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An homage to the 'Port'

In this edition of Remember This, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Center examines the origins of an iconic and much beloved landmark, The Airport hotel which brought the community into the aviation age 79 years ago this month
Obliterating distances with technology in the early days of aviation based on the shores of Porcupine Lake, the Flying club provided a base for freight and passenger routes travelling as far as Hudson’s bay.  Here is a view of the clubhouse with a floatplane in the foreground circa 1950s. Timmins Museum

From the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Center:

Much was made about the now iconic pagoda-style building when it first opened in April 1940, located at 151 Bruce Ave.

The Porcupine Flying Club, as it was then known, was built in the style reminiscent of an old Canadian block house but with all the mod cons of the age: handsome exterior moulding, copper roof, observation tower and a searchlight to guide pilots home in all weather.

It cost the tidy sum of $35,000 to build, roughly $600,000 in today’s money.

In the absence of colour photography, a correspondent from the Porcupine Advance keenly described the sumptuous furnishings and décor, from the warm knotty pine paneling, pink fibreboard ceilings and sleek black and chrome tables and chairs. A unique fireplace made of quartz from the Porcupine mines was at the heart of the second floor lounge, rust and air-force blue chesterfields paired with black and chrome smoking tables completed the sumptuous art deco interior. 

The exterior boasted many exciting features as well, such as an archery range, a 50-foot warf on the lake and even a bowling green. The Sudbury-based airline, Austin Airways established a base there in 1941, whose roster of aviators was among an elite group of the first 500 civilian pilots to fly in Canada.

Mining personnel mostly from down south were the main clientele of this new, still quite exclusive service; they were no doubt impressed to find themselves in such a place where great design and utility met. Although there are no planes coming in these days, the “Port” remains  a favourite meeting place almost 80 years on.

Each week, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Timmins Museum has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here.