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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

Abandoned Bases - ALBERTA

 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Edmonton:
 

Opened on 5 July 1940 at the Blatchford Field Airport as No. 2 Air Observer School (2 AOS), part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, with World War I flying ace Capt W.R. "Wop" May installed as the civilian manager of the station. By November 1940, No. 16 Elementary Flying Training School also opened at the aerodrome, remaining until it closed in 1942.

After the closure of No. 2 AOS on 14 July 1944, the station was re-named RCAF Station Edmonton and become the home to Northwest Air Command Headquarters. The station closed in May 1945, but this would be short-lived as it re-opened in October 1946.

Units posted to RCAF Station Edmonton at this time were the Northwest Air Command Composite Flight, 435 Transport Squadron, 418 Tactical Bomber Squadron (Auxiliary), 453 Transport Squadron, the RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment, No. 10 Construction & Maintenance Unit, No. 2 Trade & Advancement Board and RCAF Det Grand Prairie. Later a B-29 Bomber Detachment of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and a Survival Training School would occupy space at RCAF Station Edmonton.

1 Air Movements Squadron formed on 1 October 1947 at the station. The Squadron was re-designated 1 Air Movements Unit on 1 April 1951 and assigned to Air Transport Command.

As RCAF Station Edmonton grew in the post-war years, so did the surrounding civilian community. It became apparent that flying activities were becoming hazardous at Blatchford Field when a USAAF transport aircraft crashed into a row of homes shortly after take-off. As a result, the RCAF decided to vacate Blatchford Field and concentrate its activities at the nearby RCAF Station Namao.

RCAF Station Edmonton closed 1 October 1955 and the station's units re-located to RCAF Station Namao. The aerodrome reverted to a civilian airport, the Blatchford Field Airport. 418 "City of Edmonton" Squadron remained at the airport until 1957 when it too departed for Namao.

The airport, now known as the Edmonton City Centre Airport, became the home to small charters, private and corporate aircraft, training, military, industrial and medevac flights.  Most commercial passenger traffic moved to the Edmonton International Airport in the mid-1990s.

Only one BCATP era hangar remains at  the airport, designated Provincial Heritage Resource in 2000. Currently this hangar, the only remaining double width / double depth BCATP hangar left in Canada, is occupied by 180 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, 504 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron & the Alberta Aviation Museum, who work to preserve the memory of the BCATP and the RCAF in Edmonton.

In 2009, Edmonton city council decided on a phased closure of the airport to allow a massive development of housing and commercial real estate starting in 2014. Runway 16/34 was closed to air traffic in August 2010.  

In 2012, the Edmonton Flying Club launched a won a court battle that allowed the club to seek an injunction against the Edmonton Airports Authority to evict it from the airport, where it's been located since 1927.  The Edmonton Flying Club had a lease with the city good until 2028, but this was all apparently in vain.

Current plans will see the airport officially cease operations by 30 November 2013 after 84 years of operations.  The city moved in the summer of 2013 to expropriate the leases of any company or organizations still using the airport.

Source Material: information supplied by Jenelle Turpin, Communications Officer - Council Services, City of Edmonton, the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm (1999), Grandville Island Publishing web site - http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), History of Canadian Airports by T. M. McGrath, Fate Of Edmonton Muni May Go To Vote - Canadian Aviator Magazine - www.canadianaviatormagazine.com, Edmonton Journal, 12 September 2013 - http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/09/12/close-final-city-centre-airport-runway-nov-30-report-recommends & the CFB Edmonton web site - www.cfbedmonton.hstone.com.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Lincoln Park:

Originally established on the southern section of Currie Barracks in 1935 by the RCAF, where an unpaved landing strip had been built for their use. By 1939, No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron had moved to Currie Barracks from RCAF Station Sea Island, and No. 3 (Bomber) Squadron from RCAF Station Ottawa (Rockcliffe). The airmen were forced to share the only barrack block with the Lord Strathcona's Horse, which created problems as the Strathconas awoke to the sound of a bugler every morning at 0500 hours.

On 28 October 1940, a portion of Currie Barracks became No. 3 Service Flying Training School, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Relief Landing Fields were constructed near Shapard and Gladys.

No. 3 SFTS closed on 28 September 1945 and the hangars, the airfield and everything south of it was sectioned off and became No. 10 Repair Depot (with a Detachment in Moose Jaw).  In 1947, the station then became No. 25 Air Material Base Calgary, but was later re-named Royal Canadian Air Force Station Lincoln Park.

n 1953, Permanent Married Quarters were built for the Airforce personnel, who prior to that all lived in rented or purchased housing with in the City.  The single personnel lived in barracks on the base.

Both RCAF Detachments Gladys and Shepard were abandoned.  From 1958-1970, the abandoned runways at RCAF Detachment Shepard were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing. An industrial complex now occupies the site of the former aerodrome.   Nothing remains of the Gladys aerodrome.

