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BRITISH COLUMBIA

Canadian Forces Station Ladner:
(Vancouver Wireless Station)
(Royal Canadian Air Force Station Boundary Bay)

Originally opened on 10 April 1941 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as Royal Canadian Air Force Station Boundary Bay, the home of No. 18 Elementary Flying Training School. A Relief Landing Field was constructed near Langley.

No. 18 EFTS had a brief existence as it closed on 25 May 1942, making way for three Home Defense Units fighter squadrons to defend the Greater Vancouver Area:  No.133 (F) Squadron, No.132 (F) Squadron, (Kittyhawk) and No 14 (F) Squadron.

The aerodrome was taken over by No. 5 Operational Training unit from 1 April 1944 until 31 October 1945, with a detachment at Abbotsford. The RCAF abandoned the aerodrome itself closed in 1946. In it’s heyday, the station had a population of 4000 personnel.

In 1949 the site was re-activated as the Vancouver Wireless Station, run by the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and utilizing the old RCAF buildings. The station acted as a radio station in Canada’s National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization. The Operations site, a large 3 story concrete building, was built in the middle of the abandoned airfield, surrounded by a large antenna field between runways 01-19 & 12-30.

The Vancouver Wireless Station had facilities much like other post-war bases, includ ing singles quarters, 150 permanent married quarters, dining halls and messes, a Medical Inspection Room, administration building, gymnasium with a sport field with 2 ball diamonds and tennis courts, a chapel, woodworking and automotive shops, a grocery store (later CANEX), engineering & transport sections and a firehall. Most of these facilities were located on a property directly north of the airfield.

With the Unification, the name of the station was changed to Canadian Forces Station Ladner.

CFS Lander closed on 15 July 1971 and its area of responsibility was taken over by CFS Masset.

From 1971-1983, the abandoned runways were used for a variety of uses including race cars, model aircraft flying and driver training.

By the mid 1970s, Vancouver Airport was becoming so congested that a reliever airfield became necessary to handle small aircraft traffic. Transport Canada began looking at options for reliever airports and after an exhaustive search, the most economical option was to re-activate the Boundary Bay.

On 11 July 1983, the former RCAF station re-opened as the Boundary Bay Airport, marking the first time in 35 years that airplanes had graced the runways. Two of the three main runways (07-25 & 12-30) were re-opened, with a smaller runway being used as a taxiway.  A new $1.5 million control tower opened on 4 July 1984.

From 1998-2005, the Boundary Bay Driving Centre used the abandoned third runway for driving training and drag racing. This runway is now scheduled to re-open to flying activities.

Today, besides the airfield, all that remains from the airport’s military days are RCAF “arch-style” hangar, the abandoned roadways and the Operations building used by the communications station. Current tenants at the airport include the Canadian Flight Centre, Flightec, Macleod Aviation, Montair Aviation, the Professional Flight Centre and the Pacific Flying Club. A new industrial park currently occupies part of the property.

Nothing remains of the main CFS Lander site, which is now the Vancouver Landfill site.

On 6 May 2005, 828 “Hurricane” Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron dedicated a monument honouring the men & women who served at RCAF Station Boundary Bay.

A plaque and Cenotaph was dedicated to all those who served and trained at Boundary Bay during World War II.

The airfield also remains at the former RCAF Detachment Langley, which is now the very busy Langley Regional Airport. The Royal Canadian Air Cadets Pacific Region Gliding School operates a summer Regional Gliding Centre at the airport, carring on the tradition of training young airmem & airwomen at Langley.

Source Material: Canada’s National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization web site – www.tscm.com.cse.html, “History of Canadian Airports” by T.M. McGrath, the Boundary Bay Airport web site – http://www.czbb.com & the Vancouver Wireless Station web site – http://www.troywoodintarsia.com/vws/vws.htm.


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Sea Island:

Established beside the Vancouver Airport on 22 July 1940 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School. Originally RCAF pilots had grass runways on which to land, but these were eventually replaced by a Congo Mat (Steel Mesh Mat) runway.

No. 13 Operational Training Squadron was also established at the aerodrome in 1940, but its stay was brief as it re-located to RCAF Station Patricia Bay in November 1940. No. 8 EFTS re-located to Boundary Bay and became part of No. 18 EFTS in January 1942.

The aerodrome became was home to No. 22 Service and Repair Depot from 1944-45.

The station remained open after World War II and was re-named RCAF Station Sea Island. 442 Squadron was re-activated as a 442 “City of Vancouver” Auxiliary Fighter Squadron at Sea Island 15 April 1946, but was later re-designated an Auxiliary Transport Squadron. 123 Rescue Flight and 121 Composite Flight (KU) were also formed at Sea Island. By 1948, Sea Island’s runways were linked up with those of the Vancouver Airport

On 1 December 1951, 442 Squadron was split in half to form 443 “City of New Westminster” Squadron.

With the impending Unification in the mid 1960s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed and as a result, RCAF Station Sea Island closed on 31 March 1964.

One of the consequences of the closure of the station was the cancellation of a contract to build four additional rooms to the station’s elementary school.

No. 121 KU Squadron moved to RCAF Station Comox, where in 1968, it was renamed 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, but 442 Squadron and 443 Squadron disbanded.  However, No. 11 Air Movements Unit remained at the former station for several years afterwards.

The PMQ houses became part of the Army Camp at Jericho Beach until 1973, when they were sold and moved onto First Nations Reserves along the Georgia Strait.

Very little remains of the former station. Only the footings of the old base water reservoir and the wooden pump house shack remain today. The former RCAF Recreation Centre was demolished in 2003.

