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History of the Airport

Did you know Toronto Pearson’s original name was Malton Airport? Operated by the Toronto Harbour commission, it took almost twenty years to build a modest terminal building, designed to house what was then the latest in aviation technology. The first landing at Malton Airport was on August 29, 1938 where an American Airways DC-3 from Buffalo landed.

 

In 1938, Malton Airport opened on a site that originally covered 13 farmers’ fields. Today, that small facility has grown to become Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest airport – handling twice as many passengers as the country’s next largest airport, Vancouver International, and offering more connections to more places than all but four global airports.

As demand for air travel grew, new terminals and runways were quickly added. The first modern terminal, Aeroquay 1, was opened in 1964. Its innovative circular design was intended to handle up to 3.5 million passengers. When it was finally closed in 2004, Aeroquay 1 was handling almost 9 million passengers each year. To meet growing demand, Terminal 2 was opened in 1972, Terminal 3 in 1993 and a new Terminal 1 in 2004. Today’s Pearson operates out of two terminals designed with a linear concept; Terminal 1 and 3. Terminal 2 was demolished in 2008.

History of Terminal 1

Can you spot the original Terminal 1 in the second photo?

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (known as the GTAA) is a non-profit organization that was selected by Transport Canada in 1996 to operate Pearson under the terms of a 60-year lease. The GTAA is responsible for improving aviation infrastructure, ensuring safety, enhancing the passenger experience, and supporting the economic development of the region. We oversee almost every aspect of what happens on the 19 square kilometers that make up our airfield and terminals.

Curious to learn more about Pearson’s history? Follow our #PearsonPast series on Twitter and Instagram and share your photos and memories with us!

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