RCAF Station / Lac du Bonnet Airport

Canadian Vickers VedetteThe Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was founded on April 1, 1924, partially to meet the increased demand for civil air services, particularly forest fire patrols, in western Canada. In 1926, #1 Wing of the RCAF in Winnipeg moved its main operations from Victoria Beach to Lac du Bonnet. One building was moved onto the site where grounds and a slipway were being prepared. That year AVRO 504 seaplanes, Vickers Vikings and two Vickers Vedette flying boats conducted aerial photography, forest mapping, treaty and medical flights. As wireless telephone transmitters had been installed in aircraft in 1925, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals established a ground station on the site. New buildings were added – including a pigeon rookery, as pigeons were carried on board the aircraft as backup communications.

In 1927, 90% of all forestry patrol work in Canada was carried out from the Winnipeg Air Station sub bases at Lac du Bonnet, Norway House, Cormorant Lake, Winnipegossis and Ladder Lake, Saskatchewan. Of these bases, Lac du Bonnet was the most active, having flown 371.20 hours on patrol. The combined extent of all these patrol areas was 23,371,533 hectares (57,752,085 acres) and 106 fires were detected during 1,344.25 hours of flying.

Airport CairnBy 1930 “Civil Government Air Operations” reached its peak of activity only to cease to exist in 1931 due to financial constraints and the transfer of natural resources to the provinces. Consequently, in 1932, Lac du Bonnet Air Station was placed on “care and maintenance” and designated a General Purpose Flight with only one Vickers Vedette flying boat.

During 1933, miscellaneous services were provided from Lac du Bonnet for various government departments including flights to the Territories and an inspection by the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of its northern detachment.

RCAF operations ceased in 1937 and the Department of Transport assumed responsibility for the site.

The facilities were used for a short time by the Manitoba Government Air Service in 1932 and subsequently through the years by local air service operators. Following World War II (1939 – 1945) the facility was assigned to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation for its final disposition. With its purchase by the Manitoba Government in the 1970’s, the airport has been upgraded to its present standard, and is now owned by the Rural Municipality of Lac du Bonnet and operated by the Regional Airport Authority.