5 Facts About the Bushplane Museum

Updated: By Cory St. Pierre

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is located in the historical hangar located on the St. Mary’s River in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The hanger was first established by the Ontario Provincial Air Service in 1924 with pilots returning home from the war. Originally, it was created as an air service used to map areas in Canada and to survey forested locations. This was very significant because, it is here that the idea to fight a fire using a bushplane was created. A larger section of the hanger was built in 1947 and is now the current site of the CBHC and its many exhibits. Although the original hangar is still onsite, it is not accessible to the general public and is not part of the museums exhibit.

In 1987 a group of volunteers looking to preserve this important part of our history made an agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. An agreement was made allowing the volunteers to use part of the hanger for storage and displays until the Fire and Aviation Division operations relocated its operations to the Sault Ste. Marie Airport. The CBHC has worked very hard to expand not only it’s attractions but, it’s rich history over the many years in operation. Today the CBHC stands as a piece of history that we as a community are very proud of.

The bushplane itself is considered an iconic piece of Canadian History. Today, one of the most prominent uses of the bushplane is to bring passengers and cargo to remote fly-in only locations. Many of these locations can be found in the Algoma region.

1. The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Hanger is the only non-military air hanger to have an onsite test cell.

Currently this exhibit is only available during special events but, a marvel none the less. The purpose of the test cell is to run and test the planes engines to ensure that they are running to the manufactures specifications. The plane engines are ran for 7hrs straight to ensure efficiency and strength. The test cell can be viewed inside the cell itself or from the fully functional control room. When a demonstration is in progress patrons are able to watch the action from a live LCD monitor to ensure safety.

2. One of the plane exibits is a movie star!

The Fokker F.VIIb-3m Trimotor “Friendship” is in fact the same replica plane that can be seen in the 2009 movie “Amelia” starring Hilary Swank, Richard Gere and Virginia Madison. The original aircraft was built by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker in 1927/1928. This plane has a great history behind it and is the plane that Amelia Earhart flew over the Atlantic as a passenger on June 17th, 1928. Making her the first women to fly across the Atlantic ocean.

This replica being built for the film was later donated to the CBHC after filming was completed and can now be viewed as part of the exhibit.


3. You can fight forest fires in 3D!

One of the newest attractions offered at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Hanger is a 3D film presentation that puts you both on the ground and in the air to show what it is like to battle a forest fire. Filled with special effects, experience how the Ministry of Natural Resources Aviation crew work to control wildfires.


4. There are currently more than 25 aircrafts on display.

Over several years CBHC has been able to obtain more than 25 air crafts to display in the museum. Some of which are open to the public to climb aboard and explore inside the plane, cockpit and cargo hold. Many of the aircrafts have even been restored to fully-operational status.

A list of aircrafts on display can be viewed here.


5. The museum is 100% interactive.

The Bushplane Museum offers many educational opportunities and offers a very unique experience. The museum itself is 100% interactive with offering a strong focus on the science of flight. Some of the available activities include:

  • Sending morse code messages from a 1940’s Ranger Office
  • Climb a real fire tower and radio to the Rangers office below
  • Flight Simulators
  • Sit in the cockpit of a real vintage bushplane

New to the museum is the Northern Nature Trading interactive visitor experience. In partnership with Science North, Northern Nature Trading is a fun way to learn and find new things about nature. Visit the the Canadian Bushplane Museum’s website here.



For more information and upcoming events for The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre click here.

About Cory St. Pierre

As a member of the Algoma Country staff, I enjoy hiking and the great outdoors. I hope my blogs and stories encourage you to explore and plan your next vacation to the Algoma region.

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