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Canadian Forces Base Calgary (Harvey Barracks):

Originally established as Sarcee Camp in 1910 as a militia training camp. The government leased a parcel of land form the Sarcee Indian Reservation near the future site of Currie Barracks for the camp and training area. The 10th and 50th battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were raised and trained at Sarcee Camp, which grew enormously during the First World War.

The camp, however, did not become a permanent military camp until 1957, when it was re-named Sarcee Barracks.

In 1958, The Lord Strathcona’s Horse relocated to Sarcee Barracks from Currie Barracks, remaining until transferring to Germany in 1965.

As a result of the Unification in 1968, Sarcee Barracks and Currie Barracks were merged into one base to become Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Calgary, although the names Sarcee and Currie continued to be used.

Sarcee Barracks was re-named Harvey Barracks in 1981. The same year, the Sarcee Training Area was returned to the Tsuu T’ina First Nation, although the Army continued to lease part of the training area from 1985-1996.

In the mid 1990s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed and as a result, CFB Calgary closed on 21 June 1997. 1 CMBG relocated to CFB Edmonton’s Grieshbach Barracks.

In August 1998, members of the Tsuu T’ina First Nation moved into the vacant PMQs due to the shortage of homes on the reservation. The PMQs area was given the name Black Bear Crossing. All other military buildings were eventually demolished, leaving only the abandoned roadways.

By 2006, a controversy ensued when the band council ordered the homes vacated due to a Health Canada warning of possible asbestos contamination. Most of the residents were relocated, but some residents stayed until they were formally evicted. By 2009, the last of the PMQs were demolished and the last remnants of Harvey Barracks vanished.

The Grey Eagle Casino now occupies the north east corner of the former Harvey Barracks.

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1999), information supplied by Carol Stokes, Archivist, The City of Calgary (1999), information supplied by Ken Craig, Volunteer Researcher, Museum of the Regiments, Calgary Alberta (1999), “The Politics of Contested Space: Military Property Development in Calgary” – a thesis paper by P. Whitney Lackenbauer, University of Calgary, Department of History, Faculty of Graduate Studies (1999), DND press release from November 1998, information supplied by Terri Griffin (2002), information supplied by Ian Gray, Calgary resident (2003), information supplied by June Flegg, Historian, Saskatoon Public Library (2000), Calgary Forces Base Studio Centre web site – http://www.cfbstudios.com, Canada Lands Corporation Web site – http://www.clc.ca, information supplied by the Tsuu T’ina Police Service (2004), “The Battle for Black Bear Crossing” Fast Forward Weekly, October 30, 2008, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & “The Garrison” newspaper from March 1995 and Sept 1999.


Canadian Forces Base Edmonton (Griesbach Barracks):

Note: Edmonton Garrison, originally CFB Edmonton, was created by the amalgamation of RCAF Station Namao and Canadian Army’s Griesbach Barracks. The Namao site, now called CFB Edmonton (Steele Barracks), remains open today as the home of the Western Canada’s Army.
Established in 1950 as Griesbach Barracks, the base had its beginnings as an ordnance depot, later becoming the home of the Western Command Headquarters.

No. 14 Service Prison and Detention Barracks opened in 1958 at Griesbach. The prison closed briefly from 1968 until 1975. Also in 1958, the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry re-located to Griesbach from Currie Barracks.

As a result of the Unification, RCAF Station Namao was combined with the Army’s Griesbach Barracks to form CFB Edmonton on 1 April 1966, falling under control of Air Transport Command.

The Canadian Airborne Regiment was formed at Griesbach in 1968. Two years later, the Canadian Parachute Training Centre re-located to Griesbach from RCAF Station Rivers. Also in 1970, the 1st Battalion, PPCLI re-located to Griesbach in 1970 from Work Point Barracks

In May 1970, 28 Canadian Forces Supply Depot re-located to Griesbach from CFB Shilo. Two months later, the depot was re-designated the Canadian Forces Parachute Maintenance Depot (CFPMD).  The Canadian Airborne Centre was also established at Griesbach. However, the Canadian Airborne Regiment re-located to CFB Petawawa in 1977.

Land Force Western Area Headquarters was formed at Griesbach on 1 September 1991, replacing the former Prairie and Pacific Militia Districts.

In 1995, with the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, the three feeder units that once provided soldiers to the Airborne, the PPCLI, the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Royal 22nd Regiments (the VanDoos), each established parachute companies. The PPCLI established a Parachute Company at Griesbach Barracks.

In 1996, 1 PPCLI re-located to CFB Namao from CFB Calgary. The CFPMD re-located along with the Canadian Parachute Centre to 8 Wing Trenton in September 1996.

In 1996, corresponding with the move of 3 PPCLI to Griesbach, this parachute company was designated as A Company, 3 PPCLI. Also around this time, CFB Edmonton was re-named Edmonton Garrison.

By the mid 1990s, Department of National Defence cutbacks lead to questioning the necessity of maintaining two Army bases in the Edmonton area. CFB Edmonton (Namao), formerly an Air Force base, had been transferred to the Army in 1994. Ultimately, DND decided to consolidate all military operations at the Namao site, now known as Steele Barracks.

Griesbach Barracks closed in 2000. The site, including the 750 PMQs, were transferred to the Canada Lands Corporation in 2002, who have since transformed the former base into “The Village at Griesbach”, a residential community modeled in a village concept.

On 28 September 2001, the Canadian Forces Service Prison & Detention Barracks at Griesbach Barracks closed, having been replaced by a new facility at the Namao site.

Today, a number of buildings on this once sprawling base have been demolished, but a total of 17 buildings and some PMQs are being retained and incorporated into the new Village at Griesbach community, including the former high school, some of the north-side PMQs, now private rental homes and the old church, which is now a community centre.

Although the building once occupied by the MGen Griesbach Public School building has been demolished, the school name lives on at a new school building, which was built beside the old building site.

The Royal Canadian Artillery Band remained at Griesbach until September 2004 when they re-located to CFB Edmonton’s Steele Barracks. Land Force Western Area Headquarters remained, housed in the former elementary school until 2014, when it too re-located to CFB Edmonton’s Steele Barracks, where they are now co-located with Joint Task Force West Headquarters and 1 Area Support Group Headquarters in a brand new modern facility.  Around this time, LFWA HQ was re-named the 3rd Canadian Division Headquarters.

The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Centre for Veterans opened 9 November 2005 on a five-acre site just off Castledowns Road and 153rd Avenue, on the northwest corner of the former Canadian Forces Base Griesbach.

The urban renewal underway on the former Canadian Forces Base Griesbach is part of a larger story being written as the Canadian military sells its surplus bases across the country. So far, a dozen such 1940s to 1960s-era surplus bases have been involved in an effort to convert them into well-planned subdivisions and entirely new communities. Its just one of the many advantages of the so-called peace dividend that flowed from the end of the cold war.

In September 2015, a monument commemorating the Royal Canadian Air Force was dedicated at Griesbach.  The 10 metre sculpture representing a “star burst” formation, an aerobatic maneuver performed at military air shows, was constructed along with plaques describing Edmonton’s Air Force history, which dates back almost 100 years.

