Summerside, Prince Edward Island, was proud to be chosen in 1940 as a site for the Air Force training facility that became known as RCAF Station Summerside. The town had established a commercial airport in 1932 and the presence of a military airbase was felt to be a natural fit. An official announcement was made on May 2, 1940 that a Service Flying Training School would be built in North St. Eleanors.
The construction of the school on the outskirts of town was considered to be a wonderful economic opportunity for the area. It was also viewed as a special avenue to participate in the war effort. Prince Edward Island as a whole had considerable pride in its enlistment and fundraising accomplishments during the First World War. Recruitment in the Summerside area started right after war was declared and local women quickly rallied to provide handmade items to the Red Cross Society for the troops going overseas.
Fundraising for the war effort by various local organizations began almost immediately. The first national War Service Fund drive to raise money for the government authorized organizations was held early in 1941. It was very successful in the town as well as Prince County. Summerside exceeded the goal in all nine of the Victory Loan campaigns and won the honour of having the corvette HMCS Summerside named for the town.
The local businesses were supportive of the numerous fundraising drives, not only in donations or subscriptions, but also in promotional advertising. The two firms that showed outstanding initiative for the war effort were R.T. Holman Ltd, PEI's largest department store, and the Journal Publishing Company through its newspaper The Summerside Journal.
In addition to the fundraising and outreach programs, Summerside, like other communities across Canada, participated in official programs established by the government such as salvage drives, rationing, and air raid drills. For approximately nine months, the town had a group of the Veteran's Home Guard to secure the area around the airport construction and for five years it had an active Red Cross Corps that trained for emergency situations.
Patriotism was very strong in Summerside and the pride of the community in contributing to the war effort was demonstrated many times over. The region's representation in Parliament by the national Minister of Defence, Colonel J.L. Ralston, was a source of pride as well. He was elected by acclamation in January 1940, first serving as Minister of Finance and then as Defence Minister after June of that year.
The feeling of being part of the total Commonwealth war effort transferred well to the local presence of young airmen from all over the British Empire. The main focus of the website is to explore the various ways in which the community responded to RCAF Station Summerside.