A little airport with a big history and a bright future. The Muskoka Airport (CYQA) is a Transport Canada Certified facility owned and operated by the District Municipality of Muskoka. The airport provides a vital link to the air transportation industry in the Muskoka area, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. The public terminal building is located at the south end of the air field and hosts a Little Norway Memorial display and a 24-hour pilots’ lounge.
The airport continues to grow with the times, offering the greatest ‘little’ airport and services around. The 6,000 ft long, 150 ft wide main runway was fully reconstructed in 2015, and there is an average of 15,000 aircraft movements on the main runway each year for economic, travel and leisure purposes.
Muskoka and its people, landscapes and lifestyles have attracted the attention of Europeans, Americans and other international air travelers for decades. The airport provides international customs for prearranged flights and is now considering options to facilitate regular scheduled commercial flights that could bring more visitors from across the world to discover what makes Muskoka so special.
The airport’s runway length, rating capacity and customs service are advantages that distinguish it from many other small airports. The economic spin-offs for Muskoka linked to tourism, cottaging and business are estimated to be close to $40 million. That includes everything from land and building lease at the airport to landing fees, fuel purchases and indirect benefits like guest expenditures at hotels and restaurants throughout the District.
Many major events have taken place at the airport over the years, including serving as a landing location for some of the key World Leaders who congregated in Muskoka for the G8 Summit in 2010.
Muskoka has had a long love affair with aviation that continues to this day. The airport was build in 1933 as a make-work project during the Depression. At the time, a man and a team were paid $1 per day plus keep, to help clear and level the landing strip.
The first airplane landed at Reay Airport (named after what was then known as Reay Township) in 1935. In 1938, the Reay Airport was officially renamed the Muskoka Airport. During the Second World War, the airport was more commonly known by another name – Little Norway. When Nazi Germany attacked Norway on April 9, 1940, with only a small number of modern aircraft on order from U.S. manufacturers taken on charge, the Royal Norwegian Air Force was unable to mount a sustained defence. In an effort to train what remained of the decimated Norwegian Air Force, the first Little Norway training facility was established in Toronto and later moved to the Muskoka Airport in 1942. From then until February 1945, Little Norway trained 2,000 pilots, crew and ground crew.
To mark the airport’s significance as part of Norway’s wartime history, King Harold V and Queen Sonja of Norway made a state visit to Canada in May 2002, and a memorial at the airport was officially opened in 2007 to much fanfare.
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