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Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack:
Established on 15 February 1941 at Vedder Crossing as Camp
Chilliwack for the purpose of defending the West Coast against attacks
by the Japanese forces. Camp Chilliwack was also designated as a
recruit-training centre, No. 112 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre,
and as the new home for A6 Canadian Engineering Training Centre,
originally from Camp Dundurn. The campï¿½s rugged terrain and pleasant
climate provided an excellent location for continuous training
throughout the year.
After the war, Camp Chilliwack became a permanent Army training
establishment, with the additional duties of providing administrative
and logistical support to the Regular and Reserve Force Army units on
the British Columbia mainland. The engineer school was re-designated as
the Canadian Forces School Of Military Engineering. The RCSME at Camp
Chilliwack also included a fire-fighting school for the training of Army
Camp Chilliwack was also the home of the 58th Field Engineer
Squadron (re-named 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in 1977), who moved to the
site from Victoria in 1957.
As a result of the Unification, Camp Chilliwack was re-named
CFB Chilliwack and its support role was expanded to include all the
Regular and Reserve Force units on the British Columbia mainland,
included taking over administrative control of the Jericho Beach
Garrison in Vancouver.
The Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering was re-named
the Canadian Forces School of Mechanical Engineering (CFSME) and in
1970, the Canadian Forces Officer Candidate School (CFOCS), the
successor of the officer training schools of the three former services,
moved to the site from Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt.
In 1994, the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light
Infantry (3 PPCLI), an amalgamated Reserve-Regular Force Battalion who
are responsible for Reserve infantry training in B.C., moved to CFB
Chilliwack from Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt.
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 Chilliwack closed in 1997. CFOCS
moved to CFB St-Jean to merge with the basic recruit school. CFSME
re-located to the Combat Training Centre at CFB Gagetown and 3 PPCLI
moved to Edmonton Garrison prior to the Base closure. The Chilcotin
training area and the firing ranges continue to be used by the local
Area Support Unit Chilliwack was established 2 September 1997
on a small section of the former base to provide the administrative and
logistical support to Reserve and the remaining Regular Force in British
Columbia. The unit occupied the former 1 CER building
ASU Chilliwack was taksed to maintain the following ranges and training
areas for use by it dependencies: Vokes Range, Slesse Creek Demolition
Training Areas, Columbia Valley Training Area, Trail Rifle Range, Stone
Creek Training Area, Vernon Military Camp, OPSEE Training Area,
Chilcotin Training Area, Vedder Mountain Training Area, Richmond –
Armoury and transmitter site.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police purchased former CFOCS building and the drill hall, which now serve as the RCMP Training Academy for E Division. Approximately $10M dollars in upgrades were spent modifying the facilities to create the RCMP Pacific Region Support Services Centre, which opened in February 2002. The old ammo dump is now a driving track for RCMP.
The Canex, both base chapels, Dental Clinic, Medical Clinic, Guardhouse, Power plant, and all the old quarters for jr. ranks have all been torn down and removed. The old CFOCS and drill hall (and a couple of other buildings) are now . . The old base HQ is now the Canadian campus for the University of Peking. The first students will arrive from PRC this summer.
The rest of the military side of the base (except for the museum/old theatre, Bas Tpt and Base Supply) was sold to the province as a "Education Park' and developed into Fraser Valley University and the Justice Institute of British Columbia. The base recreation centre has been sold to the city, who will tear down down the old swimming pool and build a new one. The Rec centre will be come a part of the new Garrison Crossing Community Center.
About 70% of the PMQs have been torn down or remodeled. Most have been moved with new roads built to re-configure the area for the 'Garrison Crossing' community plan. They are being sold (at $300K +) as they come on the market - price seems to be no problem. A new and large shopping plaza was built in 2007 behind where the Medical/Dental Clinics were located.
The 1000 yd rifle range and small arms ranges in Vedder have been cleared and sold. There are two sub-divisions and a brand new High school where the ranges were.
Vedder Crossing which surrounds the former CFB has grown 10 fold since the base was closed. Many old soldiers will not recognize the area. There are two new shopping plazas and a large number of businesses in the area. Housing has also exploded in the area.
