Skip to content

Key wartime airport hangar declared a historic resource

Blatchford Field in Edmonton recognized for playing vital role for Allies during World War II.

As the Second World War raged, Blatchford Field in Edmonton became a vital link in supplying arms and war material to allied forces. Some of that material passed through Hangar 11, which today was declared a Municipal Historic Resource by Edmonton City Council.

Hangar 11 was constructed by the US Army Air Force (now the US Air Force) at Blatchford Field, later known as the Municipal Airport, in 1942. Hangar 11 played a significant role in the Lend-Lease program that had the US provide military equipment to the allies before and after it joined the war.

 

“It’s doubtful the eastern front war would have been won without the military supplies provided to US allies through Canada,” said Principal Heritage Planner David Johnston. “Hangar 11 was vital in that phase of the war and is a remarkable piece of history Edmontonians can look on with pride.”

 

After the United States entered the war, it built a series of airfields, known as the Northwest Staging Route, to provide American military equipment to the Allied countries. Edmonton’s airfield at Blatchford Field became the headquarters of the Alaskan Wing, Air Transport Command, and the field was at times the busiest airfield in the world with nearly 900 flights arriving each day. It’s estimated Blatchford Field supported the transfer of 7,000 to 10,000 Lend-Lease aircraft to the Allies between 1943 and 1945. Hangar 11 is believed to be the last remaining building of its kind in western Canada.

Read more in the Alberta Prime Times story here. Edmonton investors poised to save historic Hangar 11 from demolition - AlbertaPrimeTimes.com ​​

The owners of Hangar 11 will receive a grant of $5 million over a 10-year period (capped at a maximum of $500,000 per year) from the City’s Heritage Resources Reserve to assist with rehabilitation of the building, which will see a combination of preservation and new development. 

“The sheer scale of the building makes the cost of rehabilitation significant. The new owners are intending on repurposing the building to accommodate a mixed-use development with student housing and commercial uses,” said Johnston. “The preservation of the structure also addresses sustainability and climate change adaptation considerations, with the retention of the embodied energy in the building and the diversion of demolition materials from the landfill.”

City Administration has worked for years to find ways to preserve the building which stands as an important reminder of Edmonton’s aviation history and the story of the city’s involvement in the Second World War.

The City’s Historic Resource Management Plan outlines the City’s mission to identify, protect and promote the preservation and use of historic resources. The Plan contains 24 policies and 88 action items that direct how Edmonton’s heritage should be preserved and celebrated. Since the plan was initiated in 1985, 170 properties have been designated, with more designations planned in the future.