YK expects to spend $100K repairing, repainting Bristol Freighter

Last modified: May 30, 2020 at 1:35pm

Restoring the preserved Bristol Freighter that stands above the roads into Yellowknife requires a fraction over $100,000, City Hall will tell councillors on Monday.

The freighter, which last flew for northern airline Wardair in the late 1960s and was subsequently donated to the City of Yellowknife, has been a local icon for decades.

However, the aircraft and its plinth have received a range of graffiti and the historic Wardair livery has faded since the freighter was last painted in 1996.


Council already approved $55,000 in 2018 to repair and repaint the freighter, but that has yet to be spent as it proved too small a sum for the work. Residents on the city’s heritage committee say council should approve a $46,500 increase to that figure.

The money would come from an existing reserve fund dedicated to heritage projects plus the heritage committee’s 2020 budget, which together come to a little over $220,000. (In other words, the request does not directly compete with funding required for the response to Covid-19 or programs and services.)

Council is required to approve any heritage committee expenditure over $3,000.

A briefing note (p43) for councillors states that only one contractor responded when the work had a $55,000 budget in 2018, quoting more than $72,000 to get the job done. The project was cancelled.

In April this year, the heritage committee decided to try again. Taking into account the contractor’s estimate in 2018, and allowing for inflation and some repairs to the metal, the committee thinks $101,500 will cover the work needed.


“This Bristol Freighter was the first wheel-equipped aircraft to land at the North Pole in 1967,” the briefing note prepared by City Hall tells councillors.

“It is now one of only approximately 10 of this model of aircraft that exists for display in the world and, as such, is a unique airplane not only in Yellowknife but internationally as well.

“The presentation of aviation heritage creates public awareness of Yellowknife’s history and celebrates its culture while contributing to the tourism economy.”

Watch a Wardair Bristol Freighter in the skies over Yellowknife in the early 1960s.