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The Unification of the Forces

The Past
On 1 February 1968, Bill C-243, The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act, was granted Royal Assent and the with that, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army officially ceased to exist.

The Air Force permanently lost their own rank structure, and to this day, it remains identical to the Army ranks. The Navy temporarily lost their own rank structure, but managed to get it restored in 1972. The traditional uniforms of each service branch were replaced with identical green uniforms, the only the exception being the highland infantry regiments, who were allowed to keep their traditional uniforms. This however changed in 1987, when the distinctive environmental uniforms were restored, although drastically different from the pre-Unification uniforms.

This new defence structure damaged the esprit de corps for sailors, soldiers, airmen, with many criticizing the idea by pointing out that infantrymen were not interchangeable with sailors, signalers on land were different from those on ships, among other issues.

The “Unification of the Forces” did not come without a lot of resentment as traditions were lost and the roles of service personnel changed. Several high-ranking officers were fired by Minister of National Defence Paul Hellyer for their refusal to support unification, such as Rear-Admiral William Landymore, the first Commander of Maritime Command, Rear-Admiral Jeffry Brock, the second-last Flag Officer Atlantic Coast, and Air Chief Marshal Frank Miller, the first to hold the post of Chief of the Defence Staff. Many more voluntarily resigned from the forces, rather than serve under this new defence plan.

The above, however, is simply an introduction. The focus of this web page is the bases, camps, stations, barracks and depots at which the men and women of Canada’s military served their country. If you look at a map of Canadian military bases, you will only see a small fragment of the bases that once were in existence. You won’t see RCAF Station Edgar, No. 5 Service Flying Training School or Camp Hagersville. Most people know of the Ontario Police College in Aylmer, Ontario, but don’t know why there are two buildings that look suspiciously like airplane hangars. That’s because the site was once known as RCAF Station Aylmer. During the Second World War numerous Air Force Bases were established under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The Canadian Army established training bases for the growing Non-Permanent Active Militia to train their new recruits. Various POW camps were established throughout Canada. Canada even had it’s own spy school, Special Training School 103, but better known as “Camp X”, near Oshawa. Many of these bases were closed or downsized to storage areas for surplus war equipment, but many stayed open for years after the war, some even becoming Canadian Forces Bases. Anybody out there remember serving at these bases?

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