Rich History of the
It started off as a dream, a vision… when members of the Cochrane Board of Trade spearheaded the planning and development of the Cochrane Airport.
In the mid 1960’s the provincial Department of Transport had selected Cochrane as one of the sites that would provided financial and technical assistance for the construction of a community airstrip. The original estimate of the total cost of the project including a 4400 ft. commercial runway was $100,000.00 of which the provincial Department of Transport would pay 50%.
So, on December 4, 1968, a letter was sent from the newly formed Airport Committee, on a Cochrane Board of Trade letterhead, to “all leading citizens of Cochrane” to consider their contribution as an investment in the future of the community.
The committee stated in their letter that “the economic well being of our community is in a very real way dependent upon our obtaining an airport” and “an adequate airport has become one of the municipal services essential to the economic survival of a community”.
That December, the town of Cochrane was given permission to purchase lots 19, 20, 21, and 22 on Concession 5, Glackmeyer Township. The airport was a go!
Some members of that original committee were:
- R. Roy Mitchel (Member)
- Talson Rody (Chairman)
- Mayor Maurice Hotte (Vice-Chairman)
- Marc David (Councillor)
- R. Richardson (Councillor)
- Peter Hughes (Member)
In the spring of 1970, the federal Ministry of Transportation supported a favourable feasibility study for the construction of an airport in Cochrane at the Glackmeyer site and gave the go ahead to the project. The dream was to become a reality.
By 1973, a 3500 ft. gravel runway was constructed as well as a small wooden structure to serve as an office and storage area. A few years later, upgrades were undertaken with the installation of landing lights.
By July 1978, the gravel runway and parking area had recently been paved with the aid of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication Airport Program that provided 80% of the improvement costs.
The new runway would “provide a higher degree of safety for all aircraft using them.” On July 20th, a number of dignitaries were on hand to do the official ribbon cutting to open the runway.
Freight and Chartered fights were being handled at the Cochrane Airport, but no airline had committed to scheduled passenger flights yet. Navigational and weather reporting equipment were installed at the facility and by late December 1978, the airport was finally approved by the Federal Ministry of Transport to handle scheduled air service.
On Wednesday January 3, 1979, a Twin Otter from Austin Airways glided in to land at the Cochrane Municipal Airport marking the inaugural scheduled passenger flight. Austin Airways offered service from Timmins – Cochrane – Moosonee and return 3 times a week. The adult fare from Cochrane to Timmins was $17. And when warranted, freight would be carried on the flights at a rate of .12 cents a pound to Timmins and .30 cents a pound to Moosonee.
By October 1979, the number of passengers using the Austin’s scheduled service had increase monthly sales by over 100 percent.
The town of Cochrane had decided not to go ahead with construction of a new airport reception building, but at a council meeting October 3, 1979, council reversed its earlier decision, bowing to pressure from a delegation from the Cochrane Board of Trade and letters from pilot/users of the Cochrane Municipal Airport.
A letter from Norm Karam, President of the Board of Trade at the time states “construction of the new airport terminal building is part of a previously approved long-range plan for airport improvements and it is the Board of Trade’s understanding that the budget for 1979 included the town’s contribution of 20 percent of the costs.” “We feel that we must do everything possible to recapture lost business and promote new business. Certainly one of the best ways we can think of is to make sure Cochrane has adequate air facilities to service the traffic to and from Moosonee and other places.”
The facilities at the time were cramped and unheated. The telephone had been destroyed by vandals and outdoor toilet facilities were still in use.
Fast forward to 1985. Passenger ridership was 3,627 – Austin Airways handled 2,650 passengers, 609 passengers flew to Detour Lake and NorOntair handled 36. It cost the municipality $15,057.00 to operate the airport in 1985 – it was money well spent since it brought direct benefits to Cochrane, according to the then Airport Committee Chairman.
In 1986 the runway was extended to 4,500 feet at a cost of $200,00.00 of which $120,000.00 was covered by the Ministry of Transportation and $80,000.00 was covered by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
Passenger ridership had doubled by 1986 with a total of 7,450. Austin Airways handled 5,234 passengers and 2,216 passengers flew to Detour Lake. Freight volume was 29,599 pounds. Receipts for the sale of fuel totalled $55,762.62 and it cost the municipality $16,039.00 to operate the airport.
Between 1968 and 1984, the airport had received funding of $475,000.00 from the federal government, $451,803.43 from the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Communications and $44,834.69 from the Ministry of Northern Mines and Development. The municipality had contributed $119,488.50 over the same time period. By March 1987, plans were on the drawing board for the expansion of the airport terminal building.
