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Tribute to Northern Aviation

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Tribute To Northern Aviation

This stunning reproduction of a classic Canadian aircraft and Thompson Lions Club Park was opened and dedicated in 2008, the 100th Anniversary of Canadian Aviation.

Norseman float planes were the only such planes built in Canada. The CF-BHS Norseman Mark V was built in Montreal at the Noordyn Norseman factory in 1946. These workhorses were critical in the development and evolution of Northern Canada. Their unique three bladed prop and fabric skin made them legendary. Only a few still fly today. Conferences and gatherings for Norseman still take place in Red Lake, Ontario.

Dedicated pilots in the North risked their lives as passengers, equipment, medivacs, mail, trappers, dogs, furs, food and supplies moved across the wide expanse of tundra and boreal forest. Float planes helped transport the thousands of tons of machinery, materials and manpower to the Thompson area during Inco’s initial mine exploration and construction stage in the  1950s, in spite of limited weather information, minimal communications, maintenance and ‘bush’ repairs.

A short history of LAMBAIR

– 1935 – 1981

aviation1Tom Lamb established LAMB AIRWAYS in 1935 with one Stinson SR-7 aircraft operating from his fur trading post at Moose Lake, fourty air miles East of The Pas, Manitoba. The Norseman aircraft, CF-BHS, served the airline well from 1946 to 1974 before being replaced with Beavers, Otters, Twin Otters, DC-3s, C-46s, F-27, Bristol Freighters and helicopters.

Tom & Jean Lamb raised their family of three daughters and six sons at Moose Lake and The Pas, Mb. During the 1950s, his six sons all became pilots. The airline expanded, establishing air bases at The Pas, Thompson and Churchill where they conducted charter and schedule flights throughout Northern Manitoba and the Canadian Arctic.

aviation2In October of 1946, Tom Lamb purchased his first Norseman, from the factory in Montreal. It was from that date on that the Norseman frequented the Thompson area. This was prior to the community being named Thompson; when Inco had first explored and created a tent village near the mine site. From the Thompson base on the Burntwood River, LAMBAIR participated in the busy exploration and development years of the 1960s and 1970s when INCO established the city of Thompson, and Manitoba Hydro developed the Kelsey, Gillam and Grand Rapids generating stations, and the construction of the highway connecting Thompson with Winnipeg and The Pas.

Tom Lamb at the Noorduyn Norseman factory in Montreal in 1946.

The majority of their schedule and charter operations were conducted from bases in The Pas, Thompson and Churchill, mb.

All of the native and inuit communities where remote in those days, and were only accessible by bush planes equipped with floats or skis. Highways and airstrips servicing many of the villages were not built until the 1970′s.The majority of flying was done on pontoons or skiis; making for a very rugged, trying critical operation.

The airline started in 1935, closed it’s doors in 1981. Forty-six years of charter and scheduled air service serving Northern Manitoba and the Arctic. It was unable to survive the high 23% interest rates and general downturn of the economy of that period.

Tom Lamb and sons at Gracie Lake Seaplane Base, The Pas. 1960.

Lambair flew 19 different type of aircraft and five variety of helicopters during their business period. The Norseman was one of the first true work horses and commercially viable aircraft Lambair had purchased. This aircraft had frequented the Thompson area in the 1940′s, 50′ and early 60′s. LambAir flew aircraft from Vancouver to Sable Island and as far North as Alert.

The Tribute to Northern Aviation site in Thompson has been chosen to host this aircraft is fittingly across the Burntwood River from the retired LambAir building that housed the Thompson airbase for much of their 46 year history.
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Provided by Jack and Greg Lamb. December, 2004.
didyouknow

  • LAMBAIR was the first airline in the North. Tom Lamb and sons operated from 1935-1981. Lambair helped to open the North and provided crucial links to the south.

arnold

  • Arnold and Gail Morberg at “Morberg’s Camps”, Stony Rapids, Sask in 1962, the year Calm Air was incorporated. Calm Air relocated to Lynn Lake in 1970 and to Thompson in 1985, where the Head Office and Maintenance Hangar are located. Calm Air began the first scheduled passenger service in Northern Manitoba in 1972 and the first in NWT (Nunavut) in 1975.

THOMPSON LIONS CLUB PARK
Funding and sweat equity to develop the beautiful panoramic park and viewpoint was received from Thompson Lions Club and many local volunteers. Overall, nearly $500,000 was raised by volunteers to rebuild the floatplane, access road, wolf statues, and viewpoint and landscaped area. Other plans are still in the works for more improvements.

NORSEMAN MARK V REPRODUCTION

A dedicated group of volunteers worked evenings and weekends for over 2 years to rebuild a crashed 1946 Norseman float plane that lay in the swamp near Garden Hill, Manitoba. The rusty shell was rescued and brought to life in Thompson under the supervision of Fred Palmer and Marion Morberg.

It took over 9000 hours of volunteer work including 100’s of hours to build the wings and over 60 hours to weld the curved metal stand. Many parts were salvaged from across Canada, and over $200,000 in parts and services were donated by Manitoba companies. Although it cannot fly, the reproduction of this beautiful Norseman, in its picture perfect setting, is a superb tribute to the people involved in Northern aviation from the pioneers of Lambair to present Calmair and today’s aviators.

Partial funding received from Province of Manitoba Heritage Grants Program
Partial funding received from Thompson Regional Airport Authority