Source Material: information supplied by Jenelle Turpin, Communications Officer – Council Services, City of Edmonton (1999), information supplied by Charles Denis, Manager Customer Services, Canadian Forces Housing Authority (2004), the CFB Edmonton web site – www.cfbedmonton.hstone.com, DND press releases from February 1994 and November 1998, 440 Squadron history web site – http://www.440sqn.com/frames.htm., “The Garrison” newspaper from March 1995, 1 Air Movements Squadron web site – http://www.mts.net/~rburke1/About%20Us.htm, Canadian Forces Parachute Maintenance Depot web site – http://www.8wing.trenton.dnd.ca/cfpmd/pmdhist.htm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), Real Estate Weekly web site – www.rewedmonton.ca/content_view2?CONTENT_ID=1205 & pamphlet printed by Studio High Techniques of Toronto (1998), “New Headquarters Building for Land Force Western Area”, Canadian Forces web site – http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/news/article.page?doc=minister-nicholson-announces-opening-of-new-headquarters-at-3rd-canadian-division-support-base-3-cdsb-edmonton/hgq87xx8, “Yeg is Home” web site – http://yegishome.ca/news/2004/04/01/new-life-on-the-old-griesbach-barracks, the Village at Griesbach web site – www.villageatgriesbach.com, information provided by Marvin Neumann, Director of Real Estate, Canada Lands Company (2015), “Royal Canadian Air Force monument unveiled in west Edmonton neighbourhood of Griesbach”, Edmonton Sun, 20 September 2015 and the personal recollections of the author (2004) .


Canadian Forces Base Edmonton:  Penhold Detachment:
Originally established 11 miles southeast of Red Deer, Alberta in 1940 as a RCAF Manning Depot.The Royal Air Force took over the property and formed No. 36 Service Flying Training School on 28 September 1941 as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Relief Landing Fields were constructed near Inisifail & Blackfalds.The station consisted of 7 hangars and 31 other buildings including barracks, service buildings, administrative buildings and six hard surfaced runways.The station was returned to the RCAF closed on 3 November 1944. Only a small RCAF Signals Unit remained.The station was taken over by the Department of Transport and many of the buildings were demolished or moved off site. Surplus Lancaster bombers were stored in the hangars to await disposal.
The post-war growth of the RCAF resulted in many WWII stations being re-activated, along with RCAF Detachment Innisfail. The station re-opened in late 1951 as RCAF Station Penhold and became home to No. 4 Flying Training School, a NATO Flying Training School. Several new buildings were constructed, including 243 private married quarters, collectively called Mynarski Park, in memory of Andrew Mynarski, VC, the Second World War air gunner who had lost his life trying to rescue his crewmate in a burning Lancaster. In the early 1960s, additional married quarters were built in Red Deer in a complex known as Vista Village.
The first NATO trainees arrived from Calgary in May 1953, consisting of 22 RCAF trainees, 10 Royal Air Force, 6 French Air Force, 7 Italians and 5 Royal Netherlands Air Force.

The base school was dedicated as Andersons of Craigmyle School in memory of three Red Deer brothers who died in active service with the RCAF, also during the Second World War. A curling rink was built in 1958, a new and larger control tower in 1961 and a new outdoor swimming pool in 1964.

The NATO flying training program ended in the spring of 1959, but air training with the Harvards continued until 1965 primarily for the RCAF but also for the Royal Canadian Navy and pilots from around the world.

By the late 1950s, the threat of a nuclear war had become so great that the Canadian government decided to construct a secret underground bunker to house the major elements of the government in the event of an emergency. Most Provincial Governments followed suit by building their own bunkers. The Alberta Government chose RCAF Station Penhold for the site of their bunker, staffed by 743 Communication Squadron and also housing the Provincial Warning Centre. A 77,000 square foot bunker was secretly constructed at the station and opened in 1964.

All Government bunkers had a remote communications bunker, located some distance away. This second bunker, usually a single story structure, was staffed exclusively by communications personnel. Penhold’s remote communications bunker (17,000 square feet) was constructed several miles south of the station.

43 Radar Squadron opened a Pinetree radar long-range station in February 1964 at a site 14 miles east of RCAF Station Penhold, who provided support to the facility. The squadron had actually opened 2 years earlier and operated out of a hangar at Penhold until the new site opened. Most radar personnel lived at the newly constructed Vista Village PMQ area in Red Deer until the mid 1970s.

In May 1965, flying operations ceased at RCAF Station Penhold and Air Defence Command assumed control of the Station. Penhold’s airfield was taken over by the city of Red Deer in 1965 and operated as the Red Deer Regional Airport, remaining so today.

In the summer of 1966, Regional Air Cadet Glider Training School opened at Penhold. Flying training was conducted at both Penhold and the former RCAF Detachment Innisfail. The name was later changed to the Penhold Cadet Summer Training Centre

As a result of the Unification, the Station was re-named CFB Penhold in 1966.

By 1973, the CF Junior Leadership School and the FPS-27 Radar School had opened at the base. The schools remained at the base until disbanded on 23 June 1986.

In the early 1980s, the Air Cadet School began making use again of the former RCAF Detachment Netook as an alternate airfield to the Gliding School at Innisfail. By 1986, the Gliding School moved permanently to Netook.

In 1985, DND announced that the Pinetree Line would be shut down as a part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Plan. Radar equipment at many Canadian Forces Stations was replaced with a new automated system. As a result of this and overall reductions in Canada’s Air Force, 43 Radar Squadron disbanded on 1 August 1986 and the radar site was closed.

CFB Penhold was downsized to a Detachment of CFB Edmonton in 1990.

In June 1994, the Air Force Junior Leadership School re-located to CFB Borden and was re-named the Air Command Professional Development Training Centre.

In the mid 1990s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed and as a result, Detachment Penhold closed in 1995. The former base is now the community of Harvard Park.

The communications facility was automated and the personnel responsible for running it were transferred to CFB Edmonton. The bunker was closed in 1993 and sold to a private developer in 1995, only to be bought back by the Federal Government and demolished in June 2001 after it was humored that a chapter of the Hells Angels was an expressing interest in acquiring it.

The airfield is now the Red Deer Regional Airport. Most of the original buildings remain in use, including all six hangars, the combined mess, several barracks the firehall, the transportation building and the PMQ homes. The former Penhold School however, now sits vacant.

Remaining behind was the Penhold Cadet Summer Training Centre. With a permanent staff of 114 members, the centre carried on the tradition of training airmen and women at Penhold. The former base headquarters building was used as the HQ for the cadet school. Other buildings were used as classrooms, an infirmary, a warehouse, a giant hangar for indoor sports, and roughly 90 acres of maintained grounds with space to conduct outdoor survival training.

On 15 August 2014, the Penhold Air Cadet Summer Training Centre closed when the Harvard Park Business Centre decided not to re-new the lease, ending 48 years of Air Cadet training and the last remnants of the RCAF at Penhold.

The end of summer graduation parade served as the official send-off for the training centre. Lieutenant- Colonel Allen Gregory Dengis, the Commanding Officer of the Air Cadet Summer Training Camp, delivered his final farewell to the cadets; “Today marks the departure for all of you. I want you to take the friendships, camaraderie and the lessons learned and keep them with you for the rest of your lives.” He named them the “The generation of future leaders of Canada” and thanked them “for being a part of the history of the Cadet Training Program.“

It is noteworthy that last RCAF Harvard to be flown in an operational mission flew at the Penhold base. It was later given to the Red Deer Flying Club for restoration and maintenance and is currently mounted at the entrance to the Red Deer Regional Airport.

Nothing remains at either the radar site nor the remote communications bunker site.

All that remains of RCAF Detachment Blackfalds is one hangar.

