General History of Springbrook 1939 to present
The development of what is now Springbrook and
the Red Deer Regional Airport started out in the summer of 1939
with several earth moving machines unexpectedly moving onto a
farm about 10 miles south of Red Deer (population 2800). Local
residents suspected that it had something to do with the
anticipated War in Europe, even though war wasn't officially
declared until September.
The base opened as an RCAF Manning Depot in 1940 and it was announced shortly after that it
was to become part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
No. 36 Service Flying Training School was transferred from
Britain to Penhold in 1941 and was operated as an RAF station.
Later that year, two trains arrived at the railway station in
the town of Penhold with the first 600 officers, trainees and
personnel. The proximity of the
railway was an
integral component in the establishment of the military
Eventually, there were 200 Oxford trainers on site and over
1,200 pilots graduated over the next three years. During that
period, personnel made several trips to Red Deer to purchase
goods and for entertainment, providing the fledgling Sorensen
Bus Lines the traffic necessary to establish itself as the
primary transit service in Central Alberta. At times, there were
as many as 1,500 personnel from all parts of the Commonwealth at
the base at any given time.
being handed back to the RCAF, the base closed in 1944.
Seven years later after much of the base had been dismantled,
the base was re-constructed and re-opened in 1951 as a flight
training school for NATO.
Mynarski Park (named after
P/O Andrew Charles Mynarski),
consisting of houses, duplexes and townhouses, was built in 1954
adjacent to the base for officers and their families. Anderson
of Craigmyle School was built at the same time for Grades 1-8.
A provincial bunker was secretly built in 1964 housing the
provincial warning centre, was sold to a private developer in
1996, bought back by DND and was demolished in 2001.
flying training operations ceased at the base in 1965 and airport
operations were taken over by the City of Red Deer. The base
itself served in a variety of functions and was named
CFB Penhold in 1966
due to armed forces unification. In 1970, the federal government
leased the airport to the province who in turn leased it to Red
first Red Deer International Air Show was staged in 1983 and was
held every year until 1995 when it went to every second year.
The last airshow was held in 2003 and there are currently no
plans to hold a future show. Airshows going back to the Second
World War were also held
prior to 1983 during times when the base was functioning.
The airport operated as the Red
Deer Industrial Airport until 1999 when it was transferred to
the Red Deer Regional Airport Authority. Since that time, the
airport has been aggressively working on attracting and
maintaining scheduled passenger service. Other charter, private
and business flights generated over 44,000 aircraft movements in
2011 making it one of the busiest regional airports in the
The base was downgraded in 1990 to a detachment of CFB Edmonton
and closed in 1995. That same year the Federal government sold
the residential and base areas to private developers. The houses
were renovated and sold, the townhouses became condominiums and
the community was re-named 'Springbrook'.
facilities were operated by the developer for a few years and
then sold a few times. A bar and grill, a hair salon and general store
started with the new community. The store is still open and the
recreation facilities were renovated by the new owners to
become a training and fitness centre. The Springbrook Community
Association leased the former theatre portion of the building
from 2008 until 2012 to operate it as a community centre.
The community association
also rebuilt the three playgrounds
(one renamed Mynarski Park), constructed a multi-purpose pad and made several other improvements to the community as well as
sponsoring several community events.
The old base area was renamed Harvard Park (although still part
of the hamlet of Springbrook) where new housing has been
developing since 2001. A
number of training facilities have been in operation over the
years, including hockey, oilfield, flight, motorcycle, and
A summer cadet camp has operated annually since 1966 but will
discontinue in 2014.
A new residential subdivision immediately east of the former
Mynarski Park housing area, operating as Malibu Communities, has
been progressing steadily since 2006. At full built out, the
quarter section will add about 2,000 residents.