BCATP Oshawa Airfield

Where: Oshawa, ON.

Date of construction: 1940 - 1943

The No. 2 Hangar at Oshawa, Ontario, circa 1943. In the foreground is a swimming pool-cum-water reservoir for firefighting. (Source: CSCE)

Site Location: Lat.: 43° – 55’ – 2” N; Long.: 78° – 53’ – 40” W. (GPS: 43.9171481, -78.8945537) Take the Thickson Road exit from Highway 407 at Brooklin. Drive 5.6 km south, and turn left (east) on Rossland Road (Regional Road 28). Drive 2.5 km east, and turn left (north) on Stevenson Road (Regional Road 53). Drive 1 km north: Airman’s Park is on your left (east).

Plaque Location: The plaque is mounted on a rock in Airman’s Park, on the south side of the airport.

Plaque on rock (foreground), near F-86 Sabre aircraft. (Source: R. Pickle)

Description: In December 1939, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand reached an agreement to train 1500 aircrew per month, starting in April 1940. The total estimated cost was $600 M and the estimated Canadian contribution, $350 M, was considerable given the total federal budget for 1939 was $500 M. The training rate peaked at over 3000 graduates per month. The total cost of $ 1.76 billion included a Canadian contribution of $1.59 billon.

No. 20 Elementary Flying Training School Station Map (Source: City of Oshawa South Field Master Plan: Background Study)

The No. 20 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) was located in Oshawa from June 1941 to December 1944. Student flyers used Tiger Moth aircraft and were trained by civilian instructors from the Oshawa, Kingston, and Brant-Norfolk flying clubs. The field featured three 800 m. long, 46 m. wide, hard-surfaced runways. It remains in use today as the Oshawa Executive Airport.

Historic Significance: The challenges for Canadian civil engineers working on the project included site selection and then the design and construction of runways, taxiways, roads, services, hangers, barracks and many other buildings to a very demanding schedule. The key to success was the development of standard airfield layouts and standard building designs using prefabricated wood components. In 1945, Winston Churchill described the BCAPT as “a spacious task imaginatively conceived and most faithfully carried out.” The initiative provided the foundation of Canada’s post-war air transportation network: of the 176 airfields constructed, 62 remain in service today including the Toronto and Vancouver International Airports.

Plaque detail. (Source: R. Pickle)

Plaque Wording: National Historic Civil Engineering. CSCE. BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN No. 20 ELEMENTARY FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL – OSHAWA. A tribute to Canada’s civil engineers who, between 1940 and 1943, were responsible for the design and construction of 88 airfields and 88 reilef fields, together with all the requisite infrastructure. The airfields were required by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan which trained more than 250,000 personnel, of whom 131,000 were aircrew, for the Allied war effort. This field, Oshawa Municipal Airport, was the site of No. 20 Elementary Flying School. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. 1999.

SCGC. Site Historique National. CSCE. BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN No. 20 ELEMENTARY FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL – OSHAWA. Hommage aux ingénieures civiles du Canada, qui entre les années 1940 et 1943, étaient résponsables pour la conception et l’étabilssement de 88 terrains d’aviations et de 88 terrains supplémentaires, ainsi que toute l’infrastructure requise. Les terrains d’aviation étaient requis par le British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, qui a entrainé au-delà de 250,000 personnels, dèsquels 131,000 fassaient partie du pilotage pour l’appui allié de la guerre. Ce terrain, l’aéroport municipal d’Oshawa, était le site de l’école de vol de base, No. 20 Elementary Flying School. 1999. Société canadienne de genie civil.

Plaque Unveiling Ceremony: November 14, 1999

Links to Online Documentation:

Alistair MacKenzie, “History: A Herculean Task”, Canadian Consulting Engineer, 2001.

Veterans Affairs Canada, “The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan”