Winnipeg’s Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada opens doors at new location

It was a takeoff nearly four years in the making.

On Saturday, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada opened the doors of its new location to the public for the first time.

Construction on the Wellington Avenue museum began two years ago, after it was forced to leave its previous location in a converted hangar on Ferry Road after its lease expired in 2018.

Gilles Messier, a member of the museum’s curatorial team, said the long-awaited reopening brought out people from all walks of life.

“We have aviation enthusiasts, we have families, everybody here seems to be enjoying themselves. They’re fascinated by all the exhibits, by all the stories people have to tell,” said Messier, who as chief writer was also responsible for writing all the informational panels and video scripts found in the exhibit.

Messier said the climate-controlled, 86,000-square-foot location is the perfect environment to preserve the aircraft on display — some of which are suspended from the ceiling — and teach people about their histories.

Gilles Messier is a member of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada’s curatorial team. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

“Manitoba has an amazing aviation heritage that I think a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Messier said, pointing as an example to Stevenson Field, the first international airport in Canada and a predecessor to the nearby Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

Maggie Bannahne said she’s been waiting three years to see the new museum, and was excited to see the gliders on display.

“It’s fun to see airplanes from the past and see how they’ve developed so far,” she said as she visited on Saturday.

Annika Pilawski said she’s been interested in aviation since she was little, and was in awe of what she saw at the new museum.

“I think it’s amazing, seeing the history of how far it’s come,” said the 15-year-old, who dreams of becoming an astronaut.

People from all walks of life visited the opening of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada’s new location, curator Gilles Messier said. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Pilawski said she’s already taken introductory flying lessons and hopes to one day get a degree in astrophysics.

“I love just how you can be off the ground, and how you’re somewhere other than on Earth, and how fast you can go, and how amazing the technology is,” she said. “It can take you pretty much anywhere.”

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