Source Material: 442 Squadron history web site – http://www.comox.dnd.ca/squadrons/442/442hist.htm, 440 Squadron history web site – http://www.440sqn.com/frames.htm, 19 Wing Comox web site – http://www.comox.dnd.ca, information supplied by Sherry Eastholm, Manager, Sidney (B.C.) Museum (1999), the Pinetree Line web site – http://www.pinetreeline.org/articles/resarth.html, information supplied by Doug Eastman, President, Sea Island Heritage Society (2004), the personal recollections of Vince Bissonnette, former Commanding Officer CF Detachment Jericho Beach (2004) & “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Kitsilano:

Opened during World War II, the station remained open after the war, becoming part of the post-war RCAF.

RCAF Station Kitsilano was the home of No. 2 Supply Depot, No. 19 (Auxiliary) Wing, No. 9 Construction Maintenance Unit headquarters, the RCAF Rescue Coordination Centre, No. 5 Air Division Headquarters and the RCAF Police Investigation Department. No. 135 “Vancouver Squadron” Royal Canadian Air Cadets moved to the station in the 1950s.

With the impending Unification in the mid 1960s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed and as a result, RCAF Station Kitsilano closed in 1964 and was sold to the City of Vancouver for parkland.

The site is now Vanier Park, home to the Vancouver Museum, the Maritime Museum and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.

Source Material: information supplied by Liz Wright, Archivist, City of Vancouver (2000), 135 “Vancouver Squadron” Royal Canadian Air Cadets web site – http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/9334/history.html, the Pinetree LIne web site – http://www.pinetreeline.org/rds/detail/rds99-1.html & “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Smithers:
Opened in 1941, the station initially was used as a storage & maintenance depot, training station and refueling stop for aircraft. Fighter and coastal patrol aircraft often stopped by in Smithers on the way to the larger airbase at Prince Rupert.  Troops from the Canadian Army served as guards at Station Smithers.  Aircraft frequently seen at Smithers include Ventura bombers and Hurricane fighters.

A Relief Landing Field was constructed near Woodcock, consisting of one runway and buildings.

As the war progressed, RCAF Station Smithers became quite a busy air base. Supply aircraft made regular trips to coastal defence stations along the west coast of British Columbia and U.S. Army Air Force planes made occasional stops at Smithers enroute to Alaska.

A new 4400 foot asphalt runway was completed by May 1943. The station became No. 17 Staging Unit on 1 April 1945

RCAF Station Smithers closed in August 1945.

The aerodrome was taken over by the Town of Smithers in 1946, but saw little use until 1953, when Canadian Airlines began regular passenger service.

Today the former station is known as the Smithers Regional Airport and  is served by Air Canada, Central Mountain Air and Northern Thunderbird Air, in addition several Charter
companies.  The airport’s single runway was expanded to 7,544 ft in 2008.

One WWII era hangar remains today, used today by Central Mountain Air as does an unknown building that used as a generator building by a local construction company. The Royal Canadian Air Cadets occasionally use the airport for gliding training. Air Canada and several other regional airlines and charters also operate from the airport.

All that remains of Detachment Woodcock is the crumbling runway.  The airfield was abandoned around 2004.

Source Material: Highway 16 Magazine Web site – http://www.hiway16.com/fp/jim/smiair/smiair2.htm, Smithers Regional Airport web site – http://www.smithersairport.com/index.html, BC North Magazine – http://www.bcnorth.ca/magazine/pages/Jim/airport/airport1.htm & information supplied by Tracy Berry, Smithers Airport (2005).

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Terrace:

Opened in 1943, the station was part of the coastal defence network, as well as an aircraft ferry station. The RCAF closed the facility in 1945 and the airfield was transferred to the Department of Transport the following year.

The aerodrome is now the Northwest Regional Airport, owned and operated by the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society. The airfield remains, but only two of the original three runways remain in use.  The gunnery backstop also remains and is being restored, but the last of the WWII hangars burned down back in the 80s.

Terrace Bay Council voted in 2005 to close the airport’s runway, saving the community roughly $40,000 a year. Ministry of Natural Resources, Hydro and emergency helicopters will still have access to the facility year round.

Source Material: information provided by the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society (2004) & information provided by Carman Hendry, Northwest Regional Airport Terrace-Kitimat (2015).

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Kamloops:

Established at the Kamloops Airport in April 1942 as a refiling station for Air Transport Command flights to the Soviet Union.  The runway was expanded to over 5000 feet and new hangars and aprons were constructed.

In April 1944, the airport was renamed Fulton Field after Wing Commander John Fulton, DSO, DFC, AFC, a native of Kamloops who was first commanding officer of 419 (City Of Kamloops) Squadron.

The RCAF closed the station in August 1945 and turned the airport over to the Department of Transport in August 1945, who in turn leased it the City of Kamloops in 1947.

Source material:  Kamloops Airport web site:  www.kamloopsairport.com/history.htm.


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Langley:

Opened in 1941 as the Relief Landing Field for No. 18 Elementary Flying Training School at Boundary Bay. The Detachment closed in 1945.

The Township of Langley aquired the airport and today, the former RCAF Detachment Langley is the very busy Langley Township Regional Airport.

The Langley Airport hosts weekend Royal Canadian Air Cadet gliding training in the spring and fall, which supplements the summer program at 19 Wing Comox, the headquarters for the Regional Cadet Air Operations (Pacific) of the Air Cadet League of Canada.  In this way, the tradition of training young airmen & airwomen continues at Langley.