Source Material: DND press releases from May 1989 & February 1994, the Air Cadets Glider Training web site – http://www.mts.net/~rgspra/hist.html, “Bunkers, Bunkers Everywhere” by Paul Ozorak, information supplied by Janet Mawson, local resident of Penhold, Alberta (2001), Sea, Army & Air Cadets web page – http://www.cadets.dnd.ca/intro_e.asp, information provided by the Innisfail Flying Club (2004), information provided by, Judy Carleton, President of the Blackfalds Historical Society (2005), the personal recollections of the author (2004), the Pinetree Line web site – www.pinetreeline.org, “Sentinel” Magazine from April 1968 and “Penhold Air Cadet Summer Training Ends at Harvard Park, 22 August 2014 – Harvard Park Web site: http://harvardpark.ca.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Edmonton:
Opened on 5 July 1940 at the Blatchford Field Airport as No. 2 Air Observer School (2 AOS), part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, with World War I flying ace Capt W.R. “Wop” May installed as the civilian manager of the station. By November 1940, No. 16 Elementary Flying Training School also opened at the aerodrome, remaining until it closed in 1942.

After the closure of No. 2 AOS on 14 July 1944, the station was re-named RCAF Station Edmonton and become the home to Northwest Air Command Headquarters. The station closed in May 1945, but this would be short-lived as it re-opened in October 1946.

Units posted to RCAF Station Edmonton at this time were the Northwest Air Command Composite Flight, 435 Transport Squadron, 418 Tactical Bomber Squadron (Auxiliary), 453 Transport Squadron, the RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment, No. 10 Construction & Maintenance Unit, No. 2 Trade & Advancement Board and RCAF Det Grand Prairie. Later a B-29 Bomber Detachment of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and a Survival Training School would occupy space at RCAF Station Edmonton.

1 Air Movements Squadron formed on 1 October 1947 at the station. The Squadron was re-designated 1 Air Movements Unit on 1 April 1951 and assigned to Air Transport Command.

As RCAF Station Edmonton grew in the post-war years, so did the surrounding civilian community. It became apparent that flying activities were becoming hazardous at Blatchford Field when a USAAF transport aircraft crashed into a row of homes shortly after take-off. As a result, the RCAF decided to vacate Blatchford Field and concentrate its activities at the nearby RCAF Station Namao.

RCAF Station Edmonton closed 1 October 1955 and the station’s units re-located to RCAF Station Namao. The aerodrome reverted to a civilian airport, the Blatchford Field Airport. 418 “City of Edmonton” Squadron remained at the airport until 1957 when it too departed for Namao.

The airport, now known as the Edmonton City Centre Airport, became the home to small charters, private and corporate aircraft, training, military, industrial and medevac flights. Most commercial passenger traffic moved to the Edmonton International Airport in the mid-1990s.

Two of the BCATP-era hangars remain at the airport, designated Provincial Heritage Resource in 2000. One of the hangars is the only remaining double width / double depth BCATP hangar left in Canada, is occupied by 180 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, 504 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron & the Alberta Aviation Museum, who work to preserve the memory of the BCATP and the RCAF in Edmonton.

In 2009, Edmonton city council decided on a phased closure of the airport to allow a massive development of housing and commercial real estate starting in 2014. Runway 16/34 was closed to air traffic in August 2010.

In 2012, the Edmonton Flying Club launched a won a court battle that allowed the club to seek an injunction against the Edmonton Airports Authority to evict it from the airport, where it’s been located since 1927. The Edmonton Flying Club had a lease with the city good until 2028, but this was all apparently in vain.

The airport officially ceased operations by 30 November 2013 after 84 years of operations. A Cessna 172 was the last aircraft to leave the airfield. Plans for a pair of RCAF CF-18 fighter jets were scheduled to make a touch-and-go landing as a ceremonial last takeoff, but the plans were scrapped due to bad weather.

The museum and some non-aviation institutions will remain. Some land will be transferred to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and the rest will be converted to a primarily residential development.

In 2017, it was announced that Hangar #11 would be demolished as part of the re-development of the airport property, despite being on the Top 10 List of Endangered Historic Places in Canada.

Source Material: information supplied by Jenelle Turpin, Communications Officer – Council Services, City of Edmonton, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm (1999), Grandville Island Publishing web site – http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), History of Canadian Airports by T. M. McGrath, Fate Of Edmonton Muni May Go To Vote – Canadian Aviator Magazine – www.canadianaviatormagazine.com, Edmonton Journal, 12 September 2013 – http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/09/12/close-final-city-centre-airport-runway-nov-30-report-recommends, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-historic-places-endangered-1.4153875 & the CFB Edmonton web site – www.cfbedmonton.hstone.com.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Lincoln Park:

Originally established on the southern section of Currie Barracks in 1935 by the RCAF, where an unpaved landing strip had been built for their use. By 1939, No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron had moved to Currie Barracks from RCAF Station Sea Island, and No. 3 (Bomber) Squadron from RCAF Station Ottawa (Rockcliffe). The airmen were forced to share the only barrack block with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, which created problems as the Strathconas awoke to the sound of a bugler every morning at 0500 hours.

On 28 October 1940, a portion of Currie Barracks became No. 3 Service Flying Training School, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Relief Landing Fields were constructed near Shapard and Gladys.

No. 3 SFTS closed on 28 September 1945 and the hangars, the airfield and everything south of it was sectioned off and became No. 10 Repair Depot (with a Detachment in Moose Jaw). In 1947, the station then became No. 25 Air Material Base Calgary, but was later re-named Royal Canadian Air Force Station Lincoln Park.

In 1953, Permanent Married Quarters were built for the Airforce personnel, who prior to that all lived in rented or purchased housing with in the City. The single personnel lived in barracks on the base.

Both RCAF Detachments Gladys and Shepard were abandoned. From 1958-1970, the abandoned runways at RCAF Detachment Shepard were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing. An industrial complex now occupies the site of the former aerodrome. Nothing remains of the Gladys aerodrome.

During this period, Lincoln Park served as construction headquarters, a repair depot and NATO pilot refresher-training centre, who by this time had paved runways on which to land.

A primary tenant at the station was Canadian Pacific Airlines (Repair Division), who were a prime contractor for aircraft overhaul for Western Canada.

129 Acceptance and Ferry Flight Detachment, a detachment of No. 6 Repair Depot at RCAF Station Trenton, and a very busy Detachment with usually about 12 Pilots, and six Flight Engineers accumulating many hours of flying time on aircraft from Chipmunk, T-34 Noresman, to Lancasters and Albatross, and Single and Twin Engine Jet aircraft. Most flights were out of RCAF Station Station Calgary, due to the short runways at Lincoln Park.

403 “City of Calgary”. Squadron was re-formed at Linclon Park as a Fighter Bomber Squadron (Auxiliary) in 1948, remaining until it disbanded in 1964. NATO pilot training continued until 1958, after which the airfield was used only as an emergency landing strip.

In the early to mid 1960s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several Army, Navy and RCAF bases were either downsized, merged or closed. As a result, RCAF Station Lincoln Park closed in 1964.

The buildings north of the airfield and the Lincoln Park PMQs became part of Currie Barracks. The reminder of the property was sold to the city of Calgary. Some of the row house PMQs were moved onto one of the former runways at the north end of the property.

From the mid-1960s until 1983, the abandoned north-south runway was used as a racetrack for sports cars and motorcycles under the name Calgary International Raceway.

Mount Royal University now occupies the part of the property where the airfield was once located, as it has done since 1972, when it was known as Mount Royal College.

On 28 October 2000, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of No. 3 Service Flying Training School, University held a plaque dedication ceremony to honour the men and women who served at the war-time school.

Very little remains of the former RCAF Station Lincoln Park today.

Four of the six original hangars on the north-side of the former airfield, which became part of Currie Barracks, have already been demolished and the remaining two are slated for demolition in 2014. The six maintenance hangars south of the former airfield, once used as a part of the Repair Depot, were occupied for many years by the ATCO Industrial Complex. These hangars were demolished in 2011. All that remains of the airfield is the taxi-way beside where the north-side hangars used to stand.

