The airport was originally built in the 1930s as a federal “make work” program during the Depression. The property was leveled and graded by teams of horses and ‘slush scrapers’. Originally set up as an emergency landing field, the airport was also used by Trans-Canada Airlines (later to become Air Canada).
With the advent of the second world war, the airport had more military value. (There was some training and it retained its value as an emergency landing field.) After WWII, the airport remained dormant for quite a while. The military continued to use it periodically from year to year. For example, some of the military from Petawawa would spend a two-week training session there.
Later, according to federal government policies, it was turned over to the province of Ontario. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Department of Lands and Forests (now the MNR). The ministry was considering replanting trees on the airport property when local opposition put a halt to the project.
Local municipalities were then asked if they would be interested in re-developing the airport. A lease agreement was negotiated, allowing the airport to be owned by the Village of South River.
In the past two years, South River and Machar have rescinded their ownership rights in the partnership.
The Almaguin Highlands Air Park is now owned by the Town of Sundridge and the Townships of Strong and Joly. The administration of the airport is handled by the Township of Joly.