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NOVA SCOTIA

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Debert:

Opened in April 1941, RCAF Station Debert was the home to the Royal Air Force’s No. 31 Operational Training Unit (opened on 3 June 1941), a Communications Storage Facility and the Royal Canadian Navy’s No. 31 Naval Air Gunners School. A Relief Landing Field was also constructed near the Town of Maitland.

No. 31 OTU was later taken over by the RCAF and re-designated No. 7 OTU. RCAF Station Debert closed on 20 June 1945.

Although the Canadian Army continued to use the neighboring Army camp, the airfield sat unused until the RCAF resumed using it for flight training in 1954.

In 1960 the RCAF again departed and the airfield was taken over by the Royal Canadian Navy as a training facility for Navy fighter pilots. Markings were painted on the runways so that the Navy pilots could practice simulated carrier take-offs and landings. By 1969, the Navy had departed and the airfield was once again abandoned.

It was sold to the province in 1970.

From 1968-1973, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

In 1974, the Truro Flying Club took over management of the airfield, now known as the Debert Airport. Two of the original runways and one partial remain in use today.

In 1978, the airfield and industrial park were sold to the provincial Crown Corporation Industrial Estates Ltd.

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Camp Debert:

Opened adjacent to RCAF Station Debert in April 1941 as a staging area and training area for units deploying overseas, as well as an ammunition storage facility. Regiments that trained at the camp included The Regina Rifle Regiment, the Winnipeg Rifles, The Canadian Scottish Regiment, The North Nova Scotia Regiment, The Glengarries and The Duke of York Hussars.

Starting in 1942, A-23 Coast Defence and Anti-Aircraft Advanced Training Centre began conducting radar training for the army.

After WWII, Camp Debert continued to be used as an Army training facility for the 3rd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1948-1958) and the Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (1950-1952) served as the home of the 12th Ordinance Ammunition Depot (1948-1958), the 31st Ordnance Ammunition Depot (1948-1965).

The late 1950s and early 1960s were a busy time for Camp Debert for not only the Canadian Army but the Royal Canadian Navy too. The Royal Canadian Navy re-located their Regional Medical Equipment Depot from the HMC Dockyard at HMCS Stadacona to Camp Debert in 1959, taking up residence in one of the former RCAF hangars.

By the late 1950s, the threat of a nuclear war had become so great that the Canadian government decided to construct a secret underground bunker to house the major elements of the government in the event of an emergency. Most Provincial Governments followed suit by building their own Emergency Government Headquarters bunkers.

The Nova Scotia Government chose Camp Debert for the site of their 64, 000 s1quar foot “Diefenbunker” in the early 1960s. The Provincial Warning Centre, the Regional Emergency Government Headquarters and 720 Communications Squadron also took up residence in the bunker. All Government bunkers also doubled as a communications station, and thus had a remote communications bunker located some distance away. This second bunker, usually a single story structure, was staffed exclusively by communications personnel. Debert’s remote transmitter bunker site was constructed near Great Village.

In the mid 1960s, Debert began to downsize, beginning with the closure of the ammunition depot in 1965. The overall size of Camp Debert was reduced in 1971 when a large portion of the camp were sold, reducing the camp to 300 hectares from a war-time high of 6000 hectares.

With the Unification of the late 1960s, Camp Debert became a Detachment of CFB Halifax.

Post-unification, the Camp’s main function was as a strategic communication station for DND, serving as an Automated Defence Data Network (ADDN) Communications Node site and a station in the NATO Integrated Communications System (NICS), situated in the bunker and under the command of unit 72 Communications Group at CFB Halifax.

In 1982, CFS Debert was equipped with Telegraph Automated Relay Equipment (TARE) which was used to relay communications received at the nearby Satellite Ground Terminal Folly Lake.

In 1994, the Regional Emergency Government Headquarters closed.

In 1995, Camp Debert separated from CFB Halifax, becoming an autonomous station, but this would be short-lived.

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, Camp Debert closed on 15 July 1996.

The Colchester Development Corporation owns the former camp, now the Debert Air Industrial Park.

Most of the original buildings remain at Debert, including several of the old ammunition bunkers, the concrete and earth berms of demolished ammo bunkers, hangar No. 3 (the former medical stores), a second hangar at the north end of the airfield, the guard hut, the hobby shop, the recreation centre, the post-war all-ranks barracks, the firehall, the Maintenance & Transport building, the HQ building, the NATO NICS-TARE building and guard house (both abandoned and crumbling) and most of the PMQs.

The former fire training area #2 is now occupied by CDA Paintball.

A construction engineering detachment remained behind for several years after the closure, but is now gone.  Eight of the PMQs remained in military hands after the closure, but all have now been sold to the private sector.

The Debert Military History Society opened its doors at the former camp in November 1997 in the only remaining “H-hut”, to preserve the military history of the former Camp Debert, replacing the CFS Debert Museum which closed in 1995.