The Lincoln Park PMQ area has been re-developed into the “Garrison Green” residential community, modeled on an old “village style”. Some of the former PMQ homes remain, extensively renovated, along with new homes built by the developer. The developer established a park named “Peacekeeper Park”, which includes a memorial dedicated to Canadian Peacekeepers who distinguished themselves and to those who died in the service of their country.

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1998), information supplied by Sherry Eastholm, Manager, Sidney (B.C.) Museum (1999), information supplied by June Flegg, Historian, Saskatoon Public Library (2000), History of the 400 Series Squadrons – http://www.airforce.dnd.ca/airforce/eng/history_400s/rcafsqns.htm, Wings Over Alberty web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, information supplied by Hunter Wight, Executive Director, Public Affairs and Development, Mount Royal College (2001), information supplied by Deb Bramson, Mount Royal College (2001), the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, Grandville Island Publishing web site – http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & information supplied by Carol Stokes, Archivist, The City of Calgary (1999).


 

42 Radar Squadron Cold Lake:

Established south of Cold Lake on 1 August 1954 as the Cold Lake Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron (AC&W), home of 42 Radar Squadron Cold Lake.

The Squadron was not part of the Pinetree Line, instead it was used to provide radar control of CF-100 aircraft and as a radio transmission centre. The site was later renamed simply 42 Radar Squadron.

As a result of Department of National Defence (DND) budget reductions, the site occupied by 42 Radar Squadron closed in 1992.

42 Radar Squadron re-located to 4 Wing Cold Lake and the squadron’s radar equipment was moved to the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range. The former station sat abandoned and neglected until 1998, when the Cold Lake Air Force Museum opened.

Today, all of the station’s five buildings (with the catwalk that joined them), plus the guardhouse and pumphouse remain. The former operations building contains displays profiling the Air Force, RCAF Station/CFB Cold Lake and 42 Radar Squadron, including a full-size Hight Finder Radar unit.

The other buildings feature The Oil & Gas Interpretive Centre, Alberta Heritage Museum and the Aboriginal Museum. None of the three radar towers remain today.

Source material: 42 Radar Squadron Cold Lake web site – http://www.4wing.coldlake.dnd.ca/42.html, personal recollections of the author (2004), Cold Lake Air Force Museum – www.coldlakeairforcemuseum.com/main & information supplied by Captain Leah Wilson, Wing Public Affairs Officer, 4 Wing Cold Lake (1999).


Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Airdrie:

Opened north of Calgary in 1940 as the No. 1 Relief landing Field for No. 3 SFTS in Calgary. The Detachment featured the standard triangle pattern runway, along with several buildings including administration and barracks buildings and two large wooden hangars. Student pilots at No. 37 SFTS would spend the last three weeks of their air training course with the Advanced Training Unit at RCAF Detachment Airdrie, where bombing training was conducted.

RCAF Detachment Airdrie closed in 1945.

Student pilots and crop-dusters continued to use the crumbling runways into the 1950s.

In 1954, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing. In 1957, the RCAF buildings were converted into commercial facilities.

Today the former detachment operates as the Airdrie Airport and industrial complex. The Airdrie Country Club of the Air operated at the airport from the early 1970s until the mid 1980s, when the club disbanded. In the spring of 2005, the club was resurrected and continues to promote general aviation in the Calgary area.

A significant portion of the former Detachment remains today. A number of the maintenance sheds remain, some in use, some not. One of the former barracks is used as the office for Airdrie Mini Self Storage and the remaining hangar is occupied by the Alberta Pallet Company, a wood products manufacturing company. A neighbouring farmer purchased the bombing control tower, which is still standing today.

The original runways remain but are abandoned, with only one of the three is still intact, along with the taxi-way. The other two are broken up and only the outlines can be seen. A new runway was built in 2002 down the middle of the original triangle airfield.

The Airdrie Regional Airshow is held at the airport every 2 years.

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1998), “Wings For Victory – The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada”, by Spencer Dunmore, Airdrie Flying Club web site – http://www.airdrieflyingclub.ca/story02.htm & the personal recollections of the author (2004)


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Claresholm:

Opened west of Claresholm on 9 June 1941 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as No. 15 Service Flying Training School, with Relief Landings Fields at Woodhouse & Pultney. No. 2 Flight Instructor School also operated at the Aerodrome from April-September 1942, when it re-located to Vulcan. No. 15 SFTS closed on 30 May 1945 and the station, although not abandoned, was left with only a small caretaker staff. RCAF Detachments Woodhouse & Pultney were abandoned.

The post-war growth of the RCAF resulted in many WWII stations being re-activated. RCAF Station Claresholm re-opened in 1951 as a NATO pilot training centre run by No. 3 Flying Training School.  The school was so busy that airfields at former RCAF stations at Fort MacLeod and Lethbridge.

As busy as the school was, the school would be short-lived.  Claresholm closed again in 1958, this time for good. No. 3 FTS re-located to RCAF Station Gimli.

From 1958-1961, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

The former station is now the Claresholm Industrial Airport. All that remains are some of the station’s former buildings, including the fire hall, maintenance garages and four post-war PMQ houses.

As well, 6 of the original 7 hangars remain:

Hanger #1: owned by Environmental Rescue Equipment, a fire fighting company that are contracted to the Alberta Government.
Hanger #2: owned by Rick Holdings and is currently for sale.
Hanger #3: owned by Grant Lobban.  The hangar burned down on 20 December 2014 and all that remains is the concrete pad and apron.
Hanger #4: owned by Ptarmigan Real Estate Ltd.  It is currently being restored. – 5 year project.
Hanger #5: owned by ESIP Holdings Ltd., making concrete panels for the construction industry
Hanger #6: owned by Bruce Hagel and leased to a firm that provides material to the construction Industry
Hanger #7: also owned by Bruce Hagel. It is currently vacant.

Trus Joist MacMillan Ltd, an engineered lumber products company, formerly occupied three of the hangars, but have moved elsewhere.

The majority of the property contains only empty fields and abandoned roadways, but some new buildings are popping up on site. Only one runway remains in use; the other five were abandoned years ago.

All that remains of RCAF Detachment Woodhouse is one runway, consisting of severely deteriorated asphalt, and the hangar pad. The other runways were removed for farming. Township Road 122 now cuts across the southern portion of the former triangle runway outline.

A memorial cairn was placed at the airport and a Harvard airplane stands in Centennial Park in Claresholm as a monument to the men and women who served at RCAF Station Claresholm and No. 15 SFTS.

Source Material: Town of Claresholm web site – http://www.town.claresholm.ab.ca/communityprofile.htm#HISTORY, “Canada Flight Supplement 1999”, “Portage La Prairie – Fifty Years of Flying Training: 1940-1990” by Major G.E.I. Greavette, CD, Grandville Island Publishing web site – http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, information supplied by Brian Waddell, owner of the property once occupied by RCAF Detachment Woodhouse, information provided by Keith Armstrong (2015), the personal recollections of the author (2004) & “The Plan” by James Williams.


No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School (High River):

The aerodrome north of High River was originally opened in 1921 by the Canadian Air Force, predecessor to the RCAF, as the High River Air Station. With the creation of the RCAF in 1924, the station was re-named RCAF Station High River. The station was utilized for parachute training and new aircraft testing.

In 1931, RCAF Station High River closed and the aerodrome became a storage depot. Flying activities were limited to the Calgary Aero Club.

The outbreak of World War II lead to the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the establishment of No. 5 EFTS near Lethbridge in 1940, but the school re-located to High River in June 1941. Originally the WWI Bessemer hangars were used until a new hangar was built, along with drill halls, offices and barracks, with new asphalt runways replacing the grass ones. Later in the war, a second one built. A Relief Landing Field was also constructed at Frank’s Lake.

