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Canadian Forces Base Borden:

Simcoe County has always had a proud military heritage. Canadian Forces Base Borden has been a fixture in the area since it opened on 11 July 1916 as Camp Borden, a training centre for the infantry battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Named after Sir Frederick Borden, Minister of Militia under Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, Camp Borden was originally established on 18, 500 acres of land in Simcoe County, a lot of it sand dunes.

The first occupants of the camp, the 157th (Simcoe Foresters) Infantry Battalion, under command of Lieut-Col. D. H. MacLaren, and 177th (Simcoe Foresters) Infantry Battalion, under command of Lieut-Col. J. B. McPhee. Both Battalions, part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, were housed in bell tents, as there were no barracks at the time.

As part of the training environment, 11 Miles (18 kilometres) of training trenches were built throughout the training area, replicating the trenches in the European theatre.

The Royal Flying Corps arrived the next year, establishing an aerodrome at the camp. On 2 May 1917 Canada’s first military airfield officially opened, designated No. 42 Wing Camp Borden. By the time the Royal Canadian Air Force was established in 1924, RCAF Station Camp Borden would be the largest military flying station of its time.

The Depot of Royal Canadian Signals was established at Camp Borden in 1923, moving to Vimy Barracks at Camp Barriefield in August 1937. Also around this time, the RCAF established No. 2 Technical Training School.

By the 1930s the two camps, operating as separate military establishments, would become home to numerous training schools including Signals, Armour, Infantry, Service Corps, Medical, Dental, Provost, Intelligence, Nuclear-biochemical schools and the School for Army Co-operation.

During the 1930s, many of Borden’s RCAF training moved to the newly opened RCAF Station Trenton, including wireless training, which once again moved to the Signal Training Centre at Camp Barriefield in 1937.

On 1 May 1938, the Canadian Tank School moved from Wolseley Barracks to Borden along with its founder, MGen F. F. Worthington, known affectionately to his troops as “Worthy”. The school was re-named the Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle School.

With the outbreak of WWII, RCAF Station Camp Borden became the home of No. 1 Service Flying Training School, a part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Unlike most RCAF aerodromes during WWII, which were constructed in a triangle pattern, the Borden aerodrome consisted of only two asphalt runways, 05/23, a 2,720 ft runway and runway 18/36, a 3,300 ft runway.

Two relief landing fields were constructed, RCAF Detachment Edenvale, also known as No. 1 Relief Landing Field, opened in 1940 near the village of Edenvale, and RCAF Detachment Alliston, also known as No. 2 Relief Landing Field, near the village of Alliston.

The outbreak of WWII also saw the Army side of Camp Borden become an important training centre for Canada’s emerging Armoured Corps. As the school had no tanks to use for training, Worthy went to the U.S. looking for assistance. With the help of General George Patton, Worthy unofficially bought 265 Renauld tanks, built in 1917 but still in new condition, from the storage facility at the Rock Island Arsenal. As the U.S. was still neutral at this time and could not officially sell arms to other countries, the tanks were sold as “scrap metal” and shipped to the Camp Borden foundry.

The wartime Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle School got off to a rocky start, however. In early 1940, National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) ordered the Tank School to close and convert to infantry training. MGen Worthington saw this as a big mistake, and did not disband the tactics, wireless and gunnery training sections of CAVFTC, something that NDHQ did not notice this for a long time. The ill-advised decision to terminate armoured training was reversed on 13 August 1940, with the official formation of the Canadian Armoured Corps. Former Calvery units were converted to Armoured.

The Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle School would go through several more name changes before finally settling on A33 Canadian Armoured Corps Training Establishment. Two smaller schools were also established – A27 Canadian Armoured Corps Training Centre and A28 Canadian Armoured Corps Training Centre. A27 CACTC moved to Camp Dundurn in January 1942.

Range facilities were constructed at Borden for the Armoured School, but proved inadequate due to other training going on at the same time. As a result, the Meaford Armoured Fighting Vehicle Range, known locally as “The Meaford Tank Range” opened in 1942 on 17,500 acres of land on the shores of Georgian Bay.

In the nearby Town of Barrie, the Grey & Simcoe Foresters were placed on active service in 1940. The Grey & Simcoe Foresters were broken into Two Battalions, with the newly formed 2nd Battalion remaining a reserve force regiment, providing reinforcements for the active service 1st Battalion. At the time, the Grey & Simcoe Foresters were an infantry regiment, but on 15 May 1942, 1st Battalion was re-designated an armoured regiment.  The regiment was re-named 26 Army Tank Regiment, Grey & Simcoe Foresters, a designation they would hold until 1943, when the unit dispersed and it’s members assimilated with other Active Force armoured regiments.

It’s also interesting to note that for the duration of the war, wives of married Permanent Force members were relocated to accommodations in Barrie.

Several wartime schools also opened in 1940 including A10 & A11 Canadian Infantry Training Centre, A19 Canadian Army Service Corps Training Centre, A22 Canadian Army Medical Corps Training Centre and A32 Canadian Provost Corps Training Centre.

After the closure of No. 1 Service Flying Training School in 1946, primary training was concentrated at RCAF Station Centrailia, but Borden’s airfield remained an active air force flying field.

Technical training returned to RCAF Station Camp Borden, run by No. 2 Technical Training School and the Army’s Camp Borden continued to serve as a post-war Army training centre for combat arms and support trades.

RCAF Detachments Edenvale and Alliston were abandoned. All RCAF buildings were either torn down or moved after the War.

The RCAF School of Photography re-located to Borden from RCAF Station Rockcliffe in 1950.