Source Material: Langley Regional Airport – www.langleyairport.bc.ca/html/c_07_a.htm, information provided by Keith Stewart (2015), History of Canadian Airports” by T.M. McGrath & the Boundary Bay Airport web site – http://www.czbb.com.


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Dog Creek:

Opened during WWII as a RCAF supplementary aerodrome, the home of No. 11 Staging Unit.  The airfield was in the standard triangle-pattern, with double, side-by-side runways. A radio transmitter station was also set up half a mile from the aerodrome.

The aerodrome was taken over by Department of Transport in 1946.

Activities at the Dog Creek Airport was drastically reduced when the Williams Lake Airport opened in 1960. Most of the staff and facilities were moved to Williams Lake.

The aerodrome was purchased by Circle “S” Cattle Company in 1962 and one runway remained in use by hunters and fishermen.

Today the aerodrome is abandoned, and other than the rapidly crumbling runways, nothing remains from the RCAF days.

Source material:  JF Chalifoux Canadian Military collection – http://jfchalifoux.com/bases_stations_comox_to_goose_bay.htm & Goggle Maps (2010).


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Fort St. John:

A large construction program was undertaken in 1942 to connect the existing airfields with the Alaska Highway and to provide additional emergency fields and navigation aids between Edmonton and Northway, Alaska. In 1943, American contractors assumed responsibility for the completion of the work at a number of airports, including Fort St. John. The USAF constructed a completely new facility at a location east of the community, which today remains as the location of the North Peace Airport.

Fort St. John opened in 1943 a detachment of RCAF Station Fort Nelson, both part of the North West Staging Route.

Fort St. John had all the normal sections and facilities that one would expect at an RCAF base in those years; A good sized hangar, barracks, Wet Canteen, Messes, combined Mess Hall, but no luxury items such as a theatre or swimming pools.

The Detachment strength was approximately 320 which included a small group of Army Service Corps types that drove the ration trucks from Dawson Creek (which was the end of the rail line) to the various bases up the highway as far as Whitehorse. The station had an airport as well as Flying Control services.  The runways were in an X configuration each runway being 6700’, which was a long runway in those days.

A tour at Fort St. John was the normal for isolation – 1 year single; 2 years accompanied. They had an adequate number of PMQ/TMQ’s and accommodation down town was available.

Fort St. John closed in the summer of 1950.

The airfield now operates as the North Peace Regional Airport.

Source material:  North Peace Airport web site – www.fsjairport.com, information supplied by Major Phil Brown, (Retired) – http://firehouse651.com/anercafedmonton1950.htm & the RCAF Air Traffic control web site – http://67.69.104.76:84/rcaf-atc/other/other/other-41.html.


 

Royal Roads Military College:

Opened 13 December 1940 as His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Royal Roads, on the grounds of Hately Park near Esquimalt, the past residence of James Dunsmuir, former Premier and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Royal Roads served as the officer training centre for the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) – the “Wavy Navy” as it was affectionately known.

After World War II ended in 1945, Royal Roads training programs were scaled back, as the RCN no longer needed to train a large number of officers. The future of the college was in doubt until the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) expressed an interest in a training facility for their officer cadets. In 1947, Royal Roads was re-designated as the RCN-RCAF Joint Services College, but this would be short lived.

In 1948, admission was opened to Army officer cadets and Royal Roads, again re-named the Canadian Services College Royal Roads, began training officer cadets from all three service branches in a two year college program. Those officers wishing to pursue a university degree eventually moved onto either Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario or le College Militaire Royal (opened in 1952) in St Jean, Quebec. It was not until 1975 that Royal Roads was given royal assent to grant university degrees.

Due to Department of National Defence budget reductions in the early 1990′, it was decided that only one military college was needed to meet officer-training requirements. As a result, both Royal Roads and le College Militaire Royal closed in 1995. Royal Roads is now a private university, appropriately named Royal Roads University.

Source material: DND press release from February 1994 and the Royal Roads University web site – http://www.royalroads.ca.

 


 

No. 24 Elementary Flying Training School:
Opened on 6 September 1943 near Abbotsford, with a Relief Landing Field near Sumas. No. 24 EFTS had a brief existence as it closed on 15 August 1944.

A detachment of No. 5 Operational Training Unit, headquartered at Boundary Bay, took over the aerodrome from 15 Aug 1944 until 31 Oct 1945. RCAF Detachment Sumas was too small for No. 5’s requirements and was simply abandoned.
After the closure of No. 5 OTU Detachment Abbotsford, the aerodrome became No. 7 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, later changed to Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit until 1946, at which time the station finally closed for good.

In 1949, the abandoned aerodrome became the first racetrack for sport cars in Canada, with racing events hosted by the Sports Car Club of B.C. until 1958, when the racetrack closed. The airport was taken over by Transport Canada in 1958 and re-opened as the Abbotsford Airport. Today it hosts the annual Abbotsford International Airshow held in August.

Today, the Abbotsford Airport hosts weekend Royal Canadian Air Cadet gliding training in the spring and fall, which supplements the summer program at 19 Wing Comox, the headquarters for the Regional Cadet Air Operations (Pacific) of the Air Cadet League of Canada.  In this way, the tradition of training young airmen & airwomen continues at Abbotsford.

All that remains of the former station are three hangars, the fire hall, which has been the home of the Abbotsford Flying Club for over fifty years, the former Equipment Stores building and a pump house for the old water reservoir.

Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Sumas today.

