BY ANDREW SMITH, BANNER STAFF
LISTOWEL – In anticipation of the Listowel Agricultural Hall’s centennial anniversary, a piece of history could be making its way back to the community.
A delegation from the Listowel Agricultural Society approached North Perth council at their June 11 meeting regarding a proposal to organize a Lancaster Bomber fly over the town for the 2014 Listowel Agricultural Fair. Agricultural Society president Richard Martin said he wanted to see something special for the 100th anniversary of the hall, and a flyover of the Second World War bomber was appropriate, especially when the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton houses one of only two airworthy Lancaster Bombers in the world.
“It’s pretty cool to have one only two hours away,” Martin said. “We wanted to celebrate the Ag Hall and then we thought what ties into it.”
The Avro Lancaster Bomber certainly ties into the history of the community, as funds were collected by the people of Listowel during the Second World War to purchase one of the iconic war planes, a cost of around $30,000 at that time, according to Martin. The Listowel Agricultural Hall has its own history related to the war, as it originally served as an armed forces armoury where tanks and artillery were stored and maintained.
“We joke about it, but it really was built to take a mortar hit,” Martin said. “It’s a beast of a building.”
Martin said the Listowel Agricultural Society has approached both North Perth council as well as the Royal Canadian Legion to partner with on the project, in hopes of co-ordinating resources to make it a possibility.
“It would be kind of cool to get all three groups working together to make it happen because it’s going to be a huge project,” Martin said.
Mayor Julie Behrns said the anniversary is worth celebrating as it ties into the community’s heritage.
“Certainly it is part of the Listowel ward heritage, as well as the other wards in the Municipality of North Perth, in that Listowel did buy a Lancaster Bomber during the Second World War,” she said. “It was something to celebrate that the community came together to assist with the war effort and assist the young men they had sent off.”
Martin said the $12,000 price tag would buy three passes of the Lancaster Bomber over Listowel, hopefully during the night of the fair parade to reach the largest possible audience.
“Everybody comes in to see that parade, so that’s when you want to have it,” Martin said. “It’s free admission that night anyway so they can come up and see what’s going on.”
However, for the project to get off the ground, Martin said members of the ad hoc committee need to determine the feasibility of the project and the fundraising involved.
“If it’s going to happen, it would be nice to know by the fall so we could start the fundraising,” he said. “We have our harvest dinner and auction coming up in October, so I’m hoping we can make an announcement there.”