October 1986 saw the installation of a non-directional beacon located at Lot 10 Concession 3 Glackmeyer Township. The non-directional beacon was a low frequency electronic navigational aid which assisted pilots by providing radio signal for aircrafts to follow during approach and landing. Without the beacon, pilots could only land if there was an 800-foot ceiling and visibility was good for at least two miles. It allowed pilots to land in low visibility following instrument flight rules as apposed to visual flight rules only.
It had taken 3 years to complete this project. The airport committee had started working on the non-directional beacon in July 1983 when the first letter was sent to the federal government and was finalized and financed through a grant from the federal Ministry of Transport at a cost of $363,500.00 in 1986.
At the official ribbon cutting in May 1987 for the beacon, many committee members and levels of government were praised for their commitment to the airport and this project. “Cochrane is well served by a facility like this,” Glackmeyer Reeve Raymond Genier said.
“The beacon is a tribute to everybody that has contributed” and “Nothing is accomplished without a lot of people working together. Many people in both Cochrane and Genier were actively involved”, MP Cochrane-Superior Keith Penner said.
“Without the co-operation of Mr. Penner and the federal government, this beacon would not be here today,” Mayor Roy Mitchell concluded.
There was still work to be done. Tenders had been called for the extension of the terminal building and they would be awarded at the council meeting Monday May 18, 1987.
December 1987 saw the completion of a 30 by 40-foot extension on the Cochrane Airport’s terminal building, tripling the office space and increasing the building’s size to 2,200 square feet. The extension had turned the Cochrane Municipal Airport into a first-rate facility.
The extension was completed by C.G.V. Builders at a cost of approximately $150,000.00 funded with grants of $120,000.00 from the Ministry of Transportation and $30,000.00 from the Ministry of Northern Development.
The extension not only accommodated the increased volume of passenger and freight traffic, it also made room for growth if another carrier decided to operate out of Cochrane. The terminal building would now house the basic instruments that included the wind speed and direction, and the altimeter readings – information necessary for safe take-offs and landings.
Radio communication and weather observations were now additional functions of the control operator at the airport. Baggage handling had greatly improved and the waiting room was now more comfortable for passenger traffic.
Passenger ridership for 1987 was 7,760. Air Ontario handled 5,316 passengers and 2,444 passengers flew to Detour Lake. Freight volume was 36,976 pounds – 9,206 pounds handled by Air Ontario and 27,770 pounds were shipped to Detour Lake. Receipts for the sale of fuel totalled $56,558.27. The operation of the airport had increased for the town of Cochrane from .59 mills in 1986 to .60 mills in 1987.
On Friday August 26, 1988, at the official opening ceremony of the 1,417 square foot addition to the terminal building, it was noted that 20 years had passed since the first airport committee had been formed by council on July 6, 1968.
In the 20 years that had passed, $1,817,429.16 had been spent to develop the airport:
- $925,500.00 Federal government funding
- $689,845.43 Ministry of Transportation
- $75,362.23 Ministry of Northern Development
- $126,721.50 Town of Cochrane
December 1988, saw the federal Ministry of Transport supply $227,00.00 in funding to upgrade the Cochrane municipal airport. This funding would be used to install a new septic tank system, improve airfield drainage and reconstruct the access road at the airport.
In September 1989, Northern Development Minister, Rene Fontaine announced the airport would receive $10,000.00 in provincial grants to install a new fuel system. “This new fuel system, along with other improvements made at the airport, will provide an excellent opportunity for the expansion of various Northern Ontario businesses relating to airport operations,” Mr. Fontaine said.
Passenger ridership for 1988 was 4,079 passengers handled by Air Creebec; 1989 was 4,980 passengers travelling to Detour Lake; 1990 saw 2,711 passenger handled by Air Creebec and 3,589 passengers travelling to Detour Lake. Freight also saw a decline in volume in two years from 22,229 pounds to 15,340 between Cochrane and Detour Lake.
January 15, 1991 was the maiden flight for Air Creebec’s Dash 8 in an attempt to increase passenger traffic out of the Cochrane airport. Austin Airways had been bought out by Air Ontario and finally purchased by Air Creebec in December 1989.
A scheduled passenger service with Air Creebec had been in place since mid 1989 but there was grave concern among the airport committee members regarding the decline of passengers and freight. Part of that decline, was a result of irregular and unreliable service over the past year, with the hope that the larger Dash 8 in 1991 would improve on the previous aircraft that held as few as 7 passengers.
1992 saw the closure of the airport for 3 to 4 weeks in mid August to complete the resurfacing of the runway. The work was expected to take 6 weeks however, only part of the runway would be closed off.