Source Material: Source Material: information supplied by Sharon Jones, Airport Clerk, Abbotsford Airport (2001), information supplied by Keith Stewart (2015) & information supplied by Michael DesMazes, Local Historian (2002 & 2013).


 

West Coast Flying Boat Stations:

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Ucluelet:

Established 1 May 1940 as the home of No. 4 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron. No. 4 (BR) Squadron re-located to RCAF Station Tofino in August 1944. The station closed on 15 October 1944.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Alliford Bay:

Established 13 May 1940 as the new home of No. 6 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron, who re-located from RCAF Station Jericho Beach. RCAF Station Alliford Bay had the distinction of being the most isolated of all the West Coast Flying Boat Stations. In November 1942, the station swapped squadrons with RCAF Station Bella Bella – No. 6 (BR) Squadron departed and No. 9 (BR) Squadron arrived. In November 1943, the station also added No. 7 (BR) Squadron. The station closed 25 July 1945.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Prince Rupert:

Established November 1941 as the home of No. 7 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron. No. 7 (BR) Squadron re-located to RCAF Station Alliford Bay in April 1944. The role of the station changed to an administrative base, but this was short-lived as it closed in September 1944.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Coal Harbour:

Established 10 December 1940 as the home of No. 120 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron. The British Columbia Regiment was also posted to Coal Harbour for station defence purposes. No. 120 (BR) Squadron disbanded on 23 April 1944, and shortly afterwards, No. 6 (BR) Squadron re-located to the station from RCAF Station Alliford Bay. The station closed in August 1945.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Bella Bella:

Originally established in 1938 as a temporary detachment of RCAF Station Jericho Beach, reporting on weather conditions. A permanent station was established in December 1941 as the home of No. 9 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron. The station closed in August 1944, re-opening briefly in the spring of 1945 as a meteorological section.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Smith River:

Opened April 1945.

Closed July 1956.

 


Jericho Beach Garrison:
Originally opened by the Canadian Air Board in 1920 as the Jericho Beach Air Station. The site was turned over the newly formed RCAF in 1925 and re-named RCAF Station Jericho Beach, one of several Flying Boat Stations that would be established on the west coast.Also in 1925, No. 1 Signal Squadron was formed at Jericho Beach and later; No. 4 and No. 6 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadrons would be stationed at Jericho Beach.
Jericho Beach also has the distinction of being the first seaplane base in Canada to have a unique element attached to it – a division of homing pigeons. Major Clarence MacLaurin began using homing pigeons aboard flying boats at Jericho in 1920. Shortly after the first hangers were completed, Major MacLaurin constructed several pigeon lofts to house and train pigeons for use by aircrews. By 1928, the RCAF had 8 pigeon lofts, the largest located at RCAF Station Ottawa (Rockcliffe). Defence Department cutbacks in the 1930’s resulted in the eliminationof all pigeon lofts except the ones at Jericho Beach and RCAF Station Dartmouth.
In 1930, RCAF Station Jericho Beach became the RCAF Centre for Seaplane and Flying Boat Training.
In 1940, Jericho Beach’s role changed and it became the home of No. 3 Service and Repair Depots. The seaplane squadrons moved to RCAF Station Sea Island. No. 3 is also where the RCAF possession of the Hurricane Fighters that arrived from the UK in early 1939. The airplanes were assembled and then barged to Sea Island for flight testing as Jericho had no runway, just a slip for sea planes.
No. 3 Operational Training Unit was established at Jericho Beach, with a detachment at Patricia Bay in 1942, and remained until 1945 when it and No. 3 Service and Repair Depot closed.
The Army’s Pacific Command Headquarters moved to RCAF Station Jericho Beach from their location at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt in 1942. Jericho Beach officially became a permanent fixture of Canada’s west coast military in 1946, and control of the base was transferred to the Army. Although RCAF Station Jericho Beach ceased to exist 1 March 1947, No. 12 Group, North-West Air Command, maintained an RCAF presence. No. 12 Group was re-designated No 12 Air Defence Group in 1951 and No. 5 Air Division in 1955.
In later years, the base would become the home of Pacific Command’s successor, British Columbia District Headquarters (BC HQ), as well as 442 “Caribou” Squadron, 74 Comm. Group, 744 Comm. Regiment, 12 Medical Company, Canadian Forces Technical Services Detachment, Special Investigative Unit Pacific Detachment and a Recruiting Centre.
In 1964, the PMQ houses connected to the now closed RCAF Station Vancouver (Sea Island) became part of the Jericho Beach.
The base was downsized to a detachment of CFB Chilliwack in 1968, re-named Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack – Vancouver Detachment.
Between 1968 and 1972, the detachment’s size was reduced when 72 acres along the waterfront, north of Fourth Avenue, was transferred to the City of Vancouver for recreational use. Most of the former military buildings, including the four hangars that once housed the flying boats were demolished. The PMQ houses formerly belonging to RCAF Station Vancouver were sold and moved onto First Nations Reserves along Georgia Strait.
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, the Jericho Beach Detachment closed in 1996. A portion of the former Detachment was sectioned off and functions as the Jericho Beach Garrison.
The former headquarters building was re-named Jericho Armoury and was occupied by 39 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters (formerly BC District HQ), the 12 Medical Company and 744 (Vancouver) Communication Regiment. Plans to re-establish a small military engineering presence on the base were made.
While several of the Detachment’s vacant buildings were torn down, some do remain: the former Junior Ranks barracks is now a youth hostel, the old base recreation hall is now the Jericho Arts Centre and the former Officers’ mess is now the West Point Grey Community Centre. Additionally, some WWII-era buildings also remain.
The Canadian Forces Housing Agency still maintains 66 PMQs (now called Residential Housing Units) for military members and will do so until January 2017, when the homes will be sold.
The remainder of the former PMQ area is being re-developed into Garrison Crossing, an upscale community with a mix of new homes and renovated PMQs.
In 2013, the federal government approved the sale of the 52-acre Jericho Garrison Lands. Few details were made public at the time, although a business venture will be entered with the Musqueam First Nations.
The Jericho Armoury closed and 39 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters, A Squadron, 39 Signal Regiment (formerly 744 Communication Regiment) and 12 Field Ambulance re-located to The Seaforth Armoury on the southern end of Burrard Bridge. The Seaforth Armoury underwent a major $40-million renovation and expansion project to accommodate the decommissioning of Jericho.
The BC Mainland Military Family Resource Centre remains at Jericho Garriseon, but will re-locate in May 2016.
The 12 Medical Company Museum remains to help preserve Jericho Beach’s military heritage.
Source material: information supplied by Sergeant Sylvain Tardif, Military Police Section, Area Support Unit Chilliwack (1999), pamphlet printed by Studio High Techniques of Toronto (1998), information supplied by Sherry Eastholm, Manager, Sidney (B.C.) Museum (1999), “Sentinel” Magazine from May 1974, Pgs 12 – 15, “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht, Heritage BC web site – http://www.heritagebc.ca/military.htm#Barrett, the personal recollections of Vince Bissonnette, former Commanding Officer CF Detachment Jericho Beach (2004), information provided by Major J.D. Barrett, Jericho Beach Garrison (2004), Garrison Crossing web site – http://www.garrisoncrossing.ca/English/Default.htm, information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (2011), information provided by Tracy Cromwell, Executive Director, Mainland BC Military Family Resource Centre (2015) & “The Garrison” newspaper from March 1995.

