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ONTARIO

Canadian Forces Station Armstrong:

Opened in 1954 as Armstrong Air Station of the United States Air Force, with the radar functions being run by No. 914 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

On 1 April 1963 Armstrong was connected to the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, and the station became a long-range radar site.

Also in April 1963, the station was handed over to the Royal Canadian Air Force and re-named RCAF Station Armstrong. This was part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases. The new radar unit, 38 AC&W Squadron, continued in the early warning role. It would later be known as 38 Radar Squadron.

The station was re-named CFS Armstrong in 1968.

Improvements in radar technology made the site redundant and the station closed on 1 September 1974.

The site was sold to private owners, and today the site sits abandoned. Most of the buildings still remain.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Edgar:

Originally designated No. 204 RCAF Radio Station, RCAF Station Edgar was the southern most station in the Pinetree Line. No. 204 became operational in September 1952 and one month later, the unit was re-designated No. 31 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron and the station itself RCAF Station Edgar.

Although Pinetree stations were much smaller than full-size bases like Camp Borden, they were still self-contained cities featuring standard military housing & barracks, a school, a recreation centre with a bowling alley & swimming pool, tennis courts, a baseball diamond,  an infirmary, a chapel, a firehall, a water treatment & distribution facility, a central heating plant, auto repair shops, cafeteria facilities and sports fields.

All Pinetree stations were equipped with one Search Radar, one Height-Finder Radar and a third back-up radar, and were situated at 150-mile intervals mostly along the 50th parallel, but also down the eastern coast and into southern Ontario and Quebec.

Unlike most Pinetree stations, RCAF Station Edgar also served as a Ground-Control Intercept station in addition to its primary function as an Early Warning Detection station. It was the job of No. 31 AC&W Squadron to track any incoming Soviet threats and then dispatch and direct fighter interceptors to head-off inbound Soviet bombers or missiles.

Overseeing No. 31 AC&W Squadron was No. 3 Air Defence Control Centre, also located at RCAF Station Edgar. No. 3 ADCC also coordinated the operations of No. 32 Squadron at RCAF Station Foymount, No. 33 at RCAF Station Falconbridge, No. 34 at RCAF Station Senneterre and 912th Squadron of and the United States Air Force’ at the Ramore Air Station (later taken over by the RCAF and re-named RCAF Station Ramore). With the creation of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in the late 1950s, No. 3 ADCC was re-designated the Ottawa NORAD Sector Headquarters.

When the Pinetree Line was first established, the RCAF utilized a manual system of plotting the movement of all aircraft on a large plotting board in the Operations Control Centre, situated inside a large reinforced concrete building, with Fighter Control Operators directing this process. In 1961, this system was replaced by the new Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system. A computer now determined the height, speed and direction of enemy targets and relayed the information to the Sector Control Headquarters. This change of operating procedures also lead to No. 31 AC&W Squadron being re-named No. 31 Radar Squadron and RCAF Station Edgar being placed under supervision of the Syracuse NORAD Sector Headquarters.

In May 1963, Ottawa NORAD Sector Headquarters re-located to RCAF Station North Bay and No. 31 Radar Squadron was later put under control of the Detroit Sector.

Continued upgrades in radar equipment lead to greater coverage areas for Pinetree stations. As a result, stations like RCAF Station Edgar were now deemed unnecessary as neighboring RCAF Stations Foymount and Falconbridge were now able to cover Edgar’s area of responsibility. As a result, operations at RCAF Station Edgar were terminated on March 20, 1964 and the station closed at the end of the month. A station disbandment parade was held on 8 April 1964, with the RCAF flag being lowered for the last time.

The Ontario Government purchased the property for just over $218,000 and in 1965, the former station became the Edgar Adult Occupational Centre for handicapped adults. This facility closed in 1999 and the Ontario Realty Corporation put up the property for sale, marketing it for possible industrial or institutional usage.

From 1999 – 2011, the station sat vacant, except for the security guards guarding the property. The Department of National Defence made a return of sorts to Edgar, as various Army Reserve units occasionally utilized the property for training. All of the station’s buildings remained at that time, except for the Operations Control Centre building and the radar towers (they were demolished long ago), but all were slowly deteriorating.

In November 2010, the Township of Oro-Medonte has acquired 42 acres of forested land at the north end of the property for passive recreational and leisure activities.

In July 2011, a developer purchased the remainder of the property for $2,500 and by the fall of 2011, all the buildings had been demolished, except for the gatehouse, the pumphouse and the chapel.  Developer Miya Consulting announced plans to build 82 houses on the property, but the property remains vacant.

In 2017, the gatehouse burned down.

Additional source Material:  the personal recollections of the author (1998-2017),  Township of Oro-Medonte media release – http://www.oro-medonte.ca/Newsroom/MediaRelease/index.htm , The Barrie Examiner – http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2873236 & Developer buys piece of former Edgar centre, Barrie Examiner, 21 July 2011.