By 1957, the Flying Control School moved into Hangar 9 at RCAF Station Camp Borden, the hangar which also included the control tower.

The Steadman Building, named after Air Vice-Marshall Ernest W. Steadman, was built in 1958 as the avionics maintenance centre for the CF-105 Avro Arrow.  When the Arrow was scrapped the following year, all t he equipment related to the Arrow was removed and scrapped.

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. A four story underground bunker, officially known as No. 1 Army Signals Unit, but nick-named by the press (so much for the secret) as the “Diefen-bunker”, after Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, was constructed near the Village of Carp outside of Ottawa. Most Provincial Governments followed suit by building their own bunkers.

The Ontario Government chose Camp Borden for the site of their 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.

For their remote bunker, Camp Borden chose the site of the former RCAF Detachment Edenvale. In 1962, the site was re-activated as the Edenvale Transmitter Station, and a bunker was constructed beside one of the old runways. Personnel from Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, and post-Unification 700 Communications Squadron, staffed the facility.

In 1966, RCAF Station Camp Borden and Canadian Army Camp Borden merged into one large base: CFB Borden. Several new schools were added to Borden’s already large roster including Aerospace and Ordinance, Physical Education and Recreation Instructor, Instructional Techniques, CF Fire Fighting Academy, Music, Aerospace Technology, Leadership, Languages, and Chaplain Schools.

No. 1 Primary Flying School re-located to Borden after the closure of RCAF Station Centralia. This move was short-lived however, as the school once again re-located to CFB Portage La Prairie in Manitoba in 1970, where it became No. 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School. A flypast of five Chipmunk aircraft at a ceremony on April 13, 1970 signaled the end of flying training at Borden for another 26 years.

The Borden Flying Club, who also re-located to Borden from RCAF Station Centralia in 1958, continued to use the airfield until re-locating again to the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in 2002.

In 1968, the Canadian School of Aerospace and Ordnance Training was established at CFB Borden and the Air Training Wing became known as the Air Traffic Control Company.

In September 1968, the Naval Supply School, originally from HMCS Hochelaga in Lasalle, Quebec, merged with the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps School and the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps School to form the new Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics at CFB Borden.

Infantry training also ended at Borden in the late 1960s when the Infantry School relocated.

Armoured Corps training probably enjoyed the longest continuous stay at Borden, from 1938 until the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School relocated to CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick in 1970.

Worthington Park, now a part of the Base Borden Military Museum complex, was established in honour of Major-General F.F. Worthington, the father of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. When “Worthy” died in 1967, his body was flown by a RCAF Caribou aircraft to Camp Borden and in accordance with his wishes, was interred in Worthington Park. Four Centurian tanks fired a 13 gun salute and three RCAF Chipmunk aircraft did a low-level “fly-past”, in tribute to a great soldier and Canadian.

In 1970 the Ammunition Depot became an independent unit, the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Angus.

In 1975, the Military Air Traffic Control Company re-located to Cornwall to join with Ministry of Transport Air Traffic Services School, where the remain today, now known as the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations.

With the end of the Cold War in 1991, several changes occurred at Borden. The Borden Bunker, which fortunately was never used for anything beyond being a communications station, was vacated in 1994. The bunker would later serve as the Headquarters for the Regional Cadet Support Unit (Central) from 2001-2004, until they re-located to the Maple Conference Centre, formerly the Officers Mess for RCAF Station Camp Borden.

The Edenvale Transmitter Station bunker was occupied until 1988, but it wasn’t until 1994 when the station finally closed. The bunker was sealed up and the Edenvale property was once again abandoned.  The property sat empty for almost 10 years until it was finally purchased by Toronto businessman  Milan Kroupa in 2002.  In 2004, the property came back to life as the Edenvale Aerodrome and has gone onto become a very successful private aerodrome with 6 hangars and 3 active runways, although only runway 08/26 is an original runway.

The bunker can still be seen from Highway 26 as an odd looking mound of earth in the middle of an open field, with 2 covered entrances leading into it.  It was re-opened and is now used for storage.

An infantry presence briefly returned to Borden in 1993 with the arrival of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, a 10-90 Battalion (10% Regular Force, 90% Reserve Force), but by 1997 3 RCR had departed for CFB Petawawa.

In 1996, military flying training returned to Borden when 400 Squadron moved to Borden after the closure of CFB Toronto, marking the first time a flying unit had been stationed at Borden since 1970. The Squadron, a combined Regular Force – Reserve Force unit under command of 1 Wing (located at CFB Kingston), with their fleet of CH146 Griffin helicopters, operate from a helicopter pad and the two large, post-World War II “Arch-style” hangars at the east end of the airfield.

The crumbling tarmac was abandoned in 1997, meaning it was no longer maintained, but it wasn’t closed to air traffic until 2003.

In 1999, a new aircraft control tower was constructed at the aerodrome and dedicated to the memory of Royal Flying Corps Cadet James Harold Talbot.  Cadet Talbot has the unfortunate distinction of being the first aviation fatality at Camp Borden, resulting from the crash of his Curtis J.N. 4 “Jenny” aeroplane on 8 April 1917.

Also in 1999, Borden briefly made a return to providing basic training to Canadian Forces recruits. The Naval Reserve Training Division Borden was established to train both Regular and Reserve Force sailors. 16 Wing also provided basic training for members of the Air Force Reserve for a period. Although NRTD remained primarily a recruit school for Reservists, it also instructed Regular Force recruits and currently runs specialized indoctrination courses for Regular Force members. This included the establishment of the Canadian Forces Leadership & Recruit School Detachment in September 2005 to handle overflow recruits from the CFL & RS in St. Jean, Quebec. This training program became a permanent part of Borden under the purview of Naval Reserve Training Division Borden.