During this period, Lincoln Park served as construction headquarters, a repair depot and NATO pilot refresher-training centre, who by this time had paved runways on which to land.

A primary tenant at the station was Canadian Pacific Airlines (Repair Division), who were a prime contractor for aircraft overhaul for Western Canada.

129 Acceptance and Ferry Flight Detachment, a detachment of No. 6 Repair Depot at RCAF Station Trenton, and a very busy Detachment with usually about 12 Pilots, and six Flight Engineers accumulating many hours of flying time on aircraft from Chipmunk, T-34 Noresman, to Lancasters and Albatross, and Single and Twin Engine Jet aircraft.  Most flights were out of RCAF Station Station Calgary, due to the short runways at Lincoln Park.
 
403 "City of Calgary". Squadron was re-formed at Linclon Park as a Fighter Bomber Squadron (Auxiliary) in 1948, remaining until it disbanded in 1964. NATO pilot training continued until 1958, after which the airfield was used only as an emergency landing strip.

In the early to mid 1960s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several Army, Navy and RCAF bases were either downsized, merged or closed. As a result, RCAF Station Lincoln Park closed in 1964. The buildings north of the airfield and the Lincoln Park PMQs became part of Currie Barracks. The reminder of the property was sold to the city of Calgary. Some of the row house PMQs were moved onto one of the former runways at the north end of the property.

From the 1960s to 1983, the abandoned north-south runway was used as a racetrack for sports cars and motorcycles under the name Calgary International Raceway.

Mount Royal College now occupies the part of the property where the airfield was once located, as it has done since 1972.
 
On 28 October 2000, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of No. 3 Service Flying Training School, Mount Royal College held a plaque dedication ceremony to honour the men and women who served at the war-time school.   

Very little remains of the former RCAF Station Lincoln Park today.  

Four of the six original hangars on the north-side of the former airfield, which became part of Currie Barracks, have already been demolished and the remaining two are slated for demolition in 2014. The six maintenance hangars south of the former airfield, once used as a part of the Repair Depot, were occupied for many years by the ATCO Industrial Complex.   These hangars were demolished in 2011.  All that remains of the airfield is the taxi-way beside the north-side hangars.
 
The Lincoln Park PMQ area has been re-developed into the "Garrison Green" residential community, modeled on an old "village style". Some of the former PMQ homes have been moved onto new foundations and extensively renovated. The developer established a park named "Peacekeeper Park", which includes a memorial dedicated to Canadian Peacekeepers who distinguished themselves and to those who died in the service of their country.
 

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1998), information supplied by Sherry Eastholm, Manager, Sidney (B.C.) Museum (1999), information supplied by June Flegg, Historian, Saskatoon Public Library (2000), History of the 400 Series Squadrons - http://www.airforce.dnd.ca/airforce/eng/history_400s/rcafsqns.htm, Wings Over Alberty web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, information supplied by Hunter Wight, Executive Director, Public Affairs and Development, Mount Royal College (2001), information supplied by Deb Bramson, Mount Royal College (2001), the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, Grandville Island Publishing web site - http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & information supplied by Carol Stokes, Archivist, The City of Calgary (1999).

 


42 Radar Squadron Cold Lake:

Established south of Cold Lake on 1 August 1954 as the Cold Lake Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron (AC&W), home of 42 Radar Squadron Cold Lake. The Squadron was not part of the Pinetree Line, instead it was used to provide radar control of CF-100 aircraft and as a radio transmission centre. The site was later renamed simply 42 Radar Squadron.

As a result of Department of National Defence (DND) budget reductions, the site occupied by 42 Radar Squadron closed in 1992. 42 Radar Squadron re-located to 4 Wing Cold Lake and the squadron's radar equipment was moved to the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range. The former station sat abandoned and neglected until 1998, when the Cold Lake Air Force Museum opened.

Today, all of the station's five buildings (with the catwalk that joined them), plus the guardhouse and pumphouse remain. The former operations building contains displays profiling the Air Force, RCAF Station/CFB Cold Lake and 42 Radar Squadron, including a full-size Hight Finder Radar unit. The other buildings feature The Oil & Gas Interpretive Centre, Alberta Heritage Museum and the Aboriginal Museum. None of the three radar towers remain today.

Source material: 42 Radar Squadron Cold Lake web site - http://www.4wing.coldlake.dnd.ca/42.html, personal recollections of the author (2004),Cold Lake Air Force Museum - www.coldlakeairforcemuseum.com/main & information supplied by Captain Leah Wilson, Wing Public Affairs Officer, 4 Wing Cold Lake (1999).


Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Airdrie:

Opened north of Calgary in 1940 as the No. 1 Relief landing Field for No. 3 SFTS in Calgary. The Detachment featured the standard triangle pattern runway, along with several buildings including administration and barracks buildings and two large wooden hangars.  Student pilots at No. 37 SFTS would spend the last three weeks of their air training course with the Advanced Training Unit at RCAF Detachment Airdrie, where bombing training was conducted.

