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ALBERTA

Canadian Forces Base Calgary (Currie Barracks):

Currie Barracks, named in honour of General Sir Arthur Currie, was established in 1934 on land near the Sarcee Indian Reserve. This was the home of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Headquarters and B Squadron (later replaced by the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) 2nd Canadian Armoured Regiment), the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps Supply Depot, the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, the Royal Canadian Signals Communication Centre, and the headquarters for the 13th Military District.

In 1938, No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron and No. 3 (Bomber) Squadron moved to Currie Barracks from RCAF Station Ottawa (Rockcliffe), and occupied the portion of the barracks that later became Royal Canadian Air Force Station Lincoln Park.

On 15 February 1941, No. A-16 Advanced Canadian Infantry Training Centre opened at the barracks, remaining until the end of the War.

Over the years Currie Barracks would be home to several units including: The 1st & 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (1 PPCLI & 2 PPCLI) arrived at Currie Barracks in 1946 and permanent married quarters (PMQ) were build in 1948. The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada also made Currie Barracks their home from 1953 until the regiment disbanded in 1968. The 1st Battalion, Queens Own Rifles from occupied space at Currie from1953-1960 and The Fort Garry Horse, from 1965 until the unit disbanded in 1970.

2 PPCLI moved to Griesbach Barracks in Edmonton in 1958 and The Lord Strathcona’s Horse relocated to Sarcee Barracks the same year, remaining until transferring to Germany in 1965. 1 PPCLI re-located to Work Point Barracks in Victoria, B.C. in 1963.

Currie Barracks underwent rapid expansion during the Korean War as the facility transformed into a major military centre. The Headquarters Calgary Garrison was formed on 26 October 26 1950 to coordinate the administration of army units stationed at Currie Barracks.

With the closure of RCAF Station Lincoln Park, the buildings, the hangars to the north and south of the airfield and the Lincoln Park PMQs all became part of Currie Barracks. From the mid-1960s until 1983, the abandoned north-south runway was used as a racetrack for sports cars and motorcycles under the name Calgary International Raceway.

As a result of the Unification in 1968, Sarcee Barracks and Currie Barracks were merged into one base to become Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Calgary, although the names Sarcee and Currie continued to be used. Also in 1968, 1 Service Battalion was formed.

In later years, CFB Calgary would become home to No. 10 Personnel Depot and 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG), consisting of 1 Service Battalion, 1 Field Ambulance, 1 Military Police Platoon, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps), the Regional Equipment Depot and 1 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Unit.

1 PPCLI returned to Currie Barracks in 1970.

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

Area Support Unit Calgary was established on a small section of the former Currie Barracks , with a complement of 26 Regular Force personnel, to provide the local Reserve, Cadet and remaining Regular Force units with administrative and logistical support. A new armoury was built to house the remaining Regular Force sections that made up Area Support Unit Calgary.

41 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters (41 CBG HQ) moved into the LGen The Honorable Stanley Waters Building, formerly the 1 PPCLI headquarters building, after the departure of the Regular Forces to Edmonton.

Many of the original buildings remained at Currie Barracks for almost 2 decades as the property was slowly re-developed and turned over to a variety of commercial and residential uses, including a full-service film and television production centre, “Canadian Forces Base Studio Centre”, which has since closed.

The former Currie Barracks school became the home of Master’s Academy & College and remains so today.

The Calgary Farmers Market occupied one of the former Lincoln Park Hangars, but later moved to a new location on 77 Avenue South-east.

Not long after the base closure, the former Currie PMQ area was re-developed into a mixed upscale residential area called “Garrison Woods” featuring up to 600,000 residences, condominiums and a small shopping centre.  Some of the original PMQ homes at Curry Barracks were retained, extensively remodeled and integrated into the Garrison Woods development.

Similarly, some of the former Lincoln Park PMQs were also extensively remodeled retained as part of the “Garrison Green” residential community.

In March 2013, ASU Calgary disbanded along with other ASUs across Canada, ending almost 16 years of service. Taking over ASU Calgary’s functions were 1 Area Support Group in Edmonton and locally by ASG Detachment Calgary. Collectively, all Regular and Reserve Force units in the Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge areas are now known as Calgary Garrison.