Canadian Forces Station Falconbridge:

Opened in 1952 as RCAF Station Falconbridge, with the radar functions being run by No. 33 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

Falconbridge, like many other similar facilities was a fully self-contained community. In addition to shared quarters, the station included 101 homes (PMQs), water and sewage facilities, a school, library, church, an infirmary, and a slew of recreational facilities including a bowling alley, recreational hall, gymnasium, sauna and children’s wading pool. A post office operated from 1955 to 1960.

Following the Unification, the station was re-named CFS Falconbridge.

During the 1970s, Falconbridge also became as a training facility, specializing in basic and advanced instruction of Air Defence Technicians’ courses.  Following the closure of CFS Foymont in 1974, Falconbridge expanded it’s area of responsibility.

Falconbridge was also home to a training school, a Detachment of the Air Weapons Control and Countermeasures School from CFB North Bay, opened at the station in 1975.

On 11 November 1975, CFS Falconbridge became involved in tracking what many believed to be a UFO.  Two U.S. Air Force F-106 aircraft were dispatched to the scene, along with Air National Guard and Strategic Air Command helicopters, but none was ever able to make a positive identification.

In 1985, DND announced that the Pinetree Line would be shut down as a part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Plan. As a result, CFS Falconbridge ceased operations and closed in 1986.  The RCAF departed and the station was put up for sale.  

Appraised between $1.3 and $1.6 million based on potential rental income from the 97 PMQs, the property was essentially a complete town featuring all the same amenities of the other Pinetree stations, including a library, recreational building with snack bar, theatre, bowling alley, sauna, medical building, school, church, garage, office building, barracks that could be turned into apartments, the combined mess with kitchens and social areas, pump station, driving range, soccer field, two ball parks, ski tow and downhill ski area and a football field.

General Leaseholds won the bid for a paltry $140,000, generating much controversy for the low sale price.   The controversy escalated when the property was sold shortly afterwards to a local trailer park owner, Henry Shepherd for $190,000, only to sell it in 1988 for well over a million to Pine Ridge Developments.

Pine Ridge Developments began renting out the former PMQs as private residences.

The radomes were removed but the radar towers and the operations centre remained as did all the other station buildings.

Some of the buildings were rented out, but the remainder of the buildings were allowed to deteriorate.  By 2003, Pine Ridge Development were the subject of criticism for making only minimal safety improvements to the base’s badly deteriorated former barracks and mess hall despite having rented out homes on the site to tenants with children. The sports field, park and playground slowly became overgrown.

In 2007, the property was purchased by Kona Management, who immediately began the process of making improvements to the property.  The homes were improved and the deteriorated buildings sealed up to prevent intrusion.  Most were turned into rental storage buildings.  The operations centre and the remains of the radar towers were demolished in 2007.

As with a lot of the former Pinetree Line stations, neglect and ambivalence have hampered the opportunity to turn the remains of CFS Falconbridge into a viable and lucrative self-sustaining community and industrial park.

Additional sources:  www.ghosttownpix.com/ontario/towns/falconbridge.html, https://www.sudbury.com/local-news/radar-base-no-bargain-for-tenants-206289.


Canadian Forces Station Foymount:

Opened in 1952 as RCAF Station Foymount, with the radar functions being run by No. 32 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

The radar itself was situated at the top of a 523 metre hill, one of the highest points in southern Ontario. The main lodger unit was No. 32 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, later renamed No. 32 Radar Squadron when the Semi Automatic Ground Environment system was implemented in 1961.

In 1967, RCAF Station Foymount was renamed CFS Foymount with the unification of the Canadian Forces. By the early 1970s, the base became redundant as radars at CFS Falconbridge and CFS Lac St. Denis were deemed sufficiently powerful to monitor Foymount’s coverage area.

The station shut down their radars on 1 April 1973 and closed six months later on 1 October.

The former station is now a commercial-residential complex and most of the buildings remain and in use.

The PMQ homes are private residences, but 3 apartment-style residences are vacant and deteriorating.

The operations centre was demolished years ago, leaving only the concrete pilings that once supported enclosed walkways between the operations buildings and the radar towers.


Canadian Forces Station Lowther:

Opened in 1957 as Lowther Air Station of the United States Air Force, with the radar functions being run by No. 639 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

In March 1963, Lowther AS was connected to the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system and the station became a long-range radar site.

On 1 July 1963, the station was turned over to the RCAF, the final Pinetree Line site to be transferred. Under RCAF jurisdiction, the station was renamed RCAF Station Lowther, with No. 36 Radar Squadron as the operating unit. This was part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.

In 1985, DND announced that the Pinetree Line would be shut down as a part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Plan. As a result, CFS Lowther closed on 1 April 1987.