Communication Detachment Great Village was established at Debert’s remote transmitter bunker site at Great Village. The detachment, which falls under command of 726 Communication Squadron at CFB Halifax, carries out Debert’s communication duties.

The bunker at Debert was used a cold war museum, similar to the “Diefenbunker” and as the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Regional Gliding School (Atlantic) Headquarters.

In December 2008 the Diefenbunker was sold to a private data warehousing and data centre co-location services provider, Bastionhost, who were going to renovate the facility as a high-density, groundwater-cooled data centre.

In November 2012 the Diefenbunker was sold again by the Municipality of the County of Colchester to recover unpaid taxes from the previous owner, Dataville Farms Ltd. It was purchased by Jonathan Baha’i for $31,300 along with the adjoining parking lot for $4150. The new owner has indicated he intends to use the facility for a data centre with an emphasis on cloud storage. Other parts of the facility may be used for unspecified research and development.

In 2013, a part of the bunker was used to film an independent movie, Bunker 6.  It has also been used for paintball and airsoft games.

The Debert Bunker now serves as the home to “Enter the Bunker”, a modern entertainment venue with laser tag games, movies, e-gaming and War Games escape rooms.

Today the only remnants of a once-vast military presence in Debert are a small-arms firing range used by militia reserve units from Cumberland, Colchester and Pictou counties.  Additionally, the Regional Gliding School (Atlantic) still operates from the airfield each summer, carrying on the tradition of training airmen and women at Debert.

The last Commanding Officer of CFS Debert, Major David Quick, was eager to say in his closing speech that CFS Debert was the best kept secret in the military (Whitaker, 1997).

Source material: “Sentinel” Magazine from August 1974, pg. 29, “Comprehensive Study Environmental Assessment of the Closure of CFS Debert Nova Scotia, Project No. 11522”, prepared by Jacques Whitford Environmental Ltd. (July 1997), “Comprehensive Study Summary report Closure of CFS Debert Nova Scotia”, prepared by Jacques Whitford Environmental Ltd. (November1997), “Where has the Station Gone? Or What ever happened to CFS Debert?” (15 Jan 97), the Communications & Electronics Museum site – www.c-and-e-museum.org, “Bunkers, Bunkers Everywhere” by Paul Ozorak, “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, The Debert Military History Society web site – http://debertmilitaryhistorysociety.weebly.com, Colchester Park web site – www.colchesterpark.com, “History of Canadian Airports” by T. M. McGrath & “CFS Debert – The End of an Era” (24 Oct 96), by Warrant Officer R.J. Whitaker, Detachment Commander, Communication Detachment Great Village, NS at http://www.dnd.ca/commelec/nwslettr/vol34/debert.htm, Google Maps, https://www.enterthebunker.com & information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Authority (2011).


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Yarmouth:

Originally opened in 1940 as 3 separate training sites (the East Camp, the West Camp and the Air Base) under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, but known collectively as RCAF Station Yarmouth.

The East Camp was home to a detachment of the Royal Air Force’s No. 34 Operational Training Unit (from Pennfield Ridge), who trained Bomber crews, as well as the Royal Navy’s No. 1 Naval Air Gunners School from 1 January 1943 – 30 March 1945.

The West Camp was home to the RCAF’s Anti-Submarine Bomber Reconnaissance and several Eastern Air Command Bomber Reconnaissance Squadrons.

The Air Base was home to the 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery, various RCAF and RAF Bomber Squadrons and an Army Co-operation Reconnaissance Flight. Its primary function was as an administrative and logistical support base to the RAF and RCAF squadrons in the area, in addition to providing a Weather Information Section, an Armament Section and a firing range.

Several smaller installations associated with the air station were located in the area: a bombing range at Port Maitland, a fuel depot at Digby, and radar detachments at Plymouth, Tusket and Bear Point, Port Mouton and Rockville.

In 1944, a detachment of the US Navy briefly came to Yarmouth to test the effectiveness of a blimp service. After a crash, the RCAF decided against this venture.

RCAF Station Yarmouth closed in 1945. The airfield was sold to the Department of Transport in 1946 and became the Yarmouth Airport.

From 1952-1969, a portion of the runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

All the RCAF buildings were moved or demolished shortly after the war, except for two hangars at the West Camp. Two other hangars that were moved off site became hockey rinks for the Towns of Digby and Liverpool. One of the remaining hangars was used for the airport emergency vehicles, a carpentry shop and storage. The other hangar was used for the airport administration offices, as well as serving as the passenger terminal for Trans Canada Airlines, later known as Air Canada. This terminal remained in use for almost forty years, before a new terminal opened at the airport. Both hangars were later demolished.

All that remains at the east camp are the hangar pads, building foundations and the old roadways. All that remains of the airfield is the taxiway and a portion of the lower runway. This side of the airfield is abandoned and does not operate as a part of the current airport.