No. 5 EFTS closed on 15 Dec 1944, having graduated 97 classes of airmen, and so did RCAF Detachment Frank’s Lake. The Calgary Flying Club remained at the aerodrome until the late 1940s, when the club re-located to McCall Field in Calgary.

Only one hangar remains, now occupied by Willow Creek Homes, a builder of modular homes as does the old cistern. All that remains of the airfield is the faint outline of the runways. A new airport was established south of High River. The station auditorium was moved into High River and is still used today.

In August 2002, monuments were erected at both the airport and in downtown High River as a tribute to the men and women who served at No. 5 EFTS.

On 1 October 2016, representatives from the High River Legion Branch #71 and Nanton’s Bomber Command Museum of Canada erected a new historical sign dedicated to High River’s Royal Canadian Air Force training station.

Source Material: information supplied by Regena R. Johnson, Airport Landfill / Road Closure Coordinator (2001), information supplied by Melissa Chamber, local resident of High River (2000), Lancaster Museum web site – http://www.lancastermuseum.ca/highriver.html, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), The Calgary Flying Club – http://www.calgaryflyingclub.com/clubhistory_1940-1945.asp,” High River’s former air force training base memorialized,” High River Times, 7 October 2016 & information supplied by Norm Lund, local resident of High River (2001).

Read the book “Life and legends: A History of the Town of High River”, By Lillian Knupp for more information.


 

No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School (Lethbridge):

See entry in “Closed bases that still have a military presence“.

 


 

No. 31 Elementary Flying Training School:

Opened 13 kms east of De Winton, Alberta under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as a Royal Air Force school on 18 June 1941, with a Relief Landing Fields at Gladys (grass runways) and Shepard (asphalt). The school closed on 25 September 1944, as did RCAF Detachments Gladys and Shepard.

For several years, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

The former school is still listed as a private aerodrome, the South Calgary Airport, although there are no aviation activities currently operating at the site. Two of the runways are in disrepair and overgrown with grass, while the third runway and tarmac only partially maintained for use by Alberta Motor Association as a driver training centre for private and commercial drivers..

The Calgary Ultra-light Flying Club used one runway for “touch & go” training for student pilots for a period, but does not currently use the airfield.

Except for the pump-house, no buildings remain in their wartime position on the property. Most of the building foundations do remain however, including both hangar pads.

The former administration building, garage and guardhouse were moved and patched together to create a private residence on the property. As well, the original windsock, flag pole, gunnery backstop and water reservoir also remain.

On 15 June  2016, close to 200 people gathered at the DeWinton airfield to commemorate the 75th anniversary of No. 31 Elementary Flying Training School, during which a bronze plaque commemorating the school was unveiled.

Guests at the ceremony included Flight Lieutenant James Andrews from the Royal Air Force; Dr. Stéphane Gouvrement, a historian and honorary colonel of 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron; Susan Cowan, the daughter of one of the school’s commanding officers and Squadron Leader Rae Churchill, a former Second World War instructor at RCAF Station Bowden.

As for RCAF Detachment Shepard, the abandoned runways at  were used as as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing, known as the Shepard Raceways, from 1958 – 1970 and then the Calgary International Raceway in the mid 1970s.

The former north-south runway was used as drag race strip until it closed around 1983, when the construction of Deerfoot Trail cut across the old runway. The Alberta Motor Association then used the runway as a driver training facility.

The SE-NW runway and east-west runways were torn up in the early 1970s with construction of Shepard landfill.

Today, nothing remains of the Shepard Detachment. In the early 2000s, the property was redeveloped into an industrial complex. A “Flying J” truck stop now occupies part of the property where the airfield used to be.

Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Gladys.

Source Material: “Canada Flight Supplement 1999”, David Harris, local resident of De Winton (July 2001) as posted on “As You Were – War Years: News”, the Calgary Ultra-light Flying Club web site – http://www.cufc.ca, July 2001 Edition – http://www.angelfire.com/trek/rcaf/ammq0107.html, information supplied by Jesse Knight, property owner DeWinton Aerodrome (2004), information supplied by Rick Lang, Operations Manager, Alberta Motor Association (2004), information provided by Tim Harris, local resident of De Winton (2004), information provided by Francois Arseneault, History & Heritage Committee, Army Cadet League of Canada (2007), the personal recollections of the author (2004), Grandville Island Publishing web site – http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm and the RCAF web site – http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/article-template-standard.page?doc=no-31-elementary-flying-training-school-commemorated/irhk4jm8.


No. 32 Elementary Flying Training School:

Opened north-east of Bowden, Alberta under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on 12 July 1941. A Relief Landing Field was also constructed at nearby Netook, which featured grass runways. The school closed on 8 September 1944, as did RCAF Detachment Netook.

No. 1 Surplus Holing Unit was established 1 May 1945 at the Bowden Aerodrome to store surplus was equipment. After the unit shut down, the property was used as a reform school and then became its present day facility, a Federal Prison: Bowden Institution.

Only the administration building and small, severely deteriorated potions of the airfield remain today.

Source Material: Netook Air Cadet Gliding School web site – http://www.netook.aircadets.ca/history.php3, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm & “Wings For Victory – The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada”, by Spencer Dunmore & the personal recollections of the author(2004).


Netook Gliding Centre:

Opened as a Relief Landing Field for No. 32 EFTS at Bowden, where student pilots used turf runways for flying training. RCAF Detachment Netook closed in 1944 along with No. 32 EFTS.

In the early 1980s, the Air Force made a return of sorts to the former RCAF Detachment Netook when the Royal Canadian Air Cadets began using the site as an alternate airfield to the Gliding School at Innisfail.

By 1986, the Gliding School moved permanently to Netook where the Netook Gliding Centre carries on the tradition of training airmen and women of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. In 1990, the Air Cadet League bought the Netook Airfield, cementing the return of the Air Force to Netook.

Besides the grass airfield, all that remains of the WWII school today is one shed/hangar, currently used as an office and storage building for the air cadets. A new steel sided hanger also sits on the property.

Source Material: Netook Air Cadet Gliding Centre web site – http://www.cadets.net/pra/netookgc, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, “Wings For Victory – The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada”, by Spencer Dunmore & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 


 

No. 36 Elementary Flying Training School / No. 3 Air Observer School / No. 2 Flight Instructors School:

Opened by the Royal Air Force north of the Village of Pearce on 30 March 1942 as No. 36 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The school had a brief existence as it closed on 14 August 1942.

No. 3 Air Observer School of Regina, Saskatchewan opened a Detachment at the aerodrome on 12 September 1942. The school operated at the Pearce aerodrome until 6 June 1943 when both the Pearce and Regina schools closed.

No. 2 Flying Instructors School, originally from Vulcan, re-located to Pearce on 3 May 1943. The school closed on 20 January 1945.

Although the airfield was abandoned, the former school continued to be used as a storage depot and scrap yard. Many WWII bombers met their final fate at the Peace Depot, including 140 or so Lancasters that were sent to Pearce from the storage depot at Scoudouc, New Brunswick because the drier air was less corrosive on the aircraft.

The Depot closed in 1960.

For several years, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

Today, very little remains of the former air station; only some foundations, the crumbling airfield and the old cistern, now used for manure storage. The former station is now a farm, known as “The Airport Dairy”. A monument was erected at the site, using a chunk of concrete from one of the hangars, as a tribute to the men and women who served at the wartime school.

