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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, including 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 Ladner 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 and the Operations building used by the communications station, beside the deactivated runway on the east side of the property.  In the former PMQ area, all that remains are the abandoned roadways and some foundations, which is now the North 40 Park Reserve, a passive natural park.

A new air industrial park currently occupies the property.  Current tenants at the airport include the Canadian Flight Centre, Flightec, Macleod Aviation, Montair Aviation, the Professional Flight Centre and the Pacific Flying Club.

On 6 May 2005, 828 “Hurricane” Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron dedicated a plaque and Cenotaph honouring the men & women who served at RCAF Station 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, carrying on the tradition of training young airmen & 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; now known as the Vancouver International Airport. 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 maintained as an emergency airfield after the war, but fell into disuse until 1969, when the  Terrace Skydiving Club began using it until around 2004, when the club re-located to Beaverley Airport.

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.

Over 100, 000 air travelers use the airport each year.

Source Material: information provided by the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society (2004), Northwest Regional Airport  web site – http://yxt.ca & 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, as 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.

RCAF Station Fort St. John remained open at the end of the war, becoming a part of the post-war RCAF.

A tour at Fort St. John was the normal for isolation – 1 year single; 2 years accompanied.  For married personnel, several PMQs were built at the station and additional accommodation were found in Fort St. John, but this would all be short-lived.

RCAF Station Fort St. John closed in the summer of 1950.

The airfield now operates as the North Peace Regional Airport.  The west taxiway is now used as a drag-strip by Northern Lights Raceway.

None of the RCAF or USAF buildings remain at the airport, but a former administration building was moved into town and now sits at the north side of 89th Avenue at 78A Street.  A former PMQ is directly across from it, on the south side of 89th Avenue, facing onto 78A Street.

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 –, northernlightsraceway.ca & “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume 4:  Western and Northern” by Paul Ozorak.

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, tasked with maintenance and storage of surplus equipment pending disposal.  The unit closed 1946 and the RCAF left Abbotsford.

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).

Royal Canadian Air Force No. 15 “X” Depot:

Opened in 1938 as No. 21 (Magazine) Detachment, along the North Thompson River at Rayleigh, north of Kamloops.  It was re-designated as No. 15 “X” Depot in 1941.

The depot remained open after the end of WWII, becoming a part of the post-was RCAF.  In 1952, PMQs were built for the married personnel.  The depot had total of 44 buildings, including barracks, administration buildings, a central heating plant, messes and a recreation hall.

From early on in the depot’s existence, the North Thompson River proved to be problematic.  As with the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps’ No. 37 Area Ordnance Depot, north of Kamloops, rising waters would encroach close to the ammunition magazines.  Dykes were built in 1945, but by June 1948, the was over-flowing the dykes.

In 1955, the RCAF closed No. 15 “X” Depot, transferring the stocks to RCAF Station Namao.  The depot was transferred to the Canadian Army, who made use of the facility until closing it out in October 1961.

In February 1962, the vacant PMQs at the former No. 15 “X” Depot were under consideration for use by personnel at RCAF Station Kamloops (the Pinetree line station).  As recorded in the station diary for 13 Feb 62, “F/L Stewart visited the former RCAF ammunition depot at Rayleigh, ten miles north of Kamloops with a view to obtaining married quarters area for possible use by RCAF Station Kamloops. He found out that the buildings were on a caretaker basis and in poor state of repair. As the buildings were not habitable and renovation costs would be too high, the project was dropped.”

The property became was sold to the provincial government and became Rayleigh Correctional Centre in 1973. 

The jail closed in September 2002 after 39 years of operation, when it was replaced by the larger Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.  

In 2018, the City of Kamloops stated its support the Tk’emlups Indian Band in its bid to have land in Rayleigh added to their reserve.  None of the ammunition magazines remain, and the last administrative and accommodation buildings were demolished in 2019.

Source Material:  “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume 4:  Western and Northern” by Paul Ororak, https://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/local-news/city-of-kamloops-supports-tkemlups-bid-to-add-rayleigh-land-to-reserve-4371275, https://greenmunicipalfund.ca/case-studies/former-rayleigh-correctional-site-environmental-management-and-remediation-plan.

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.  Very little remains today.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht and “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume 4:  Western and Northern” by Paul Ozorak.

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Prince Rupert:

Originally opened in April 1940, it became the home of No. 7 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron December 1941.  The station had the usually amenities on an RCAF base, including barracks, messes, two hangars, drill hall, post office, fire hall, firing range, workshops, stores and garages.

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.  The station then became No. 11 Surplus Equipment Holding Unit.

The station was declared surplus on 2 July -1946 and transferred to the the Department of Transport the following year.

One of the former RCAF hangar still stands on Seal Cove Road and is in use by various charter air companies, both seaplane and helicopters.  Two of the ammunition magazines also remain, just down the road.  The jetty is now the Canadian Coast Guard’s Port Rupert Base.