During the closure, passengers, tourists and air ambulances would be required to land at nearby airports to accommodate the necessary work. The runway was in “desperate” need of repair and the original estimate for the project was $1.3 million.
The final bid was just over $900,000.00 with the Ministry of Transportation covering 75 percent and the remaining 25 percent being divided between the municipality and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
At a regular council meeting on October 13, 1992, it was announced that the Cochrane Airport had reopened after the scheduled closure for resurfacing.
On Saturday, September 6, 1997, the front page of the Cochrane Times announced “Cochrane airport received $411,000 in Safety improvements” The funding was provided by the Ministry of Transport under the federal government’s Airports Capital Assistance Program. To be eligible, the airport had to have regular scheduled passenger service, meet airport certification requirements and not be owned by the federal government.
The funding would cover the cost of purchasing a snow plow truck, a front end loader and snow blower, as well as runway friction testing equipment. These improvements would help ensure Cochrane Municipal Airport remained a safe and efficient facility.
During the last week of March 1998, Air Creebec announced that the last flight leaving Cochrane would be on April 5, 1998. A representative from Air Creebec met with council and a representative from the Board of Trade in a special meeting after the surprise announcement had been made. The representative from Air Creebec explained that the decision had been made because of “ever decreasing ridership”.
When the company first started to fly to Cochrane in 1989, it was a seven day a week schedule. It had fluctuated from six to seven days until finally in July 1996 the flights were cut to four flights a week. In September of 1997, the schedule was reduced to two flights per week. Traffic was down 10 to 15 percent throughout the system. People were using telecommunications to do more business and travelling budgets had been reduced. People were taking buses and trains instead of flying. Council suggested a smaller plane with a minimum crew instead of the larger Dash 8 that required a staff of three but the smaller planes in Air Creebec’s fleet were being used in isolated Northern communities. It was decided to form a smaller committee to find a solution and restore passenger air service to Cochrane.
In 1999, a Cochrane Municipal Airport Creating and Developing Future Aviation Business Opportunities study was provided to the municipality.
Deciding there were merits to this study, in February 2000, Mayor and council approved a bylaw authorizing the establishment of the Cochrane Aviation Business Commission (CABC). The Commission would consist of ten positions appointed by council. Each member would hold office for three years and could be reappointed. The new Commission would assist in the creation, management and administration of productive, positive and profitable aviation business proponents at the Cochrane Municipal Airport. They would also be solely responsible for the operation, management and development of the Airport on a day to day basis.
In the fall of 2008, an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) tower and related equipment was installed to assist pilots seeking current conditions at the Airport.
The Cochrane Times published an aviation history to celebrate the 40 years of the Cochrane Municipal Airport. Nawabic Co-operative and Jacques Lepage were delivering operation services under contract at that time. As reported in the article, 5,576 passengers passed through the airport and in 2008 5,852 passengers were accounted for. In honour the visionaries who had contributed to make the airport a reality, a plaque was erected with the names of the individual and businesses.
- Town of Cochrane
- L.K.W Dorland
- M.D. Caouette
- Harris Bernstein
- Bank of Nova Scotia
- L. Johnson
- Kittar Hotels Ltd.
- J.A. Brisson & Sons
- Fortier Beverages
- Dr. P. Richardson
- Township of Glackmeyer
- David’s Variety Store
- J.D Bernstein
- Dr. N.A. Karam
- C. Fasano Food Market
- Cochrane Board of Trade
- Talson Rody
- Dr. J. Slater
- Belisle Trac Sales
- Roy Mitchell’s Appliances
- James Bay Outfitters
- R. Ratcliffe
- Pete Hughes
- Albert’s Men’s & Boys Wear
- Dr. P. Bernstein
- Cochrane Nursing Home
- Perkus Ltd.
- M.J. Labelle Company Ltd.
- Imperial Bank
- Cochrane Enterprise Ltd.
Frequently Asked Questions
Popular questions asked by local customers and visitors from around the globe. Any additional questions can be answered by our helpful staff, by giving us a call, sending us an email or a message using the form below.
Unfortunately there are no car rental companies on site at the Cochrane Airport. However, we do have a Discount Car Rental in the centre of town that you can rent a car from. Do your booking online and pick up your car by taking a taxi from the airport.
Cochrane has over 8 accommodations that you can choose from. to learn more, visit the accommodations directory found on our community website.
Yes. A public telephone is available for your use at the Cochrane Airport to arrange whatever type of transportation to get you to where you are going by taxi. For more information, see our rental cars and taxis listing.