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Canadian Forces Base Toronto:

Established as Royal Canadian Air Force Station Toronto in 1947 on land surrounding the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada aircraft factory and airfield in Downsview, a factory that built Canadian aircraft such as the Tiger Moth, the Mosquito, the Buffalo and the Twin Otter.

With de Havilland continuing to operate on the south-east side of the base, the RCAF station served as an Air Material Command supply base, providing operational and logistical support to the RCAF’s Regular and Reserve Force squadrons in the Toronto area, including the RCAF Staff College and RCAF Institute of Aviation Medicine on Avenue Road. The station would also become home to several former World War II squadrons such as 400 Auxiliary Squadron, with their fleet of Vampire MKIII jet fighters and 411 Auxiliary Squadron, who over the years flew aircraft such as the Avro 621, the Tomahawk, Mustang, Mosquito, Spitfire and Sabre fighters

The base served as a supply base of Air Material Command, in addition to providing operational and logistical support to the RCAF’s Regular and Reserve Force squadrons in the Toronto area, including the RCAF Staff College (later the CF Staff College) and the Avenue Road Detachment. The station would also become home to several former World War II squadrons.

In 1946, 400 Auxiliary Squadron was re-activated as a part of the Auxiliary Air Force, with the squadron’s Headquarters Unit occupying space at the Avenue Road Detachment. The Squadron was equipped with Vampire MKIII jet fighters, flying them initially from the RCAF Station Malton (now Toronto Pearson International Airport). In acquiring land for the new air station, the RCAF found it necessary to close Sheppard Avenue, so as to expand the airfield. The remains of the former Sheppard Avenue became the main east-west road across the station, renamed Carl Hall Road.

When DeHavilland moved into their new facilities at the south end of the airfield, the RCAF took over the old plant facilities, except for Plant #3 which was still occupied on a leased back basis, an arrangement that would continue until 1989.

Included in this takeover was the original DeHavilland Plant #1. This is where the first DHC-1 Chipmunk, DHC-2 Beaver and DHC-3 Otter were built.

On 1 October 1950, 411 Auxiliary Squadron was also re-activated and both squadrons began training for their role as auxiliary fighter-bomber squadrons on various fixed-wing aircraft, including the Avro 621, the Tomahawk, Mustang, Mosquito, Spitfire, Sabre and others over the years. The base also became the home of No. 1 Repair Depot and No. 1 Construction Engineering Depot. No. 1 Supply Depot moved from the Weston Road Site in September 1953, as did the Canadian Air Crew Selection Unit. 436 (Transport) Squadron re-located from RCAF Station Dorval on 1 July 1956

VC-920 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service Reserve arrived in 1953 with their fleet of Grumman Avengers and later Grumman Trackers. Markings were painted on the runways so that the Navy pilots could practice simulated carrier take-offs and landings. VC-920 Squadron disbanded in 1964.

Some of the other units in the early days of RCAF Station Toronto were 14 Wing Headquarters, later renamed 2 Tactical Aviation Wing and No. 14 Movement Control Detachment. The Defence Research Medical Laboratories, later re-named the Defence Research Establishment Toronto, was established at the Avenue Road Detachment on 1 May 1950. The facility moved to Downsview in October 1953.

In 1954, the RCAF officially assumed control of the airfield from DeHavalland and flight activity increased at the station. The C-10 Heavy Transport Aircraft, flown by 436 (Transport) Squadron, were active at the station from 1956 until 436 Squadron relocated to RCAF Station Uplands in 1964. The last Lancaster Bomber, FM104, was flown to Downsview for retirement in 1964. It sat on the Toronto waterfront for years as a memorial to the RCAF, but is now at the Toronto Aerospace Museum undergoing restoration.

Residential homes were built for station personnel in 1955. Known in military circles as Permanent Married Quarters (PMQ). William Baker Park on the north side were for designated for commissioned officers with Stanley Green Park on the south side for non-commissioned members.  Both PMQ areas were fenced off and restricted to military personnel.

Off base housing existed on Sunfield road and Sheppard avenue west of Keele St, it was called Low Development Housing( LDHs).  It consisted of row house units similar to Stanley Greene Park housing. The housing affectionately known as the “local dog houses” by military personnel.

