A 50 year-old letter from Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

50-year-old time capsule unsealed at Abbotsford International Airport

Capsule sealed by former PM Pierre E. Trudeau in 1970, when event became ‘Canada’s National Airshow’

The contents of a 50 year-old time capsule, buried under stones taken from landmarks across the world and filled with artifacts from the year the Abbotsford International Airshow was proclaimed “Canada’s National Airshow,” were unveiled today.

Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan and Abbotsford’s Mayor Henry Braun were joined by founding members of the Abbotsford International Airshow Society to open the capsule sealed by former Prime Minster Pierre E. Trudeau in 1970.

Abbotsford’s Mayor Henry Braun and National Defence Harjit Sajjan bump elbows before the event begins. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

The time capsule was located in a cairn in front of the airport’s main terminal building, and constructed with rocks from every province in Canada, along with unique materials from 27 different countries including stones from the original London Bridge and the Swiss Alps.

The time capsule was stored in this cairn in front of the terminal at the Abbotsford International Airport. The tools on the bottom right were used to pry open the top. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

Steve Stewart, chair of the Abbotsford International Airshow Society, does the honours of cracking the cairn and opening the time capsule. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

Messages from historic figures like the Prime Minster’s father, former U.S. President Richard Nixon and other various other Canadian ministers and dignitaries of that era were hidden within.

“I was glad to be able to attend the 1969 Abbotsford International Airshow and I am very pleased to send my congratulations and best wishes to the members of the Abbotsford International Airshow Society as you open your 1970 show,” Pierre Trudeau wrote in 1970. “The progress of aviation in the past 100 years is a tribute to the genius of man and to a rapidly expanding technology. It stretches the imagination to think that in a few seconds of free flight in a crude machine little more than a half century ago has already culminated in man stepping on to the moon.

“As we reach out towards the stars, the future of aviation is beyond our imagination.”

A new time capsule was placed back into the cairn, and will be opened another 50 years from now in 2070.

A new time capsule was sealed back into the cairn, which is to be opened in 2070. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

Sajjan remembered his time growing up in Fraser Valley in his “berry-picking days” and attending the airshow as a kid, and how much Canada has changed.

National Defence Harjit Sajjan giving his speech prior to the opening. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

“A lot has changed between 1970 and 2020. It has brought unique challenges, not only for Canada, but the entire global community. Life-changing global events will be forever etched into our minds, events like 9/11, and this current year this health pandemic that we face now,” Sajjan said. “It’s in moments like these when we find shared joy, when we are celebrating communities through stories and through our shared history.

“Lets celebrate the last 50 years and look forward to the next 50 years.”

The event was meant to kickstart the 58th annual airshow this year, it was cancelled like many other summer events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the capsule was sealed in 1970, it would have been outrageous to consider that our 2020 Airshow would be cancelled due to a global pandemic,” says Abbotsford International Airshow President, Jim Reith. “We are still excited to celebrate Airshow weekend in a different way this year.

A virtual event will be livestreamed in the place of the regular airshow on Saturday, Aug. 8. More information is available at facebook.com/AbbotsfordAirshow and abbotsfordairshow.com

VIDEO: Look back at the 1977 Abbotsford International Airshow

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