Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Story: Edie Suriano
Photography: Edie Suriano
Friday, July 13, 2018

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (CBHC) non-profit organization was founded in 1987 by a small group of volunteers with the object of preserving and telling the story of Canada’s bush plane and forest fire protection heritage. Home of the original Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) from 1924 to 1991, volunteers continue to play an active part in CBHC’s activities especially in restoring, preserving and interpreting the heritage. The CBHC is a critically important attraction to the Sault Ste. Marie region. Known nationally, it is one of the top attractions generating a significant role in branding and identity building for Sault Ste. Marie.

The CBHC showcases two categories of displays - Aviation and Forest Fire Education. Both categories of display provide opportunities for visitors to touch exhibits, have interactive experiences and enjoy educational programs. The aviation section features Canada’s largest bush plane collection and highlights the advancement in water-bombing, a locally developed forest firefighting technique.

Located on the waterfront in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, the Bushplane is a national museum that is geared for a whole family experience. The museum caters to both young and old age demographics with amazing exhibits geared to all ages. The CBHC attracts guests from around the region in Canada and the United States, and abroad. We welcome many tour buses through the year with school groups as well as touring buses from across Canada and the United States. In the past few years we have seen the addition of cruise ships including MS Victory and Pearl Seas cruising the Great lakes and docking at Roberta Bondar Marina with a toured visit to the Bushplane Museum.

On the big screens we feature two award winning movies, Wildfires! A fire fighting Adventure in 3-D and Wings Over the North in our Object Theatre. On the floor we show the movie, Blake, on a computer screen with the airplane from the movie. Blake was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1969 and was released to us by the National Film board of Canada. Other exhibits include a woman’s pilot exhibit, Dr.Roberta Bondar Display and the Lewis Hong Chow exhibit; Engineering a Successful Life.

The Bushplane is honoured to be the number one attraction in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario by Trip Advisor which recognized the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre for earning exceptional traveler ratings. The certificate of Excellence honours businesses that consistently earn top ratings from Trip Advisor travelers. The award which is given only to the most exceptional performers is a significant achievement. In 2018 we also achieved the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame award for achieving this status for more than 5 years in a row.

A Flight Adventure Simulator is located at the entrance of the Children's Flight Centre. Choose from three different 4-minute flights, each highlighting a different aspect of northern Ontario. Feel the thrill of the engines starting, the plane lifting from the ground and the nail-biting landings, all from the comfortable 5-seat cockpit. Considered a mild thrill ride, visitors of all ages will love this fun and unique exhibit! Kids have fun while learning in our Children's Flight Centre! So you want to be a pilot? Learn how with the flight simulator, arcade-style gaming consoles and interactive displays. Experience a real airplane cockpit for flights of imagination The Flight Centre is the home of our Education Program for Grade 6 students. Panels take students through all branches of the curriculum, with interactive and hands-on exhibits along the way. Learn hands-on about the principles of flight then take a quick trip up the Fire Tower to report forest fires over a Ranger Radio!

In 2017 we introduced our Northern Nature Trading which is located next to the Children’s Centre. Northern Nature Trading is a special kind of swap shop. Children and adults alike can bring in the natural things they have found and trade them in for things in our collection. We trade in things like rocks, shells, fossils and pine cones. The more you can tell us about it, the more points you get. Maybe you are hoping to trade for our large shark jaws? Once the points are in the Northern Nature Trading database they can be used at all other partnering Northern Nature Trade shops! This allows a traders points to be used in different cities and regions where they can collect and trade more locally specific items! Our partnering locations include Sudbury's Science North and Dynamic Earth Rockhound Lab, North Bay Regional Tourist Centre, Thunder Bay Public Library, Science Timmins, Lake Of The Woods Discovery Centre and Niagara Glen Nature Exchange!

In the mid-1990s, a Fox Moth Project was started. The intention was to build a DeHavilland DH83 Fox Moth, a 1932 British designed biplane, from start to finish, with the final goal being to register and fly the replica aircraft. A small but very dedicated group of skilled volunteers continue to work on the Fox Moth today, and guests are encouraged to visit them in the Restoration Area, where (unlike most other Museums) they are able to watch the restoration in progress, and ask the crew questions. In 2019 we will be celebrating our 30 th Anniversary as a top attraction in Sault Ste. Marie and will see the completion and first flight of the Fox Moth. Our motto, “Where Adventure Takes Off!” will continue to be our goal to have all visitors enjoy a wonderful experience at the Bushplane.

The Bushplane Centre also hosts many events throughout the year including our own annual events something to keep in mind when you are planning a visit to the Sault and area. Ready For Take-Off, Family Day Fun in February, Holiday Gift & Craft Shows the first two weekends in November and our Bushplane Days Festival now in its 23rd year. Our local community supports the centre with other events including: the Sault’s largest Bridal Expo, Beer Festival, Octoberfest and Zombi Walk to name only a few. The Museum in open 7 days a week all year closing only 5 days a year. (Good Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) Mid May to Mid- October we are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mid October to Mid- May we are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A gift shop is located in the lobby of the centre where visitors can purchase many items related to both aviation and forest fire management. A wide selection of books is available including many local authors.

For more information visit us at or on facebook Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Edie Suriano
Marketing & Promotions
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
50 Pim St.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont
705-945-6242 ext 202 or 705-254-9521

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