The Village of Pearce no longer exists either. Gone are the General Store, two grain elevators and Pearce School District School House #1686. A memorial to the old schoolhouse sits on the Pearce Road, just north of the former Village.

Source Material: “Wings For Victory – The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada”, by Spencer Dunmore, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, Grandville Island Publishing web site – http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), The Lancaster Museum web site – http://www.lancastermuseum.ca/bcatpalberta.html &


 

No. 7 Service Flying Training School:

Opened near the west end of Fort MacLeod under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on 9 December 1940, with a Relief Landing Field at Granum. The School closed on 17 November 1944, as did the RCAF Detachment Granum.

After the war, the station became No. 1 Repair Equipment and Maintenance Unit for a period before the RCAF abandoned the site.

For several years, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

Today, the aerodrome is the Fort Macleod airport. One can still see the abandoned original triangle-pattern airfield, but it is rapidly crumbling. A new 3000 ft runway was build across the top of the triangle.

Many of the World War II-era buildings remain including four hangars, an administration building, one of the barracks (currently a private residence), the drill hall and the old water cistern. Two of the hangars are occupied by Albicanlis Lumber and the former HQ building is now a recreation hall, used by 2309 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

Falcan Industries and an auto scrap yard also occupy part of the property, as does a new home development, “Airfield Properties”, that sits in the centre of the former airfield.

A monument was erected in Memorial Park in Fort MacLeod as a tribute to the men and women who served at the wartime school.

The abandoned airfield also remains at RCAF Detachment Granum, but the property is now used for farming.

Source Material: “Wings For Victory – The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada”, by Spencer Dunmore, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, Grandville Island Publishing web site – http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & “Canada Flight Supplement 1999.


No. 19 Service Flying Training School & No. 2 Flight Instructor School:

Opened under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, aerodrome south-west of Vulcan (located at Section 10, Township 16, Range 25, west of the 4th meridian) was originally the site for two different schools during World War II.

The first was No. 2 Flight Instructor School (2 FIS), which opened on 3 August 1942. All flying training schools had one or two relief landing fields located nearby.

The relief field, usually consisting of either grass or asphalt runways, one hangar, maintenance facilities and barracks for overnight stays, allowed pilot trainees to conduct circuit training on landing and taking-off in their airplanes. Some also served as sub-unit training schools.  Vulcan’s Relief Landing Fields constructed near Ensign (asphalt runways) & Champion (turf runways).

A total of 750 students graduated from 2 FIS before it re-located to Pearce, Alberta on 3 May 1943.

The same day, No. 19 Service Flying Training School opened at the aerodrome. By the time
the school closed on 29 March 1945, a total of 860 pilots had earned their wings. RCAF Detachments Ensign and Champion also ceased operations.

The station’s last Commanding Officer, B.C. Andrews AFC, said to the final graduating class, “The RCAF has been the backbone of a great air training plan which in the space of a few short years has changed the course of world history. The enemy is well aware that the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan has accomplished a tremendous achievement. The aims and objects to provide personnel to maintain air supremacy in every theatre of war has been accomplished. Every member of this great service can be rightfully proud of their participation.”

Although many RCAF stations closed after the war, the Vulcan aerodrome remained active as a storage depot and scrap yard for surplus airplanes. Many WWII bombers met their final fate at the Vulcan Depot, which finally closed in the late 1950s.

For a period the site operated as the Vulcan Industrial Airport, but sat abandoned for many years. Six of the original seven hangars remain, but only two remained use for storage of heavy equipment and farm machinery. The empty fire station, the gunnery backstop, the cistern, part of the transport building and the abandoned & crumbling airfield also remain. Cattle grazed where most of the buildings once stood.

On 15 July 2000, a reunion of former staff and students was held at the Vulcan Airfield. A commemorative monument, built using a portion of the foundation from the guardhouse, was dedicated on the site as a tribute to the service men and women of No. 19 SFTS and No. 2 FIS.

Some windows and doors from the Vulcan hangars are now being used at the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba.

In September 2010, several vintage airplanes landed on the abandoned runways at the former RCAF Station Vulcan for the first time in more than 60 years as part of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s weekend-long Salute to the Flight Instructors.

The British Commonwealth’s Air Training Plan’s steering committee sought to turn one out of three Southern Alberta airports into a national historic sites, with Vulcan being one of them.

In 2011, the aerodeome re-opened as the Vulcan/Kirkcaldy Aerodrome, operated by Wheatland Industries.  The remaining 6 hangars were restored and the years of debris was cleared from the runways and taxiways.

Vertical Extreme Skydiving currently operates out of the aerodrome. One of the former runways was resurfaced for their use.

In 2015, Vulcan became the main Headquarters for the Southern Alberta Gliding Centre of the Air Cadet Gliding Program.

Some of the original windows and doors from the Vulcan hangars are now being used at the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba.

All that remains of RCAF Detachment Ensign today is the entrance road and the hangar pad, now used as part of a farm operation.

Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Champion.

Source material: information supplied by Marge Weber, Town of Vulcan (2002), the personal recollections of the author (2004), “Stay Out Of Those Hangars – Little Boys and Big Bombers” by Elgin Keith Jones CD, The Vulcan Advocate – http://www.vulcanadvocate.com (2003 & 2010), Vulcan Air Base web site – http://vulcanairbase.com/index.htm, Vertical Extreme Skydiving web site – http://verticalextremeskydiving.com/about.htmll and the Lancaster Museum web site – www.lancastermuseum.com/lancaster.


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Ensign:

Opened in 1942 as a Relief Landing Field for the BCATP school at Vulcan. The Detachment was abandoned after the War. All that remains is the hangar pad and the road into the former aerodrome, now used for farming operations.

Source material: Places to Fly web site – http://www.copanational.org/PlacesToFly, Google Maps..

 


No. 34 Service Flying Training School:

Originally a dirt airstrip that opened in 1912 outside Medicine Hat, the Royal Air Force assumed control of the aerodrome and opened a flying school on 8 April 1941, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

The school also had Relief Landing Fields along the Holsom County Road (paved runways) & in the District of Whitla (grass runways). The RCAF would later take control of the school.

The school closed on 17 November 1944, as did RCAF Detachments Holsom & Whitla.

The aerodrome was transferred to the Town of Medicine Hat in 1947 and is now the Medicine Hat Municipal Airport. Only two of the original six runways remain in use, one expanded to 5000 ft.

The former fire hall, now used as a meeting hall, also remains, along with one hangar pad and the old German Merchant Navy prisoner of war  barracks with their old tar paper covered outer walls and some German graffiti on the inside walls.

A monument was erected at the airport as a tribute to the men and women who served at the wartime school.

Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Whitla, which was returned to farming.

RCAF Detachment Holsom’s runway was ploughed under for farming as well, but a few chunks of asphalt can still be seen.

Source Material: the City of Medicine Hat web site – http://www.city.medicine-hat.ab.ca/, the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, “Canada Flight Supplement 1999”, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & information provided by Cuyler J. Green, Airport Superintendent, Medicine Hat Airport.


No. 37 Service Flying Training School:

Originally established at McCall Field in Calgary, named in honour of World War I Hero Captain Fred McCall, by the Royal Air Force on 22 October 1941. Relief Landing Fields was also constructed at Airdrie and Inverlake. The school was later taken over by the RCAF. Additionally, a detachment of the United States Army Air Corps occupied space at the airport from 1941-1944 as part of the Alaska Staging Route.

Student pilots at No. 37 SFTS would spend the last three weeks of their air training course with the Advanced Training Unit at RCAF Detachment Airdrie, where bombing training was conducted.

No. 37 SFTS closed on 10 March 1944, as did RCAF Detachments Airdrie and Inverlake.