The station was re-named RCAF Station Downsview on 1 October 1958 and re-designated as a base of Air Transport Command. By early 1958, 400 and 411 Squadrons took on a new role as transport-search and rescue squadrons and the Beechcraft C-45 Expeditors replaced the fighter aircraft. No 1 Mobile Support Equipment Maintenance Depot, who had the responsibility of maintaining the RCAF’s fleet of vehicles, moved to Downsview in 1965. Following the disbandment of VC-920 RCN Squadron, the Headquarters Unit of 400 Auxiliary Squadron moved to Downsview in October 1964 and occupied the VC-920’s former quarters.

Downsview was the site of another milestone in Canadian aviation when the prototype de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter made its first flight from on 20 May 1965.

In July 1966, with the impending closure of RCAF Station Centralia, aircrew selection training was transferred the RCAF Personnel Applied Research Unit (RCAF PARU) at Downsview’s Avenue Road Detachment, a part of the Aircrew Selection Unit located at Downsview itself.

As a result of the Unification in 1968, the base was re-named CFB Toronto and its support role was expanded to include all Regular Force, Reserve and Cadet units (Army, Navy and Air Force) in the Toronto Garrison. The RCAF PARU was re-named the Canadian Forces PARU.

CFB Toronto also assumed administrative control of Canadian Forces Reserve Barracks Hamilton, establishing a detachment at the site.

Central Militia Area Headquarters (CMA HQ) moved to Downsview after CFB Oakville closed in 1971. 400 and 411 Squadrons were re-named 400 “City of Toronto” Squadron and 411″County of York” Squadron and both became part of 10 Tactical Air Group, a unit of the army’s Force Mobile Command. The Defence Research Establishment Toronto merged with the CF Institute of Environmental Medicine to form the Defence and Civil Institute for Environmental Medicine in 1971. In 1979, Aircrew Selection Unit was re-named the Canadian Forces Aircrew Selection Centre.

When the Allen Expressway was built in 1971, Downsview’s east-west runway was closed and a quarter of its eastern portion dissected by the new highway. Toronto Police now use the severed portion of the runway as a driver training area for their police vehicles.

In 1980, 400 and 411 Squadrons switched from fixed-wing aircraft to CH-136 Kiowa helicopters, and by 1982, both squadrons had been re-named as 400 Tactical and Training Helicopter Squadron (400 T & THS) and 411 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (411THS). The role of both squadrons by this time was to conduct security and transport duties during such events as the visit by Pope John Paul II to CFB Toronto in 1984 and the Toronto Economic Summit in 1988.

In 1990, a restructuring of the Armed Forces resulted in the base being transferred from Air Command to the Army’s Mobile Command. Although this transfer ended 43 years of Air Force control of the base, CFB Toronto was still very much an active Air Force Base. Land Force Central Area Headquarters (LFCA HQ) was formed at Downsview the same year as part of a new regional command structure for the Army, replacing CMA HQ, which was disbanded.

The Army’s Toronto District Headquarters (TDHQ) moved to Downsview in 1994 from the Avenue Road Detachment, taking up residence in the Otter Building, which was the original station headquarters. TDHQ was disbanded in March 1997 and replaced by 32 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters.

The introduction of the Wing Concept at Air Bases in 1993 resulted in CFB Toronto being designated as 2 Wing, although this was to be short lived as more change was in the wind. By 1994, CFB Toronto’s operational importance was declining and along with a reorganization and consolidation of Canadian military bases in the mid 1990s, there was little interest in maintaining a full size base. Combined with the desire of local politicians to acquire some of the land for development, Downsview’s fate was effectively sealed. Plans were made to reduce CFB Toronto to a Detachment of CFB Kingston, but this was later changed to outright closure of the base.

CFB Toronto closed on 1 April 1996, the 72nd anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force, along with its Avenue Road Detachment. 400 T & THS re-located to CFB Borden, where they currently fly the CH-146 Griffon helicopter, and now fall under the command of 1 Wing Kingston. 411 THS, 2 Tactical Aviation Wing and 2 Tactical Aviation Support Squadron were disbanded and 1 Canadian Forces Supply Depot closed. LFCA HQ had previously re-located to leased office space on Yonge Street in 1994. The Canadian Forces Aircrew Selection Centre relocated to 8 Wing Trenton in 1997. Canada Lands Corporation assumed control of the property and began the process of its disposal.

Parc Downsview Park Incorporated was established in 1998 as Crown corporation tasked with developing the former base into an urban park.