 


 

Gordon Head Barracks:

Originally established prior to WWII as a signals station. When the war broke out, the station was converted into an army training camp, Gordon Head Barracks. Over 50 buildings including barracks, mess halls, administration buildings and a drill hall.

In addition to basic military training, an Officers’ Training Centre was also established.

On 4 June 1940, the Royal Canadian Navy established the Gordon Head Special Wireless/Transmitter Station at the camp. A part of the Naval Service Headquarters Operational Intelligence Centre network, the W/T station was one of a network of RCN stations that monitored Japanese wireless transmissions.

Part of the camp also served as a rehabilitation centre for casualties and for prisoners of war returning from the Pacific Campaign.

After the war ended, the barracks were utilized to as housing for returning soldiers and their families.

The camp reverted to an army camp during the Korean War. 1955, the 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Rifles (QOR) moved into the camp after returning from Korea, the last Canadian Army unit in Korea, staying until October 1957, when the battalion left for Germany.

The property is now occupied by the University of Victoria. A memorial to the Queen’s Own Rifles is situated at the Finnery Road entrance, which includes the pillars that marked the camp’s main gate. Seven of the former ‘huts” remain in use as office space and for storage.

John Doerksen, who served with the QOR, recalls “we had a parade downtown in the park, (Beacon Hill) and a lot of people turned out and I turned over the keys. I had locked the gate here (at Gordon Head Camp) and then I turned the keys over to the mayor.”

In 1959, the former camp was aquired by the British Columbia government for use as a university. Victoria College (which later became the University of Victoria) opened in 1963.

Some of the old buildings and huts were used for administartive and acedemic functions.

Seven of the former army barracks, the “huts” remain on campus, recognized as heritage buildings. Currently, five huts are used by UVic departments: Huts A and B are used by Uvic Facilities Management Department, Hut E houses Can Assist, Hut Q is occupied by the Green Research Vehicle Research and Testing Centre and Hut R houses the UVic Industry Partnerships. “Y” Hut, which was formerly a Maritime Naval Communications Centre, is now used for storage.

In 2010, during the Queen’s Own Rifles’ 150th year anniversary celebrations, a plaque was unveilled at UVic commemorating their time at Gordon Head.

Source Material: Historical Places – www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/image-image.aspx?id=1933#i1, Radio Communication and Signals Intelligence of the Royal Canadian Navy web site – http://jproc.ca/rrp/gordon_head.html and the University of Victoria – www.uvic.ca/anniversary/history/stories/icons/index.php.


Camp Terrace:

Opened in 1942 as an Army training centre. The military population quickly ballooned up to 3,500, almost nine times the size of the Town of Terrace.

The Camp closed in 1945 and the property taken over by the town of Terrace. Many of the barracks were turned into a residential community, now known as Glenwood.

Source Material: Heritage BC web site – http://www.heritagebc.ca/military.htm.

 


 

Special Training School Commando Bay:

Opened 24 March 1944 by the British Security Coordination specifically to train Chineese Canadians as secret operatives for Operation Oblivion, a part of the war in the Pacific. The camp, located on Commando Bay in the Okanagan Valley, approximately tem miles north of Penticton, trained students in wireless operation, small arms, demolition, unarmed combat, sabotage, survival techniques, propaganda and other skills of a covert operative.

The camp had a short life, as it closed in September 1944. As it was a tented camp, nothing remains today. The former camp is now part of the Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.

Source Material:

 


 

Camp Alberni:

Opened during WWII.

In November 1946, the former camp was turned over to the City of Alberni. Several former barracks buildings were sectioned off and used as housing for returning veterans and their young families. This area is now known as the Glenwood area.

