Welcome to this website about a Canadian town's response to the Air Force personnel of a World War II training facility.
Summerside is a small city located on the southern shore of Prince Edward Island. In 1939 when World War II began, it was a town of 5000 people who had great pride in their community and in their ability to meet and overcome obstacles and hardship. Men in the area enlisted for military service almost immediately, building on the reputation for patriotic duty that had been established during World War I. Citizens on the home front rallied to support the war effort.
In 1940 when the announcement was made that the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) would establish a school on farmland in North St. Eleanors on the outskirts of town, almost everyone rejoiced. The perceived financial benefits of having RCAF Station Summerside was matched by the wish to contribute to the campaign in Europe by providing a safe haven for pilot training.
It was an exciting but poignant era in the town's history. Military personnel from all over the Commonwealth were welcomed and entertained and they in turn livened up the social lives of many townspeople. The positive spirit enhanced by dances, music, and recreation was frequently interrupted by the feared news of relatives and friends killed or wounded.
The story of the interaction between Air Force personnel and Summerside residents is unique and at the same time similar to any BCATP site. People responded as a general community, through organized service clubs, and perhaps most importantly, as individuals.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Program, Library and Archives Canada, and the Canadian Council of Archives.