Former airport manager Robert Romkey has written a book on the complete history of Yarmouth Airport.

Source Material: The RCAF Station Yarmouth web page – www.ycn.library.ns.ca/ycn/rcaf & “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Maitland:

Opened in 1940 as a Relief Landing Field for No. 31 Operation Training Unit at Debert. As with all RLFs, the Detachment had a hangar, barracks, although only 2 of the 3 runways of the usual standard triangle-pattern runways were ever built.

In January 1944, the Detachment changed functions when it became the home to No. 1 Aircrew Graduates Training School. No. 1 AGTS closed on 1 November 1944 and the aerodrome was abandoned.

After the war, the Detachment was used as a retraining facility for returning military personnel.

All that remains today are the abandoned runways, once used for sports car racing, and the gunnery backstop.  As of 2012, the property owner began removing asphalt from some of the runways. The former airport is now  a sod farm.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, http://wikimapia.org/9870109/Maitland & information provided  by Lisa Schuyler  – www.lisaschuyler.com.

 


Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Waterville:

Originally opened as a Relief Landing Field for No. 36 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Greenwood, featuring grass runways.  The Detachment closed in 1945.

The aerodrome became the Waterville Airport, owned by the Pulsifer Brothers of Halifax who operated a flying school was opened for general aviation flight training until 1948.

A garage and restaurant called Sky Gardens was also built on the east end of the airport property.

Starting in 1949, parts of the airport property were sold off for other uses.  A drive-inn theatre was built on part of the property.  The hangar was torn down and the movie screen built in its place.

In 1952, RCAF veteran Donald Keith opened the Waterville Flying School at the airport.

Sometime in the 1950s the airport was abandoned and the land turned into pasture land.

The airport was re-opened in 1963 and a new flying school opened by Harry Bull, who build new hangars and an administration building.

In 1976, the airport was purchased by the Municipality of Kings County, who upgraded the facilities including paving the grass runway.  The airport was re-named the Waterville/Kings County Municipal Airport.

In 2005, 14 Wing Greenwood terminated civilian general aviation at their airfield, resulting in the Greenwood Flying Club re-locating to the Waterville airport and changing its name to the Greenwood Flight Centre.  Other aviation companies at the airport included CFC Aircraft Maintenance, the Annapolis Valley Flying Club, the Atlantic School of Skydiving, and the Valley Search and Rescue.

The airport closed on 31 March 2016 and the property will be sold to the Michelin Tire Corporation for possible expansion of their manufacturing plant.

A plan is in the works for the Greenwood Flight Centre and the other aviation activities at Waterville to return to 14 Wing Greenwood under an agreement that included the construction of hangars and other facilities for general aviation.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Shelburne:

Opened in 1942, directly south of HMCS Shelburne, originally for the U.S. Army Air Force. The Americans decided against occupying the station, and it instead became a Detachment of No. 3 Operational Training Unit.

No. 116 (BR) Squadron began training at the station, but returned to their original home base at Botwood, NFLD in June 1943. For much of the rest of 1943, the station only saw occasional usage by No. 117 (BR) Squadron and No. 6 Coast Artillery Co-operation Detachment. The station was taken over by the Royal Canadian Navy in 1944, but later closed.

All that remains of the station today is the sea-plane slipway.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


No. 17 Elementary Flying Training School:

Opened near Stanley on 17 March 1941 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The school closed 14 January 1944.

For several years the airport was abandoned. Around 1968 the Dartmouth Aircraft Association moved to Stanley, where they built several hangars and fixed the runways to make them useable.

The aerodrome is now operated by Stanley Sport Aviation and the Bluenose Soaring Club. The N.S. Department of Lands and Forests, later re-named the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, also leases space at the airfield.

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources used the hangar after the war before turning it over to Stanly Sport Aviation. This distinctive wood hangar had a control tower at one corner and was once the largest building in Hants County. It was demolished in 2006 due to deterioration of the structure.

Besides the airfield, the officer’s mess and a garage remain today.

Source Material: The Stanley Sport Aviation web site – http://www.stanleysportaviation.ns.ca, the Stanley Airfield web site – http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Recreation/BSC/stanhist.html & information supplied by Boris de Jonge, Secretary, Bluenose Soaring Club (2002).


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Sydney:

Opened in 1940 as a station for bomber reconnaissance aircraft conducting anti-submarine operations. The station closed on 31 December 1945 and three months later, the former station was turned over the Department of Transportation.

Today the former station is the Sydney / J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport. Nothing remains from the airport’s wartime days.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Gorsebrook:

Established during World War II to provide barracks, messes and administrative support for personnel at the RCAF’s Eastern Air Command Headquarters (EAC HQ) at the corner of South and Barrington, along with the RCAF Women’s Division.