In January 2005, the Borden Bunker was closed and sealed up and with it, the door was closed on an interesting chapter in the history of CFB Borden.

Only seven of the original eighteen Royal Flying Corps hangars remain today, and the existence of this important element in Canada’s military and aviation history is in serious doubt. Despite the fact that the hangars have been dedicated as historic buildings, up to three more may have to be demolished.  For now, those hangars have been wrapped in industrial plastic sheeting to forestall any further deterioration.

Additionally, two hangars have been individually dedicated: Hangar #11 was dedicated to the memory of World War I Victoria Cross winner Lieutenant Alan McLeod, VC, on 3 April 2004 and Hangar #18 was named the Grant Building in memory of WWII hero Flight Lieutenant Duncan Marshall “Bitsy” Grant, DFC, in October 2002.

The aerodrome is now a shadow of its former self as Runway 18/36 and the taxiway were ripped up and the land re-sod. A small section of the runway 05/23 remains, along with a helicopter pad.  However, the aerodrome still sees occasional use by air cadet gliders and tow planes.

In addition to being the home to 400 Squadron, Borden currently has 2 other operational Reserve Force units: 3 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group and 700 Communications Squadron, all of which conduct year-round training for their members at Borden.

On 5 June 2006, Borden honored Wasauksing First Nation war hero Francis Pegahmagabow, Canada’s most decorated First Peoples soldier and a veteran of WWI, by naming headquarters building of the 3 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group after him.   Three Canadian Ranger Patrol is a unit made up almost entirely of 400 Cree, Ojibwa and Oji-Cree reservists living in isolated communities in northern Ontario.  Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman oversaw the dedication service.

However, Borden’s primary focus is providing training for the “Support Trades”, that being administration, supply, Mobile Support Equipment Operators (MSE OPs), medical personnel, military police, firefighters, mechanics, weapons technicians and aircraft technician trades, just to name a few. These support trades are the backbone of the military. The infantry may be the ones on the front line fighting the enemy, but they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs for long if not for the support trades. For example, Supply Technicians provide the infantry with things like their ammunition and food, the MSE OPs to deliver the ammunition and food to the front lines and the medical personnel to “patch them up” when they are wounded. Helicopter and fighter pilots also wouldn’t be able to do their jobs if not for the Aircraft Structures Technicians. This is where Base Borden provides a vital function.

The schools under the command of the Canadian Forces Support Training Group are: Canadian Forces Chaplain School, Canadian Forces Fire Academy, Canadian Forces Nuclear Biological Chemical School, Canadian Forces School of Administration & Logistics, Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineering School and Canadian Forces Training & Development Centre.

The Canadian Forces Support Training Group also oversees 3 additional schools: Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence (located at CFB Kingston), Canadian Forces School of Construction Engineering (located at CFB Kingston) and Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering (located at CFB Gagetown).

16 Wing Borden, guardian of the Royal Canadian Air Force presence at Base Borden, is Canada’s largest Air Force training wing. 16 Wing oversees 3 training schools: Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering, which trains almost half of all Air Force personnel, RCAF Academy, which provides Air Force leadership and Professional Development training and Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations, located at the NAVCAN Training School in Cornwall, who provide training to military air traffic and weapons controllers.

Other schools and units located at Base Borden include: Royal Canadian Medical Services School, Canadian Forces Language School Detachment Borden, Canadian Forces Military Police Academy, Canadian Forces Recruiting Group Headquarters, 31 Canadian Forces Health Services, Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre, 1 Dental Unit, Canadian Forces School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Canadian Forces Chaplain School, Canadian Forces Logistics Training Centre, Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy.

The Regional Cadet Support Unit (Central) Headquarters is also located at Borden, supporting the Blackdown Army Cadet Summer Training Centre, Regional Cadet Instructor School, and one of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Central Region Gliding Centres.

NRTD Borden reverted to being a Naval Reserve training facility in 2011, but stood-down a few years later.

Borden has seen several new buildings being built for various schools, including the Military Police Academy, the Royal Canadian School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering School and a new base hospital, a sign of the importance of Borden as a training base.

With the approach of the Base’s centennial, another nod to the past came to fruition in November 2011 when a small section of the WWI training trenches were restored.  The trench was we carefully dug-out by hand, new composite boards put up to brace the walls with sandbags lining the top.  Flag-posts and historical plaques were put in place telling the story of the training trenches.

In December 2014, it was announced by Base Borden Honourary Col. Jamie Massie the creation of the Borden Legacy Project.  The project, when completed, will tie the re-created trenches by a walking path to a monument featuring highly polished black granite walls, framed by two strips of white granite and a First World War bugler standing nearby.  Next to it will be four polished black granite benches as an area for reflection.  The monument will include soil taken from the Vimy battlefield, soil that will also become part of the cenotaph in the nearby City of Barrie.

In 2016, Camp/Base Borden celebrated 100 years of training military personnel, with numerous events scheduled to commemorate the anniversary.

In the summer of 2019, Base Borden began building two new apartment units for military families, the first new housing units in decades.

The current Base Commander is Colonel A.J. Atherton, CD.  Colonel Pascal Godbout is the current Wing Commander for 16 Wing Borden.


Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Angus:

In 1940, the Royal Canadian Air Force established No. 13 X Depot, a detachment of RCAF No. 1 Supply depot in Weston, north of Camp Borden as an ammunition depot.  No. 13 was a self contained base unto itself, with its own barracks, messes, administration buildings, fire department, RCAF Service Police detachment and 18 one and two story PMQs.

