De Havilland Canada says goodbye to Downsview

Avatar for Frederick K. LarkinBy Frederick K. Larkin | June 13, 2022

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 39 seconds.

In April 1929, De Havilland Canada (DHC) purchased a 70-acre property in Downsview, Ontario – just north of Toronto. By the end of that summer, a 20,000-square-foot plant had been constructed and Moth biplanes were being produced. Almost a century later, DHC is saying farewell to Downsview as the land is due to be redeveloped for residential and commercial purposes.

C-GCEV, a 41-year-old DHC-7-103 Dash 7 operated by Air Tindi of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Frederick K. Larkin Photo
N302PT, a 54-year-old DHC-4A Turbo Caribou operated by Rampart Aviation of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Frederick K. Larkin Photo

On June 11, DHC held a special event to honor the thousands of employees who had designed, built, and flown the generations of aircraft produced at Downsview over the past 93 years. To assist in the celebration, the company convinced the owners of many iconic models to bring their airplanes back to the place where they had been built for one last visit.

Upon arrival, the 10 aircraft were parked on the ramp beside the oldest surviving hangars at the manufacturing facility. Hundreds of former and current employees, members of their families, and guests were able to walk amongst the aircraft and speak with their owners. Inside the delivery hangar, a detailed account of the company’s history by decade was posted along with many memory-prompting photographs. Meanwhile, an informative video provided a thorough review of the history of each aircraft family built at that historic location.

C-FMJO, the 100th DHC-6-400 Twin Otter. Frederick K. Larkin Photo
C-GODH, a 65-year-old DHC-2 Mk. III Turbo-Beaver. Frederick K. Larkin Photo

While the sun blazed until early afternoon, the clouds quickly moved in while the 10 aircraft departed, five minutes apart, in chronological order. As the last aircraft, a Dash 8-400, completed its high-speed pass and turned on course for Calgary, the rain came down. It was a poignant moment for those watching an historic Canadian aviation organization fly west.

Aircraft on display at Downsview Airport on June 11, 2022.

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    1. You missed the show because you didn’t know about it or couldn’t make it? I’ve lived across from them for almost 30 years and wasn’t invited. My husband would have loved this.

  1. Very fond memories as a young girl that took her first flight in 1961 in a private single engine plane at the small DeHaviland airport. I was beside myself with exhilaration and excitement. This event was part of my growing interest in aircraft of all types. I had models of airplanes hanging from the ceiling and on my dresser in my bedroom. Not much of a fan of Barbie but fast cars, airplanes, jets and boats were my thing.
    Well I’m a senior now and the passion and flight and travel are still ver strong. Although I understand that times are changing, I will always remember DeHaviland airport and the planes they manufactured.

  2. It does suck. I was at Hatfield when BAe ran it down and shut it ,now its just one big housing estate.The Flight Shed survives along with the admin block but thats about it.

  3. I worked there from 1980 until my hands gave out in 2003 and the company wouldn’t find me a job that I could do. I was the first female that DeHavilland hired to work in the Electrical Shop in Bay 2 since WWII, so I was told (not sure if that was true). I didn’t go to this because I didn’t get my invitation until this past Monday which was after the event. Oh well . . .

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