On 31 March 2013, ASU Chilliwack was closed as part of Department of National Defence cost-cutting measures. ASU Chilliwack's responsibilities were taken over by 1 Area Support Group in Edmonton, and locally by 39 Service Battalions, supplemented by 13 forces members from the former ASU. Additionally, the Royal Westminster Regiment's Aldergrove Detachment re-locate to Chilliwack in April 2013.
Source Material: information supplied by Captain Audette,
Public Affairs Officer, Land Force Western Area Headquarters (1999),
information supplied by Sergeant Sylvain Tardif, Military Police
Section, Area Support Unit Chilliwack (1999), "Sentinel" Magazine from
January - February 1966, Pg. 6-8, information supplied by Barry Miller,
Regional Director, Assets & Procurement, RCMP Pacific Region (2001),
DND Web Archives -
http://www.dnd.ca/admfincs/organiz/cfsuo/csss/ro/ro1997/20ful_e.asp, "The Garrison" newspaper from March 1995, Chilliwack Times 5 April 2012 - www.chilliwacktimes.com/business/close+says+union/6414195/story.html, "ASU Chilliwack Ceases Operations", The Western Sentinel 28 March 2013 & The Chilliwack Progress, 4 February 2013 - http://www.theprogress.com/news/189222671.html.
Jericho Beach Garrison:
Originally opened by the Canadian Air Board in 1920 as the
Jericho Beach Air Station. The site was turned over the newly formed
RCAF in 1925 and re-named RCAF Station Jericho Beach, one of several
Flying Boat Stations that would be established on the west coast.
Also in 1925, No. 1 Signal Squadron was formed at Jericho Beach
and later; No. 4 and No. 6 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadrons would be
stationed at Jericho Beach.
Jericho Beach also has the distinction of being the first
seaplane base in Canada to have a unique element attached to it - a
division of homing pigeons. Major Clarence MacLaurin began using homing
pigeons aboard flying boats at Jericho in 1920. Shortly after the
first hangers were completed, Major MacLaurin constructed several pigeon
lofts to house and train pigeons for use by aircrews. By 1928, the
RCAF had 8 pigeon lofts, the largest located at RCAF Station Ottawa
(Rockcliffe). Defence Department cutbacks in the 1930's resulted in the
elimination of all pigeon lofts except the ones at Jericho Beach and
RCAF Station Dartmouth.
In 1930, RCAF Station Jericho Beach became the RCAF Centre for
Seaplane and Flying Boat Training.
In 1940, Jericho Beach's role changed and it became the home of No. 3
Repair Depot. The seaplane squadrons moved to RCAF Station Sea Island.
No. 3 Operational Training Unit was established at Jericho Beach, with a
detachment at Patricia Bay in 1942, and remained until 1945 when it and
No. 3 Repair Depot closed.
The Army's Pacific Command Headquarters moved to RCAF Station
Jericho Beach from their location at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt in
1942. Jericho Beach officially became a permanent fixture of Canada's
west coast military in 1946, and control of the base was transferred to
the Army. Although RCAF Station Jericho Beach ceased to exist 1 March
1947, No. 12 Group, North-West Air Command, maintained an RCAF presence.
No. 12 Group was re-designated No 12 Air Defence Group in 1951 and No.
5 Air Division in 1955.
In later years, the base would become the home of Pacific
Command's successor, British Columbia District Headquarters (BC HQ), as
well as 442 "Caribou" Squadron, 74 Comm. Group, 744 Comm. Regiment, 12
Medical Company, Canadian Forces Technical Services Detachment, Special
Investigative Unit Pacific Detachment and a Recruiting Centre.
In 1964, the PMQ houses connected to the now closed RCAF
Station Vancouver (Sea Island) became part of the Jericho Beach.
The base was downsized to a detachment of CFB Chilliwack in
1968, re-named Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack - Vancouver Detachment.
