Located on a former military air base just five kilometers from the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum focuses on aviation in Canada within an international context – from its beginnings in 1909 to today.
As Canada’s contribution to aviation expanded to include aerospace technology, the museum’s collection and mandate grew to include space flight. The collection itself consists of more than 130 aircraft and artifacts (propellers, engines) from both civil and military service. It gives particular, but not exclusive, reference to Canadian achievements. The most extensive aviation collection in Canada, it is also considered one of the finest aviation museums in the world.
Among the museum’s highlights are the largest surviving pieces of the famous Avro Arrow (its nose section and two wing tips), the original Canadarm used on the Endeavour space shuttle, the Lancaster bomber from the Second World War, and Life in Orbit: The International Space Station exhibition.
Building a Collection: History of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum first opened in 1960 at Uplands Airport in Ottawa. At that time, it presented only one of the three major aeronautical collections held by the Canadian government:
- The National Aviation Museum collection focused on bush flying and early aircraft manufacturers in Canada. (This was the collection displayed at Uplands.)
- The Canadian War Museum’s collection concentrated on military aircraft from the First World War to the 1950s.
- The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) collection emphasized military aircraft related to RCAF history.
In 1964, these three collections were combined into the National Aeronautical Collection. The amalgamated collection was housed in Second World War era hangars at Ottawa’s historic Rockcliffe Airport. This arrangement gave visitors a better perspective on the development and use of aircraft in Canada over the years. It proved to be tremendously popular.
The Museum joined with the National Museum of Science and Technology in 1967. The National Aeronautical Collection continued to acquire both military and civil aircraft important to Canadian and world aviation history. The collection was officially renamed the National Aviation Museum in 1982.
In 1988, the current Museum display building opened. Two years later, in 1990, the National Museum of Science and Technology Corporation was incorporated, which now operates as Ingenium: Canada’s Science and Innovation Museums. It included the National Aviation Museum and the National Museum of Science and Technology. The latter had by then become the Canada Science and Technology Museum. In 2000, the National Aviation Museum became the Canada Aviation Museum.
In 2005, the Museum building was supplemented by the Reserve Hangar. In 2010, when the Museum’s mandate grew to include aerospace technology, its name was officially changed to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Visit our sister museums:
The largest of its kind in Canada, the Canada Science and Technology Museum fulfills its mission through its collection, its permanent, temporary and travelling exhibitions, as well as special events, school programs, and workshops.
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is living proof of the “Green Capital”. In fact, Ottawa is the only world capital that has a working farm at its heart. Canada’s unique agricultural heritage is featured at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, where you can explore the sights and sounds of typical farm life.