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PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Canadian Forces Base Summerside:
Opened 23 April 1941 as RCAF Station Summerside, the home of
No. 9 Service Flying Training School, a flight school founded under the
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Two relief landing sites were
also established at the same time as No. 9 SFTS, and one in Wellington,
PEI and the other one at Mount Pleasant, PEI, although it was later
became the site of No 10 B&G School.
No. 9 SFTS stay at Summerside would be short lived as it moved to RCAF
Station Centralia in July 1942 and No. 1 General Reconnaissance School
opened in its place. The school was re-designated No. 1 Reconnaissance
and Navigation School in 1945.
RCAF Station Summerside was effectively closed in 1946. Only
the Air Cadet Summer Training Camp and a small caretaker staff, whose
job it was to maintain the buildings, remained at the Station. The
Relief landing field at Wellington was also closed at the end of the war
and today, nothing remains of it.
In 1948, RCAF Station Summerside was re-activated as part of
the post-war RCAF. No. 1 Air Navigation School (No. 1 ANS) was
established at the station a NATO training facility. When the school
left Summerside for RCAF Station Winnipeg in 1953, the Central
Navigation School, which had been disbanded at RCAF Station Rivers in
1945, was re-activated at Summerside. This new school remained at
Summerside for a year, before following No. 1 ANS to Winnipeg. No. 2
Maritime Operational Training Unit was then established to train
aircrews in anti-submarine warfare.
In 1949, Permanent Married Quarters were built, named Slemon Park in
honor of Air Marshall Roy Slemon.
Over the years Summerside would also be the home of 880 Maritime
Reconnaissance Squadron, 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 31 Support
Air Group (Royal Canadian Navy), 429 Maritime Patrol Squadron (2 (M) OTU
designation when performing non-training operational duties) and 420
Air Reserve Squadron.
In 1959, the Maritime Proving and Evaluation Unit (MP & EU)
opened at RCAF Station Summerside. The unit's function was to develop
and test equipment and procedures used by Maritime Air Command.
On 1 May 1961, the Royal Canadian Air Force re-activated 415
Maritime Patrol Squadron at Summerside, an anti-submarine aircraft
squadron and equipped it with the CP-107 Argus Aircraft.
The unification brought change to RCAF Station Summerside. The
station was re-named CFB Summerside in 1966 and control was transferred
to the newly created Maritime Command. By 1968, 2 (M) OTU had departed
for CFB Greenwood switching places with Greenwood's No. 103 Rescue
Unit. MP & EU also moved to CFB Greenwood in 1978, as did 415
Squadron in 1981, changing their fleet of Argus aircraft for the Aurora.
By the 1980s, the Summerside's primary role was surveillance
support for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The remaining squadrons, the
Tracker Squadrons 880 SAR Squadron and 420 Air Reserve Squadron, were
tasked to conduct routine fisheries patrols. However, the Tracker
Aircraft had long since exceeded their life spans and the Federal
Government elected not to replace them.
As a result of planned reductions in Canada's Air Force,
Summerside's importance declined, especially given that its role as a
Maritime support base could effectively be covered by CFB Shearwater and
CFB Greenwood. As a result, CFB Summerside closed on 1 April 1991.
880 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron was disbanded, 420 Air
Reserve Squadron re-located to CFB Shearwater and 413 Search &
Rescue Squadron to CFB Greenwood.
The site is now a commercial-industrial centre named Slemon Park, home
of the Summerside Aerospace Centre, the Summerside Airport, the Holland
College School of Justice and Atlantic Police Academy.
The only remnants of the aerodrome's military past are the Prince Edward Island Regiment, "B" Squadron, who currently lease a building at Sleman Park and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Atlantic Region Gliding School, who operate a
summer Regional Gliding Centre at the airport.
Administrative & logistical support for the remaining
Regular Force, Reserve and Cadet Units on Prince Edward Island comes
from the Charlottetown Detachment of CFB Gagetown, established on 1
April 1991 and located at the West Royalty Industrial Park in
Today, Argus, Voodo and Tracker aircraft sand on permanent
display, serving as a reminder of Summerside's past.
Source material: DND press release from July 1990, the Slemon
Park web site - www.peisland.com/slemon/park.htm, information supplied
by Mike Thususka, City of Summerside, Economic Development (1999), 14
Wing Heritage web site -
http://www2.14wing.dnd.ca/14wgheritage/index.html, the personal
recollections of Major Harley Lang (Ret'd) (1999), Canadian Forces Air
Navigation School history - www.cfans.com, information provided by Larry Gaudet, Director of Marketing, Training and Commercial Leasing for Sleeman Park (2013), "Abandoned Military
Installations Of Canada Volume III: Atlantic" by Paul Ozorak &
"Armed Forces Day 1990 - CFB Summerside" Program Guide.