Between 1968 and 1972, the detachment's size was reduced when
72 acres along the waterfront, north of Fourth Avenue, was transferred
to the City of Vancouver for recreational use. Most of the former
military buildings, including the four hangars that once housed the
flying boats were demolished. The PMQ houses formerly belonging to RCAF
Station Vancouver were sold and moved onto First Nations Reserves along
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, the Jericho Beach Detachment closed in
1996. A portion of the former Detachment was sectioned off and
functions as the Jericho Beach Garrison. The former headquarters
building remains in military hands, occupied by 39 Canadian Brigade
Group Headquarters (formerly BC District HQ), the 12 Medical Company and
744 Communication Squadron. There are currently plans to re-establish a
small military engineering presence on the base.
While several of the Detachment's vacant buildings were torn down, some
do remain: the former Junior Ranks barracks is now a youth hostel, the
old base recreation hall is now the Jericho Arts Centre and the former
Officers' mess is now the West Point Grey Community Centre.
Additionally, some WWII-era buildings also remain.
The Canadian Forces Housing Agency still maintains 66 PMQs (now called Residential Housing Units) for military members and will do so until
January 2017, when the homes will be sold.
The remainder of the former PMQ area is being re-developed into Garrison
Crossing, an upscale community with a mix of new homes and renovated
The 12 Medical Company Museum remains to help preserve Jericho
Beach's military heritage.
Source material: information supplied by Sergeant Sylvain
Tardif, Military Police Section, Area Support Unit Chilliwack (1999) ,
pamphlet printed by Studio High Techniques of Toronto (1998),
information supplied by Sherry Eastholm, Manager, Sidney (B.C.) Museum
(1999), "Sentinel" Magazine from May 1974, Pgs 12 - 15, "Jericho Beach
and the West Coast Flying Boat Stations" by Chris Weicht, Heritage BC
web site - http://www.heritagebc.ca/military.htm#Barrett, the personal
recollections of Vince Bissonnette, former Commanding Officer CF
Detachment Jericho Beach (2004), information provided by Major J.D.
Barrett, Jericho Beach Garrison (2004), Garrison Crossing web site -
http://www.garrisoncrossing.ca/English/Default.htm, information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (2011) & "The Garrison"
newspaper from March 1995.
Royal Canadian Air Force Station Patricia Bay:
Established on 26 October 1939 when the aerodrome at Patricia
Bay was taken over by the RAF and RCAF for use as a combined
During World War II, Patricia Bay was an extremely busy base.
The station was divided into three sections: the West Camp, the East
Camp and the Seaplane base.
The West Camp housed No. 3 Operational Training Unit from 9
November 1942 until 3 August 1945.
The East Camp housed No. 32 Operational Training Unit (Royal
Air Force) from 1 June 1944 until it re-located to RCAF Station Comox.
No. 6 Operational Training Unit was established in its place.
The Seaplane base housed a detachment from No. 111 Coastal
Artillery Co-operation (No. 111 CAC) who relocated from RCAF Station Sea
Island on 19 May 1940, becoming the first squadron to be stationed at
Patricia Bay. In August 1940, No. 111 CAC was re-designated No. 111
(Fighter) Squadron. No 120 Bomber Squadron arrived at the station on 1
Some of the other units during and after WWII were: No. 13
Operational Training Unit (RCAF), No. 115 (Fighter) Squadron, with their
C-22 Fairchild Bolingbrokes until re-deployed to Annette Island in May
1942, No. 133 Squadron who re-located form Boundary Bay in 1943, No. 135
(Fighter) Squadron, No. 149 (Bomber Torpedo) Squadron, No. 7 Radio
Detachment, the 1st Battalion, Edmonton Fusiliers, the 9th & 10th
Anti-aircraft Batteries of the Royal Canadian Artillery, No. 122
(Composite) Squadron, with their C-126 Noorduyn Norsemans, and a
detachment of the Royal Norwegian Naval Air Force, who arrived in March
1941 for seaplane training. The Ground Warfare School and No. 1 School
of Flying Control ran short courses at the station.
In July 1942, No. 132 (Fighter) Squadron arrived at the
In July 1944, an Air Cadet Camp was established at Patricia Bay
and a month later, the station became a temporary movie studio when MGM
arrived to film scenes for the film "Son of Lassie."
RCAF Station Patricia Bay closed on 31 March 1945. The
Victoria Flying Club took over the hangars once occupied by 32 OUT at
the East Camp on 14 November 1946. The Federal Department of
Transportation assumed control of the aerodrome in May 1948, naming it
the Sydney Airport. The airport was re-named the Victoria International
Airport in 1950.
