…that the federal and Ontario governments jointly announced a plan to build an airport and adjoining city in North Pickering. Part of Thistle Ha’ farm was inside the planned airport boundary.

On the 40th anniversary of this announcement, tribute was paid to members of the original Pickering airport protest movement, People or Planes (POP), who after years of dedicated effort finally convinced both governments that a dreadful mistake had been made. Airport plans were canceled in 1975. Unfortunately, all governments since then have dithered over what to do with 7,500 hectares (18,600 acres) of Canada’s best quality farm soil that they had expropriated for an unneeded airport. To this day, local groups such as Land over Landings, whose supporters include children and grandchildren of original POP members, continue to lobby the politicians to create a national land trust to be permanently farmed and provide food to surrounding urban sprawl now known as the Greater Toronto Area.

In the video below, local film-maker Peter Shatalow has captured highlights of the tribute, which includes many inset photos referencing POP people and their publicity stunts, including the clever signs, and the Pickering and white-clad Whitevale “fuseiiers”. The march recreates infamous POP protests which included the Grim Reaper and caskets symbolizing what the governments were killing in the community. This time, however, the march was one of hope – the casket was open, revealing seeds planted in North Pickering soil, waiting to grow this spring, and for many springs to come.