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Royal Canadian Air Force Monument : Ad Astra Boulevard

Posted On: 05/16/2017


The RCAF has a long and storied relationship with Edmonton. It was only after WWI when aviation-experienced returning veterans provided the impetus to establish Edmonton as the Gateway to the North that Blatchford Field became a major base for northern development. During WW II, military operations made Blatchford one of the busiest airports in the world. After WW II, Edmonton remained a major center for Air Force operations until Namao airfield closed in 1994.

“Ad Astra” are the Latin words which mean “to the stars” adopted by the Canadian Air Force as their motto when it was formed in 1920. It forms part of the lofty and noble aspiration for all Air Force personnel who serve, have served, fought or died in service to Canada.

The Ad Astra monument is a 10-metre-high stainless steel sculpture representing a “starburst”. The starburst formation is an aerobatic maneuver familiar to many who attend military air shows. Installed alongside the steel sculpture are granite storyboards created to tell the story of Edmonton’s contribution to Canada’s Air Force history, which dates back almost 100 years. There are also plaques honoring eight RCAF veterans with strong connections to the region and province.

The monument is the center point of Ad Astra Plaza, a symbolic runway with representations of the legendary Spitfire (single-seat fighter aircraft), the Avro Arrow (delta-winged interceptor aircraft) and C-130 Hercules (used by Edmonton’s 435 Transport Squadron from the early 1960's to 1992).

Two other plazas represent Air Force squadrons with ties to the city. Mosquito Plaza is formed in the shape of the famous fighter-bomber used by 418 Squadron during World War II. Griffon Plaza showcases the Griffon helicopter used by 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, the only RCAF unit still based in the Edmonton area.


The plazas overlook Roundel Lake, one of the four man-made lakes in Village at Griesbach. All the lakes are connected by paths and parks throughout the community and act as excellent lifestyle and recreation areas for homeowners. Roundel lake is named in recognition of the roundel symbol used on the wings and fuselage of Canadian military aircraft since WWI. In heraldry, a roundel is a disc. Today, it serves to identify military aircraft per the country to which they belong. Every country has its own unique roundel marking and design to identify its aircraft.