Over 50 earth covered magazines were built for storing of explosives and ammunition.

With the Unification, RCAF 13 “X” Depot merged with Camp Borden and RCAF Station Camp Borden to form CFB Borden.  CFAD Angus is now a lodger unit of CFB Borden.

All the WWII-era buildings and the PMQs have long since been demolished, leaving only the earth covered magazines.  A new administration building sits beside the interior gate leading into the explosives area.

Twelve of the WWII-era magazines remain, with the additon of around 20 new, larger size magazines and several new work buildings and a new shipping and receiving building.


Canadian Forces College (Camp Armour Heights):

Originally established as a training camp for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps in July 1917, one of three in the Toronto area.  Camp Armour Heights was built on land donated to the Royal flying Corps by Colonel Frederick B. Robins, who would later serve as the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Toronto Scottish Regiment from 1924-1931.

Colonel Robins had bought the property in 1911, formerly the Armour family farm, with the intention of building a  high-class residential subdivision, one that would have its own polo field and bridle path.  The polo field was never built, but the bridle path is the current-day Yonge Boulevard.

Colonel Robins built himself a Tudor revival home built in 1914, which he named Strathrobyn Estate, on the eastern edge of the property between the present day Yonge Street and Yonge Boulevard, a home that stands today.  With the outbreak of World War I, Robins put his subdivision plans on hold.

In 1917, the RFC build an airfield between the present-day Bathurst Street and Avenue Road, north of Wilson Avenue.  Six hangers were build in two rows of three, about half a mile west of Strathrobyn.  Other buildings were constructed such as barracks, messes and administration.  These buildings were located along what is now Sandringham Drive and backing onto the valley.   Flying began in July 1917, before construction of these buildings were completed.

American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhardt was a regular visitor to the airfield while she stationed in Toronto with the Canadian Red Cross.

In early 1918, the RFC School of Special Flying opened at the aerodrome. Student pilots received instruction on the basics of flight, aerial reconnaissance and aerial combat.  After instruction in ground school, the cadet pilots received a minimum of ten hours solo flying time on the Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” Canuck, before moving on to advanced training at Camp Borden.  

During the winter months of 1917-18, cadet pilots trained in Texas.  This was an exchange agreement that saw American pilots also training in the Toronto area.

However, the school had a short life as it closed around the time the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.

In 1919, Bishop-Barker Airplanes Limited, founded by World War I Royal Flying Corps veterans William “Billy” Bishop and William Barker, took over the Armour Heights aerodrome. This business venture was also short-lived, closing in 1921, and one of Canada’s busiest airfields at the time was simply abandoned.

The eastern end of the property where Strathrobyn Estates stands, was acquired by the RCAF in 1942 for use as the RCAF War Staff College, which officially opened on 1 August 1943. When the War ended in 1945, the college was re-designated as simply the RCAF Staff College.

The college became a tri-service college in 1966, re-named the Canadian Forces College (CFC). Today, the CFC teaches the Command and Staff course to officers of all three service branches.

The Armour Heights property has changed greatly since 1917, and is now completely surrounded by residential and commercial development. Most of the college’s original buildings have been demolished and replaced with modern ones like The Ralston Residence, a 95 suite barrack block and the Dextraze Fitness Centre.

The only exception is Colonel Robins’ former home, currently housing the Armour Heights Officers Mess.

Not the slightest trace remains of the airfield today, which is now a residential community named Armour Heights.  Highway 401 cuts across the lower portion of the former aerodrome site.

On 26 August 2013, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, made the inaugural presentation of the new Bomber Command Bar to Veterans at a special ceremony held at the Canadian Forces College, a purposeful nod to the RCAF heritage of the college.

Source Material: the Canadian Forces College web site: http://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/home_e.html, information supplied by Major M.D. Pollard (Ret’d), Webmaster, Canadian Forces College (2004), the Lost Rivers web site – http://www.lostrivers.ca/points/air.htm, the National Archives of Canada – http://www.archives.ca/05/0518/05180203/0518020303_e.html & the personal recollections of the author (1998-2016).

 


22 Wing North Bay:

22 Wing North Bay has it’s beginnings when the RCAF began using the North Bay Airport as a refueling and meal-stop for it’s pilots. By 1942, No. 124 Squadron, RCAF, set up a seven-man detachment at the airport to handle these services.

What is not 22 Wing North Bay was established as RCAF Station North Bay in 1951, a flying training school and fighter base. Several fighter squadrons were established including 430 Day (Fighter) Squadron, re-formed at North Bay 1 November 1951, transferring to 2 Wing Grostenquin a year later, 445 All Weather (Fighter) Squadron, formed on 1 April 1953 and 443 All Weather (Fighter) Squadron, who arrived from RCAF Station Cold Lake in October 1955.

419 All-Weather Fighter Squadron re-formed at RCAF Station North Bay on 15 March 1955 and shortly afterward moved to 4 Wing Baden-Soellingen. 445 All Weather (Fighter) Squadron also departed, re-locating to 1 Wing Marville, France in November 1956. 443 All-Weather Fighter Squadron moved to RCAF Station North Bay from RCAF Station Cold Lake on 15 November 1954. The squadron disbanded there on 1 August 1961.

With the establishment of the North American Air Defense Command NORAD) in 1958, RCAF Station North Bay was selected as the Canadain Air Operations Control Centre. Beginning in 1959, an under ground complex was constructed 600 feet below the ground. The control centre was equipped with the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) tracking system to provide surveillance, identification, control, and warning for the defence of Canada and North America. The initial computer used was as big as 12 houses, weighing 275 tons, with a memory of 256 k. It was replaced in the 1980s with a system the size of a single garage.