Garrison Support Unit Toronto, later re-named Area Support Unit Toronto, was established at the former base in 1996 to provide the local Reserve, Cadet and remaining Regular Force units in the Toronto Garrison with administrative, logistical, medical and Military Police support services.

On 26 May 2000, the former base officially became Downsview Park, Canada’s first Federal Park within a city.

Today, the former RCAF Station Downsview is a mixture of commercial-industrial on the east side and a passive eco-park on the west. All the messes, barracks, administrative buildings (except the base headquarters building) and the Recreation Centre on the far-west side of the base have been demolished. The east side is a commercial-industrial centre, with tenants including Bombardier Aeospace, who assumed control of DeHavviland’s facilities in 1992, continue to occupy the airfield (the oldest active airport), Area 51 Paint Ball, Grand Prix Kartways, the Downsview Park Sports Centre, an indoor sports complex occupying the Plant 2 hangar, which includes ATP, Grand Prix Kartways, HoopDome, National Squash Academy, PEAC, Toronto School of Circus Arts, The Rail Skatepark and School, Toronto Roller Derby League and Defcon Paintball.

Toronto Police briefly used the former Recreation Centre as a police applicant physical testing facility in the early 2000s until the the building was demolished around 2003.

The former 25 Supply Depot building is currently used as a used as a film studio, a venue for the Toronto Roller Derby, the Downsview Merchant’s Market, a church and various other community uses.

In 1997, the Toronto Air & Space Museum, later re-named the Canadian Air & Space Museum, was established in the original De Havilland Plant 1, the oldest aircraft factory left in Canada, having stood since 1929.

Gone from the west side of the former base are all the barracks, messes, the Otter Building, the guard house, the curling club and the recreation centre, all of which were torn down to create a passive park. The former row-house quarters on the south-west corner of Keele Street & Sheppard Avenue were also torn down and replaced with luxury townhomes.

The former 1970s era headquarters building is now the headquarters for the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  The former Military Police guardhouse was occupied for several years by the Toronto Wildlife Centre but was demolished around 2009.

In July 2002, the Department of National Defence opened a new armoury, named The Denison Armoury, on a vacant piece of land at the former CFB Toronto to house all elements of ASU Toronto, 32 CBG HQ, 2 Intelligence Company, 2 Field Engineer Regiment, 25 (Toronto) Service Battalion and The Governor General’s Horse Guards as well as their respective cadet units. The old Denison Armoury, located just south of Downsview’s airfield on Dufferin Street, formerly occupied by 25 Service Battalion and The Governor General’s Horse Guards, was closed and demolished in 2003. As well, DCIEM remains at the corner of Sheppard and Allan Road.

In 2002, Downsview Park hosted the World Youth Day festivities, including a big outdoor mass hosted by Pope John Paul II. On 30 July 2003, a SARS relief benefit concert was held, with the Rolling Stones headlining the daylong event.

In December 2006, Downsview Park was officially turned over to Parc Downsview Park Inc., the Federal Crown corporation which oversees the park. However, park management has stated that the former base could possibly be used in the future as a staging area for crisis management for terrorist, war or disaster response. Is it possible that CFB Toronto could be reactivated someday?

In September 2007, 2 Military Police Unit (2 MPU) stood up, encompassing all Military Police units (Regular & Reserve Force) in Ontario, with the exception of Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa) Military Police Platoon. The unit’s headquarters is located at the Denison Armoury, along with 32 Military Police Platoon (Reserve).

In 2009, the Canadian Forces Housing Authority began the process of disposing of all military housing in Toronto, starting with the demolition of the Stanley Green Park homes that were damaged by the explosion at the nearby Sunrise Propane storage facility in August 2008. The remaining homes were demolished in 2012. The William Baker Park homes were vacated around the same time and were demolished in 2014.

Both the Stanley Green and William Baker Park areas are to be redeveloped. The proposed new development will reportedly feature new military housing at Stanley Green Park for the remaining Toronto military families, mixed in with civilian owners. William Baker Park will feature privately-owned multiple low-rise apartment buildings that will incorporate much of the existing woodlot that once surrounded the PMQs.

Additionally, a new low-rise residential area is being developed at the corner of Keele Street and Stanley Green Park Road.

In March 2010, two of Downsview’s old maintenance hangars, known as buildings 55 & 58, were demolished after a desperate effort by heritage organizations to save the hangars, built in 1942. This was despite the fact that they had been designated as heritage buildings by the federal government in 1992 for the role they played in Canadian aircraft production during the Second World War.

