Source: Essay “The Grand Outrage of the Grand Old Man” by Donald Creighton, Toronto Globe and Mail, October 21, 1972. Thanks to Chris and local historian Tommy Thompson of Whitevale, Ontario for rediscovering this gem.

This past June 11th, Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, revived a 41-year-old federal government political decision to build an international airport in north Pickering, including a new threat of urban development. The site is on Canada’s best Class 1 farm land, including Ontario designated, environmentally sensitive Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine land. This announcement was made despite the fact that the three existing jet-serviced international airports in south-central Ontario are operating at about half of their combined maximum passenger capacity. With no price tag, no business case, and no need, there is no reason to build an airport in Pickering. Mr Flaherty’s announcement re-energized local organizations who have long opposed the Pickering airport scheme and the needless destruction of prime farmland; such as, Green Durham Association, and Land over Landings, who during the summer has allied with other groups opposed, including Friends of the Rouge, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine, and Food and Water First.

Corn crop on the Tapscott farm on the north Pickering federal lands. The Tapscott family still farms and lives on this property that the federal government expropriated from them in 1972, for an airport that was never built. (Click to embiggen.)

Criticisms of the Pickering airport proposal have not changed over the past 41 years. University of Toronto history professor Donald Creighton was regarded by many as the foremost Canadian historian of the mid-20th century. Living in Brooklin, Ontario, he took an interest in the Pickering airport. After researching the history behind the decision, in the fall of 1972 he wrote the following essay of outrage at the Pickering airport decision.

On March 2, 1972, the Governments of Canada and Ontario, like two great eagles sailing high in the sky, swooped down and pounced on the unsuspecting and unprotected citizens of Pickering Township, Ontario County.

A second international airport for the Toronto-centred region, the federal government declared in a joint announcement, will be located in Pickering Township, just to the northeast of Toronto. There had been no warning of this extraordinary czarist ukase.