 RCAF Detachment Airdrie closed in 1945.

Student pilots and crop-dusters continued to use the crumbling runways into the 1950s.

In 1954, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.  In 1957, the RCAF buildings were converted into commercial facilities. 

Today the former detachment operates as the Airdrie Airport and industrial complex. The Airdrie Country Club of the Air operated at the airport from the early 1970s until the mid 1980s, when the club disbanded. In the spring of 2005, the club was resurrected and continues to promote general aviation in the Calgary area.

A significant portion of the former Detachment remains today. A number of the maintenance sheds remain, some in use, some not. One of the former barracks is used as the office for Airdrie Mini Self Storage and the remaining hangar is occupied by the Alberta Pallet Company, a wood products manufacturing company.  A neighbouring farmer purchased the bombing control tower, which is still standing today.

 The original runways remain but are abandoned, with only one of the three is still intact, along with the taxi-way. The other two are broken up and only the outlines can be seen. A new runway was built in 2002 down the middle of the original triangle airfield.

The Airdrie Regional Airshow is held at the airport every 2 years.

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1998), "Wings For Victory - The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada", by Spencer Dunmore, Airdrie Flying Club web site - http://www.airdrieflyingclub.ca/story02.htm & the personal recollections of the author (2004)


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Claresholm:

Opened west of Claresholm on 9 June 1941 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as No. 15 Service Flying Training School, with Relief Landings Fields at Woodhouse & Pultney. No. 2 Flight Instructor School also operated at the Aerodrome from April-September 1942, when it re-located to Vulcan. No. 15 SFTS closed on 30 May 1945 and the station, although not abandoned, was left with only a small caretaker staff. RCAF Detachments Woodhouse & Pultney were abandoned.

The post-war growth of the RCAF resulted in many WWII stations being re-activated. RCAF Station Claresholm re-opened in 1951 as a NATO pilot training centre run by No. 3 Flying Training School, but it would be short-lived.

The station closed again in 1958, this time for good. No. 3 FTS re-located to RCAF Station Gimli. From 1958-1961, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

The former station is now the Claresholm Industrial Airport. All seven original hangars remain, although 2 & 4 are unused and rapidly deteriorating, as do some of the station's former buildings, including the fire hall, maintenance garages and four post-war PMQ houses. Trus Joist MacMillan Ltd, an engineered lumber products company, occupies three of the hangars and one is owned by the town for maintenance of small aircraft. The majority of the property contains only empty fields and abandoned roadways, but some new buildings are popping up on site. Only one runway remains in use; the other two were abandoned years ago.

All that remains of RCAF Detachment Woodhouse is one runway, consisting of severely deteriorated asphalt, and the hangar pad.  The other runways were removed for farming.  Township Road 122 now cuts across the southern portion of the former triangle runway outline.

A memorial cairn was placed at the airport and a Harvard airplane stands in Centennial Park in Claresholm as a monument to the men and women who served at RCAF Station Claresholm and No. 15 SFTS.

Source Material: Town of Claresholm web site - http://www.town.claresholm.ab.ca/communityprofile.htm#HISTORY, "Canada Flight Supplement 1999", "Portage La Prairie - Fifty Years of Flying Training: 1940-1990" by Major G.E.I. Greavette, CD, Grandville Island Publishing web site - http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, information supplied by Brian Waddell, owner of the property once occupied by RCAF Detachment Woodhouse, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & "The Plan" by James Williams.


No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School (High River):

The aerodrome north of High River was originally opened in 1921 by the Canadian Air Force, predecessor to the RCAF, as the High River Air Station. With the creation of the RCAF in 1924, the station was re-named RCAF Station High River. The station was utilized for parachute training and new aircraft testing.

In 1931, RCAF Station High River closed and the aerodrome became a storage depot. Flying activities were limited to the Calgary Aero Club.

The outbreak of World War II lead to the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the establishment of No. 5 EFTS near Lethbridge in 1940, but the school re-located to High River in June 1941. Originally the WWI Bessemer hangars were used until a new hangar was built, along with drill halls, offices and barracks, with new asphalt runways replacing the grass ones. Later in the war, a second one built. A Relief Landing Field was also constructed at Frank's Lake.

No. 5 EFTS closed on 15 Dec 1944, having graduated 97 classes of airmen, and so did RCAF Detachment Frank's Lake. The Calgary Flying Club remained at the aerodrome until the late 1940s, when the club re-located to McCall Field in Calgary.

Only one hangar remains, now occupied by Willow Creek Homes, a builder of modular homes as does the old cistern.  All that remains of the airfield is the faint outline of the runways. A new airport was established south of High River. The station auditorium was moved into High River and is still used today.

In August 2002, monuments were erected at both the airport and in downtown High River as a tribute to the men and women who served at No. 5 EFTS.