Gorsebrook continued this function post-war, supporting EAC HQ until it disbanded in1947, RCAF’s 10 Group HQ from 1949-1953 and Maritime Air Command HQ from 1953-1966.

With the Unification of the Forces, administrative support for Maritime Command was transferred to CFB Halifax.  The Gorsebrook station closed in 1966 and the property was sold to the city of Halifax.

The station’s buildings and permanent married quarters stood until the late 1960s, when they were demolished.  Nothing remains of the station today.

The former station is now home to Gorsebrook School and Saint Francis School (which later became Inglis Street School), both built on property in the 1950s. In 1983, Sir Frederick Fraser School moved to a new building at the site.  The remainder of the  former station is now Gorsebrook Park.

Source material: Scholars Common @ Laurier web site – http://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1742&context=cmh, Radio Communication and Signals Intelligence of the Royal Canadian Navy web site – http://jproc.ca/rrp/albro_lake.html, “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak & information provided by Ernie Cable, Historian, Shearwater Aviation Museum (2015).


Royal Canadian Air Force No. 1 Radio/Radar Detachment:

Established at Preston, east of Dartmouth on 1 June 1942, as one of the stations on the east coast tasked with the long-range detection of all incoming aircraft and passing on this information to local fighter units and anti-aircraft batteries.  The term “RADAR” was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943.

No. 1 RD was a small detachment, consisting of only 6 buildings and staffed by around 80 men using TRU radar equipment.  The station reported directly to the filter centre at Eastern Air Command HQ in Dartmouth.

No. 1 RD disbanded and the station closed on 3 October 1945.  Nothing remains today other than a low round concrete structure that may have been the base for the water tower.  A modest bungalow now occupies the property, located at 256 Upper Governor Street.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Royal Canadian Air Force No. 2 Radio/Radar Detachment:

Established at Bell Lake,east of Dartmouth, on 30 June 1942, as one of the stations on the east coast tasked with the long-range detection of all incoming aircraft and passing on this information to local fighter units and anti-aircraft batteries.  The term “RADAR” was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943.

No. 2 RD closed on 28 February 1945.  Nothing remains of the detachment today.  The Bel Ayr Park residential community now occupies the property.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Royal Canadian Air Force No. 2 Radio/Radar Unit:

Established in Tusket in June 1942 as one of the stations on the east coast tasked with the long-range detection of all incoming aircraft and passing on this information to local fighter units and anti-aircraft batteries.  The term “RADAR” was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943.

The unit disbanded in 1945.  The station property was sold to the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax for use as summer camp, Camp Montebello.

Camp Montebello ceased operations years ago, and all that remains of the station today, found at the end of Camp Montebello Road, is the Officers’ Quarters, the pump house and the power house, all under private ownership.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Royal Canadian Air Force No. 5 Radio/Radar Unit:

Established near Queensport (now Cole Harbour) in 1942 as one of the stations on the east coast tasked with the long-range detection of all incoming aircraft and passing on this information to local fighter units and anti-aircraft batteries.  The term “RADAR” was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943.

The unit disbanded in June 1945 and the station was abandoned.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, https://www.madiganstories.com/for-the-good-times and http://www.c-and-e-museum.org/Pinetreeline/rds/detail/rds5-6.html.


No. 6 Radio/Radar Station:

Established in 1942 as a detachment of RCAF Station Sydney, as one of the stations on the east coast tasked with the long-range detection of all incoming aircraft and passing on this information to local fighter units and anti-aircraft batteries.  The term “RADAR” was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943.

The station closed on 2 September 1945.

Source Material: Louisbourg Institute web site – http://w3.uccb.ns.ca/search/VEDay.html


Royal Canadian Air Force No. 6 Radio Communications Unit:

Established near Mount Uniacke in 1955, with an operations and transmitter site north of the town on the east side of Highway 1 and a receiver site south of the town, on the west side of Highway 1. 

The unit served as a part of Maritime Air Command’s major relay network for Halifax, Greenwood, Summerside, Moncton, Goose Bay, Rockcliffe, Torbay and the Azores.

Post-Unification, the station was run by 726 Communications Squadron.

The transmitter and receiver sites were closed down in 1967 and 1973 respectively.

All that remains at the transmitter site is a lone building, ruins of others, the roadway into the site and some fencing.

Nothing remains of the receiver site, part of which is now occupied by Withrow’s Farm Market. 

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Royal Canadian Air Force No. 16 Radio Detachment / No. 16 Radio/Radar Unit:

Established at Eastern Passage, east of Dartmouth, on 30 September 1943, as one of the stations on the east coast tasked with the long-range detection of all incoming aircraft and passing on this information to local fighter units and anti-aircraft batteries.  The term “RADAR” was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943.

No. 16 Rd was a very small detachment, consisting of 3 buildings and staffed by 4 officers and 45 men, the station also served as an experimental Ground-Control Approach testing site for RCAF Station Dartmouth.

