Red Lake is proud to be known as the Norseman Capital of the World. The title shows respect for the Noorduyn Norseman, the “Original Canadian Bushplane”. This vintage aircraft was the first one designed for flying in Canada’s north and included many “firsts” in airplane design. Each year, Red Lake is proud to celebrate the Norseman Float Plane during our Norseman Festival! Visit their website! A blog is also maintained on their website specific to the tales and stories of the Norseman – click here.
Records indicate that there are approximately 26 of these historic Canadian aircraft still flying. Over the last four decades there have been more Norseman flying in the Red Lake District than anywhere else. Currently six are located in Red Lake. One of these is CF-DRD, displayed on a pedestal in Norseman Heritage Park, centrally located in Red lake. The other 5 are fully-operational and can be seen operating out of Howey Bay during the summer months, flying thousands of pounds of visitors and gear in and out of the bay.
In the Fall of 1925 five Flying Boats were chartered to fly supplies to the Red Lake mining camp. This was the beginning of both winter and summer aviation in Canada. Lured by the romance and adventure of bush flying, young men and women flocked to the area. Then, in 1934, the price of gold rose from $20.00 to $35.00 per ounce, resulting in increased mining activity in Red Lake. By the mid-1930’s, the bush plane was dominating travel to the goldfields, and in the summer of 1936, when aircraft landing at fifteen minute intervals, Red Lake, Gold Pines and Hudson had become the busiest airports in the world.
Today, floatplane aviation is still very much a part of the local economy. With several floatplane bases operating out of Howey Bay, visitors are certain to see Beaver, Norseman, Otter, Cessna and a variety of other aircraft, all on floats, coming and going from Howey Bay throughout the tourism season. These aircraft are, today, used largely for tourism, working all summer long, carrying anglers, canoeists, and hungers to remote lodges and outposts. However, floatplanes are also used to carry exploration parties and remote residents to remote locations. Numerous area residents also own and fly their own aircraft for recreational purposes. flights during the winter months, when floats are replaced with skids to allow the aircraft to take-off and land on ice, are also exclusively done by hobbyists.
Norseman photos by Pat Boucha
Links to more information
Find out more about our local history at the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre
Find out more about the Norseman Floatplane Festival