The AFC’s Buildings: An Historical Summary

The AFC’s Buildings
An Historical Summary

by Steve Stewart

The AFC was created in November 1961. Its first meeting was in the waiting room of the
Terminal Building (Hangar 2). The second meeting in January 1962 was also in the terminal
waiting room, but by April 1962 the meetings were in the Armouries building, which had
previously been the officers club for the RCAF. The Armouries were finally demolished in the
1980s. They occupied the same location as is now occupied by the southern half of the AFC
hangar building.
The meetings continued in the Armouries through to April 1964; then in May they moved to a
clubroom that had been secured in Hangar 2, above the Terminal reception lounge. But by
August they had moved again, to a dedicated clubroom located in the southeast corner of
Hangar 3 which was operated by Sumas Air Services. This was an excellent, airside location,
and it remained unchanged until 1968.

Where these people are shown standing, in front of the AFC meeting room, is now enclosed by an extension that was added to Hangar 3 some time since the 1960s.

In early 1968 the airport fire services moved to a new building, thus leaving the original fire-hall
vacant and available. The AFC has occupied this building ever since. The meeting room was
created from the original fire-truck garage. A lean-to storage extension had already added to
the eastern end where the original fire truck doors were, and big bay doors put into the front
(see pics). Various storage ‘sheds’ have been added at the back. A significant extension was
added which now accommodates the pool room. And the patio was also added at the rear. The
interior bears no resemblance to how it was originally.
The clubhouse became an essential part of airshow operations, and it took on a variety of roles
during the show, including being the centre for communications, traffic control and security
operations. Right through to 1997 the AFC had entire responsibility for the show’s operations,
and all volunteer activity was co-ordinated through the building. However, when the show was
re-aligned to 07-25 for 1992, the building’s location became less central to operations during
the show. Since 1999 its main role has been to accommodate the Broken Prop restaurant.

This picture, looking west, is from the 1967 airshow. The fire-hall (now AFC clubhouse) is to the right. The Armouries building is just to the left of the centre of the picture. And the old Tower, which was replaced in 1980, is on the left. The big building in the middle (Hangar 2) contained the airport terminal facilities and DoT offices, and from late 1968 the airshow office.

This picture, looking west, is from the 1967 airshow. The fire-hall (now AFC clubhouse) is to the
right. The Armouries building is just to the left of the centre of the picture. And the old Tower,
which was replaced in 1980, is on the left. The big building in the middle (Hangar 2) contained
the airport terminal facilities and DoT offices, and from late 1968 the airshow office.
At some point the club acquired ownership of the clubhouse building, but the land was leased
from Transport Canada, and the lease was renewed regularly. Then, in 1997 the airport was
sold to the City of Abbotsford, but this did not appear to have any immediate effect on the club.
As recently as 2004 one of the club’s strategic goals was to obtain a long-term lease for the
clubhouse land and also for the hangar land. It turned out that the City had other plans.

Butch Merrick outside clubhouse – either 1968 or 1969.

The AFC hangar building was built in 1991/92. Construction cost about $220k. A large part of
the capital was raised from members who wished to have their own hangar space, and they put
up $12k each. The expectation was that in time those hangars would be acquired by the club
for use as rental hangars. This would happen naturally as members moved on and no longer
needed the space, at which time their interest would be bought out by the club. The club put
aside a capital amount to cover this expense.

The clubhouse, thoroughly covered with ice. Probably winter of 1968-1969.

Then, in May 2007 both leases expired — for the clubhouse and for the hangars. This time there
were no routine renewals. But the real coup de couer was that the City lawyers had realized
that upon lease expiry, there was no obligation to renew, and moreover, that the buildings on
the leased land automatically vested to the airport. This left the AFC stripped of its buildings
ownership, and with no leases. And it also meant that those hangar occupants who had helped
finance the construction now needed to be paid out. That payout cost the club over $140k. We
had finally paid for the hangar building, but its ownership had vested to the airport.

The airport naturally offered to rent both buildings to the club, but at an annual cost very much
higher than previous costs, and far more than we were able to pay. Finally a more reasonable
rental agreement was reached for both hangar and clubhouse, and the club sub-rented hangars
to their occupants. But there was no security because the agreements could be terminated with
just 90 days notice. At the time the airport wanted to keep the whole GA area and west side
available for a big dream tenant, so the club was told to look at possible new construction
either at the north end of 01-19 or with access off Walmsley road. The airport’s big plans were
not well thought out; the big dream tenant did not appear; and fortunately things eventually
changed.
In 2011 the airport agreed to also rent to the club the other two older hangar buildings they
had taken (vested) from Jake Friessen. (He had built those hangars back in about 1980, but he
walked away rather than continue dealing with the airport) The club added these buildings to
its hangar rental operation.
In 2015, new long-term (25 years) leases were agreed for both the clubhouse land and the
hangar compound, and the agreement included purchase of all the buildings from the airport.
This is when YXX Hangars was created. The hangar agreement also included a requirement for
approximately $300k capital improvements during the first ten years. That requirement has
already been met.

And that is how we got to where we are now.

During the airshow weekend, sometime in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. THe AFC clubhouse is on the right

2 thoughts on “The AFC’s Buildings: An Historical Summary

  1. steve stewart

    that final picture is either 1968 or 1969….. same as the Butch Merrick picture

    Reply
  2. Murray Webb

    Great job Steve. I remember Butch serving pancakes in his chefs hat at the Father’s Day flyin.
    My uncle Jim had just got his ppl and joined the club in about ‘68. I was about 10 years old.
    The Armories housed the Skyline Club.
    During the Airshow thIs was the sight of the evening activities. Essentially Hanger13 replaced this with the demolition of the armories.

    Reply

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