship of Dennis Bradley and Alan Ness. Their love of aviation and their desire to maintain and preserve Canada's aviation history saw restoration projects that were not only great pieces of workmanship but airworthy examples.
Dennis Bradley and Alan Ness approached friends Peter Matthews and John Weir to become partners with them to acquire the first aircraft, a Fairey Firefly. This aircraft was to become the masthead of the Museum's advertising and stationery and continues to this day to be incorporated into logos, crests and memorabilia. A tribute to the four flying founders is located in the Museum's main entrance.
The most ambitious restoration undertaking to date has been the Avro Lancaster. This aircraft stood guard over the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 109 in Goderich, Ontario for many years. With the support of the Sulley Foundation, the Lancaster was acquired by Canadian Warplane Heritage in 1977.
There was a tremendous amount of work required to remove the Lancaster from its concrete pedestal and prepare it for transport to Hamilton. The Canadian Forces accepted the transportation challenge, as a training mission to be performed by 450 Squadron. By moving the Lancaster to Hamilton via a Chinook helicopter airlift, valuable information was obtained by the military on the logistics of transporting large aircraft by helicopter. The aircraft arrived at the museum in 1979 and restoration began. It was not until 1988, that the Lancaster, dedicated to Andrew Mynarski, VC, would fly before 20,000 visitors.
Membership in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is open to all who share an interest in aircraft preservation. Funding for Museum projects comes mainly from membership fees, private donations and sponsorships. The Ontario Government through the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, supports the museum through an operating grant. The Canadian Federal Government has recognized the importance of preserving certain aircraft of outstanding historical significance by certifying Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum as a Cultural Property Institution.
In the summer of 2014, the Museum undertook one of its biggest ventures, flying the Lancaster across the Atlantic to England to join the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster for a two month tour. The tour of two Lancasters was witnessed by millions of people throughout England as well as Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. The entire trip was filmed for a documentary, "Reunion of Giants", that was released on DVD.