Celebrating the opening of the John D. Ross Airport and Campground Building are, left to right: Coun. Archie Mellan, Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner, Mayor Steven Byvelds, John D. Ross, Coun. Donald William Lewis, and Coun. Lloyd Wells. Morin Photo

IROQUOIS – The John D Ross Airport and Campground building in Iroquois is completed.

The official opening ceremony was held on Sun., Aug. 14 at the Iroquois airport and campground.

Iroquois resident John Ross, now retired owner of Ross Video, arrived in Iroquois to scout out a place to set up his company, Ross Video in 1974. Ross Video was destined to become a world leader in television, and electronic broadcasting equipment.

He also wanted some land to build an airport as he was an avid flyer. The land he ended up looking at is adjacent to the Iroquois Beach and is just a few hundred yards from the St. Lawrence River. The land was far from ideal and was nothing more than a mosquito infested swamp, that featured at its centre a hollow.

Sitting on a bench at the newly completed John D. Ross Airport and campground building, he vividly remembers what he had to deal with so many years before.

Ross remembered, “When I came here this was a swamp. The mosquitos bred like crazy in pools of water.”

Eventually Ross went to the council of the day to ask for permission to drain the swamp.

They agreed to let him drain it.

“My son David and I surveyed it all,” he said.

David Ross took Ross Video over several years ago from his father and now looks after the business. After he had drained the land and built a runway, he then went about creating walking paths around the airport.

“It was popular at that time for groups of airplanes to get together and fly across country. They needed places to stop.”

The fledgling airport needed a building with showers and washrooms for the flyers that stopped in Iroquois on their way out west.

Ross said he was on his way to Toronto to see about starting his company there when he flew into Iroquois just to see what kind of flying equipment was at the airport.

“I had never flown here before,” he said.

The building, which replaces the original one built in 1968 features a kitchen, eating and social area, accessible washrooms and change rooms, as well as storage facilities. The building is designed to benefit the nearby lawn bowling club, campground users and of course small planes and their passengers who fly into Iroquois.

South Dundas Mayor Stephen Byvelds said, “This building is a great step forward in updating the infrastructure and facilities in the municipality. It’s a great space that will serve the South Dundas community well for many years to come.”

The finished building was a team effort with South Dundas Township, along with contributors to the project including, John Ross and his late wife Diane, EVB Engineering, Wells & Sons Construction Inc., Perry Stacey, Ron Beaupre, Gordon Empey and Dr. Henry Prins.

The previous South Dundas council had committed $350,000 to the task of removing the original building and building the new one.

Byvelds said, “This council remained committed to the project. John approached me and then council to fund an upgrade to the building, which would include the kitchen meeting space and more amenities.