The airfield at McCall reverted to a civilian airport in 1949, using the original RCAF buildings. A new terminal was built in 1956, replacing the outdated original terminal. The airport became known as the Calgary International Airport in 1966.

Only one of the five World War II era hangars remain today, and the Calgary Aerospace Museum occupies the former drill hall. As well, one of the original arch-style hangars, built in 1938 for Trans Canada Airlines, the predecessor of Air Canada, also remains.

The former RCAF Detachment Airdrie is now the Airdrie Airport. Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Inverlake today.

Source material: the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm & Canadian Racer web site – www.motorsportcentral.com, information supplied by Bill Watson, Manager of the Calgary Aerospace Museum (2004) & the personal recollections of the author (2004).


 

No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School:

See entry in “Closed bases that still have a military presence“.

 


 

RCAF Detachment Innisfail:

Opened in 1941 as a Relief Landing Field for No. 36 SFTS at Penhold. The aerodrome closed in 1945.

In 1960, the Innisfail Flying Club was established at the airfield.

Military flying training returned to the former RCAF Detachment Innisfail when a Regional Air Cadet Gliding School was established at RCAF Station Penhold in the summer of 1966. Flying training was conducted at both Penhold and Innisfail.

In the early 1980s, the Air Cadet Gliding School began making use of the former RCAF Detachment Netook as an alternate airfield to the Gliding School at Innisfail. By 1986, the Gliding School moved permanently to Netook.

The Innisfail aerodrome remains today and is still used by the Innisfail Flying Club. It is host to many activities year-round, including a glider club, the Innisfail Flying Club and a skydiving training facility.

All the original runways remain, but only runway 34/16 is still in use. An old water cistern also remains. A new club house/terminal building was officially opened on 10 June 1984.

Source Material: information provided by the Innisfail Flying Club (2004) & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 

 


 

RCAF Detachment Grande Prairie:

Originally opened as a civilian airport in 1928, it was taken over by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, along with units of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

The aerodrome facilities were expanded and the grass strip runway was paved over and two new runways were built.

After WWII, the airport was transferred to the federal Department of Transportation.

On 1 February 1997, control of the airport was transferred to the City of Grande Prairie.  Nothing remains from the military days.

 

Sources:  Grande Prairie Airport web site – http://grandeprairieairport.com/airport-information-101/history-2.

 


 

RCAF No. 11 Equipment Depot (No. 11 Supply Depot):

Opened September 1940 in Calgary. Closed November 1951

Source Material: http://jfchalifoux.com/bases_stations_calgary_to_cold_lake.htm


No. 2 Wireless School:

Opened by the Royal Canadian Air Force on 16 September 1940 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on the grounds of Alberta Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA). No. 2 Wireless School would eventually become one of the biggest wireless training schools in the British Commonwealth, graduating thousands of radio operators.

The school also utilized the RCAF Detachment Shepard for air training.

The school closed on 14 April 1945 and the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art re-opened. Many war veterans attended the school as part of their return to civilian life.

No. 2 Wireless School’s temporary buildings were demolished years ago, but the historic PITA building does remain. The school was re-named the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1965.

Source material: the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm

 


 

No. 130 Non-Permanent Active Militia Training Centre / No. A-20 Royal Canadian Army Service Corps Advanced Training Centre:

See “Closed bases that still have a military presence“.

 


 

No. 131 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

With the outbreak of World War II, the Non-permanent Active Militia found itself in need of new training camps to train recruits. In 1940, the Camrose Fairgrounds were taken over for use as a Basic Training Centre. The old grandstand was demolished and over a dozen buildings sprung up. The old Camrose Normal School building, vacated the year before, was taken over as the camp’s Headquarters. The Training Centre officially opened 9 October 1940.

When the war ended, the fairgrounds and all the camp’s buildings were returned to the city.

Some of the former camp’s H-huts were sold and moved off site as homes. The Royal Canadian Legion bought one for use as its meeting hall. Several of the camp’s old buildings do remain on the site, such as the old drill hall, which is used by the local Air Cadet Squadron and Army Cadet Corps.

Source Material: information provided by the Camrose Canadian newspaper (2003) & information supplied by Penny Kinnee, City Clerk’s Office, City of Camrose (2003).

 


 

No. 133 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

Opened on 28 January 1942 at the Wetaskiwin Fair Grounds as an Infantry Training Centre. The school closed in August 1945 and the camp was converted to a Sortation unit, tasked with the process of releasing returning members from the RCAF.

The camp itself finally closed in January 1946 when the Sortation Unit relocated to Calgary.

All that remains today is the drill hall, now part of the Wetaskiwin Civic Centre.

Source Material: “Siding 16: The History of Wetaskiwin, 1930 to 1960” by A. Bert Reynolds & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 


 

No. 2 Special Wireless Station Grande Prairie:

Opened in 1942 as No. 2 Special Wireless Station. The station was originally supposed to be a part of Canada’s National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization, but instead was operated by Air Force Headquarters.

The station was deemed surplus and closed in 1947.

Source Material: Canada’s National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization web site – www.tscm.com.cse.html & information supplied by Mary Nutting, Archival Assistant, Grande Prairie (2002).

 


No. 2 Canadian Women’s Army Corps Training Centre:

Opened in 1942 on the grounds of the Vermilion School of Agriculture, which closed for the duration of the war. Lady Eaton of the Eaton’s Department Store, served as the Commanding Officer of the training centre. Every six weeks, 500 young ladies would commence a new training course.

No. 2 CWACTC closed in 1944 and the school returned to its pre-war use.

Today, the former agriculture school is known as Lakeland College. Only the drill hall, now the Auto Mechanic building, and the former Officers’ Barracks, now Alumni Hall, remain today.

Source Material: the personal recollections of Bob Maggs, local resident of Vermillion (2004) & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 

Permanent link to this article: http://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/abandoned-bases/alberta/

33 comments

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  1. rick bergeron

    What about the history of Canadian Forces Station Beaverlodge.
    Thanks

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Beaverlodge in the Pinetree Line section of the web site.

      Bruce

  2. Brad Johnson

    CFS Beaverlodge, about 50km west of Grande Prairie, closed sometime in the early 1990s. any plans on adding this one?

  3. Bill Chalmers

    Hi. You have done some good work on these histories. I am retired military (43 years Reg F and Reserves). 7 of those years were spent at CFB Edmonton (77-84); living in Greisbach and working at Base Transport on both sites. Around 1980/81 I spent an entire summer running a bulldozer to level and clear a field at the NW corner of Greisbach because some one thought that would be a great place for an archery range. That idea died over the following winter. Our son served with 1 PPCLI from 94 – 98 so he went through a return to home turf when the unit moved to Edmonton and he moved into a rowhouse one block from where he lived as a kid.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. If you have anything you can add to my base histories, including photos that will be credited to you, it would be greatly appreciated. Forty-three years is certainly a long time to be in uniform and very commendable. I would have like to have come close to that, but life took me in other directions.

      Cheers,

      Bruce

      1. Kevin G. Haan

        I need to correct you about the Medicine Hat fair grounds bit as I remember being there in the 70’s and early 80’s
        and there were some of the old POW barracks were still standing with their old tar paper covered outer walls and some german graffiti on the inside walls. The old barracks use to house german merchant navy personal during the
        wars which several of these lads moved to Medicine Hat after the war. I know this as afew of my father in law’s friends were incarcerated at the compound.

        regards

        1. Bruce Forsyth

          Hi Kevin,

          Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the information. If you have any photos, I’d love to see them.