Air Defence Command Headquarters was established at the station in 1962.

With the introduction of the BOMARC missile to Canada, one of the two sites picked was at a site north of RCAF Station North Bay on Highway 11. A small site was constructed to hold 28 missiles, held in storage units known as “coffins”. The “coffins’ had a retractable roof that allowed the missile, which was stored in a horizontal position, to be elevated to the upright position for launch.

The BOMARC site remained operational until 1972 when the BOMARCs were de-activated and 446 Squadron disbanded.

No. 131 Composite Unit was former in 1962 as a transport unit for personnel and equipment. The squadron disbanded in 1967.

From December 1967 until August 1972 there were no flying units at CFB North Bay. The airfield portion of the base, at one time a thriving fighter station, fell largely into disuse. One of its main hangars, employed in the servicing and housing of heavily-armed jet interceptors, was converted into an ice rink, and saw year-round use by hockey leagues, figure skating clubs and various other civilian entities in and around the City of North Bay.

In August 1972, 414 Squadron returned to North Bay from RCAF Station St Hubert,. Now an electronic warfare unit, 414 Squadron trained flying and ground air defence personnel how to fight a war when an enemy has disrupted radar systems and radio communications. The squadron earned considerable renown and notoriety for its abilities, and its services were frequently requested by the navy and by American armed forces. The squadron flew the CF-100, CC-117 and EF-101.

Also re-locating were a detachment at CFB Ottawa (South), and the Air Weapons Control & Countermeasures School.

In 1992, 414 Squadron was split into two parts with one part going to CFB Comox as No 414 Composite Squadron and the other part going to CFB Greenwood as 434 Composite Squadron.

In 1993 the squadron changed its name to No 414 Combat Support Squadron when it was equipped with the CT-133 Silver Star, the CT 117 Falcon and the EF 101 Voodo. The Squadron was disbanded in 2002 when its duties were contracted out to a civilian company. In 2007, the squadron was re-formed at 3 Wing Bagotville.

As a result of the Unification, the Station was re-named CFB North Bay in 1966.

By 1976, CFB North Bay’s future was in doubt and the appointment of Colonel Robert White as Base Commander was originally part of a plan to close the base. However, Colonel White convinced Air Command and NDHQ to instead upgrade and modernize the underground facility.

The introduction of the Wing concept at Air Force establishments resulted in the base being re-named 22 Wing North Bay in 1993.

In 1996, 22 Wing began the process of downsizing due to reductions in Canada’s Air Force. All flying squadrons departed and 22 Wing ceased to be a fighter base.

In 1997, the Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters re-located to 17 Wing Winnipeg, but the operations centre remanded. The Air Base Property Corporation took over the parts of the base now deemed surplus and established a new Aerospace Park. Some of the tenants of the Aerospace Park are Canadore College’s School of Aviation, The Integrated Transport Initiative International Intermodal Center and Bombardier Aerospace. The airfield is now the Jack Garland Airport.

Although 22 Wing North Bay is no longer a fighter base, it remains Canada’s NORAD base. 21 Aerospace Control and Warning (21 AC&W) Squadron, who moved to North Bay from CF Detachment St. Margaret’s in 1988, provide monitoring of North America, including assisting the RCMP with surveillance in drug interdiction operations involving aircraft crossing Canadian territory. All NORAD information collected is forwarded to the NORAD Headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. As well, 51 AC&W (Operational Training) Squadron conduct training for Aerospace Control and Warning at North Bay.

22 Wing even hosts a United States Air Force unit, 922 Support Squadron and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Central Region Advanced Aviation Technology Courses operates at the airport.

The NORAD bunker was closed in October 2006. A formal march-out parade was held on 26 March 2006, ending 43 years of operations in the bunker. The personnel from 21 AC&W Squadron staff moved into a new, state of the art 2-story above ground complex. The new installation was named the Sgt David L. Pitcher Building, in honour of a Canadian Forces Air Defence Technician who was killed in the crash of an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, call sign Yukla 27, at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, on 22 September 1995.

The Canadian Forces Housing Agency still maintains 184 PMQs (now called Residential Housing Units) for military members.

22 Wing also is the home to the Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the men and women who helped shape the emerging world of air and aerospace defence.

By 2017, a plan was proposed to turn the vacant bunker into a secure repository for films and videos.

Source Material: 22 Wing North Bay web page – http://www.city.north-bay.on.ca/22wing/22wing.htm, the Jack Garland Airport Web Page – http://www.city.north-bay.on.ca/airport, the North Bay Integrated Transport Initiative web site – http://www.city.north-bay.on.ca/nbiti/index.htm, History of the 400 Series Squadrons – http://www.airforce.dnd.ca/airforce/eng/history_400s/rcafsqns.htm “The Maple Leaf” magazine, dated 6 February 2002 and, information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (2011), Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence – http://www.aerospacedefence.ca, the personal observations of the author (2012), Civil Defence Museum – www.civildefencemuseum.ca& “Sentinel” Magazine from July 1976.

 


8 Wing Trenton:


8 Wing Trenton Detachment Mountain View:

Originally opened on 23 June 1941 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as No. 6 Bombing & Gunnery School (No. 6 B&GS). The station was later re-designated RCAF Station Mountain View when No. 6 B&GS became known as the Ground Instruction School and was amalgamated with the Air Armament School No. 6 B&GS from RCAF Station Trenton. Both schools moved to RCAF Station Trenton in 1947.

In 1946, the RCAF Fire-fighting School moved to Mountain View from RCAF Station Trenton and remained until it moved again to RCAF Station Aylmer in 1951. That same year, Mountain View was reduced to a detachment RCAF Station Trenton and remains so to this day.