In September 2011, the Canadian Air & Space Museum, housed in the original DeHavilland Plant #1 building, received an eviction notice by Parc Downsview Park, so that a 4-pad ice rink could be built. The facade of Plant #1, known municipally as 65 Carl Hall Road, would be retained and incorporated into the new building.

In 2013, ASU Toronto disbanded and the establishment was re-named Garrison Toronto. Other units currently stationed at Downsview include: 4th Canadian Division headquarters, Joint Task Force Central Area Headquarters, 2 Area Support Group Signal Squadron Toronto Detachment, 32 Canadian Brigade Group headquarters, 2 Intelligence Company, 32 Combat Engineer Regiment, 2 Military Police Unit, 32 Military Police Platoon, 32 (Toronto) Service Battalion (formerly 25 (Toronto) Service Battalion) and The Governor General’s Horse Guards.

On 21 November 2016, Centennial College officially broke ground on its future Aerospace Campus.  The four-acre campus will serve as the new home of Centennial’s aerospace technology programs, which is currently housed at its Ashtonbee Campus.  The new facility will provide approximately 138,000 square feet of instruction space, laboratories, workshops, offices, a library, hangar space and an actual working airfield, something missing at the current facility.

The campus will also house an innovation and research working group, the Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research (DAIR) Cluster, that brings together partners such as the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Ryerson University, York University, Bombardier Aerospace and others.

The Centennial campus will be taking over the historic de Havilland Plant 1, located at 65 Carl Hall Road, which is seeing the office space restored and upgraded to suit Centennial’s needs at a cost of $72 million.  Unfortunately for aviation historical enthusiasts, the east hangar portion of the building, once occupied by the Canadian Air & Space Museum, was structurally unsound and had to be demolished.  A new hangar will be constructed in the footprint of the old one and will be large enough to accommodate today’s commercial jets.

Source Material: DND Press releases from August 1988 & February 1994, “The Garrison” Newspaper from March 1995, “Borden Armed Forces Day and Air Show – June 26 & 27, 1999” program guide, The Downsview Family Tree. – A Historical Summary of the Downsview Lands by Wayne Kelly (1998), the Toronto Military Family Resource Centre web site – http://www.pathcom.com/~tmfrc/, Toronto Police web site www.torontopolice.on.ca, Toronto Star Newspaper 25 May 2000, 8 Wing Trenton web site – http://www.8wing.trenton.dnd.ca/archives/news110897.htm, information supplied by the Alberta Aviation Museum (2004), the Toronto Sun “Downsview Remains At The Ready”, published 9 June 2006, Heritage Toronto – http://www.heritagetoronto.org/news/issue/2010/03/05/downsview-hangar-update, nformation supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Authority (2010), information provided by the Canadian Air & Spece Museum (2015), Parc Downsview Park web site – www.downsviewpark.ca, Centennial College web site – https://www.centennialcollege.ca/news/centennials-aerospace-campus-breaks-ground-at-downsview-park & the personal recollections of the author (1998 – 2016).

 


 

Canadian Forces Base Ottawa (South):

Originally established on 5 August 1940 at the Uplands Airport as No. 2 Service Flying Training School under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, with Relief Landing Fields located at Carp and Edwards.

No. 2 SFTS closed on 14 April 1947, but flying training continued until in 1947, when the Station became home to Maintenance Command Headquarters.

Flying activities resumed at Royal Canadian Air Force Station Uplands in the early 50s with the arrival of various fighter squadrons, some of which were re-activated from World War II squadrons. 439 “Saber Toothed Tiger” Squadron, the first squadron to use the F-16 jet fighter who, re-formed on 1 September 1951, as did 416 Linx Squadron. Both Squadrons departed for Europe the following year, 439 Squadron to 1 Wing North Luffenham and 416 Squadron to 2 Wing Grostenquin, France. 422 Fighter Squadron re-formed at RCAF Station Uplands on 1 January 1953, but re-located to 4 Wing Baden-Soellingen on 27 August 1953.

Others who called Uplands home were 3 Air Movement Unit and 428 Ghost Squadron, who flew the Canadian designed Avro CF-100, 434 Fighter Squadron, originally a bomber squadron, re-formed at Uplands on 1 July 1952 but transferred to 3 Wing Zweibrucken less than one year later. 412 Transport Squadron, who have the distinction of being the first squadron to fly jet passenger liners on scheduled transatlantic flights, arrived from RCAF Station Rockcliffe on 1 September 1955.