          Bruce

  4. Don Johnston

    There is no mention of CFB Calgary Currie Barracks. The PMQs have been totally revamped and now are home to over 10,000 people. The Base it self on the west side of Crowchild trail is greatly downsized to the point there is one small compound of military people left. I believe that this happened at the same time as the sarcee barracks dismantling. The PPCLI, LDSH, 1feild ambulance and other assorted units were transferred to Edmonton during the ’90’s.

    Time to do a little more research.

    Don

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Currie Barracks under “Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence – Alberta”.

      Bruce

  5. Larry Buchan

    Growing up in South Calgary in the 1950s and 60s. I was very close to the Currie Barracks, Lincoln Park and Sarcee Barracks. One of my friends father was an officer at the Sarcee barracks, one Saturday circa 1956-58. He took us out there, and I can remember vividly the remains of a building that had burned down, in it where the remains of about 15 Army tanks that were burnt out shells, and there was a hole in the brick foundation walls where a soldier evidently saved one of the tanks by driving it out through the brick and concrete wall

    I also remember in the Bonnybrook district in southeast Calgary, there was a large Department of National Defense Depot could you tell me the name of it. I know that some of the buildings remain, and were used by the Alberta Distillers Limited

    Larry

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Larry,
      Thanks for stopping by my web site. The Depot was formerly the RCAF No. 11 Equipment Depot, later re-named No. 11 Supply Depot. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of information on it right now (hard to find), but it was open from 1940-51. You can see some photos of it on my web site in the Abandoned Bases – Alberta section.

      Bruce

  6. Wayne Mc Kenzie

    Great information Bruce.You have done a great job-lots of leg work.I was very impressed. I share your interest in our WW2 history.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and I’m glad that you like it. It’s a labour of love.

      Bruce

  7. Keith Armstrong

    Very nice work – thanks for that. I bought Hangar #4 at Claresholm last January and I am in the process of clearing and grubbing the site. It’s a large undertaking. Couple of comments on your write-up: Hanger #1 & #2 had a new roof installed in 2006 as the result of a wind storm. Hanger #3 (one of your photos) was razed in Dec/2014. I could send you a couple of photos, if you like.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the information. I would love to see any photos you can send. You can send them directly to bruce@militarybruce.com.

      Bruce

    2. Bruce Forsyth

      Keith,

      Can you clarify the occupants of the hangars? The most current information that I have is that Trus Joist MacMillan Ltd occupied three of the hangars and one is owned by the town for maintenance of small aircraft. Can you advise the current owners besides yourself?

      Thanks, Bruce

      1. Keith Armstrong

        Hi Bruce:

        Hanger #1: Owner is Environmental Rescue Equipment. They do fire fighting for the Alberta Government using refurbished US and Canadian military vehicles. Half is available for lease – see attached brochure.
        Hanger #2: Owner is Rick Holdings. The Hanger is for sale – see attached brochure. Yes, I am the commercial realtor that has it listed.
        Hanger #3: Owner is Grant Lobban: Burned the hanger in Dec/2014 and has only the concrete floor and apron left. Has trailers (SEACANS) for rent on it. I believe that this is the one you photographed and put on your website.
        Hanger #4: Owner is Ptarmigan Real Estate Ltd. That is my company. Being restored – 5 year project.
        Hanger #5: Owner is ESIP Holdings Ltd. I believe that they make concrete panels for the construction industry
        Hanger #6: Owner is Bruce Hagel. Leased to a firm that provides material (not sure what) to the construction Industry
        Hanger #7: Owner is Bruce Hagel. Vacant and available for lease – see attached brochure

        The attached recent Map is from the MD ownership map, current as of last month.

        The Town of Claresholm does not own any hangars. They do own and operate the runways. There are a number of small hangars recently built by the active runway for private aeroplane owners. They have nothing to do with the military history of the area. I have enclosed a For Sale brochure on one of them.

        Is it possible that you could send me the aerial photos 1958, 2013 from your website.

        Will send pics at a later time.

        regards

        1. Bruce Forsyth

          Hi Keith,

          Thank you for this information.

          Bruce

    3. Les David Mroz

      Sad to see that Hangar # 3 is gone. Glad to hear that Hangar #4 is being restored! Thanks for all the latest info on Claresholm, Keith.

      Les

  8. Richard Brown

    Hi Bruce,
    A Canadian cousin of mine told me about your website. My father was an instructor at De Winton under the WW2 Commonwealth Air Training Plan. I have photos he took at the base and group photos of instructors and classes. I don’t know whether these photos are of interest as you have concentrated on the buildings and runways etc.
    Anyway many thanks for a great website – most interesting.
    Regards
    Richard

    PS. Dad went onto work at Currie after De Winton wound down the Air Training scheme.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I would be interested in seeing any photos that you have to offer, both for De Winton and Currie. Although I have been concentrating on photos of the bases themselves, photos of classes would make a great addition to the web site. If you have the name of the photographer, please advise me so I can list them in the photo credit. You can send any photos to bruce@militarybruce.com.

      Thanks,

      Bruce

  9. Denis

    Great site. Lots of history. Like Brad Johnson, I would like to know if you are Adding CFS Beaverlodge to the list. I was there from 85-88. I know there are a few websites that have photos of the station before and after.

    Best Regards

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Denis,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. CFS Beaverlodge can be found in the Pinetree Line section of this web site. If you have any photos that you wish to share, let me know.

      Bruce

  10. William Boyd

    I have recently came into possession of an unknown family’s photo album. Inside are about 30 photos of Pre WWII photos of pilots being trained in Canada. On the back of these photos are dates Sept. of 1941 and Oct. of 1941. Locations include, Calgary, and Edmonton. Also I came across wording of “High River”. That name has led me to this site. Also, one of the photos I have shows an airfield which matches a photo on this site and that is No. 3 SFTS and #10 repair depot, just different angle of airfield.
    I also have several photos with the future pilots names, photos of planes, photo of a round crew, and others. If anyone is interested, just send me an email and I will send copies of these photos.

    Bill Boyd

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by my site and I’m glad that you enjoyed it. If you wanted to have any of these photos posted on this web site, I’d love to have them. You can send them to bruce@militarybruce.com.

      Bruce

  11. Bill Holmes

    Hi Bruce,
    I am with the Alberta Government – Air Photo Office. I am writing a story about our photo collection. Many years ago a gentleman came into our office wanting a photo of an air base. He wanted to discover if the photo showed the warplanes in storage after World War 2. He played in them as a kid. I found the photo ( taken around 1950 ) and it did show the airplanes. However, I cannot find the air photo. Do you know of any air force bases that stored airplanes after World War 2? Thanks
    Bill Holmes

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I take it you are wondering about aerodromes used as storage sites in Alberta? According to my research, 19 SFTS was used for storage until the late 1950s, 36 EFTS until 1960 and 32 EFTS (closure date of storage depot unknown).

      I hope this helps,

      Bruce

  12. Robert Davidson

    Did I miss something? No mention of CFB in Wainwright.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Wainwright in the Current Bases section.

      Bruce

  13. ED

    I live in the carstairs alberta area an the old timers here talk about a runway east of town that was used for training during the war. have you any information on this.?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Ed,
      I haven’t heard of any RCAF airfields that were east of Carstairs, but I wasn’t able to locate some of the relief landing fields in Alberta, so it’s possible that it was one of them.

      Bruce

  14. janine martinell

    Hi Bruce, I was wondering you have heard anything about a base in Conklin, a man that worked with dad said they used go to doors and they would get candy or food when they were children , and my understanding that this is underground with two main entrances. I don’t know anything else about this but only from this older man told my father.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Janine,

      No, I haven’t heard of a base in Conklin but there were a lot of small base/detachments that have been lost to all but longtime residents of the area. I’ll look into it.

      Bruce

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