Source Material: information supplied by Regena R. Johnson, Airport Landfill / Road Closure Coordinator (2001), information supplied by Melissa Chamber, local resident of High River (2000), Lancaster Museum web site - http://www.lancastermuseum.ca/highriver.html, the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), The Calgary Flying Club - http://www.calgaryflyingclub.com/clubhistory_1940-1945.asp & information supplied by Norm Lund, local resident of High River (2001).

Read the book "Life and legends: A History of the Town of High River", By Lillian Knupp for more information.


No. 31 Elementary Flying Training School:

Opened 13 kms east of De Winton, Alberta under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as a Royal Air Force school on 18 June 1941, with a Relief Landing Fields at Gladys (grass runways) and Shepard (asphalt). The school closed on 25 September 1944, as did RCAF Detachments Gladys and Shepard.

For several years, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

The former school is still listed as a private aerodrome, the South Calgary Airport, although there are no aviation activities currently operating at the site.  Two of the runways are in disrepair and overgrown with grass, while the third runway and tarmac only partially maintained for use by Alberta Motor Association as a driver training centre for private and commercial drivers..

The Calgary Ultra-light Flying Club used one runway for "touch & go" training for student pilots for a period, but does not currently use the airfield.

Except for the pump-house, no buildings remain in their wartime position on the property. Most of the building foundations do remain however, including both hangar pads. The former administration building, garage and guardhouse were moved and patched together to create a private residence on the property. As well, the original windsock, flag pole, gunnery backstop and water reservoir also remain.

The abandoned runways at RCAF Detachment Shepard were used as as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing, known as the Shepard Raceways, from 1958 - 1970 and then the Calgary International Raceway in the mid 1970s. The former north-south runway was used as drag race strip until it closed around 1983, when the construction of Deerfoot Trail cut across the old runway. The Alberta Motor Association then used the runway as a driver training facility.

The SE-NW runway and east-west runways were torn up in the early 1970s with construction of Shepard landfill.

Today, nothing remains of the Shepard Detachment. In the early 2000s, the property was redeveloped into an industrial complex. A "Flying J" truck stop now occupies part of the property where the airfield used to be.

Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Gladys.

Source Material: "Canada Flight Supplement 1999", David Harris, local resident of De Winton (July 2001) as posted on "As You Were - War Years: News", the Calgary Ultra-light Flying Club web site - http://www.cufc.ca, July 2001 Edition - http://www.angelfire.com/trek/rcaf/ammq0107.html, information supplied by Jesse Knight, property owner DeWinton Aerodrome (2004), information supplied by Rick Lang, Operations Manager, Alberta Motor Association (2004), information provided by Tim Harris, local resident of De Winton (2004), information provided by Francois Arseneault, History & Heritage Committee, Army Cadet League of Canada (2007), the personal recollections of the author (2004) & Grandville Island Publishing web site - http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm.


No. 32 Elementary Flying Training School:

Opened north-east of Bowden, Alberta under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on 12 July 1941. A Relief Landing Field was also constructed at nearby Netook, which featured grass runways. The school closed on 8 September 1944, as did RCAF Detachment Netook.

No. 1 Surplus Holing Unit was established 1 May 1945 at the Bowden Aerodrome to store surplus was equipment. After the unit shut down, the property was used as a reform school and then became its present day facility, a Federal Prison: Bowden Institution.

Only the administration building and small, severely deteriorated potions of the airfield remain today.

Source Material: Netook Air Cadet Gliding School web site - http://www.netook.aircadets.ca/history.php3, the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm & "Wings For Victory - The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada", by Spencer Dunmore & the personal recollections of the author(2004).

 


No. 36 Elementary Flying Training School / No. 3 Air Observer School / No. 2 Flight Instructors School:

Opened by the Royal Air Force north of the Village of Pearce on 30 March 1942 as No. 36 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The school had a brief existence as it closed on 14 August 1942.

No. 3 Air Observer School of Regina, Saskatchewan opened a Detachment at the aerodrome on 12 September 1942. The school operated at the Pearce aerodrome until 6 June 1943 when both the Pearce and Regina schools closed.

No. 2 Flying Instructors School, originally from Vulcan, re-located to Pearce on 3 May 1943. The school closed on 20 January 1945.

Although the airfield was abandoned, the former school continued to be used as a storage depot and scrap yard. Many WWII bombers met their final fate at the Peace Depot. The Depot closed in 1960.

For several years, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

Today, very little remains of the former air station; only some foundations, the crumbling airfield and the old cistern, now used for manure storage. The former station is now a farm, known as "The Airport Dairy". A monument was erected at the site, using a chunk of concrete from one of the hangars, as a tribute to the men and women who served at the wartime school.

The Village of Pearce no longer exists either. Gone are the General Store, two grain elevators and Pearce School District School House #1686. A memorial to the old schoolhouse sits on the Pearce Road, just north of the former Village.