The Central Experimental and Proving Establishment, later re-named the Aeronautical Evaluation and Test Establishment (AE & TE) moved to Uplands from Rockcliffe in 1957. Today the AE & TE is based at 4 Wing Cold Lake.

In 1951, the airfield was expanded to the south to allow for a joint military-civilian airport.  The original triangle airfield was torn up and 3 new runways were constructed:  an 8000 and 10, 000 foot runway were build towards the south, with a 3000 ft runway built along the west edge of the original runways for small aircraft traffic.

The new airfield expansion required the expropriation of the farming village of Bowesville, which was originally settled in 1821. The current main airport terminal now stands on the site of the crossroads at the centre of the village. The road to the south of the airport still bears the name “Bowesville Road”.

A new terminal building designed to handle up to 900,000 passengers per year was constructed. The terminal building had been scheduled to open in 1959, but during the opening ceremonies a low-flying USAF F-104 Starfighter did a supersonic flypast and shattered the windows and damaged the building, resulting in the opening being delayed until April 1960.

The original terminal building and the Trans-Canada Airways hangar remained in use until being demolished in 2011.

All that remains of the original WWII triangle airfield today is a small portion of the taxiway and the west runway.

Also in the early 1950s, air force fighter bases across Canada were outfitted with Quick Reaction Alert hangers suitable for fighter-interceptor aircraft to be stationed, on alert, with their air crews standing by to hop in and take off in minutes. Uplands was one of those bases, with hangars and ammunition depots being constructed at the south end of the airfield.

410 Squadron, disbanded at 1 Wing in Marville, France on 1 October 1956, re-formed a month later at Uplands as an All-weather Fighter Squadron for the North American Air Defence Command. The squadron disbanded again on 1 April 1964. Four months later, 426 Transport Squadron re-located to Uplands from RCAF Station Downsview.

The predecessor of the current of the National Aviation Museum opened at RCAF Station Uplands in October 1960. Later on, its aircraft collection was merged with those of the RCAF and the Canadian War Museum. This led to the creation of the National Aeronautical Collection. This Collection came under the control of National Museum of Science and Technology in 1968 and was renamed National Aviation Museum in 1982. The museum moved to Rockcliffe in 1965. In 1968, the base was re-named CFB Uplands as part of the Unification, but by 1972 the name was again changed to CFB Ottawa (South).

In 1970, 450 (Heavy Transport) Squadron, formerly No. 1 Transport Helicopter Platoon of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, moved to Uplands from RCAF Station St Hubert (along with their detachment from RCAF Station Namao) with their squadrons of Huey, Labrador, Voyageur and Chinook helicopters. The Squadron was again re-designated, this time simply 450 (Transport) Helicopter Squadron. 436 Transport Squadron re-located to CFB Trenton on 11 August 1971 where they currently fly the CC-130 Hercules aircraft.

The 1970s and 1980s were a busy time for Uplands. The Canadian Forces Airborne Sensing Unit was established in 1971 to conduct testing using various aircraft including the CF-100 Canuck, Dassault Falcon and Dakotas. The unit was replaced by a civilian agency, the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing in 1975.

By the 1980s, the Electronic Warfare Squadron, 414 Squadron at CFB North Bay had opened a detachment at CFB Ottawa (South). 412 (T) Squadron was providing air services for the Prime Minister, as well as VIP transportation around the world.

450 Helicopter Squadron, who were now the only combat ready Ottawa area squadron, were training as a part of the RCMP Special Emergency Response Team. The first CF-18 fighter aircraft brought into service was presented to the Air Force by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at CFB Ottawa (S) on 25 October 1982.

In 1993, the civilian side of the airport was renamed “Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport”.

Also in 1993, the base was designated as 7 Wing Ottawa, but this was to be short-lived as there was more change in the wind.

In the mid 1990s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed and even though Uplands was in the Nation’s capital, it was not spared a similar fate. As a result, both Uplands and Rockcliffe closed on 1 Apr 1995.

In their place, a support unit named Canadian Forces Support Unit Ottawa was established at Uplands and National Defence Headquarters to provide the local Reserve, Cadet and remaining Regular Force units with administrative and logistical support. 450 (Transport) Helicopter Squadron re-located to 1 Wing St. Hubert in August 1994.