All that remains of remains CFS Lowther today are the abandoned roadways and building foundations.

The old gymnasium had been moved approximately 6 kilometres to the east to the nearby town of Opasatika where it was turned into Opasatika Mushroom farm.  The GATR site building is still standing and the property was taken over by Hyundai for use as a winter test facility.

As a memorial an AN/FPS-26 Height Finder antenna was relocated to the main throughway in Kapuskasing, where the many children who lived on base went to school and the majority of the families shopped and carried out other business.

Additional sources:  Google Maps.


Canadian Forces Station Moosonee:

Opened in 1961 as RCAF Station Moosonee, with the radar functions being run by No. 15 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

In 1967, RCAF Station Moosonee was renamed CFS Moosonee with the Unification of the Forces.

The base was closed in 1975 as a cost-saving measure. Some buildings were used by the Town after the closure, including the base swimming pool and recreation centre.

By the mid 1970s, advances in radar technology made Moosonee redundant.  As a result, CFS Moosonee closed in 1975. Some of the buildings were used by the Town of Moosonee after the closure, including the base swimming pool and recreation centre

Parts of the station remain in use as the Northern Lights Secondary School, with the PMQs serving as housing.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Pagwa:

Opened in 1953 as Pagwa Air Station of the United States Air Force, with the radar functions being run by No. 913 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

Control of the station was transferred to the RCAF on 29 May 1963 and the station was re-named RCAF Station Pagwa. This was part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow that saw Canada lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.

Also in 1963, Pagwa was upgraded to the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system and the station became a long-range radar site.

The radar squadron was disbanded on 1 October 1966. The last RCAF personnel left the station on 15 December 1966 bringing to a close one of the shortest, in time, RCAF manned sites in the NORAD system.

Some of the station’s buildings remain today.


Canadian Forces Station Ramore:

Opened in 1953 as Ramore Air Station of the United States Air Force. The base station was manned by members of the USAF 912th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron.

Ramore was also used as a relay station for the newly established Mid-Canada Line, between the Sector Control Site at RCAF Station Winisk and Regiona Control Centre at RCAF Station North Bay.  A large parabolic antenna was installed nearby at Mount Kempis.

In early 1962, operation of the station was transferred to the RCAF as part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 USAF Pinetree radar stations including Ramore.

The station was renamed the site RCAF Station Ramore, with No. 35 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron taking over the radar functions.

The relay functions at Ramore ceased when the Mid-Canada Line shut down in 1965.

With the Unification of the Forces, the station was re-named CFS Ramore on 10 August 1967.

Advances in radar technology made Ramore redundant, as CFS Lowther and CFS Senneterre were now able to cover the area that Ramore had previously monitored.  As a result, CFS Ramore closed on 1 April 1974.

In 1975, the station was sold to the Black River-Matheson Township for $100,000, who operated the Lava Mountain Lodge at the former station for several years before closing.

The part of the domestic site, including the former PMQ area, is now a trailer campground.  None of the trailer-style PMQs remain today, nor does The Ponderosa building beside the lake.

Today, only a handful of buildings remain, ranging from badly deteriorated to falling down and slowly being consumed by vegetation.  Only the MSE nine-bay garage appears to still be in use.  The foundations of several buildings also dot the property.

The plotting room section of the operations building remains, along with one of the radar towers and several foundations at the top of Lava Mountain.

Two of the radar antennas were donated to the Military Communications and Electronics Museum at the 4th Canadian Division Support Base Kingston.

Additional source material: the personal recollections of the author (2018), Wikipedia, The Legend of Lava Mountain – http://www.flickr.com/photos/axle81401/sets/72157618431328105/


Canadian Forces Station Sioux Lookout:

Opened in 1952 as Sioux Lookout Air Station of the United States Air Force, with the radar functions being run by No. 912 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

The station was turned over to the RCAF on 1 October 1962.  The operating unit was re-designated 39 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron and the base, RCAF Station Sioux Lookout. This was part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.

In 1963, was upgraded to the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system and became a long-range radar site. The station was assigned to the 30th NORAD Region. As a consequence of the change, the operating unit was once again renamed, this time as 39 Radar Squadron.

In 1966, Sioux Lookout was reassigned to the 29th NORAD Region, and in October 1967, Sioux Lookout was re-named CFS Sioux Lookout in accordance with the Unification of the Forces.

In 1969, Sioux Lookout was again switched to the 23d NORAD Region and in 1983 it began reporting to Canada West ROCC.

In 1985, DND announced that the Pinetree Line would be shut down as a part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Plan. As a result, CFS Sioux Lookout closed in July 1987.

The station remains intact today and is privately owned.

Additional source material:  information  provided by Michelle Hrynchuk, current property owner (2013).