Source Material: "Wings For Victory - The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada", by Spencer Dunmore, the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, Grandville Island Publishing web site - http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & The Lancaster Museum web site - http://www.lancastermuseum.ca/bcatpalberta.html.

 


No. 7 Service Flying Training School:

Opened near the west end of Fort MacLeod under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on 9 December 1940, with a Relief Landing Field at Granum. The School closed on 17 November 1944, as did the RCAF Detachment Granum.

After the war, the station became No. 1 Repair Equipment and Maintenance Unit for a period before the RCAF abandoned the site.

For several years, the abandoned runways were used as a racetrack for sports car and motorcycle racing.

Today, the aerodrome is the Fort Macleod airport. One can still see the abandoned original triangle-pattern airfield, but it is rapidly crumbling. A new 3000 ft runway was build across the top of the triangle.

Many of the World War II-era buildings remain including four hangars, an administration building, one of the barracks (currently a private residence), the drill hall and the old water cistern. Two of the hangars are occupied by Albicanlis Lumber and the former HQ building is now a recreation hall, used by 2309 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

Falcan Industries and an auto scrap yard also occupy part of the property, as does a new home development, "Airfield Properties", that sits in the centre of the former airfield.

A monument was erected in Memorial Park in Fort MacLeod as a tribute to the men and women who served at the wartime school.

The abandoned airfield also remains at RCAF Detachment Granum, but the property is now used for farming.

Source Material: "Wings For Victory - The Story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada", by Spencer Dunmore, the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, Grandville Island Publishing web site - http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/profile/sportscarracing/contents.shtm, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & "Canada Flight Supplement 1999.

 


No. 19 Service Flying Training School & No. 2 Flight Instructor School:

The aerodrome south-west of Vulcan (located at Section 10, Township 16, Range 25, west of the 4th meridian) was originally the site for two different schools during World War II. Opened under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on 3 August 1942 as No. 2 Flight Instructor School, with Relief Landing Fields at Ensign & Champion. 2 FIS graduated 750 students before it re-located to Pearce, Alberta on 3 May 1943.

The same day, No. 19 Service Flying Training School opened at the aerodrome. By the time the school closed on 29 March 1945, 860 pilots had earned their wings.

The station's last Commanding Officer, B.C. Andrews AFC, said to the final graduating class, "The RCAF has been the backbone of a great air training plan which in the space of a few short years has changed the course of world history. The enemy is well aware that the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan has accomplished a tremendous achievement. The aims and objects to provide personnel to maintain air supremacy in every theatre of war has been accomplished. Every member of this great service can be rightfully proud of their participation."

Although many RCAF stations closed after the war, the Vulcan aerodrome remained active as a storage depot and scrap yard for surplus airplanes. Many WWII bombers met their final fate at the Vulcan Depot, which finally closed in the late 1950s.

For a while the site operated as the Vulcan Industrial Airport, but it now sits abandoned. Six of the original seven hangars remain, but only two are in use for storage of heavy equipment and farm machinery. The empty fire station, the gunnery backstop, the cistern, part of the transport building and the abandoned & crumbling airfield also remain. Cattle now graze where most of the buildings once stood.

All that remains of RCAF Detachment Ensign are the abandoned and crumbling runways remain today. Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Champion.

On 15 July 2000, a reunion of former staff and students was held at the Vulcan Airfield. A commemorative monument, built using a portion of the foundation from the guardhouse, was dedicated on the site as a tribute to the service men and women of No. 19 SFTS and No. 2 FIS.

Some windows and doors from the Vulcan hangars are now being used at the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba.

In September 2010, several vintage airplanes landed on the abandoned runways at the former RCAF Station Vulcan for the first time in more than 60 years as part of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada's weekend-long Salute to the Flight Instructors.

Currently, the British Commonwealth's Air Training Plan's steering committee are seeking to turn one out of three Southern Alberta airports into a national historic sites, with Vulcan being one of them.

Another new development is the restoration and return of aircraft to the Vulcan Aerodrome south of Calgary. New owners of the aerodrome property have been most busy working to save the remaining 6 hangars and clearing away years of debris from the runways and taxiways. A fly in was held in conjunction with the Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton last summer and the aerodrome may be home to skydivers and Air Cadets.

In 2011, the aerodeome was re-opened as the Vulcan Aerodrome.  Vertical Extreme Skydiving currently operates out of the aerodrome.  One of the former runways was resurfaced for their use.

Source material: information supplied by Marge Weber, Town of Vulcan (2002), the personal recollections of the author (2004), "Stay Out Of Those Hangars - Little Boys and Big Bombers" by Elgin Keith Jones CD, The Vulcan Advocate - http://www.vulcanadvocate.com (2003 & 2010), Vulcan Air Base web site - http://vulcanairbase.com/index.htm, Vertical Extreme Skydiving web site - http://verticalextremeskydiving.com/about.htmll and the Lancaster Museum web site - www.lancastermuseum.com/lancaster.