Today, only small sections at Uplands remain in military hands.  The CF Band, the CF Photo Unit, the Military Police, the CFSU Transportation & Maintenance Section, the Central Material Traffic Terminal, the CF Crypto Support Unit, the CFSU Technical Services Unit and the Military Family Resource Centre remain at Uplands.

None of the World War II hangers remain, but two of the post-war “Arch” hangers, the Quick Reaction Alert hangers and assorted administrative buildings do remain. Large sections of the former base contain only empty fields. The Canadian Forces Housing Agency still maintains 147 PMQs (now called Residential Housing Units) for military members.

412 (Transport) Squadron downsized from 120 personnel to only 29, and relocated to the civilian side of the former Uplands airport. Their current Headquarters, The Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr Annex officially opened on 11 January 1995. Transport Canada now has the responsibility for the maintenance of the Squadron’s remaining four CC-144 Challenger jets. The airfield remains in use as the Ottawa International Airport.

In 2014, the 30th Field Artillery re-located from the HMCS Carleton building to temporary facilities until more permanent facilities can be built.

There are also two schools still operating at the Uplands base, but both are set to close before September 2017:

  • Elizabeth Park Public School (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board) — The OCDSB previously made the decision to close the school and transfer students to a new school, which has now been announced to be the brand-new Vimy Ridge Public School, set to open in Findlay Creek September 2017. The lease will be returned to DND.
  • Upland Catholic School (Ottawa Catholic School Board) — At under 50% capacity, the DND had decided to terminate the lease for this school at the end of the 2016/2017 school year. Students will be transferred to Holy Family Catholic Elementary School as of September 2017.

Source Material: DND Press Releases from May 1987 & June 1989, “Sentinel” Magazine from April 1970, pg **, & Summer 1971 & May 1974, pgs 12 – 15, the personal recollections of the author (1998), information supplied by Renald Fortier, Curator, Aviation History, National Aviation Museum, Rockcliffe, Ontario, 8 Wing Trenton News Archive – www.8wing.trenton.dnd.ca/archives/news110897.htm, Terry Martin’s “CFB OTTAWA-UPLANDS” web page – www.totavia.com/terry/cyow/uplands, “Farewell To Rockcliffe” by Buzz Bourdon, Airforce Magazine, Fall 2004, 412 (Transport) Squadron web site – http://www.airforce.forces.ca/8wing/squadron/412hist_e.asp, information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (2011) & 450 Squadron web page www.totavia.com/terry/cyow/uplands/450sqn.htm.

 


 

No. 10 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre

No. 3 Canadian Women’s Army Corps (Basic) Training Centre:

Originally opened in Kitchener on 9 October 1940 as No. 10 Non-Permanent Active Militia Training Centre, but the camp was re-named No. 10 CA (Recruit) TC a month later.  Also known as Knollwood Barracks, the camp was of a standard design of 40 buildings that included barracks, lecture buts, stores, mess halls, drill halls and administration buildings.

The camp became a recruit training camp for reserve and active service soldiers in March 1941, changing its name to No. 10 CA (B) TC.

On 15 October 1942, the camp was again re-organized, this time as a basic training centre for the Canadian Woman’s Army Corps, becoming No. 3 CWAC (B) TC, however, the training of male soldiers continued until 1943 when No 10 training centre closed.

Camp Knollwood continued as a women’s training centre until 31 October 1945, changing it’s number designation in1945 to No. 1 training centre, then No. 4 training centre just prior to closing.

In January 1946, the Women’s Army Corps turned the camp over for a Vocational Training School for returning servicemen.  The 48th Field Squadron (Militia) of the Royal Canadian Engineers also utilized the camp.

Most of the buildings were later torn down or moved off-site.  Two of the huts remained up to the 1990s, used by sea and air cadets.

In 1999, the Kitchener Armoury was opened on the north end of the former camp and is currently occupied by Burton Company of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 1596 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps and 80 (K-W Spitfire) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

A monument was to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps was dedicated on 5 May 2001 by the Honorable Hiliary Weston, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.  The monument, featuring a CWAC member in dress uniform atop a polished granite platform, sits out front of the armoury.  The monument also contains the names of CWAC members who died while on active duty.

Source Material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume I: Ontario” by Paul Ozorak & the personal recollections of the author (2016).

