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RCAF centennial celebrations officially underway in Bradford

Week of events planned to culminate with parade and parachute performance from SkyHawks in honour of Royal Canadian Air Force’s 100th anniversary

Bradford has officially begun a five-day show of pride in and respect for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

More than two dozen people came out to show their support as veterans and members of council raised the RCAF centennial flag, followed by O Canada and God Save the King played over a speaker at the Sunshine Meeting Place outside the BWG Leisure Centre on Monday afternoon, June 10.

Led by a piper and colour party, the ceremony featured speeches from Bradford resident, retired Lt.-Col. Fergusson Mobbs; 16 Wing Commander, Col. Gabriel Doré; plus a proclamation read by Deputy Mayor Raj Sandhu.

King George V granted the Canadian Air Force royal sanction to form the RCAF on April 1, 1924, and Mobbs, who also co-chaired the town’s RCAF centennial planning committee, noted the event provides the opportunity for everyone in town to “proudly honour its distinguished history and heritage.”

“The RCAF centennial is an opportunity to showcase the air force personnel and their accomplishments,” he said. “The RCAF continues to make a significant contribution to global peace and those in need in Canada and abroad.”

Doré said he was proud, not only to be representing 16 Wing from Base Borden — the birthplace of the RCAF — but also the entire Canadian Armed Forces in a community that “has proven to be a great supporter of our troops.”

“I thank all of those who persevered in making this happen,” he said.

The commander also acknowledged the ceremony came days after the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when allied forces landed on the beaches in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, and with the help of airborne operations were able to push back the Nazis during the Second World War.

“As the RCAF modernizes its capabilities by investing in new platforms ... while continuing to develop space capabilities, our most important capability, our people, will continue to start their journey of service to their country and all their technical and leadership skills by coming to Borden and spending time in its surrounding communities,” he said, ending with the motto of the RCAF, Sic Itur Ad Astra, a Latin phrase which means such is the pathway to the stars.

While Mayor James Leduc was out of town for a conference, the deputy mayor proclaimed the official beginning of the town’s celebration, adding that Bradford is “proud and honoured” to be a part of the “significant milestone.”

Sandhu also presented certificates of appreciation to eight veterans for their support of the local centennial celebration, in which he encouraged everyone to take part.

That included two opportunities available directly following the ceremony, both at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library.

In addition to a display of military memorabilia from Base Borden, including artifacts, a flight suit, scale models, a propeller and banners, guest also had the chance to experience flying a 737-800 airplane thanks to a uFly flight simulator in the cafe/lobby.

While the display at the library will be available all week, the uFly flight simulator will be available from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, but that’s just the beginning.

On Wednesday the library plans to host a screening of To Learn, To Serve, To Advance a feature film about the Royal Canadian Air Cadets produced and directed by Mobbs, set to be shown at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s Zima Room.

Then on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the library, Mobbs is set to moderate RCAF: Then and Now, a panel discussion exploring what it’s like to be in the air force.

However, Friday’s celebration is likely to be the biggest draw set to include all-day events beginning with a parade at 10:30 a.m., which will make its way west up Holland Street from Collings Avenue to the leisure centre, from where guests can watch the Canadian Armed Forces SkyHawks parachute team make a drop-in appearance at 1 p.m. followed by an official ceremony at 1:30 p.m., which will hopefully be followed by flyovers of various military planes that afternoon.

Weather permitting, some First World War biplanes will also be making flyovers during the parade, which is planned to include about 20 different groups such as a flag party, pipers, a restored 1945 Willys Jeep with uniformed driver, a colour party of veterans in peacekeeping uniforms, and the Highway 11 Cruisers car club.

For more information on the anniversary celebration, visit

Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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