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Home arrow Articles arrow History arrow A Short History of Abandoned and Downsized Canadian Military Bases
A Short History of Abandoned and Downsized Canadian Military Bases - Introduction Print E-mail
Written by Bruce Forsyth   
Article Index
Introduction
The Past
Pre to Post-Unification
Abandoned Bases Intro
Abandoned Bases: AB
Abandoned Bases: BC
Abandoned Bases: MB
Abandoned Bases: NB
Abandoned Bases: NL
Abandoned Bases: NT
Abandoned Bases: NS
Abandoned Bases: NU
Abandoned Bases: ON
Abandoned Bases: PE
Abandoned Bases: QC
Abandoned Bases: SK
Abandoned Bases: YT
Abandoned Bases: Outside Canada
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: AB
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: BC
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: MB
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: NB
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: NS
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: ON
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: PE
Closed Bases That Still Have A Military Presence: QE
Downsized Bases Or Bases That Have Changed Their Function
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: BC
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: NB
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: NWT
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: NS
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: ON
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: SK
Bases That Have Downsized or Changed Their Function: QE
The Pinetree Line
The Pinetree Line: AB
The Pinetree Line: BC
The Pinetree Line: MB
The Pinetree Line: NB
The Pinetree Line: NL
The Pinetree Line: NWT
The Pinetree Line: NS
The Pinetree Line: ON
The Pinetree Line: QE
The Pinetree Line: SK
The Mid-Canada Line
Distant Early Warning Line
The North-West Territory
Distant Early Warning Line
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
Canadian Army Training Centres of World War II
The Northwest Staging Route
Abandoned Armouries
Abandoned Armouries: AB
Abandoned Armouries: ON
The Future
The Future: AB
The Future: NL
The Future: NWT
The Future: NS
The Future: ON
The Future: QE
The Future: SK
Current Canadian Military Bases

 

ONTARIO:


Canadian Forces Station Armstrong:

Opened in 1954 as Armstrong Air Force 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 behind the main gate. There is much to see for the ghost town hunter as all but a few buildings remain.

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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 has 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 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 plans to build 82 houses on the property. 

Source Material:  the peraonal recollections of the author (1998-20112),  Township of Oro-Medonte media releasese - 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.

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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.

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.

The station ceased operations and closed in 1986.  The station was purchased by Pine Ridge Developments the following year, who rented out the former PMQs as private residences. The radomes were removed but the radar towers and the operations centre remained.  

The 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 weedy and 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 was demolished in 2007.

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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 closed in 1974 and sold to private interests. Some of the residential and service buildings at the base are still in use as a commercial complex. The PMQ homes are private residences, but 3 apartment complexes are vacant.

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Canadian Forces Station Lowther:

Opened in 1957 as Lowther Air Force 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.

The former station is currently used as a commercial-industrial testing centre. Other than the abandoned roadways, nothing remains of CFS Lowther today.

The old gymnasium had been moved into the nearby town of Opasatika where it was turned into a mushroom growing facility, and the remote radio site 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.

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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.

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Royal Canadian Air Force Station Pagwa:

Opened in 1953 as Pagwa Air Force 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.

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Canadian Forces Station Ramore:

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

In early 1962, operation of the station was transferred to the RCAR, with No. 35 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron as the operating unit. The station was renamed the site RCAF Station Ramore. 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 including Ramore.

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 operated as the Lava Mountain Lodge.

Today most of the former station remains, although only one radar tower, but is abandoned and crumbling.

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Canadian Forces Station Sioux Lookout:

Opened in 1952 as Sioux Lookout Air Force 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.

Current information courtesy of Michelle Hrynchuk, current property owner (2013).




Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 November 2013 )
 
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