In 1954 the Royal Canadian Navy assumed control of the West
Camp as a naval air station. RCN VU-33 Squadron, a lodger unit of
Canada's West Coast Navy Station HMCS Naden, was formed here on 1
November 1954, equipped with a fleet of CP121 Trackers and CT133
Silver-Star jet trainers. VU-33 Squadron was given the responsibility of
conducting ship gunnery practice and radar calibration, coastal
surveillance, search and rescue and Sonobouy Proving and Testing Service
(SPATS). VC-922 Squadron, Royal Canadian Naval Air Reserve was formed
at Patricia Bay on 1 December 1953 and manned by reservists from HMCS
Malahat Naval Reserve Division in Esquimalt.
VU-33 Squadron re-located to CFB Comox in August 1974, ending
over 30 years of military presence at the Victoria Airport. However,
this absence of military personnel would prove to be short lived.
In 1985, 443 Anti-submarine Warfare Helicopter Squadron,
originally from CFB Shearwater, re-located to the Victoria Airport to
provide Sea King helicopter support aboard 2 Navy Frigates and one
Helicopter Destroyer stationed at CFB Esquimalt - Naden. The Squadron
took over the quarters once occupied by VU-33 Squadron. On 31 January
1995, 443 Squadron changed their name to 443 Maritime Helicopter
The former RCAF Station Patricia Bay has seen quite a lot of
change since the first plane took off from its runways, but some links
to the past remain: several of the World War II era hangars remain in
In February 2011, Minister of National Defence Peter McKay announded that a new,
larger facility for 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron would be constructed. The hangar that currently houses 443 (MH) Sqn’s H-124 Sea King helicopters has been in use for 60 years and will be replaced by modern infrastructure specifically designed for the new CH-148 Cyclone.
Source Material: the personal recollections of Petty Officer
2nd Class John Slor (Ret'd) (1999), the personal recollections of Master
Warrant Officer R.G. Mastin , 443 Squadron, Patricia Bay (1999),
pamphlet printed by Studio High Techniques of Toronto (1998), "Sentinel"
Magazine from April 1968 & September 1974, pg. 28, information
supplied by Sherry Eastholm, Manager, Sidney (B.C.) Museum (1999), "The
Impact of Public Policy on a Naval Reserve Division" by Michael Hadley
(1982), information supplied by Ian Waterlow, Archivist &
Historian, Sydney, BC, "Badges of the Canadian Navy" by LT (N) Graeme
Arbuckle, the RCAF Station Commox web site -
http://www.rcaf.com/stations/comox.shtml, Boundary Bay Airport web site -
http://www.czbb.com, History of the 400 Series Squadrons -
http://www.airforce.dnd.ca/airforce/eng/history_400s/rcafsqns.htm, "New facility for new helicopters", The Maple Leaf, March 2, 2011 &
the 12 Wing Shearwater web page - www.achq.dnd.ca/12wing/Wing/Shear.htm.
Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre:
Originally opened in 1909 as a militia training camp for units
of the Okanogan Valley. During World War I, the camp was a very busy
place for the training of units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
After the war, the camp returned to being a militia training camp.
In 1940, the Camp was once again taken over by the Regular
Force and became the home of No. 110 Canadian Army (Basic) Training
Centre and the Canadian Battle Drill School for the duration of the war.
After serving as a demobilization centre for returning soldiers, the
camp closed in 1947.
The camp re-opened in 1949 as a summer training centre for the
Royal Canadian Army Cadets and remains so to this day, as do the World
War II era buildings. However, the professional soldiers have not
completely abandoned their former turf as both Regular and Reserve Force
Army units utilize the training area on a year round basis.
Historian Francois Arseneault describes the Vernon Army Cadet
Summer Training Centre as "...perhaps the best preserved example of a
WWII H-hut camp in left Canada, if not the largest. The buildings are
remarkable well preserved given the mild winters and dry, relatively
Source Material: information provided by Francois Arseneault,
Historian (2003) & The Canadian Army WWII Training Establishments
web site - www.canadiansoldiers.com/wwiitrain.htm.