 


Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Ensign:

Opened in 1942 as a Relief Landing Field for the BCATP school at Vulcan. The Detachment was abandoned after the War. The abandoned and crumbling runways remain today.

Source material: Places to Fly web site - http://www.copanational.org/PlacesToFly.

 


No. 34 Service Flying Training School:

Opened on the site of the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Grounds, south-east of town, as a Royal Air Force school on 8 April 1941, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The school also had Relief Landing Fields along the Holsom County Road (paved runways) & in the District of Whitla (grass runways). The RCAF would later take control of the school.

The school closed on 17 November 1944, as did RCAF Detachments Holsom & Whitla.

The aerodrome is now the Medicine Hat Municipal Airport. Only two of the original six runways remain in use, one expanded to 5000 ft. Only the former fire hall, now used as a meeting hall and one hangar pad remain today.

A monument was erected at the airport as a tribute to the men and women who served at the wartime school.

Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Whitla, which was returned to farming.

RCAF Detachment Holsom's runway was ploughed under for farming as well, but a few chunks of asphalt can still be seen.

Source Material: the City of Medicine Hat web site - http://www.city.medicine-hat.ab.ca/, the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm, "Canada Flight Supplement 1999", the personal recollections of the author (2004) & information provided by Cuyler J. Green, Airport Superintendent, Medicine Hat Airport.

 


No. 37 Service Flying Training School:

Originally established at McCall Field in Calgary, named in honour of World War I Hero Captain Fred McCall, by the Royal Air Force on 22 October 1941. Relief Landing Fields was also constructed at Airdrie and Inverlake. The school was later taken over by the RCAF. Additionally, a detachment of the United States Army Air Corps occupied space at the airport from 1941-1944 as part of the Alaska Staging Route.

Student pilots at No. 37 SFTS would spend the last three weeks of their air training course with the Advanced Training Unit at RCAF Detachment Airdrie, where bombing training was conducted. 

No. 37 SFTS closed on 10 March 1944, as did RCAF Detachments Airdrie and Inverlake. 

The airfield at McCall reverted to a civilian airport in 1949, using the original RCAF buildings. A new terminal was built in 1956, replacing the outdated original terminal. The airport became known as the Calgary International Airport in 1966.

Only one of the five World War II era hangars remain today, and the Calgary Aerospace Museum occupies the former drill hall. As well, one of the original arch-style hangars, built in 1938 for Trans Canada Airlines, the predecessor of Air Canada, also remains.

The former RCAF Detachment Airdrie is now the Airdrie Airport.  Nothing remains of RCAF Detachment Inverlake today.

Source material: the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm & Canadian Racer web site - www.motorsportcentral.com, information supplied by Bill Watson, Manager of the Calgary Aerospace Museum (2004) & the personal recollections of the author (2004).


RCAF Detachment Innisfail:

Opened in 1941 as a Relief Landing Field for No. 36 SFTS at Penhold. The aerodrome closed in 1945.

In 1960, the Innisfail Flying Club was established at the airfield.

Military flying training returned to the former RCAF Detachment Innisfail when a Regional Air Cadet Gliding School was established at RCAF Station Penhold in the summer of 1966. Flying training was conducted at both Penhold and Innisfail.

In the early 1980s, the Air Cadet Gliding School began making use of the former RCAF Detachment Netook as an alternate airfield to the Gliding School at Innisfail. By 1986, the Gliding School moved permanently to Netook.

The Innisfail aerodrome remains today and is still used by the Innisfail Flying Club.  It is host to many activities year-round, including a glider club, the Innisfail Flying Club and a skydiving training facility.

All the original runways remain, but only one is still in use. An old water cistern also remains. A new club house/terminal building was officially opened on 10 June 1984.

Source Material: information provided by the Innisfail Flying Club (2004) & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 


No. 2 Wireless School:

Opened by the Royal Canadian Air Force on 16 September 1940 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on the grounds of Alberta Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA). No. 2 Wireless School would eventually become one of the biggest wireless training schools in the British Commonwealth, graduating thousands of radio operators.

The school also utilized the RCAF Detachment Shepard for air training.

The school closed on 14 April 1945 and the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art re-opened. Many war veterans attended the school as part of their return to civilian life.

No. 2 Wireless School's temporary buildings were demolished years ago, but the historic PITA building does remain. The school was re-named the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1965.

Source material: the "Wings Over Alberta" web site - http://collections.ic.gc.ca/flyboys/homefront/bcatp_sites.htm.

 


Canadian Forces Base Calgary (Harvey Barracks):

Originally established as Sarcee Camp in 1910 as a militia training camp. The government leased a parcel of land form the Sarcee Indian Reservation near the future site of Currie Barracks for the camp and training area. The 10th and 50th battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were raised and trained at Sarcee Camp, which grew enormously during the First World War.

The camp, however, did not become a permanent military camp until 1957, when it was re-named Sarcee Barracks.