In September 1944, the detachment was re-named No. 16 Radio Unit.

At the end of WWII, most of the radio detachments were closed, but No. 16 RU remained open as a Ground-Control Intercept station.  No. 16 officially closed on 4 February 1946, but the station remained open, first as a detachment of the Signals Office at RCAF Station Dartmouth and then for the Royal Canadian Navy signals section when it assumed control of the Dartmouth station.

The detachment closed in 1955.  Nothing remains today other than the underground reservoir.  The detachment was located at the end of Scott Drive.

Source material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis:

Originally opened in May 1942 in Halifax as a Royal Canadian Navy recruit-training centre named His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Cornwallis. This location would be short lived and Cornwallis moved to Deep Brook in April 1943 where it would become the largest new entry training facility in the Commonwealth.

The end of WWII saw a reduced need for Naval trainees, and as a result, HMCS Cornwallis closed on 28 February 1946. This would prove to be a short-lived closure, as the RCN re-opened the base in November 1948. A new 19 week course was designed to train sailors for the post-war RCN, a course that would include women (WRENS) by the early 1950s.

After the closure of the Point Edward Naval Base in 1964, the HMCS Acadia sea cadet summer camp was re-located to Cornwallis. However, the name HMCS Acadia wouldn’t follow the cadet camp. The name HMCS Acadia was revived as the name of the Cornwallis cadet school in 1978.

As a result of the Unification in 1968, the base was re-named CFB Cornwallis and expanded their recruit training courses to include all three service branches.

Due to a reduction in recruiting levels, as a part of the overall reduction in the personnel levels in the Canadian Forces, CFB Cornwallis closed in 1994. The recruit school moved to CFB St-Jean to merge with the other CF recruit school. 14 Wing Greenwood now provides the local Reserve and Cadet units with administrative and logistical support.

Today the site is known as Cornwallis Park, a commercial and residential complex with some companies being established as call centres, and others processing recycled tires, or lumber and forest products.  Most of the former military buildings remain.

The residences and permanent married quarters (PMQs) were sold or rented to civilians. Other parts of the base were transformed into an industrial park.

A Navy presence does remain at Cornwallis in the form of the HMCS Acadia Sea Cadet Summer Training Centre, who carry on the tradition of training young sailors at Cornwallis.  Some of the barracks at Cornwallis Park  are used during the summer months for student cadets who come to Cornwallis from all over Atlantic Canada.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre formerly occupied space at Cornwallis. It was established in 1994 to train Canadian and foreign soldiers in the art of peacekeeping and conflict resolution for postings with United Nations Peacekeeping missions. In late 2011, the Centre will closed its Cornwallis Park office, ending a 17-year presence.

The HMCS/CFB Cornwallis Military Historical Society acquired the former St Georges Chapel and opened it as the Cornwallis Military Museum in 1997, to the history of the former naval training depot and display various artifacts from those years.  However after 20 years, the museum was forced to close as of 3 September 2017 due to a lack of volunteers to staff the museum.  The building has been put up for sale.

An application has been made by the Society to the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board to have Cornwallis made a national historic site by Parks Canada.

Source material: DND press release from February 1994, “Sentinel” Magazine from August 1974 & “Badges of the Canadian Navy” by LT (N) Graeme Arbuckle, The HMCS/CFB Cornwallis Military Historical Society web site – http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/capcom/cornmilmus.html, “The Maple Leaf” – Vol. 4, No. 36, 2001, “Abandoned Military Installations in Canada Vol III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, http://www.digbycourier.ca/news/local/2017/8/11/cornwallis-military-museum-to-close-after-20-years.html & Kespuwick Developments Cornwallis Park Web Site – www.cornwallis.ns.ca.


Naval Radio Station Albro Lake:

Opened near Dartmouth in 1942, Naval Radio Station Albro Lake served as a Naval radio communications station for the Atlantic Coast, with transmitter facilities located at Newport Corner, 50 kilometres northwest of Dartmouth.

An explosion at the Bedford Basin Naval Powder Ammunition Depot on 18 July1945 put Albro Lake off the air but only temporarily. With the assistance of RCAF Station Gorsebrook in Halifax, the station was back on the air with borrowed transmitters.

The growth of Dartmouth from a small town into a city created problems for receiving radio signals at Albro Lake. The Navy decided to relocate the radio station and as a result, Naval Radio Station Albro Lake closed in 1968. A new radio communications station, Canadian Forces Station Mill Cove, was opened 40 miles southwest of Halifax.

The Newport Corner transmitter facilities remained operational in conjunction with CFS Mill Cove, and remain today.

The former station is now a housing development and parkland. The station’s PMQs remained for many years afterwards, but were transferred to the Canada Lands Company in 1999 and demolished for re-development.

Nothing remains of the former NRS Albro Lake today.  The former PMQ area features new homes on streets named Chinook, Argus, Fury, Lancaster, Sea King, a nod to the property’s military past.