Today, the main use of CFB Trenton Mountain View Detachment is the storage and overhaul of older aircraft. This facility belongs to the Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron (ATESS) based at Trenton.

Units located at Mountain View include Trenton’s Aircraft Development Maintenance Unit and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Central Region Gliding School, who operate one of eight summer Regional Gliding Centre at the airport.

Only two of the World War II era hangars remain (hangars 1 & 6), which were designated Federal Heritage buildings in 2003. Hangars 2, 3 & 5 were torn down in 2007. The airfield remains in use, but all the barracks are long gone.

On 8 September 2000, the Canadian Parachute Centre at 8 Wing Trenton opened its new drop zone at Mountain View. Drop Zone Hodgson was dedicated to the memory of Chief Warrant Officer Robert Hodgson, MMM, CD, who died of cancer in November 1999 after 29 years service with the Royal Canadian Regiment. CWO Hodgson had served as the first Regimental Sergeant Major of the Canadian Parachute Centre after its move from CFB Edmonton to 8 Wing Trenton in 1996. The CPC is now known as the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre.

In 2006, a new gravel runway was constructed parallel to the existing runway provide Hercules aircraft crews a venue to hone essential skills of landing on austere landing strips such as in Afghanistan.

Source Material: “Sentinel” Magazine from July – August 1969, pg 17 & November – December 1971 pg 2, information supplied by the Camp Borden Museum, “Wings For Victory – The Remarkable Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada” by Spencer Dunmore, DND news release – http://www.8wing.trenton.dnd.ca/news/2000/11/cfbpec.htm, the Central Region Cadet Gliding School web site – http://www.8wing.trenton.dnd.ca/crhq/central-e.htm#top The Garrison. Newspaper from 18 October 2000, information supplied by Capt. Beth Wakulczyk, Public Affairs Officer, 8 Wing Trenton, information supplied by Drew A. Craig, 8 Wing Trenton, Wing Environmental Officer (2008) and the “RCAF Station Trenton” web site at www.rcaf.com.


Canadian Forces Station Leitrim:

What is now Canadian Forces Station Leitrim began in October 1939 when the Canadian Army established a signals intelligent station at RCAF Station Rockcliffe.  Initially 3 Royal Canadian Signals operators ran the section in the basement of the Army HQ Radio Station on the east side of the Rockcliffe property, reporting directly to the Directorate of Signals office.

Early in 1941, the signals unit moved into a building vacated by the Signals Inspection and Test Department at Rockcliffe. This structure, originally a garage, became known as the Royal Canadian Signals Experimental Station.

The station was renamed  No.1 Special Wireless Station Rockcliffe and had a complement of 22 military radio operators and two civilian technicians. The station eventually outgrew their facilities and in 1942, moved to a new site near the Village of Leitrim.

The station was re-named the Ottawa Wireless station in 1949.  When the the Supplementary Radio System was created as a part of the Unification in 1966, the name was changed to CFS Leitrim.

The station currently operates out of state-of-the-art facilities.  The current strength is 950 military personnel and 50 plus civilian employees.

Today, Leitrim’s most recent and most important mission is the interception of satellite communications.

To enhance security, Leitrim Road, which used to pass directly in front of the station, was diverted a short distance south of the station in 2013.


Connaught Range and Primary Training Centre:

Opened in 1920 as a training camp and rifle range for the Canadian Army, the camp as named after HRH The Duke of Connaught and Strathern. The camp replaced the Ottawa Ranges, formerly located on Range Road near Laurier Street in downtown Ottawa, and later at the Rockcliffe Air Station.

Since 1989, the camp has also served as a training centre for army, navy and air force cadets.

Source material: Guard of Honour web site: www.guardofhonour.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx, the personal recollections of the author (2003-2009).


Kingston Garrison (4th Canadian Division Support Base Kingston):

Originally opened in 1914 on the east bank of the Cataraqui River in Barriefield, just east of Kingston.  The camp as named Camp Barriefield, in honour of Royal Navy Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Barrie.

In 1937 the base expanded to the south side of King’s Highway 2 with the opening of the Vimy Barracks, named in honour of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  Vimy Barracks became home to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, who relocated from Camp Borden.  The Signal Training Centre was established at Vimy Barracks, later re-named the Royal Canadian School of Signals.

Camp Barriefield soon became one of Canada’s largest training bases when the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps established a training centre during World War II.

Following WWII, the original part of Camp Barriefield on the north side of the King’s Highway 2 was renamed the McNaughton Barracks in honour of  General Andrew McNaughton who served during the First and Second World Wars

McNaughton Barracks was the home of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers School from 1945-1969, when it re-located to CFB Borden.

As a result of the Unification, the base was renamed to Canadian Forces Base Kingston in 1966.  CFB Kingston was placed under Training Command

In September 1975, Training Command was disbanded and the base was transferred to the Canadian Forces Training System.

Some of the schools located at CFB Kingston at this time were Royal Military College, the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College and the Canadian Forces School

On 1 September 1988, the 1st Canadian Division Headquarters was established to serve as a staging base for the deployment of troops and materiel on active operations; in this role it supported Operation Friction, Canada’s contribution to the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

On 30 March 1995, responsibility for CFB Kingston was transferred to Land Force command, which was re-named the Canadian Army in August 2011.

On 26 June 26 1997, Air Command was reorganized and 10 Tactical Air Group disbanded, replaced with the newly formed 1 Wing. The headquarters for 1 Wing was relocated to CFB Kingston, however, the unit’s 6 tactical helicopter squadrons flying the CH-146 Griffins were spread out at Canadian Forces bases across the country.