In 1958, The Lord Strathcona's Horse relocated to Sarcee Barracks from Currie Barracks, remaining until transferring to Germany in 1965.

As a result of the Unification in 1968, Sarcee Barracks and Currie Barracks were merged into one base to become Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Calgary, although the names Sarcee and Currie continued to be used.

Sarcee Barracks was re-named Harvey Barracks in 1981. The same year, the Sarcee Training Area was returned to the Tsuu T'ina First Nation, although the Army continued to lease part of the training area from 1985-1996.

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 Calgary closed on 21 June 1997. 1 CMBG relocated to CFB Edmonton's Grieshbach Barracks.

In August 1998, members of the Tsuu T’ina First Nation moved into the vacant PMQs due to the shortage of homes on the reservation.  The PMQs area was given the name Black Bear Crossing.  All other military buildings were eventually demolished, leaving only the abandoned roadways.

By 2006, a controversy ensued when the band council ordered the homes vacated due to a Health Canada warning of possible asbestos contamination.  Most of the residents were relocated, but some residents stayed until they were formally evicted.  By 2009, the last of the PMQs were demolished and the last remnants of Harvey Barracks vanished.

The Grey Eagle Casino now occupies the north east corner of the former Harvey Barracks.

Source Material: information supplied by Captain D. Sweeney, Deputy Commanding Officer, Area Support Unit Calgary (1999), information supplied by Carol Stokes, Archivist, The City of Calgary (1999), information supplied by Ken Craig, Volunteer Researcher, Museum of the Regiments, Calgary Alberta (1999), "The Politics of Contested Space: Military Property Development in Calgary" - a thesis paper by P. Whitney Lackenbauer, University of Calgary, Department of History, Faculty of Graduate Studies (1999), DND press release from November 1998, information supplied by Terri Griffin (2002), information supplied by Ian Gray, Calgary resident (2003), information supplied by June Flegg, Historian, Saskatoon Public Library (2000), Calgary Forces Base Studio Centre web site - http://www.cfbstudios.com, Canada Lands Corporation Web site - http://www.clc.ca, information supplied by the Tsuu T'ina Police Service (2004), "The Battle for Black Bear Crossing" Fast Forward Weekly, October 30, 2008, the personal recollections of the author (2004) & "The Garrison" newspaper from March 1995 and Sept 1999.

 


Canadian Forces Base Edmonton (Griesbach Barracks):

Note: Edmonton Garrison, originally CFB Edmonton, was created by the amalgamation of RCAF Station Namao and Canadian Army's Griesbach Barracks. The Namao site, now called CFB Edmonton (Steele Barracks), remains open today as the home of the Western Canada's Army.


Established in 1950 as Griesbach Barracks, the base had its beginnings as an ordnance depot, later becoming the home of the Western Command Headquarters.

No. 14 Service Prison and Detention Barracks opened in 1958 at Griesbach. The prison closed briefly from 1968 until 1975. Also in 1958, the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry re-located to Griesbach from Currie Barracks.

As a result of the Unification, RCAF Station Namao was combined with the Army's Griesbach Barracks to form CFB Edmonton on 1 April 1966, falling under control of Air Transport Command.

The Canadian Airborne Regiment was formed at Griesbach in 1968. Two years later, the Canadian Parachute Training Centre re-located to Griesbach from RCAF Station Rivers. Also in 1970, the 1st Battalion, PPCLI re-located to Griesbach in 1970 from Work Point Barracks

In May 1970, 28 Canadian Forces Supply Depot re-located to Griesbach from CFB Shilo. Two months later, the depot was re-designated the Canadian Forces Parachute Maintenance Depot (CFPMD).

In later years, would become home to Land Force Western Area Headquarters and the Canadian Airborne Centre. However, the Canadian Airborne Regiment re-located to CFB Petawawa in 1977.

In 1995, with the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, the three feeder units that once provided soldiers to the Airborne, the PPCLI, the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Royal 22nd Regiments (the VanDoos), each established parachute companies. The PPCLI established a Parachute Company at Griesbach Barracks.

In 1996, 1 PPCLI re-located to CFB Namao from CFB Calgary. The CFPMD re-located along with the Canadian Parachute Centre to 8 Wing Trenton in September 1996.

In 1996, corresponding with the move of 3 PPCLI to Griesbach, this parachute company was designated as A Company, 3 PPCLI. Also around this time, CFB Edmonton was re-named Edmonton Garrison.

By the mid 1990s, Department of National Defence cutbacks lead to questioning the necessity of maintaining two Army bases in the Edmonton area. CFB Edmonton (Namao), formerly an Air Force base, had been transferred to the Army in 1994. Ultimately, DND decided to consolidate all military operations at the Namao site, now known as Steele Barracks.

Griesbach Barracks closed in 2000. The site, including the 750 PMQs, were transferred to the Canada Lands Corporation in 2002, who have since transformed the former base into "The Village at Griesbach", a residential community modeled in a village concept.

