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Doomed Downsview aerospace museum gets support from Smithsonian Add to ...

A Toronto museum facing the wrecking ball has received a letter of support from the world-famous Smithsonian.

The director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington writes that he wants the heritage of the Toronto aerospace museum to be recognized.

The building in Downsview Park is slated for near-total demolition to make way for a four-rink ice complex.

Smithsonian director, retired General John Dailey says many of Canada's aerospace accomplishments over the past 85 years have emerged from the current Toronto home of the Canadian Air and Space Museum.

He did not explicitly call for the Canadian government to cancel its plans. But in his letter, dated Oct. 25, Gen. Dailey did call for decision-makers to consider the building's historical value.

“We are very aware of the lasting contribution of the museum and the historic value placed on the building which it operates,” Gen. Dailey wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 25.

“We do hope that this heritage will be properly recognized as Canada considers the future evolution of its plans for the area.”

The building played a major role in the production of aircraft for the Allies in their fight against Hitler during the Second World War.

Built in 1929, the plant housed the operations of the de Havilland Aircraft company which provided many of Canada's planes during the war years.

In his letter to museum chairman Ian McDougall, Gen. Dailey said he was very aware of the lasting contribution of the Toronto museum and the historic value of the building.

He points out that the building, which has been referred to in federal heritage documents simply as “CFB Plant #1, Building #1, was the original home of Spar Aerospace.

A retired U.S. Marine Corps general, pilot, and former NASA executive, Gen. Dailey points out that Spar provided valuable help to NASA through the U.S. space shuttle program.

While the site is owned by the federal government, tenants of that building and surrounding ones are private businesses.

David Soknacki, the chairman of the federal Crown corporation which runs Downsview Park, has said that the building is not currently classified as a heritage building.

The federal government says the building is in terrible shape and cannot continue to house the museum.

But Mr.McDougall says Gen. Dailey's letter makes a very important statement.

“I think the way I would interpret that as a Canadian is: ‘You'd better realize what you've got before you lose it,“’ he said in an interview Monday.

Mr. McDougall says the federal government should pay attention to the letter from, “a very qualified individual.”

“If I were in Ottawa and I saw this, I'd say this is a cause for pause and if we ignore it, it's a possible source for some shame.”



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