Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Way We Were ::: 1940 ::: CANADA

PORTER AIRLINES and the BOMBARDIER “Mighty” Q 400 are the principal Toronto Island Airport residents today (as seen above).

But it wasn’t always so.



By April of 1940, the Nazis had invaded NORWAY.

Already anticipating being attacked at some point, Norway had ordered dozens of American aircraft to help in their resistance to Herr Hitler and his eventual blitzkrieg. Some of these aircraft arrived, but were in crates at a Norwegian shipyard when the Nazi onslaught began. Other aircraft were assembled, but not armed or tested.

The unfortified Royal Norwegian Air Force took to the air anyway.

Against a vastly superior German Luftwaffe, and against all odds, the Norwegians engaged their enemy in the skies above their beloved homeland. Surprisingly, the Royal Norwegian Air Force took out as many aircraft, as they initially lost to the Nazis!

But the writing was already on the wall.

And so abruptly, thereafter in June, just two months later the Norwegian royalty fled the country, and made their way safely to England.

And the Royal Norwegian Air Force, with nowhere else to go to train their countrymen, their future fighter and bomber pilots… came thus to Canada.


Toronto Island Airport, which had only opened in 1939 as the “forgettable” Port George VI Airfield, was now turned over to the Norwegians and the RCAF went to Camp Borden.

By November of 1940, Toronto’s “Little Norway” was opened for “business” and had dispatched its first all-Norwegian fighter squadron alongside a fully trained ground crew, to England, in June 1941.

Government of Norway aircraft orders placed with American aircraft factories such as Fairchild, Curtiss, Douglas and Northrop before the fall of Norway were immediately diverted, and delivered to Toronto Island’s newest residents.

LITTLE NORWAY turned out a steady stream of Norwegian ground and aircrews who returned to Europe to fight and successfully distinguished themselves alongside their Allied compatriots.

By 1942, a second ground crew and aircrew training camp was opened in Gravenhurst, Ontario at the Muskoka Airport to accommodate the increasing Norwegian war effort.

© 2007 Special Projects IR
© 2007 Paul Cardin

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