*******************************************************

Lost Trails:

Searching for info, friends and people who knew Shirley Trueman-Ward. I have 2 photos with Shirley & a friend & would like to know who the friend is. They trained and/or served with the RCAF in Clinton and Foymount, Ontario and St. Jean, Quebec bases, in the mid 1950s. Shirley served from Aug. 21, 1953-Jan. 25, 1955, as an Airwoman First Class Fighter Controller Operator 1 working with the radars. I believe she worked as part of the Pine Tree radar line. Thank you for your assistance. Brenda Harrison, Oshawa, Ontario 905-728-6890 chicoyne19@gmail.com

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/pinetree-line/ontario/

14 comments

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  1. Captain Stephen Ransier (ret)

    Spent some time at CFB Sioux Lookout in the 60s. Great location and great experience. SR

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Stephen,

      Thank you for stopping by my web site. If you have any photos that you would like to share, I would love to see them.

      Bruce

  2. Gary T. Smith (CFS Moosonee - 1971 - 1974)

    FYI

    Ronald Douglas Thomson
    R.C.A.F.
    Air Defence Technician
    CFS Moosonee (1972 – 1975)
    ( Passed away – Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 )

    November 14, 1938 – December 2, 2015 It is with sadness that we must announce the passing of Ronald Douglas Thomson of Penticton, at Moog and Friends Hospice House on December 2, 2015. Ron passed away peacefully in his sleep, at the age of 77. He was predeceased by his wife Trudy on March 13, 2012 and is survived by step-daughters, Melanie Hrynkiw of Saskatoon, SK, and Karen Minotte of Lakeland, FL.; brother, Dale and wife, Sandy Thomson of Penticton, B.C. Ron will be remembered for his love of people, sense of humour and knack for helping family and friends with just about anything. He and Trudy dedicated a great part of their lives to helping many foster children and special friends of all ages. Ron served in the R.C.A.F. and Canadian Forces for 35 years and retired to Penticton in 1992. Born in Bridesville, B.C., where his Father was the teacher, he was brought up in Burnaby and joined the Airforce in 1957. Ron was a skilled crafts person and produced many unique and beautiful pieces of intricate jewellery and other objects over the years. Ron asked that his Doctors, Nurses and support Staff at Moog Hospice House be especially recognized for the outstanding support they provided him while he was in their care. Cremation and no service by request. Arrangements in care of Everden Rust Funeral Services

    1. Dave Dingee

      Hello, Gary:
      A name I remember from 40+ years ago.
      I’m still hanging in there, but haven’t skidooed in years.
      All the best,
      Dave Dingee

  3. dr deaton

    I was stationed at rhw 914th AC&W Radar Site from DEC 1955-DEC 1956.Will never forget that experience.At that time no rds into Armstrong from outside only CNR twice a day.Big event ws to go down to the “BEANERY” and watch the CNR come in… Beautiful scenery all year round but brutal winters.espclly to a 18 yr old ky bo y.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for sharing your memories.

      Bruce

  4. Carol Fortin

    Do any of you gentlemen recall a William Coburn, American, who would have worked at Sioux Lookout in the early 1960s?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Carol,

      I never worked on the Pinetree Line, but maybe someone visiting this web site will see this post and provide you with information on William.

      Bruce

  5. Denis Jobin

    Good day. I served on a few radar CADIN sites. Falconbridge was my first one. In fact I closed it in 1986 with a few radar techs. Beautiful site only left to rot. Life was wonderful on those and made many lasting friends to this day. You had to be good at multi-tasking. I was a tech, volunteer fire fighter and bartender and anything thrown at you. I would not change for the world. Thanx for doing this. Denis Jobin 231 rules

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Denis,

      Thanks for sharing your story. If you have any photos that you wish to share, please send them to bruce@militarybruce.com.

      Bruce

  6. BD Harrison

    Bruce: would you post this for me and if you know of any magazines that may post it, please let me know or forward it on to the magazines. If you email me, I will send along the 2 photos. Thank you. BD Harrison

    Searching for info, friends and people who knew Shirley Trueman-Ward. I have 2 photos with Shirley & a friend & would like to know who the friend is. They trained and/or served with the RCAF in Clinton and Foymount, Ontario and St. Jean, Quebec bases, in the mid 1950s. Shirley served from Aug. 21, 1953-Jan. 25, 1955, as an Airwoman First Class Fighter Controller Operator 1 working with the radars. I believe she worked as part of the Pine Tree radar line. Thank you for your assistance. BD Harrison, Oshawa, Ontario 905-728-6890 chicoyne19@gmail.com

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      I’m glad to help. I hope you’re able to locate someone who knew her.

      Bruce

      1. BD Harrison

        Bruce:
        Can I send you the 2 photos to be posted to the request.
        BD Harrison

        1. Bruce Forsyth

          You can send your photos to bruce@militarybruce.com

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