Currie Barracks is currently undergoing a massive re-development that once completed.  It will include about 5,200 housing units in a variety of types from single-detached to apartments and condos, 245,000 square feet of retail development in a mixed-use High Street, about 750,000 square feet of commercial office space and 9.67 hectares of Municipal Reserve.

Approximately a dozen buildings are designated provincial heritage sites and will be refurbished and in some cases used as business space.  Buildings that are to be included in the re-development are the Athlone building, the Bessborough and Bennet buildings, both currently occupied by Clear Water Academy, a private Catholic school, the Pellet Block, the Stables building, the Officers’ Mess and garden, Remstead House and Brad House.

The parade square will become a sports field.

Only one of the six former Lincoln Park hangars along Richardson Way SW remains, along with a green Quonset occupied by the Wild Rose Brewery, the Drill Hall and Building AF-23 which was formerly the military clothing supply.

The Calgary Heritage Initiative Society, is scrambling to save McHugh House, a 117-year-old brick and sandstone building in Mission and one of the city’s oldest heritage homes, and the Barron Building, an art moderne tower in the Beltline that went up after the 1947 Leduc oil strike.

Currently, 41 CBG HQ remains in the LGen The Honorable Stanley Waters Building, along with the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre, the last remnants of the once important army base.

The Military Museums (formerly The Museum of the Regiments), located in the former base junior high school, now a part of Garrison Woods, remains as a link to the military heritage of Currie Barracks.

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1999), information supplied by Carol Stokes, Archivist, The City of Calgary (1999), information supplied by Ken Craig, Volunteer Researcher, Museum of the Regiments, Calgary Alberta (1999), “The Politics of Contested Space: Military Property Development in Calgary” – a thesis paper by P. Whitney Lackenbauer, University of Calgary, Department of History, Faculty of Graduate Studies (1999), DND press release from November 1998, information supplied by Terri Griffin (2002), information supplied by Ian Gray, Calgary resident (2003), information supplied by June Flegg, Historian, Saskatoon Public Library (2000), Calgary Forces Base Studio Centre web site – http://www.cfbstudios.com, Canada Lands Corporation Web site – http://www.clc.ca, information supplied by the Tsuu T’ina Police Service (2004), the personal recollections of the author (2004), “ASU Calgary Closes”, The Western Sentinel 28 March 2013, the Calgary Herald, 5 May 2013 – http://www.calgaryherald.com/Remnants+Second+World+flying+school+Calgary+disappearing/8340972/story.html, Calgary Military Family Resource Centre – https://www.familyforce.ca/sites/Calgary/EN/About%20the%20Community/Pages/MilitaryPre.aspx, “The Garrison” newspaper from March 1995 and Sept 1999, “Open house scheduled for Currie Barracks redevelopment plan,” Calgary Herald, 24 February 2015 and Currie Life – www.currielife.ca.


No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School (Lethbridge) & No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School:

Opened at the Kenyon Field Airport near Lethbridge on 22 July 1940 as No. 5 EFTS, a part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The school operated from the aerodrome at Lethbridge until it re-located to High River in 1941.

In its place, No. 8 B&GS opened on 13 October 1941 to train air bombers and air gunners. By the time the school closed in 1944, over 1600 students had graduated.

The aerodrome reverted back to a civilian airport and became the Lethbridge County Airport. A new terminal building opened on 19 October 1979, replacing the former RCAF mess which acted as the terminal.

Only one of the BCATP hangars, the double-wide hangar remains, now occupied by SRI Homes, as does airwomen’s dry canteen, now occupied by 702 Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association.  Only runways 05-23 and 12-30 remain active.

The 18th Air Defence Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, formed on 10 November 1992, took up residence in the former Drill Hall, now known as the Vimy Ridge Armoury. In 2011 was re-designated 20th Independent Field Battery, RCA.

On 1 August 2013, the County of Lethbridge approved renaming the airport to Lethbridge Airport.

Source Material: information supplied by The Sir Alexander Gault Museum & Archives (2002), information supplied by Scott Butchart, Lethbridbge County Airport (2004) & the “Wings Over Alberta” web site – http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm., information supplied by Norm Lund, local resident of High River (2001), “Wings For Victory – The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada”, by Spencer Dunmore, information supplied by The Sir Alexander Gault Museum & Archives (2002), the personal recollections of the author (2004) & “Canada Flight Supplement 1999”.


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

Opened in 1940 east of Red Deer as No. 130 Non-Permanent Active Militia Training Centre.

