As we’ve reported, Buttonville, one of Canada’s largest GA airports, closed last week, destined to become a sea of featureless warehouses on prime real estate next to Toronto. In addition to the practical necessities of scattering the various businesses, a college flight training program and numerous aircraft in an area already short of GA facilities, there was a lot of emotional attachment to the field. As might be expected, those who called the airport home for decades wanted to memorialize its demise, but the resulting video tribute by Mark Brooks isn’t what you might expect.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Just about when one can not take any more changes, we die. Those following along will not, can not, know what is missing. Just like I suppose I did not know what my forebears came to miss with their passage of time.

  2. That was a beautiful eulogy, Mark. The irony that only drones are allowed to fly there now, did not escape me.

    As one who has seen the closure of nearly all of the strips where I used to fly, it is equivalent to a death in the family. Pilots will never congregate there again, to share experiences, swap lies, tell stories to the younger ones, work on each others’ aircraft, or just sit around on a glorious summer evening and share beers. After all, it’s not the runway; it’s the reprobates you call your friends, isn’t it? But the runway called the meeting.

    At the Buffalo Creek airstrip where I soloed my uncle’s Cub (I was 14: Medical? CFI? Logbook? Hah.) the guys represented all vocations from day-laborers to doctors. It was home to everything from Cub, Champ, T-cart, Pitts, Stearman, to T-6, and everything in-between, including a Cub/Taylorcraft “hybrid”. If there was a non-fatal “incident”, we took care of it privately. I never saw a Fed there, and I suspect they really didn’t want to know. Paperwork, you know.

    In other words, it was no different from a dozen other grass strips in an area defined by “how long can your butt stand it”. Some even had fuel, albeit from the same tank that they used for the tractors (no “road tax”). If you needed Avgas, you had to go to a municipal airport, or tanker your own.

    My uncle owned the airstrip and, after teaching me how to fly, encouraged my dad to get his license with a real CFI. He did, and kept a succession of inexpensive aircraft on the strip. They both died in accidents on different airstrips in the mid-1970’s. On my infrequent trips back to the area, the Buffalo Creek airstrip was a touchstone to those important men in my life.

    The Buffalo Creek hangars were demolished last spring, the creek buried in huge culverts last summer, and the strip itself was bulldozed last month. It will become yet another housing development. Just think of the property tax income!

  3. I took my ground school there, and my initial instruction. After I received my license, I came back and rented from them for a couple of years.
    It’s sad that General Aviation is left out of convenient airports in Toronto itself. The two “survivors” are Pearson and Billy Bishop, both of which have busy commercial operations and are prohibitively expensive for smaller craft. Last I heard Pearson was about $350 for landing fees for a 172. Billy Bishop is a about $50 and up based on weight, but no jets are allowed.
    Buttonville was the place to see a mix of trainers, twins, turboprops and jets. That is gone now.
    There is a school at the Billy Bishop, but a C152 prices out at $195/hr. or you can travel to Oshawa, about 45 miles, or Brampton, about 30 miles from the centre of the city.
    It’s expensive and will get even more so now that Buttonville is gone.

  4. A half-century ago it was already a favorite strip for GA. Everything from home-builts on up. My memories are my friend renting one of the few T-hangars so that we could rebuild the engine on his Volmer Sportsman amphib. The choice of the airport was driven by the presence of Leggats on the field, who were especially helpful in helping us with the project. Later, Buttonville was a destination for flying in and out in a Luscombe and still much later arriving for visits in a C210 from our home in Princeton, NJ. A big loss to the GA community, and unfortunately not the last to be expected in the region surrounding Toronto, either through closure, or anti-GA policies of neglect that render them simply impractical for GA aircraft owners.