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Bushplane brass flying high over funds for museum modernization (4 photos)

Sault MP Sheehan announces over $400,000 in fed funding for major renovation of Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Sault MP Terry Sheehan, home from Ottawa for the summer break, announced $438,000 in FedNor funding for the Sault’s Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Wednesday.

The funding was part of a larger $1.175 million package for the Bushplane Museum’s renovation, which has come through after a two-year funding application process, after seeking money from several sources.

Highlights of the renovation will involve relocation of the museum’s current event-related space (such as space for weddings and a variety of other functions) toward the east end of the building, whereas the west end will contain exhibits.

New, more accessible washroom facilities will exist in the museum’s east end (along with existing washroom facilities in the west), along with gift shop and lobby redevelopment, and a new front entrance.

There are plans for an online store to reach customers in and outside the Sault.

Over a three-year period, six current full-time equivalent jobs will be maintained, while five full-time equivalent jobs will be created, plus 25 indirect jobs as a result of the renovation work.   

Todd Fleet, the museum’s curator, said the money will also go toward development of a video production studio, where Bushplane staff will produce promotional videos for the museum (which will, in turn, be available for other video producers to use, bringing in more revenue for the museum), addition of new digital touch screens for visitors to use and an archival and research program area.

“The archival research and program area will allow the general public access to our collection. We’ve digitized over 20,000 of our photos and we still have some to go in our archival documents...this will be a space where the public can access those without a staff member being there,” Fleet added when speaking to SooToday.

“We’re hoping to start work (on the renovation) soon, this fall, build over the winter in the quiet season and be done and roll it out for tourist season in (May) 2019,” Fleet said, adding the application process for funding was complex.

“We got through it. Persistence seems to be key,” Fleet said.

Though a FedNor news release mentioned new nature and insect exhibits would be included in the revamped Bushplane Museum, Fleet said a new permanent home for Entomica at the Bushplane Museum is not in the works (not for now, at least).

However, Fleet said “we’re going to do an Entomica exhibit and tie that to our existing Nature Exchange program, which ties into the second half of our mandate, which is environmental and resource management.”

Travelling exhibits, Fleet said, will not be strictly aircraft-oriented.

“(The museum’s vision for renovation) was well done and well planned. I’ve been to weddings here, hosted Irish trade missions here, Bollywood background is in tourism and this museum has such a ‘wow factor,’” an enthusiastic MP Sheehan told Wednesday’s audience.

Wednesday’s FedNor funding of $438,000 is part of a larger funding amount of $1.175 million in order to make the renovation possible.

Other funding sources include:

  • $507,600 from the province’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC)
  • $100,000 from the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (EDC)
  • $25,000 from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie
  • The remainder raised by the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Ultimately, Fleet said, a portion of the hoped-for extra revenue which will come in through visits to the renovated museum will be poured back into upgrading the facility’s aging infrastructure.


Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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