Bomber Command Museum of Canada celebrates 30 years

Avro Lancaster FM159 at Bomber Command Museum of Canada. Photo: John T. Stemple.

20th August 2016 | Nanton, Alberta, Canada. The large crowd stood patiently but anxiously on Saturday, 20th August 2016. The group was awaiting the arrival of No. 419 “Moose” Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), CT-115 Hawk advanced combat trainers.

No 419 Squadron CT-155 Hawks overfly BCMC. Photo: John T. Stemple.

Only a very few minutes earlier a No. 419 Squadron Commemoration was held at Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial during which a Christian minister led prayers of remembrance, and pilots of 419 Squadron and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police corporal laid wreaths. All the while an Honour Guard of Royal Canadian Air Cadets stood rigidly at attention.

Christian minister addresses attendees. Photo: John T. Stemple.


Immediately afterward a bagpiper piped a fitting tribute. Straight away, and precisely on schedule, the duo of RCAF jets roared overhead. One was piloted by a French Air Force/Armée de l’air exchange aviator.

The events marking Bomber Command Museum of Canada‘s (BCMC) 30th anniversary, were officially underway. The day would prove to be very memorable for the hundreds of attendees.

RCMP and bagpiper. Photo: John T. Stemple.

On the previous night, 19th August 2016, an event was held for politicians and museum volunteers. The evening’s speakers included British Consul General for Calgary Caroline Saunders, Senator Anne C. Cools, a Member of Parliament, local government leaders, prominent businessmen from the community, journalists, historians and BCMC directors. Mr. Karl Kjarsgaard served as the designated emcee.

Air Cadets Honour Guard. Photo: John T. Stemple.

In addition to the aforementioned units and organizations, members and/or representatives of the following groups were amongst the throng: Air Force AssociationCalgary Mosquito SocietyCivil Air Patrol (the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary), Commemorative Air Force, Florida Aviation Historical SocietyHalifax 57 Rescue (Canada), Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Royal Canadian Air Force Association/de l’Aviation royale Canadienne, The Royal Canadian Legion/La Légion royale Canadienne and Royal Air Force Historical Society.

The Nanton Lancaster Society (NLS) was formed following the Town of Nanton’s suggestion in the fall of 1985 that perhaps a group could be formed to “take care of the Bomber [Lancaster FM-159],” which had been on outside display for twenty-five years. At this time virtually no one had been in the aircraft since it had arrived from RCAF Vulcan, a former Second World War British Commonwealth Air training Plan training base and subsequently a Crown Assets disposal centre, and very little was known about the “Lanc”.

RCAF ensign flying over BCMC. Photo: John T. Stemple.

The aeroplane had in fact been last flown in February 1959, and the mammoth bombing machine had been rescued from destruction and disposal in 1961 by a few concerned citizens.

Eventually, NLS morphed (in 2010) into BCMC. Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial was placed on the front lawn of the museum and dedicated in 2005. The “Americans in the RCAF Exhibit” opened in 2007.

On the sunny and warm Saturday there were several presentations of note. One was a lecture Dr. Stephane Guevremont, Honourary Colonel, No. 419 Squadron.

BCMC Memorial. Photo: John T. Stemple.

Another was a donation of a Second World War RCAF New Testament/Pocket Bible by a Commemorative Air Force colonel. The donor stated the following: “It has been an honour to escort this piece of history home to Canada, and it is a privilege to donate it to Bomber Command Museum of Canada.”

BCMC Gift Shop. Photo: John T. Stemple.

Later, a Bristol Hercules engine, the powerplant that powered later marks of Handley Page Halifaxes, was run on an engine stand. The facility’s Fleet Fawn’s motor was also started for the spectators. The apogee of the afternoon was when the proud and stately Lancaster engines came to life and the big bird taxied.

BCMC Fleet Fawn and T-33. Photo: John T. Stemple.
Kendra reporting reporting. Photo: John T. Stemple.

Considering the many activities, one understands why the skills of the very personable and multitalented video-journalist Kendra Davis, who reports for Vulcan TV, and Nanton Aviation Station (NAS), were continuously in demand.

Canadair CT-114 Tutor former Snowbird 4. Photo: John T. Stemple.

A good time was had by all, and, based upon the positive comments of and enthusiasm of supporters, visitors and patrons, the next 30 years will undoubtedly hold great promise for Bomber Command Museum of Canada.


The author (John T. Stemple) thanks Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton Aviation Station, Vulcan TV, and Kendra Davis. Furthermore, the 20th Century Aviation Magazine staff wishes to thank General Manager Andrea Townshend (and staff members Andrea Ramsay, Cara Gray and Mercedes Brentnall) of the High River Ramada Hotel and Kathryn of the Auditorium Hotel in Nanton for their exceptional hospitality and customer service.

Suggested Viewings

Sources and Suggested Readings

419 “Moose” Squadron

419 Squadron RCAF 1941 – 1945

419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron

Bazalgette Lancaster FM-159

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

British Consul General for Calgary Caroline Saunders

Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial

CAF colonel donating WW2 New Testament to Bomber Command Museum of Canada

No. 419 (Moose) Squadron

No. 419 “Moose” Squadron (RCAF): Second World War

No. 419 (Moose) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force

No. 419 Squadron RCAF

Nanton Aviation Station

Parker: British Consul General excited about Calgary post

Senator Anne C. Cools

Senator Anne C. Cools

Vulcan TV – Aviation