Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside
Way Up West
by Jan Cox
You don’t have to be ex-military to enjoy, marvel and reflect as you follow the brick pathway that winds through the Heritage Park at the former CFB Summerside, Slemon Park. Opened in August 25, 2011, the beautiful green space, now dotted with grand gardens, is home to the Commemorative Stone Project. The pathway winds around three former air force planes proudly displayed in all their historic glory.
The Park was built with the dedication and hard work of the Aviation Heritage Society (PEI) Inc. Since the construction of the air base at Summerside began in 1940, many hundreds of civilian and military personnel have passed through the base portals in support of Canada's Air Force contributions in war and peace. In addition, many families, relatives and friends have lost loved ones in conflict and United Nations operations in which Canada participated. The Commemorative Stone Project offered a way for these personnel to be remembered by an engraved granite stone laid along the Walk of Honour pathway in the Air Force Heritage Park. The Society is no longer accepting or processing commemorative stones, having reached, over the past five years, the 675 mark and have completely encircled the Walk.
As you follow the path, the first plane displayed is a CF 101 Voodoo, operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force between 1961 and 1984. The Voodoo's primary role was as interceptor in North American Air Defence (NORAD), Northern Region. Towering next to the Voodoo, stands the mighty Argus 10739. Capable of carrying an astounding 47,808 lbs of fuel, the plane stands as a memorial to years of community/military cooperation in the air operations of Canadian Forces Base Summerside. The Argus served Maritime operations for the Canadian Forces from 1957 until 1981.
A Canadian built CP 121 Tracker takes it’s place next to the Argus. The Tracker served the Navy and Air Force providing anti-submarine and coastal patrol services from 1956 until its retirement in 1990.
Wayne Ellis, arborist with the Slemon Park Corporation said he often sees folks visiting the Heritage Park. He commented, “there seems to be a steady stream of folks through here. I know there are some ex-military that visit, but all types, all ages, all cultures seem to enjoy this.”
The Air Force Heritage Park open all year and carefully designed with plenty of green space, provides an easy going, not rushed aviation experience for all.