Source Material: “Sentinel” Magazine from March 1968, pg 14 and April 1968, “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, information supplied by Phil Steeves, Manager of Real Estate Services, Canadian Forces Housing Authority (2005) & information supplied by Walter R. Fitzgerald, Mayor, City of Halifax (1999).


Naval Radio Section Mill Cove:

Officially opened as Canadian Forces Station Mill Cove on 19 December 1967, replacing Naval Radio Station Albro Lake as the Royal Canadian Navy’s east-coast radio communications station. CFS Mill Cove was constructed as three distinct sites – the “Upper Site”, consisting of the operations site, the “Lower Site”, consisting of several administrative buildings and the PMQ’s, and the transmission facilities at Newport Corner.

Department of National Defence cutbacks in the early 1990s saw many bases across Canada close, merge or downsize. As a result, the “Lower Site” closed on 1 June 1995. The “Upper Site” and the transmission facilities at Newport Corner remained operational, but were downsized to a remote broadcast control station and a Detachment of Maritime Forces Atlantic Stadacona (CFB Halifax).

The remainder of CFS Mill Cove closed on 1 April 1996 and the station was Transferred to the Mill Cove Park Development Agency.

The radio unit was re-named Naval Radio Section Mill Cove in March 1998 to officially recognize its naval heritage and Newport Corner was similarly re-named a NRS.

On 10 April 2001 the Navy’s radio communications facilities returned to the Halifax area for the first time since 1968 when Naval Radio Section Mill Cove re-located to the new Remote Operations Communication Centre at Stadacona. The Mill Cove and Newport Corner receiver and transmitter sites remain active, controlled remotely from Stadacona.

The former station was sold to Mill Cove Developments Limited of Halifax in 2003 for re-development.

At Mill Cove, the radio building, the administration buildings, the gym, the fire hall, the Jr. Rank’s Mess, the Living Quarters and the workshop buildings remain, but are vacant and deteriorating.

The PMQs are remain, but are now privately owned.  The area for parking recreational trailers behind the Admin Building is now the home of Aspotogan Elementary School. 

Newport Corners is staffed only by repair technicians and seventeen PMQ units remain in use there for military members.

Both the Aldergrove and Matsqui radio stations can be remotely controlled by CFB Halifax. Similarily, both Mill Cove and Newport Corner can be remotely controlled CFB Esquimalt.

Source Material: “Trident” magazine from June 3, 1987 and June 15, 1995, “The Maple Leaf” Magazine from April 2001, information supplied by Ronald J. Yaschuk, CD (CPO Ret’d) (2007), information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Atuhority (2011) & information supplied by the Maritime Command Museum, City of Halifax (1999).

For the full history of CFS Mill cove, visit http://webhome.idirect.com/~jproc/rrp/mc_mill_cove.html


Canadian Forces Station Shelburne:

Opened in December 1941 as His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Shelburne, just outside the town limits of the Town of Shelburne, taking over the neighbouring former RCAF Seaplane base.  The station was a joint Royal Canadian Navy/United States Navy acoustic sensor and oceanographic research station (aka, spy listening station). The station closed in 1946.

The station hospital was turned over to the Town of Shelburne and became Roseway Hospital, located at 1606 Lake Rd. 

The marine slip used to repair naval vessels was acquired by Irving Shipbuilding and is now known as Shelburne Ship Repair.

An industrial park was created out of the former Navy buildings. Twenty-four were sold, but the remainder were leased out to various companies.

By the early 1950s, the rising tensions of the Cold War resulted in many Canadian military bases being re-opened. As early as 1950, 23 of the former Navy buildings were reacquired by the RCN.

The creation of NATO in 1949 coincided with the development of the SOSUS network (SOund SUrveillance System) by the United States Navy and later other NATO navies for monitoring submarines of Warsaw Pact navies. Deployment of SOSUS and the larger Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) was likely spurred by development of ballistic missile submarines and associated missile technology in the Soviet Union during the mid-1950s.  The USN required several “Naval Facility” (NAVFAC) stations to be established.

As a result, the RCN re-activated HMCS Shelburne on 1 April 1955. although only a small portion of the wartime station was re-occupied. Additionally, a new property was acquired 14 km (8.7 mi) to the south in Lower Sandy Point on the site of a WWII Canadian Army gun fortifications at Government Point, where the NAVFAC was constructed as a joint RCN/USN “Oceanographic Research Station” – a cover for what would become the first SOSUS station in Canada (U.S. Naval Station Argentia, Nfld, would become the second).

The Government Point station became the home of the Canadian Forces Oceanographic Operator School and as a top-secret submarine detection base, the Sound Surveillance System, run in co-operation with the U.S. Navy, who posted a detachment of USN personnel to the station.

HMCS Shelburne was also the first SOSUS station to not fall under direct command of the USN.