CFB Kingston is also is the home station of the Communications and Electronics Branch and hosts the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics, Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence and the Peace Support Training Centre.

Source Material:  Information provided by the Communications and Electronics Museum:  www.c-and-e-museum.org and the seasonal recollections of the author (1995-2015).


Petawawa Garrison (4th Canadian Division Support Base Petawawa):

Opened in 1905 as the Petawawa Military Camp or Camp Petawawa, the Royal Canadian Horse and Garrison Artillery were the first to train at the Camp during the summer of 1905, joined in 1906 by the Royal Canadian Engineers, who constructed huts, stables and installed water and gas systems.

Also in 1906, “A” and “B” Batteries of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, commenced the first of many marches to Camp Petawawa for summer training from their home station at Camp Barriefield in Kingston.

Camp Petawawa was the site of the worst peacetime Canadian military training accident on 8 May 1968 at around 8:30 pm, 26 paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment from Wollseley Barracks in London, Ontario, and 2 Signals Squadron, were participating in a training jump over Camp Petawawa.

An unexpected wind sheer at around 600 feet carried 22 of the paratroopers into the nearby Ottawa River, 1000 feet off shore near Wegner Point.  Weighted down by their heavy equipment and tangled in their parachutes,seven of the soldiers drowned.

 

 


4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford:

Originally opened in 1942 as a detachment of Camp Borden, the Meaford Army Armoured Fighting Vehicle Range (also known locally as the Meaford Tank Range) served as a training camp for the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School, as well as a gunnery range for various artillery regiments.

The Camp would remain open as a part of the post-war Army. In 1955, the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School was given full responsibility for the Meaford AFV Range. The Field Training Section ran the training at the camp with their fleet of Centurions & Sherman tanks and 22 Sherman APCs.

Meaford was a very busy training camp until the late 1960s when all Armoured Corps activity ceased. The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School departed Borden for CFB Gagetown in 1970.

Although the site never officially closed, the guards at the main gate were all that remained until 1973, when Militia units in Southern Ontario began using the site as a training area in the early 1970s.  The derelict World War II-era barracks remained empty as the troops were quartered in tents. The property was designated the Meaford Range and Training Area.

In 1973 the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce petitioned the Federal government to develop the land as a Federal park, to be named the Lester Bowles Pearson Memorial National Park, but the idea was rejected.

The introduction of new vehicles and weaponry, namely the Grizzly and Cougar light armoured vehicles in the early 1980s, saw use of MRTA ranges increase substantially, particularly given that CFB Petawawa’s ranges were insufficient.

By the late 1980s, the Federal Government recognized a need to revitalize the neglected Militia. Subsequently, the Meaford Training Area was made a permanent establishment in 1989 for the purpose of training Militia soldiers.  Named CFB Borden – Meaford Detachment, the base received more that $80 million for the construction of roads, barracks, messes, offices, recreational facilities and work-shops. The training centre was re-named Militia Training and Support Centre Meaford in 1992.

In 1995, the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle School relocated to MTSC Meaford from CFB Petawawa, allowing Meaford to become a major training centre in Ontario. That same year, MTSC Meaford was once again re-named Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford and all support elements at the base became the responsibility of a civilian company, Canadian Base Operators, Inc.

In 2013, Meaford was renamed the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford when Land Force Central Area became the 4th Canadian Division.

“Today the Centre is considered to be state-of-the-art. It’s primary purpose: to revolutionize the training of reserves” (ATC Meaford – A Short Base History).

On 14 August 2017, Training Centre Meaford dedicated a respite/camping site on the base in memory of Owen Sound native Corporal Robert Michell, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons who was killed in action in Afghanistan in October 2006.

The new Cpl. Robert T.J. Mitchell Memorial Respite Site is located at Vail’s Point near the northernmost tip of the training centre, providing an impressive view of Georgian Bay.

The respite site includes a pair of 40-foot 2017 Jayco park model trailers against a backdrop of trees and shrubs and a small sandy beach is a short walk away.  It has been a seasonal campground for military personnel and their guests for years.

Source Material: ATC Meaford – A Short Base History, supplied by Lieutenant-Colonel M.P. Zuwerkalow, Commanding Officer, Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford (1999), “The Owen Sound Sun Times” from 21 September 1995, ATC Meaford web site – http://www.meaford.com/atc2.html, the personal recollections of ex-Private Phillip Schwartz, Grey & Simcoe Foresters (2002), the Armour School web site – http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/Armour_school/histor_e.asp, information supplied by the Midland Huronia Museum (2004),the personal recollections of the author (1997 – 2013),  the personal recollections of Colonel J.C. Forsyth, OBStJ, CD, Honorary Colonel, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry – 1993-2007 (1999) & “New respite site named after late Cpl. Mitchell,” Owen Sound Sun Times, 15 October 2017.


National Capital Region:

 


Joint Task Force 2 Base Dwyer Hill: 

Sources: https://nationalpost.com/news/canadian-forces-may-cancel-plan-to-relocate-special-forces-unit-from-ottawa-over-1-2-billion-price-tag?utm_term


Canadian Forces Reserve Barracks Hamilton:

Commissioned on 1 October 1941 on the dockyards of Burlington Bay as His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) STAR, this was once the third most important Naval training facility in Canada and the fifth largest. As the new home for the Hamilton Half Company of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, later re-named HMCS STAR Naval Reserve Division, this was the first place many naval recruits saw during the Second World War.  The establishment had offices, messes, a galley, barracks, a drill hall, a sports field and training areas for land and sea-based training.