Source Material: “Jericho Beach and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations” by Chris Weicht and “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume 4:  Western and Northern” by Paul Ozorak.

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 Laclaurin began using homing pigeons aboard flying boats at Jericho in 1920.  Shortly after  the first hangars were completed, Major Maclauin 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 being located at RCAF Station Ottawa (Rockcliffe).  Defence Department cutbacks in the 1930s resulted in the elimination of 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 in 2015, ending almost a century of a military presence on the land.  39 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters, A Squadron, 39 Signal Regiment (formerly 744 Communication Regiment) and 12 Field Ambulance all 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 remained at Jericho Garrison until May 2016, when it too re-located to the Seaforth Armoury.

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 Signals Intelligence 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 acquired 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 administrative and academic functions.

Seven of the former army barracks around McKenzie Road remain on campus, recognized as heritage buildings. Currently, five huts are used by UVic departments: Huts “A”, formerly the RCN signals intelligence station building, and Hut “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 on McCoy Road, is now used for storage.

In 2010, during the Queen’s Own Rifles’ 150th year anniversary celebrations, a plaque was unveiled 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, information provided by Tom Brent (2021) 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, and is now a residential community.

Some of the former camp buildings remain.  The Officers’ Mess is now the Royal Canadian Legion branch.  An old H-Hut is a part of Twin River Estates.

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 Chinese 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 ten 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:  https://heritagebc.ca/chinese-canadian-location/commando-bay.

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 in 1942, the camp once housed around 6000 soldiers.  Located at the Prince George Exhibition Grounds, the camp featured the usual amenities of an army camp, including barracks, dining halls, administration and medical buildings, and messes and canteens for leisure and entertainment. There were rifle ranges, mortar ranges and artillery ranges for training soldiers.

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

The camp closed in 1946 and most of the buildings were either demolished or moved to new locations.  Some remain in their original locations, such as the old drill hall, which is now an athletic centre.

The former transportation building on 15th Avenue, was used by the British Columbia Forestry Service from the late 1940s to 1963.  It was later used by the Community Arts Council, but is now vacant.

Nechako Bottle Depot occupies another former camp building, moved to 1922 First Avenue.

Source material:  http://northernstar-online.com/blog/old-prince-george-army-base-by-mel-mcconaghy and information provided Steve Brown (2014), Heritage BC web site – http://www.heritagebc.ca/military.htm.%MCEPASTEBIN%

No. 8 Area Ordnance Depot Kamloops Detachment/No. 37 Ordnance Ammunition Depot:

Opened in 1943 by the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps as No. 3 Camp Ordnance Depot.  The depot was located along the South Thompson River, on Owl Road, in Kamloops.

The following year, it was re-named No. 6 Advanced Ordnance Depot, then No. 7 Ordnance Ammunition Depot ion October 1946, and finally No. 37 in November 1947.

Like the RCAF’s No. 15 “X” Depot, No. 37 also suffered from occasional flooding due to its proximity to the South Thompson River.  As early as 1945, the Army began looking for a new location for an ordnance depot.  Along with alternate locations, the Army even looked at having an underground storage facility, but this plan was eventually abandoned and upgrades were made to the ammunition magazines to keep them protected from the encroaching water.

No. 37 was disbanded as a unit in October 1961, and the depot became a sub-unit of No 8 Area Ordnance Depot until 1964, when the depot was close and the property sold.

Today, the property is a landfill for the City of Kamloops.  Two of the former RCOC buildings remain, but none of the ammunition magazines.

Muskwa Garrison:

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

No. 110 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

See Camp Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre in “Current Canadian Military Bases“.

His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Chatham:

Ferrer Point Radar Station:

Ferrer Point was built in 1941 as one of a series of radar stations established on the west coast of Canada.  Others included Langara Island, Marble Island and Cape St. James, in the Queen Charlottes; Spider Island, between Vancouver Island and the Charlottes; Cape Scott,  Amphitrite Point, Tofino and Patricia Bay, on Vancouver Island, and Sea Island on the mainland.

Requirements for site location included that it must be high above the surface of the sea and have an unobstructed “view” of all possible approaches of attack.

Sources: http://bearboat.net/Kayak/FerrerPoint.html, http://www.c-and-e-museum.org/Pinetreeline/rds/rds11-43.html.

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.

Naval Ammunition Depot Kamloops had a brief 20-year life, as it was declared surplus and closed on 31 March 1964.  Their area of responsibility was taken over by Naval Ammunition Depot Rocky Point in Esquimalt.  Some of the munitions were also sent east to Naval Ammunition Depot Renous in New Brunswick.

The former Naval Ammunition Depot Kamloops is now owned by the city.  Several of the old magazines remain, located along Bunker Road at McGill Road, and 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: https://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/abandoned-bases/british-columbia/

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