HMCS Shelburne would undergo numerous changes during the remainder of the 1950s and through the 1960s as the World War II-era Quonset huts were replaced with modern facilities.

As a result of the Unification in 1968, the station was re-named CFS Shelburne.

In the mid 1990s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed.  On 1 August 1994 the NAVFAC at CFS Shelburne closed and the USN personnel departed The station itself was decommissioned on 13 March 1995. The station’s oceanographic duties were taken over by CFB Halifax (Stadacona).

Re-named Shelburne Park, the property was turned over to first the Shelburne Park Development Agency, then the South West Shore Development Authority who developed the property into a full-service movie studio.

The Shelburne Film Production Centre, which opened for business on 9 July 2000, features over 30,000 square feet of studio and production spaces. The studio was sold to Seacoast Entertainment Arts Inc. for $5 million for development as a film production studio

The former station was sold again In late November 2011 to Tri-County Construction, a marine construction contracting company, for $125,000, plus $48,442.58 in back taxes

Tri-County Construction owner Roger Sullivan stated that he had no immediate plans for the property, located on Sandy Point Road at Government Point Road/Stockes Road. 

By 2013, the site was still abandoned, with some of the buildings open to the elements.

CFS Shelburne also has a place in UFO folklore as it is rumoured to have played a key role in a 1967 UFO sighting, the Canadian equivalent to America’s Roswell incident. A UFO supposedly crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Shag Harbour on 4 October 1967. A recovery team from CFS Shelburne is reported to have recovered the craft and transported it back to the station. The incident is detailed in the book “Dark Object” by Don Ledger and Chris Styles.

Source material: The Shelburne Film Production Centre web site – http://www.shelburnestudios.com, “Sentinel ” Magazine from February 1984, Jeff Rense web page – http://www.rense.com/general6/truthoutthere.htm, South West Shore Development Authority – http://www.swsda.com/releases/July16.html, “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, Former Shelburne navy base to remain mothballed – http://www.leveil.com/Business/2013-09-04/article-3374134/Former-Shelburne-navy-base-to-remain-mothballed/1 & DND press release from February 1994.


Point Edward Naval Base:

Opened by the Royal Canadian Navy on 22 July 1940 as a ship repair depot. The station also served as a naval recruit depot until 1943, when the recruit school re-located to HMCS Cornwallis.

After WW II, Point Edward Naval Base remained open as a part of the post-war RCN, becoming a storage for surplus naval vessels, as well as an armament and supply depot.

The Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps established HMCS Acadia Summer Training Centre at the Point Edward Naval Base on 30 May 1956.

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

HMCS Acadia closed around the same time as the base and Sea Cadet training was then transferred to HMCS Cornwallis. However, the name HMCS Acadia wouldn’t follow the cadet camp. The name HMCS Acadia was revived as the name of the Cornwallis cadet school in 1978.

The former naval station served as the home of the Canadian Coast Guard College from 1965 until the Coast Guard College re-located to an adjacent property in Edwardsville in 1981.

In 1969, the former base became the Sydport Industrial Park and remains so today. All that remains of the former naval base are the old workshops, used by various companies such as East Coast Lumber.

Source Material: The Crowsnest of Newfoundland – www.crowsnestnf.ca, “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets web stie – http://www.cadets.net/atl/acadia/history_e.asp & The Canadian Coast Guard College – www.cgc.gc.ca/CGC.php?l=e&m=14&p=38.


Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Protector II:

See “Closed bases that still have a military presence”


Royal Canadian Naval Air Service Kelly’s Beach:

In June1918, with the belief that the Great War would continue for two or three more years, the Royal Canadian Navy, on cooperation with the United States, established a naval air station at Kelly’s Beach in North Sydney to help protect merchant ships sailing in convoy from Sydney Harbour and Halifax Harbour.

However,  WWI came to an end in November of 1918.  By this point, living quarters. mess facilities that could accommodate up to 400 servicemen, and a seaplane hangar  had been constructed at Kelly’s Beach.  When the war ended, the hangar was dismantled, but the other buildings were boarded up and the base was mothballed.

In 1939, the former Naval Air Station at Kelly’s Beach was re-activated, although with no American involvement. A new large seaplane hangar was built, while the old barrack buildings were renovated.

For the duration of WWII, RCAF seaplanes flew out of the Naval Air Station North Sydney. The most popular of these was the Canso, a seaplane known as the “amphibian.” The bottom of this plane was shaped like the hull of a boat, so it could land on water, but it also had a retractable landing gear so that it could land on a normal runway.

The Station closed at the end of WWII and nothing remains of it today.  The site is now Munro Park.

Source material:  “Former Kelly’s Beach used as naval air station,” The Cape Breton Post, 4 September 2015. – http://www.capebretonpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/2015-09-04/article-4267023/Former-Kellys-Beach-used-as-naval-air-station/1.