 

 


 

Woselley Barracks:

Established near London in 1885 on farmland belonging to John Carling, son of the famous brewer, as a training camp for “D” Company of the Infantry Corps, later re-named The Royal Canadian Regiment – Canada’s senior infantry regiment and the oldest Regular Force infantry regiment. The Militia had used the site for summer training camps since the mid-1860’s. The camp was named Wolseley Barracks in honour of Field Marshall, the Right Honorable Viscount Wolseley in 1894. The Regimental Headquarters of The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) moved to Wolseley Barracks in 1923.

On 1 November 1936, the Canadian Tank School was established at Wolseley Barracks with Captain (later Major-General) Frederic (“Worthy”) Worthington, MC, MM, PPCLI as its first Commander. However it was later determined that Wolseley Barracks lacked the proper facilities for tank training, so the school was re-located to Camp Borden on 1 May 1938.

Although this was the training camp for the RCR, this function was relinquished from 1914-1923 and again from 1939-1953 when Woseley Barracks was used as a training camp for all of the regiments in the southwest Ontario region. The RCR resumed training their own in 1953 with the establishment of the Regimental Depot at Wolseley Barracks.

In 1954, the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR), a Militia Regiment consisting of members from the Canadian Fusiliers and The Oxford Rifles, was established at Wolseley Barracks to serve alongside the Regular Force 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.

As a result of the Unification, the barracks was re-named CFB London in 1966, although the name Wolseley Barracks continued to be used, as was the nearby Highbury complex, a facility established in the early 1940s as a military vehicle assembly plant, and used post-war as a supply and maintenance depot.

The function of the base changed to that of a Material Command support base for southwestern Ontario. The Regimental Depot closed in December 1968 and a new tri-service basic training school was established at CFB Cornwallis. In 1970, 3 RCR was re-designated as 4 RCR while a new Regular Force 3 RCR was formed at CFB Petawawa.

In 1992, CFB London was downsized to a detachment of CFB Toronto. 1 RCR departed for CFB Petawawa later that year.

On 1 April 1996 Detachment London closed, but a small portion of the former base was sectioned off and continued to function as a military establishment, as did the nearby Highbury Complex. The units remaining at Wolseley Barracks were The 1st Hussars (RCAC), 22 Service Battalion, 31 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters, 4th Battalion,The Royal Canadian Regiment, 31 Military Police Platoon, and Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford – London Detachment. The Vehicle Maintenance Section of 22 Service Battalion remains at the Highbury Complex. As well, the RCR Regimental Museum remained in “A” Block, otherwise known as Wolseley Hall, as did the Regimental Headquarters Company for several years before joining the rest of the Regiment in Petawawa. Wolseley Hall had been designated as a national historic site.

All the PMQ’s were sold and are now privately owned residences.

Of the closed section of the former base, only three buildings remained: the base gym, which is now the Carling Heights Optimist Community Recreation Centre, the former century house used as the “Military Stores”, now offices for Block Parents and a maintenance garage, now empty but used briefly by the City of London Parks & Recreation Department. All other buildings were torn down.

Garrison Support Unit London (GSU London) was established at Wolseley Barracks in 1996 to provide the local Reserve, Cadet and remaining Regular Force units with administrative and logistical support. GSU London was re-named Area Support Unit London in 1998.

In March 2006, a new support complex opened at Wolseley Barracks to house the units located at the Highbury Complex. The six buildings formerly occupied by these units were demolished, thus ending the military occupation of the Highbury Complex. Building 52 at Wolseley Barracks was also demolished and it’s occupants re-located to the new support complex.

In April 2013, ASU London was disbanded as part of Department of National Defence cost-cutting measures, ending 16 years of service. Their services were transferred to  ASU Toronto, but delivered by a Technical Services Platoon of 31 Service Battalion, which will remain stationed in London.

The London Free Press announced on 15 July 2013 that eight of the buildings at Wolseley Barracks would be demolished. Among the buildings to be demolished is ‘O’ Block, built in the Depression and recognized on a federal government list as a heritage building because of “its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Also slated for demolition are the three mess halls, two barracks and an office building along the south edge of the site, and the large, L-shaped ‘P’ block near Oxford St.

The three largest buildings that front Oxford St. will remain: The original 1886 U-shaped “A” block that houses the RCR museum; the 31 Canadian Brigade Group headquarters; and the recently constructed $15-­million support-services complex.

