November is a time where we all take pause to remember. And given that Vancouver International Airport’s storied past includes a role in World War II, it’s important that we reflect here at YVR on and around Remembrance Day.
Some of you may remember that in 2011, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of Vancouver International Airport. Opened in 1931, the airport included a single runway, two hangars and a small terminal that consisted of an administration building and waiting room. However, additional expansions happened quickly as World War II progressed. New facilities included hangars, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) base and barracks and a major aircraft manufacturing plant for the Boeing Airplane Company. The Boeing Plant opened on the south side of our airport land to help build bombers to support the war effort. In fact, the airport was a major centre for air defense, munitions manufacturing and RCAF training during the war.
1943 also saw the construction of Burkeville, to provide housing for the new Boeing factory workers. At the end of the war, many of the Burkeville homes were sold to World War II veterans. Named for Stanley Burke, Boeing’s then-president, Burkeville is the only residential area of our airport community on Sea Island, and continues to be a close and important neighbour.
Many of us had family members, friends or colleagues who were connected with one of the world wars. As a stakeholder in YVR, I hope you will join me in taking a few moments to remember the people and events that helped shape the international airport we know today.