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Preserving history


Gander’s town council is considering putting some money, and some effort, towards the refurbishing of the old town site.

The area, adjacent to what is now the Gander International Airport, has gone from a bustling community in the 1940s and 1950s to a place where residents go for walks, take family photos, and revisit the past.

Many of the streets are still there, although most are overgrown with grass and brush. There are still some building foundations that remain, not quite lost amid the flora and fauna.

Several years ago, a chunk of cash was spent to revitalize the place. Signage was erected, streets were made passable, and it became a destination for both residents and tourists to visit.

In recent years, however, the area has been somewhat neglected. As Coun. Dave Blundon said, “To let it go would be a crime.”

He’s right. This area of our town is a significant part of our history. For many people who call Gander home, the old town site is where their parents grew up, or their grandparents lived. For some people who now live in other parts of town, it’s the first Gander they called home.

People moved to the site around the time of the Second World War. The airport was a major international transportation hub, and it was from there thousands of airplanes were flown overseas to be used in combat.

Hundreds of families lived in homes and apartment buildings there. Children went to school, and were taken to church by their parents. There were stores and gathering places, just like you’d find in any town at that time.

But eventually, as the airport began to find its footing at the Crossroads of the World, and commercial airline travel made Gander a much-used stopover point for planes travelling between North America and Europe, more people began to move to Gander, and soon the town began to be developed west of the airport.

The buildings and roads that once teemed with men, women and children at the old town site began to disappear, but the memory of them is still very strong in the minds of so many people who have called Gander home.

It’s a part of the history of this town that must be preserved, and protected. If council decides to spend some money, or seek some funding, to ensure it’s taken care of, that would be a good thing.

Gander is all about history. Let’s not let this part fade away.

 tsaunders@ganderbeacon.ca

Twitter: @Beacon1Reporter

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