Source Material: the City of Alberni web site – http://www.city.port-alberni.bc.ca/fire/History/pa-pream.htm.

 


Camp Prince George:

Opened during WWII, the camp once housed 6000 soldiers.  The camp was located in the area of 1st Street, Central Street,15th Ave, to the bottom of Cranbrook Hill.

Barracks were built to house the soldiers, dining halls constructed to feed them, and wet canteens for their leisure and entertainment. There were rifle ranges, mortar ranges and artillery ranges.

Troops from the 16th Infantry Brigade of the 8th Canadian Division were stationed at the camp from March 1942 – October 1943.

The camp closed at the end of the war.  Most of the buildings were either demolished or moved to new locations, although some remain in their original locations, such as the former transportation building on 15th Avenue, that was used by the British Columbia Forestry Service from the late 1940s to 1963.

It is now owned by the City of Prince George for use by the Community Arts Council.  The Nechako Bottle Depot on First Avenue is also another former camp building.  Others include the first Overwaitea store, at Victoria and Third, formerly a barracks and the original civic centre, which was the old drill shed, was removed and rebuilt on Seventh Avenue.

Source material:  http://northernstar-online.com/blog/old-prince-george-army-base-by-mel-mcconaghy and information provided Steve Brown (2014).

Source Material: Heritage BC web site – http://www.heritagebc.ca/military.htm.

 


 

Muskwa Garrison:

Opened in Fort Nelson, a part of the Alaska Highway project.

 


 

No. 110 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

See Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre in “Closed bases that still have a military presence“.

 


 

His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Chatham:

 

 

 


 

Naval Ammunition Depot Kamloops:

Opened in 1944, the bunkers served as a Naval Ammunition Depot to store bulk explosives for the western command of the Royal Canadian Navy and stocks required for the British Fleet, to meet operational and practice requirements for the Pacific Fleet.  The depot originally included twenty-two bunkers, also known as magazines, administration buildings, mess halls, and officers’ living quarters. Different magazines stored different materials such as filled shells, cartridges and small arms ammunition.  The magazines were built along a linear access road.

A Canadian Pacific Railway rail spur was constructed for the unloading of the ammunition, which was then transported up the hill by means of a mile-long aerial tramway.

The depot was declared surplus and closed in December 1963.

The property became was sold to the provincial government and became Rayleigh Correctional Centre .  The jail closed in September 2002 after 39 years of operation, replaced by the larger Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

The former Depot is located near 1455 McGill Road at Bunker Road in Kamloops. The bunkers that remain were officially dedicated as National Historic sites in 2007.

Source Material: City of Kamloops Planning Department & “End of an era for Rayleigh,” Kamloops This Week, 22 September 2002, – www.kamloopsthisweek.com/end-of-an-era-for-rayleigh.

 

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

49 comments

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  1. Brad Johnson

    CFB Chilliwack? CFS Massett?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Brad,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Beaverlodge in the “Pinetree Line” section, Chilliwack in the “Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence – British Columbia” section and Massett in the “Downsized Bases or Bases That Have Changed Their Function – British Columbia” section.

      Cheers,

      Bruce

  2. Rudi Saueracker, SSM

    CFS Masset indeed took over from Ladner when it closed, CFS Massetin the Queen Charlotte’s was part of the CFSRS. CFS Masset served as an intercept and HFDF site along with it;s sister sites CFS Inuvik, CFB Gander 770 Sqn,CFS Leitrim, CFS Bermuda, E Sqn CFB Kingston (new school replaced HMCS Gloucester) and of course CFS Alert which is in what is now known as Nunavut at the tip of Ellesmere Island. Probably one of the most famous of all of our SRS Stations.

    Ladner’s sister stations would have been NRS Aklavik, NRS Churchill, HMCS Coverdale, HMCS Gloucester,

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Rudi,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I take it you were in the comms trade too? If you have any information to add, it would be greatly appreciated.

      Bruce

      Bruce

  3. Chris Kenny

    RCAF Stns Holberg, Kamloops, Baldy Hughes, Tofino and CFS Masset?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the information about Daniel’s Head. I hadn’t heard of the RCAF AWU in Decimomannu, Sardinia. Do you have any information on it? Else, I’ll have to see what I can find out about it. As for the other stations you mention, all except for Masset are in in the Pinetree Line section on my web site. Masset is under Abandoned Bases – British Columbia.

      1. Chris Kenny

        Bruce contact me at cgkenny@shaw.ca and i’ll provide you with what I can. I collaborated with an Italian Author who wrote a book (in Italian0 about AWU Decimomannu Sardinia and have yearly reports to RCAF HQ plus quite a bit of photos etc. My father was the Senior Steward there from Apr 1965 until Jul 1967 so I also have the dependant’s view as well. I almost got TD’d there in the fall of 1990 out of Baden-Soellingen but the Gulf War ended that. I have got some up to date photos from an ex RAF member who was stationed there but it is mostly from the Poetto in Cagliari where the Canadian Families lived.

        I also was posted to Daniel’s Head in Bermuda from 85-87 and have a lot of photos both from the past and taken in October of 2014. Somewhere online, I downloaded the whole station history as well which includes all the Station CO’s/Coxn’s/SWO’s.

        Chris

  4. Robert Gagnon

    Why has nothing been mention about CFB chilliwack, School of the Canadian Engineers? The school was moved to CFB Gaugetown & 1Combat Engineers Regiment was moved to CFB Edmonton. I donn’t know what happened to the officers school.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Chilliwack in the “Closed bases that still have a military presence” – British Columbia section. According to my research, CFOCS went to St-Jean.

