CAHS Convention Tour to Brandon

Story and photos by John Chalmers,
CAHS Membership Secretary

Museum sign

A highlight of the 2016 convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society will be a visit to Brandon, Manitoba to tour the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. Like the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Brandon’s museum is located in a 1941 wartime hangar of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The museum’s focus is on the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. In my first visit to Brandon a few years ago, one of the museum’s board members told me, “Our museum is about 1939 to 1945 – nothing before, nothing after.”

Museum hangar

A well-known publication by the museum, commonly found in other museums and archives in Canada, is the hefty volume called They Grew Not Old. It lists all those who fell during the war while serving with the RCAF. In September 2014, the museum dedicated a new national memorial to all those who lost their lives while serving with the RCAF. Like the Bomber Command Memorial at the aviation museum in Nanton, Alberta, Brandon’s is comprised of polished black granite panels naming those who fell in service for Canada.


Airman statueAt the dedication ceremonies, I had the honour of unveiling the panel which included the name of my navigator uncle, F/S Alfred Reid Chalmers, who lost his life while flying with 101 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. All eight crew aboard their Lancaster, four RCAF and four RAF, perished when shot down in Denmark. All Canadians in the crew are named in the memorial.

The CAHS annual national convention provides the opportunity to attend informative presentations, as well as this year’s tour to Brandon. As always, the convention provides opportunity to renew acquaintances and make new friends who share an interest in our aviation heritage.


On the grounds of the Comfort Inn at Brandon beside the Trans-Canada Highway is a Bristol Bolingbroke placed there by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.


A Fairchild Cornell in BCATP yellow livery is one of the wartime aircraft on display at the museum.


The Royal Canadian Air Force Band, based at 17 Wing, Winnipeg, under the baton of Captain John Fullerton, played at the dedication of the RCAF Memorial at the Brandon museum.

Before you visit Brandon, you can see more about the museum and the RCAF Memorial in my article that appeared in Airforce magazine. Just click here.