Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
GRAVENHURST — Norway never gave up, even after being defeated by the Germans in an April 1940 invasion.
Within months, the Norwegian government in exile began training army and navy pilots in Toronto, to fight the Nazis and regain their country.
In 1942, they expanded operations to Gravenhurst, and thus Little Norway north was born.
In 1944 Norway formally established the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
On Friday, 75 years later, they will celebrate those combined forces with a wreath-laying and luncheon ceremony at the Muskoka Airport, hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Norway’s ambassador to Canada, Anne Kari Ovind and Major General Tonje Skinnarland, chief of the RNoAF will take part.
During the Second World War, the Norwegian government-in-exile was offered by Canada to build a training centre for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. This resulted in Little Norway, situated at the Muskoka Airport. To honour the men and women, who trained at Little Norway, a memorial site has been erected at the airport. The museum is now open for general public.
Little Norway was the site where 3300 Norwegians were trained before they went back to Europe to fight for freedom. “The invaluable contributions made by the veterans trained at Little Norway here in Canada will not be forgotten”, The Norwegian Prime Minister Stoltenberg said in his speech at the opening. “The Little Norway Memorial Building is a war memorial erected to prevent history from forgetting. It is also a memorial that expresses the lasting gratitude of the people of Norway and the Norwegian government – to Canada for her assistance to our nation when we needed it the most”.
The Little Norway Memorial Building is situated in Muskoka, about 2 hours drive north of Toronto. The museum hosts written and visual accounts of the history of Little Norway, in addition to artefacts, books, paintings and articles. The museum shows, by its exhibition, the long lasting relationship between Canada and Norway. The Little Norway Memorial Building invites you to come and learn and appreciate from the history that took place at the Muskoka Airport during the Second World War. (Source, District of Muskoka)
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