      Cheers,

      Bruce

  5. mike

    Interesting information. I didn’t see Shearwater, BC

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Shearwater under Downsized Bases or Bases That Have Changed Their Function – Nova Scotia.

      Bruce

      1. Brenda

        Shearwater is probably the Bella Bella site referenced?

  6. Phil

    Great resource!

    I see no mention of CFS Aldergrove or CFS Matsqui.

    Thanks!

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find Aldergrove and Matsqui under Downsized Bases or Bases That Have Changed Their Function – British Columbia.

      Bruce

  7. Susan Neave

    I didn’t see any mention of CFB Mt Lolo, Kamloops BC. My dad was posted there in 84′ till the base closed in 88′.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find CFS Kamloops (Mt Lolo) in the Pinetree Line section.

      Bruce

  8. Don Brundrett

    Nothing about the “new” Prince George Airport built at the top of the hill above Prince George in 1940/41? It was a large RCAF/USAAF base during WW2. I grew up on the airport and we even had a movie theatre on the base plus a gymnasium. The USAAF troops taught me to play pool there!! The troops shot up all the local game which took years to come back again. On the runways were regular flights of P-39 Aircobras and B-25 Mitchell bombers that flew in almost daily en-route to Alaska for the US Lend-Lease program with the Russians. Pan-Am were there as well. I’d send some pictures of the airport during WW2 but don’t see an attachment icon.

    My father was OIC for the Department of Transport radio range station.

    Don Brundrett

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I haven’t heard of the Prince George base during WWII. Do you have any information?

      Bruce

      1. Karen Eakins

        My father, Howard Eakins was stationed at Prince George during WWII .. I was born late 1944 so by the time I was asking questions about his time there, it was long after the war. All he told me was that he was guarding the ammunition there as they trained in the rifle and mortar and artillery ranges before sending them out to fight.

    2. Sheldon Clare

      Don Brundrett, I would be most interested in images of Prince George airport and any others of the area during World War 2.
      You may reach me at Clare@cnc.bc.ca

      Thanks,

      Sheldon Clare

  9. Don Brundrett

    Bruce:

    Yes – I have some documents about the History of Pr Geo Airport plus photos.

    Can you send me your E-mail address? The Militarybruce address got returned to me as “undeliverable:.

    Don

  10. dale dirks

    how about cfs holberg northern tip vancouver island. good work otherwise. cheers dale

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the good words. You can find Holberg in the “Pinetree Line” section.

      Bruce

  11. Ray Rose

    Hi:
    I did not see a mention of the what I believe was called CFB Esquimalt, Nanaimo Detachment. We did not have a lot of people; the Administration part and the rest was actually the staff in the Provincial Warning Centre, or as it was called by the staff, the Diefenbunker. Although it was not completely underground it was buried below a lot of dirt; the basement of course was completely underground. I worked there for some time and learned how to plot the twice daily “nukes” we got from North Bay. The Signals Detachment took up half of the basement and I think it was a distribution centre for messages for the province. About 15 years ago I was back up there again to shoot on the range when I was on the Cadet Instructor’s List. On my most recent visit I had a look at it and the front entrance was filled in with dirt and the road leading up to it was torn up. The property has not been taken over by the Mellisipina (sp??) College. The bunker is actually only a short distance from the highway by-pass they built about 20 years ago. I think there were bunkers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and one or two in the Maritimes. The one in Ontario I believe has been taken over by a civilian organization. Back in the day we had exercises a few times a year run out of North Bay.
    Regards
    Ray Rose

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. You can find the Nanaimo Detachment in the “Downsized Bases or Bases That Have Changed Their Function – British Columbia” section. My information is that the bunker was demolished in 1999. This was after your last visit to the site? Can you confirm if this is true?

      I appreciate any information that you can provide.

      Bruce

  12. Ray Rose

    Hello Bruce:
    I am pretty sure that I was in Nanaimo after 1999. Since I could not approach the bunker as the road had been torn up I could only see it from about half a mile distant. It definitely was not imploded and the mount looked the same as ever except that the front entrance was completely filled in.
    Hardly any buildings are still standing on the West side of Hwy 97, the area has been converted to several baseball diamonds which are in heavy use during the Fantastic Ball Tournament in the summer. The parade square has been accessed through a tunnel which has been in use for several decades now. The East side is continually being upgraded and all the buildings now have new siding. I worked there as a MWO on call-out, as a civilian, Commissionaire and as an officer during my time with the CIL.
    Must compliment you on your research, you put in a lot of work into your site. I will forward the site to my old army buddies…
    Ray Rose

  13. Ken Newman

    Hi Bruce,

    I was looking for a little bit of background on the various WW II structures we still see at the Terrace Airport. People often generically call them bunkers. One I believe is a gunnery backstop that is located very close to the airport runways, the others are located some distance away. I would like to know more about all of the structures but particularly the gunnery backstop because it is so prominently placed and visible when you visit the airport. The City of Terrace is considering doing some heritage recognition of one of the structures to recognize our WW II history.

    I am also looking for some background on the Woodcock airstrip. This site is located on the Skeena River near Kitwanga, half way between Terrace and Hazelton. I believe it too was a WW II site used in the coastal air defense system. It was still used by local skydiving clubs up to the 1980s or 90s.

