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Canada’s Entry into the Age of Aviation

Feb. 23, 2009 – Canada's Entry into the Age of Aviation: The Government of Canada Ensures the Ongoing Commemoration of the First Canadian Airplane Flight.


February 23, 2009
By CNW Group

BADDECK, N.S., Feb. 23 –  On the centenary of the first airplane flight in Canada, the honourable Rob Merrifield, Member of Parliament for Yellowhead and Minister of State (Transport), on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today announced that the Government of Canada will invest in Parks Canada's Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada to enhance the ongoing celebration of the legacy of the Silver Dart. Minister Merrifield also unveiled a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque commemorating the first flight as an event of national historic significance.

"I am pleased to announce the Government of Canada's intention to invest in the on-going commemoration of Canada's entry into the age of aviation. This contribution would help ensure that the legacy of the Silver Dart will continue to be honoured by future generations," said Minister Merrifield. "Exactly one hundred years ago, Canada ushered in an exciting age of aeronautics thanks to a small group of dreamers, designers, pioneers and adventurers here, in the beautiful Village of Baddeck."

The Government of Canada intends to invest $3 million to celebrate the legacy of the Silver Dart. This investment is part of a two-year $75 million allocation announced in Budget 2009, Canada's Economic Action Plan. The $3 million investment at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site would address the required repairs to the roof and exterior viewing decks of the museum, as well as an upgrade of the interior exhibits including an enhanced aviation exhibit ensuring the presentation of the life story of Alexander Graham Bell and his associates.

"Today as we commemorate 'The First Airplane Flight in Canada', we recognize that aviation has been instrumental in linking our nation's communities to each other and to the world. It has provided Canadians with a significant connection from sea to sea to sea," said Minister Prentice. "Canadian companies paved the way in developing new aeronautic technologies. Military aviation continues to play an important role in Canada and our space program is committed to leading the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity."

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On February 23, 1909, J. A. Douglas McCurdy, a member of Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell's 'Aerial Experiment Association', climbed into the pilot's seat of the airplane he designed, Silver Dart. Using the icy Baddeck Bay as his runway he sped along its surface, rose into the air and flew east over the bay about 800 metres before making a smooth landing. With more than one hundred people watching, the small Village of Baddeck became the birthplace of the first powered flight in Canada. McCurdy and his associates had secured Canada's place into the developing history of flight.

Operated by Parks Canada, Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada celebrates the life and work of one of the world's greatest inventors, and is part of a nation-wide system of national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas that is recognized as one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected areas in the world. Parks Canada works to ensure Canada's cultural and natural heritage are presented and protected for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of all Canadians, today and in the future.

Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of the Environment about the national historic significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history. The placement of a commemorative plaque represents an official recognition of their historic value. It is one means of educating the public about the richness of our cultural heritage, which must be preserved for present and future generations.