Shannon Park / Wallace Heights:

Shannon Park  and Wallace Heights were established on opposite sides of the MacKay bridge in Dartmouth as a military housing community for personnel posted to HMCS Stadacona.  Shannon Park was build up in the early 1950s, while Wallance Heights was built in the 1960s.

It was a full community, with over 500 apartment units, a Canex, two elementary schools, two churches, four storage facilities, an arena, swimming pool, community centre, and a large sports field.

With defence cutbacks reducing the number of personnel serving in the navy and expanded housing available on the civilian market, both Shannon Park and Wallace Heights residential units were vacated in 2004. The Shannon Park units remain empty and owned by the Canada Lands Corporation, but Wallace Heights was sold and converted to civilian housing.

Shannon Park Elementary School, located at 45 Iriquois Drive, remains open, but the middle school is closed.

The Shannon Park Arena closed in the fall of 2014 in favour of three-pad arena at the Halifax Forum site. The church was torn down in 2013. The base pool was in use until a few years ago.

In 2014, 82 of the 96 acre property was transferred to the Canada Lands Corporation. Part to the Mi’kmaq community who once lived on the land prior to the Halifax Explosion.

Source Material:  Canada Lands Corporation –  www.clc.ca/properties/shannon-park


Camp Amherst:

Opened at the Amherst Fairgrounds on 23 October 1939 as the home to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. By 1941, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders re-located to Camp Debert and the camp became No. 8 Ordnance Detachment, a name that was changed to the Amherst Ordnance Depot in 1942.

The Depot closed in 1944. Only one building remains today.

Source Material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.

 


Elkins Barracks:

Opened in Eastern Passage, east of Dartmouth, in 1941 as A-23 Coast Defence and Anti-Aircraft Artillery Advanced Training Centre. A Radar Wing was established at Camp Debert in 1942.

The barracks was named after MGen W.H.P. Elkins, General Commanding Officer of Atlantic Command.

The camp remained open after the war as a tank range.

Nothing remains of the barracks today, once located at the south -west corner of Cow Bay Road and Caldwell Road.  The 71 acre property, now known as the Eastern Passage Common, is now occupied by 3 schools (Oceanview Elementary School, Tallahassee Community School and Seaside Elementary School), a community centre, a community garden, a skate park and various sports fields, residential development.

Source Material:  “Wartime Halifax: The photo history of a Canadian city at war – 1939-1945”, by William D. Naftel, “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak, The RCCS web site – www.rcsigs.ca & The City of Halifax web site – www.halifax.ca,


No. 60 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

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


No. 61 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre (Camp Parkdale):

Originally opened in October 1940 as No. 61 Non-Permanent Active Militia Training Centre, but later changed to No. 61 CA(B)TC, at an old clay products plant and racetrack/fairgrounds in New Glasgow.

The camp closed in September 1944.

All that remains of the former camp is the drill hall and a few of the barracks, but not the old racetrack.

Source Material: “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.


A14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre:

See entry for Camp Aldershot in “Current Canadian Bases”.


Fort York Redoubt:

One of the oldest forts in the Halifax area.


Fort McNab:


Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Depot Johnstown:

Opened in the fall of 1943, the complex consisted of 3 magazines, similar to the ones at Debert and McGivney.

Post-War, the site was used as a sub-depot of No, 31 Ordnance Depot in Debert, staffed by a single Private.

The depot closed  on 18 March 1957.

All that remains is the laboratory building on the west side of Highway 4, south of Johnstown, now a private residence.


NATO Satellite Ground Terminal Folly Lake:

Opened in 1982 as part of Canada’s NATO obligations, SGT Folly Lake was military satellite communications facility located near Folly Lake in Wentworth.  A lodger unit of CFB Halifax, it was one of 24 satellite communication facilities for NATO in various countries and one of two in Canada; the other being at Carp, Ontario.

SGT Folly Lake was a self contained facility that had supplies in the form of 30 days of food, as well as diesel fuel that would run two Caterpillar generators.

The site contained five buildings: an Operations Building (Control), a Garage, a Gate House, a Radar Dome which shielded the satellite dish and later a small storage building.

SGT Folly Lake was staffed by 24 personnel working 24 hours a day.  There were living quarters in the Operations Building but most personnel commuted to the facility from Moncton, Truro, Halifax or Debert until after it closed in 1996.

Military NATO communications traffic was sent to the Telegraph Automated Relay Equipment (TARE) at CFS Debert, until 1994, with civilian NATO communications traffic sent through Maritime Telephone and Telegraph lines.

SGT Folly Lake closed in December 2006, due to changes in NATO tactical satellite technology that made their AN/FSQ173 control system outdated.  The station was turned over to the Canada Lands Corporation and sold in 2009.

Source material:  Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency – http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/052/details-eng.cfm?pid=13420.

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