    Ken

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. Unfortunately, I have never been to the Terrace Airport, so I am not sure what structures remain. If there are “bunkers” on the property, it’s likely they are either water/sewage holding tanks or ammunition dumps. The gunnery backstops are basically thick concrete walls, sometimes with small rooms on the backside. You can see examples in the entries on No. 6 Service Flying Training School, No. 13 Elementary Flying Training School or RCAF Station Centralia.

      As for the Woodcock airstrip, all that I know about the aerodrome is mentioned in the entry on Royal Canadian Air Force Station Smithers. My information is that Smithers was used as a coastal defence station, thus as Woodcock was a relief landing field for Smithers, it would appear is served the same function. My source information indicated that the airfield was abandoned around 2004.

      I hope this helps,

      Bruce

  14. Bob McLeod

    “All that remains of Detachment Woodcock is the crumbling runway. The airfield was abandoned around 2004.” This statement isn’t really true. The airstrip was abandoned when we moved to Cedarvale in 1969. It was classed as an “Emergency” strip. There were other buildings that had been standard office constructs for the period. (Later they were used to store hay in. ) The Terrace sky diving club had leased the strip an had continued to use it in the early 2000’s.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the information. I just wanted to clarify your e-mail. I understand the idea that it was classed as an “emergency landing field” and that the skydive club used it until t he early 2000s, but is it now abandoned or is it still used on occasion? I’ve seen photos on Google Maps that show trees and other vegetation growing on the tarmac (this is why I though it was abandoned). Do any building remain from when the skydive club used the airfield?

      Bruce

  15. David Farkvam

    Hi, I was just wondering if anyone knows whether the Terrace sawmill provided any wood for the the planes in the war effort. Any more information for the Terrace base would be greatly be appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    David

  16. David Humphreys

    Hi like the page looking for information on American sub station in prince Rupert been to the top of it today and the structure is very good shape would like to know more about it.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi David,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. The only information I can find at this point about the American military in Prince Rupert is the US Army’s Port Signal Office in downtown Prince Rupert. I’ll see what else I can find out.

      Bruce

  17. Brenda

    The air force base in Port Hardy during WWII? The radio unit stations at Cape Scott and Ferrer Point on Northern Vancouver Island? It might also be worth noting that the Coal Harbour station was in Coal Harbour on Northern Vancouver Island, not Coal Harbour in Vancouver. 🙂

  18. Agen Judi Poker Terbesar

    Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that
    I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I
    hope you write again very soon!

  19. Cheryl Alexander

    Hi
    Do you have any information on the Naval Signal Station that operated on Pandora Hill on Discovery Island during the second world war? I believe it was in use between approximately 1939 to 1945.
    I am looking for information or photographs of the station and information about what was built there.
    Many thanks
    in advance
    Cheryl

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Cheryl,

      I don’t have any information, but I did find an entry on the web site http://www.discoveryisland.ca/history.htm, that makes a brief entry of the signal station. I’ll contact the museum at CCFB Naden and see if they have any information.

      Thanks for letting me know about this station. There are lots of small military facilities like this one from WWII that I have yet to discover.

      Bruce

      1. Cheryl Alexander

        Thanks Bruce
        I know about the Discovery Island website but it doesn’t have any details or photos of the station.
        Please let me know if you find anything further out about it!!
        Much appreciated
        Cheryl

  20. Brock smith

    Hi Bruce,

    Do you have any information about the military base at 150 mile house BC? I have heard that is was a communications building, and that there was an airstrip there. I believe the site also had a few houses built to house workers.

    Brock Smith

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Brock,

      No I haven’t heard of anything. If there was one, a lot of the small stations have been forgotten to history except by locals.

      Bruce

      1. Brock Smith

        Thanks Bruce,

        If I learn anything about it I’ll share it!

        Thanks

        Brock

  21. Stevie green

    Yes me and my family will be going past Dawson creek and I am retired Army, I was wondering if there is any military bases that have lodging at a discounted price, from Dawson creek toward Alaska thank you please email me at steviegreen@sbcglobal.net thanks

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Steve,

      It’s possible that CFNA HQ in Whitehorse may have transient quarters, but it’s not likely – phone (867) 873-0805. There aren’t any bases in northern B.C. anymore.

      Safe travels,

      Bruce

      1. Steve Green

        Thank you Sir.

  22. James

    Hello! There is a CFB sign in Prince George located across from the airport. It has been there FOREVER. I have yet to find one thing or bit of information about it online. People seem to have no idea what the forces did there. I heard it was HUSH HUSH and they did experiments…. that they don’t want anyone to know about. I have been trying so hard to find out information about this base. If anyone wants to look it up, the address is 2288 Old Cariboo Highway, Prince George, BC.
    Google it and you can see the picture of the outside of it. It’s super small and has clear signs of the old PMQ looking buildings. Last I heard, it was sold to the natives. If anyone has some real information about this place, I would love to know what this is all about! Thanks!

  23. Reg DeLong

    Hi Bruce,

    I have been enjoying exploring your site. It seems very comprehensive!

    During WWII, my wife’s father was in the RCAF and was stationed at an ammo depot near Kamloops, BC . I have been able to ascertain that there was an RCAF depot at Rayleigh, BC, just north of Kamloops. Do you have any info regarding a munitions storage depot at Rayleigh during WWII?

    Thanks,

    Reg

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Reg,

      Unfortunately I don’t have any information on an RCAF depot in Rayleigh. My best source of information has always been the books written by Paul Ozorak as he obviously had more time to do the research but regrettably, he never published one about western Canada. I’d love to spend a day at the National Archives, but that won’t happen anytime soon. Please let me know if you find any information yourself.

      Bruce

      1. Reg DeLong

        Thanks Bruce.

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