Source Material: Information supplied by K. Noble, Administrator/HR Support Officer, Area Support Unit London (1998), information supplied by MCpl G.H. Johnson, Assistant Curator, The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum (1999), Armour School History web page – http://www.brunnet.net/armourschool/History.htm, DND news release – 23 December 2004, London Community News, 5 April 2012, http://www.londoncommunitynews.com/2012/04/more-than-34-jobs-lost-with-wolsley-barracks-asu-closure, The London Free Press, 15 July 2013 – http://www.lfpress.com/2013/07/15/eight-buildings-at-wolseley-barracks-to-be-demolished-the-free-press-has-learned & the personal recollections of the author (1998 – 2015).

 

Permanent link to this article: http://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/closed-bases-with-military-presence/ontario/

6 comments

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  1. Richard Johnson

    Hi there, thank you very much for your website and research. As a former member and base brat this site interests me greatly. I will try and provide photos of some of the old bases as I visit the ones I lived on that are downsized or abandoned. I wanted to note that at CFB Uplands the 30th Field Artillery is setting up shop there now that they have been relocated from HMCS Carleton which is being rebuilt. I spoke with several members in November 2014 and they state that permanent facilities for the unit are planned.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the information. I come to Ottawa at least once a year, so I will also keep watch of what is happening at Uplands. I would love to see any photos that you have.

      Bruce

  2. Neil Hemstad

    Hi Bruce,I really enjoy your website.I just wanted to talk a bit about Uplands and its closure.I am from a military family and was born in 1969 when my father was stationed at CFB Chatham.In 1970 we were stationed in Ottawa for the remainder of his military career.My grandfather finished his military career in 1974 stationed at CFB Trenton.This allowed my mother and sisters and I to travel via 437 707 from Uplands to Trenton a lot.Uplands at the beginning of 1971 had the following squadrons stationed at it.412,414,436 and 450 as well as having 3 AMU.The base seemed always to be losing squadrons.1971 it lost 436 to Trenton and 1972 414 to North Bay.It did start receiving the Trans Canada and Overseas flights from 437 Squadron once the 3 AMU passenger terminal was expanded in 1973 but whenever a squadron was tagged to relocate to Uplands the local MP would raise a fit and the transfer was cancelled.By the late 1980’s the base was left with 414 detachment of 3 T-33 which left in 1989,450 which switched to Twin Huey’s from Chinook’s and the loss of the 437 flights in the early 1990’s.When the closure announcement was made in 1994 I was shocked as Uplands was not mentioned as a possible closure candidate but not surprised as seeing how underused as an air force base it had become.The civilian airport needed room to expand and the only option was at the bases expense.What has disappointed me the most is that when DVD decided to dismantle all the barracks and messes at the base.Even the 2 mounted gate guard aircraft have been removed even though they were going to be retained as a memorial to those who served on the base for all these years.I am sure that at least one of the barracks could have been retained for military personal in the Ottawa area and now seeing that 412 is on the civilian side of the airfield and 414 sqd is just across the river in Quebec a smaller military base could have been retained here especially as when CFB Trenton’s runways have to be resurfaced it gave the military an option for temporary relocation with the 3AMU still available.From what I see here there has been no real major construction ,projects made here since the early 1990,s since the closure announcement.The Artillery Unit seems just to be at Uplands until its new home at HMCS Carleton is completed.Driving down the roads at the former base for me is a little bit sad as I can remember what once was.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for sharing your story. It is sad how what has become of Uplands (and Rockcliffe too). Too bad that DND didn’t consider (re)expanding its presence at Uplands instead of consolidating NDHQ at the Carling Campus.

      If you have any photos of Uplands that you wish to share, I would love to see them.

      Bruce

  3. Beth Wehrwein

    Bruce, awesome site! You have really done your homework. Your info was more detailed than anything I ever knew. My father was in the Air Force, and we were at CFB Downsview from 1964 to 1974. We lived at the Keele & Sheppard PMQ’s and Stanley Greene Park. I’m sorry to see the demolition of so many places I remember fondly. I spent many happy hours at the Rec Centre, and visited many other buildings on base with my father. I even met my husband at the Cpl’s Mess. Thanks for the memories.
    Regards, Beth (Sturgeon) Wehrwein

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for sharing your story. If you have any photos that you wish to share, I would love to see them.

      Bruce

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