In 1952, STAR’s importance as a naval training facility bolstered by the establishment of the Great Lakes Training Centre. Two reserve training ships, HMCS Porte St Louis and HMCS Porte St. Jean, were permanently stationed at HMCS STAR. The following year the Commander of Naval Divisions (COND) re-located to the STAR from Ottawa.

In 1953, a Naval Reserve air squadron was established at HMCS York in Toronto. Although HMCS STAR was not given its own squadron due to its close proximity to HMCS York, the unit maintained a support unit for ground crew and maintenance. No. 1 Training Air Group sent STAR one Hurricane and two Seafire aircraft for their use at RCAF Station Hamilton (now known as the Hamilton International Airport) and the unit conducted joint training with HMCS York at RCAF Station Downsview.

The Unification in the mid 1960s brought change to HMCS STAR. The Hamilton Service Battalion and The Hamilton Medical Company, later re-named 23 (Hamilton) Service Battalion and 23 (Hamilton) Medical Company, moved to the site after the closure of the Burlington Street Armoury in September 1967, taking over the COND building.

COND re-located to HMCS Stadacona in Halifax along with HMCS Porte St Louis and HMCS Porte St. Jean.

The Great Lakes Training Centre disbanded, as did the Air Arm maintenance unit (in 1964). HMCS STAR Naval Reseve Division was now simply a tenant on the base.

The name of the establishment was changed to Canadian Forces Reserve Barracks Hamilton in 1969 and was placed under control of CFB Toronto. The physical size of the base was reduced, with STAR’s former sports field being turned over to the City of Hamilton. It is now known as Eastwood Park. Later the Hamilton Militia District Headquarters moved to the site, also taking up space in  the former COND building, staying until it disbanded in 1995.

In the mid-1990s, CFRB Hamilton began to feel some of the effect of the Federal Government’s commitment to revitalizing the neglected Naval Reserve. In May 1997, HMCS STAR officially opened their new state-of-the-art building, replacing all of the original World War II era “temporary” buildings that had housed the Division since its commissioning in 1941.

On 30 August 2003, CFRB Hamilton became the new home for HMCS Haida, the last of the 27 Tribal Class destroyers built for the Royal Canadian Navy between 1937 and 1945. HMCS Haida had been moored as a floating museum in Toronto Harbour since 1965.

Source Material: “HMCS STAR – A Naval Reserve History” by Commander Robert J. Williamson, CD, Commanding Officer, HMCS STAR – 1985-1988, “Sentinel” magazine from October 1966, HMCS Haida web site – http://hmcshaida.ca & the personal recollections of the author (1979-2014).

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

5 comments

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  1. Robert. Burbidge

    This brings back many good memories spent alot t of time. Training on rifle range and alot of summers training. On the base it was great to see some building still there. It was to bad to see the original air feild let go

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I’m glad that I could bring back some good memories for you.

      Bruce

  2. Donald Mac Donell

    Hi Bruce:
    Great site. I hope that the following comments will not be regarded as being “picky” but regardless, here goes.
    I include at the bottom of my comments a portion of the wording that you wrote.
    I joined in 1961 and served for the next 34 years. My trade was MSE-OP,( Mobile Support Equipment Operator)
    and resent myself be called a “truck driver”. We were much more than that. We operated heavy equipment, refueling tenders, high speed snow plows and heavy duty high speed snowblowers. During the “Air Force years” if someone called me just a “truck driver” well, you could expect a little body contact. I’m sure that navy personnel much rather would be recognized as serving on ships not boats or punts. After amalgamation when the Service Corps Transport Branch were integrated into the MSE-Op trade the term used was more acceptable but only to the “newbies” definitely not to the (sadly) the ex-RCAF tradesman. Even then the MSE-Op trade was sub-divided for a limited time into Transport Ops and Op EE which stood for Transportation Operators (MES-Ops not fully qualified to include HE) and Operator Engineering Equipment. The army had an Engineer Corps to do that work. We in the RCAF did it all. Small distinction but an important part of the History of the RCAF.

    However, Borden’s primary focus is providing training for the “Support Trades”, that being administration, supply, truck drivers, medical personnel, military police, firefighters, mechanics, weapons technicians and aircraft technician trades, just to name a few. These support trades are the backbone of the military.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Donald,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for your comments. No, they are not “picky”; it’s a fair comment. I didn’t meant to offend any MSE OPs out there. I spent 3 years with 25 (Toronto) Service Battalion as an MP and I guess I got used to the MSE OPs calling themselves “truckers”. They even had this little ditty: “We’re truckers, we’re truckers F*@K off and die!”. If I recall, this was primarily directed at the combat arms trades. I’ve changed the notation to MSE OP. I hope you’ve enjoyed the rest of the site.

      Cheers,

      Bruce

      1. Don

        Not offended just being accurate. There always was and will always be a small rivalry between the Forces. The biggest resentment within the MSE trade (after integration)was that the Service Corps joined our trade (they couldn’t even spell MSE-Op) they were indeed truckers for that all they were qualified to operate. We on the other hand, if we were fully qualified as Group 3A tradesmen operated everything that the Service Corps and the engineers operated. Once we amalgamated the Army took over and they didn’t mind being called “truckers” because that’s what they did. I was a Group 3 LAC (Leading Aircraftsman) when I met a Service Corps Sergeant driving a forty passenger bus. I asked why he was driving a bus and he told me that that was what he was qualified to drive. By that time I was already bus, truck and other assorted heavy equipment qualified. We, the RCAF MSE-Ops lost our trade to the army with amalgamation. If I sound slightly bitter that is because I still am. Even after 21 years of retirement. Ha Ha.

        Don

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