On 28 September 2001, the Canadian Forces Service Prison & Detention Barracks at Griesbach Barracks closed, having been replaced by a new facility at the Namao site.

Today, little remains of this once sprawling base. Most of the former army buildings have been demolished. All that remains is the former high school, the north-side PMQs, now private rental homes; MGen Griesbach School, now a public school and the old church, now a community centre.

The Royal Canadian Artillery Band remained at Griesbach until September 2004 when they re-located to CFB Edmonton's Steele Barracks.  Land Force Western Area Headquarters remained until 2012, when it too re-located to CFB Edmonton's Steele Barracks, where they are now co-located with Joint Task Force West Headquarters and 1 Area Support Group Headquarters in a brand new modern facility.


The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Centre for Veterans opened 9 November 2005 on a five-acre site just off Castledowns Road and 153rd Avenue, on the northwest corner of the former Canadian Forces Base Griesbach.

The urban renewal underway on the former Canadian Forces Base Griesbach is part of a larger story being written as the Canadian military sells its surplus bases across the country. So far, a dozen such 1940s to 1960s-era surplus bases have been involved in an effort to convert them into well-planned subdivisions and entirely new communities. Its just one of the many advantages of the so-called peace dividend that flowed from the end of the cold war.

Source Material: information supplied by Jenelle Turpin, Communications Officer - Council Services, City of Edmonton (1999), information supplied by Charles Denis, Manager Customer Services, Canadian Forces Housing Authority (2004), the CFB Edmonton web site - www.cfbedmonton.hstone.com, DND press releases from February 1994 and November 1998, 440 Squadron history web site - http://www.440sqn.com/frames.htm., "The Garrison" newspaper from March 1995, 1 Air Movements Squadron web site - http://www.mts.net/~rburke1/About%20Us.htm, Canadian Forces Parachute Maintenance Depot web site - http://www.8wing.trenton.dnd.ca/cfpmd/pmdhist.htm, the personal recollections of the author (2004), Real Estate Weekly web site - www.rewedmonton.ca/content_view2?CONTENT_ID=1205 & pamphlet printed by Studio High Techniques of Toronto (1998), "New Headquarters Building for Land Force Western Area", Canadian Forces web site - http://www.army.gc.ca/lfwa/feature_new_hq_building-eng.asp. 

 

 

No. 131 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

With the outbreak of World War II, the Non-permanent Active Militia found itself in need of new training camps to train recruits. In 1940, the Camrose Fairgrounds were taken over for use as a Basic Training Centre. The old grandstand was demolished and over a dozen buildings sprung up. The old Camrose Normal School building, vacated the year before, was taken over as the camp’s Headquarters. The Training Centre officially opened 9 October 1940.

When the war ended, the fairgrounds and all the camp's buildings were returned to the city.

Some of the former camp's H-huts were sold and moved off site as homes. The Royal Canadian Legion bought one for use as its meeting hall. Several of the camp's old buildings do remain on the site, such as the old drill hall, which is used by the local Air Cadet Squadron and Army Cadet Corps.

Source Material: information provided by the Camrose Canadian newspaper (2003) & information supplied by Penny Kinnee, City Clerk's Office, City of Camrose (2003).

 


No. 133 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre:

Opened on 28 January 1942 at the Wetaskiwin Fair Grounds as an Infantry Training Centre. The school closed in August 1945 and the camp was converted to a Sortation unit, tasked with the process of releasing returning members from the RCAF.

The camp itself finally closed in January 1946 when the Sortation Unit relocated to Calgary.

All that remains today is the drill hall, now part of the Wetaskiwin Civic Centre.

Source Material: "Siding 16: The History of Wetaskiwin, 1930 to 1960" by A. Bert Reynolds & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 


No. 2 Special Wireless Station Grande Prairie:

Opened in 1942 as No. 2 Special Wireless Station. The station was originally supposed to be a part of Canada's National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization, but instead was operated by Air Force Headquarters.

The station was deemed surplus and closed in 1947.

Source Material: Canada's National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization web site - www.tscm.com.cse.html & information supplied by Mary Nutting, Archival Assistant, Grande Prairie (2002).

 


No. 2 Canadian Women's Army Corps Training Centre:

Opened in 1942 on the grounds of the Vermilion School of Agriculture, which closed for the duration of the war. Lady Eaton of the Eaton's Department Store, served as the Commanding Officer of the training centre. Every six weeks, 500 young ladies would commence a new training course.

No. 2 CWACTC closed in 1944 and the school returned to its pre-war use.

Today, the former agriculture school is known as Lakeland College. Only the drill hall, now the Auto Mechanic building, and the former Officers' Barracks, now Alumni Hall, remain today.

Source Material: the personal recollections of Bob Maggs, local resident of Vermillion (2004) & the personal recollections of the author (2004).

 



  



Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 November 2013 )
 
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