On 15 February 1941, the camp became No. A-20 Royal Canadian Army Service Corps Advanced Training Centre. The Camp closed in 1945.

The camp then became No. 8 Canadian Vocational Training Centre, which was charged with the purpose of providing training opportunities for returning veterans. The 78th Field Battery, a sub-unit of the 20th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Militia), took over the old drill hall, now named Cormack Armoury, which they still occupy today along with 749 Communications Squadron.

Some of the camp’s other building remain, including the transportation & maintenance hangars, now occupied by the Central Alberta Theatre and the Red Deer Public School Maintenance Division Building respectively.

Both the Red Deer Public and Catholic French Immersion School Boards established schools at the site, with one of the old barrack blocks being incorporated into the Lindsay Thurber High School.

Source Material: Royal Canadian Legion “Fort York News” from August 2000, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & the Archives Alberta web site – http://asalive.archivesalberta.org:8080/.

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

11 comments

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  1. Iona Meyer

    Unless I missed it somehow, you haven’t included RCEME. I lived on Currie from 1950-66. My dad was Strathcona but at some point early on was moved to RCEME. Otherwise awesome site. Congratulations!

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Iona,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I don’t have any information about RCEME units at Currie, unfortunately being confined by my source material. Can you provide anything to add, including photos that I will credit to you? I must admit that I haven’t updated Currie in a long time, so anything you could add would be appreciated.

      Cheers,

      Bruce

  2. Susan Robinson

    Hi, I lived in a PMQ in the mid 1950’s and I have been trying to get some photos of the homes for my dad who served for several years but cannot find any, any suggestions?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. What base did you live at?

      Bruce

      1. Susan Robinson

        Greisbach I hope that is spelled right. We moved a lot in the many years he served and it was the happiest I have ever been.

  3. Kenz

    I have the opportunity of visiting the #8B&GS yesterday. It is in the process of being dismantled and the wood from the site being preserved as the wood is endangered. I am seeking a picture of the building while it was in it’s glory days. Would you have something you are willing to share. Also a history of the site would be wonderful. Thank you for your dedication to preserving the history of these important eras.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Kenz,

      The remaining buildings at 8 B & GS in Lethbridge are being torn down? You can find information about the station in the “Abandoned Bases – Alberta” section on my web site.

      Bruce

  4. Barrie Belfield

    Hi Bruce
    My father was in the airforce and we were stationed at Lincoln Park in the pmq s from 1960-1963.He was
    transferred to cfb winnipeg and we moved there in 1964.I remember playing hockey on the outside rink on the
    base and bowling in the recreation centre.There was also a teen town for us togo and party on the weekends.
    I also remember that I had a Star Weekly paper route on the base.Went to school by bus to Currie Junior High
    and then I went to Viscount Bennettt high school.My mother worked as a supervisor in the officers mess.
    When I moved back to Calgary in 1986,everything had completely changed and I couldn t show my wife
    Lincoln Park RCAF pmq s because the base was no longer there.Do you have any pictures of
    teen town building,recreation centre or the old hockey rink?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Barrie,

      Unfortunately, I don’t appear to have any of the photos you mention. If they were still standing at when I last visited Calgary, I missed them. It was before I had a digital camera and had to watch how many pictures I took (ha, ha).

      Bruce

  5. Jay

    In my early days in Calgary, I attended Currie school from 1961 to 1962. It was known Currie Jr. High, then. The sub-division of Lakeview had just opened up in 1960 and as a newcomer to Calgary in August 1961, the family purchased a new house in Lakeview. There was some question about whether students there of Jr. High age should attend Dr. Oakley or Currie. So, those of us in Lakeview attended Dr. Oakley until after the school board made its mind up then we were transferred to Currie. There was already an elementary school in Lakeview, where my brother attended.

    The air force base was still open in 1961 and as I would ride my bike to school each morning a military bus carrying students to school would have to pass me on 24th Street and would blow its horn with a rather soft tone as it approached me and passed. I have often thought in the last couple of years if I could have ridden into the base and got on the bus (after asking permission, of course). I used to ride that bike, even to Viscount Bennett all year except when the temperature outside was approaching -25 F.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Jay,

      I glad this site brought back memories for you. If you have any photos that you wanted to share, please send them to bruce@militarybruce.com.

      Thanks, Bruce

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