Just northwest of Meaford is the `Tank Range`, `The Base`, or the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre of the Canadian army. It was established in 1942 during WWII when the Canadian government needed additional training grounds for the use of tanks, and hence it got the local name of the Meaford Tank Range.
To acquire the land base, the government expropriated 17300 acres, all of it old farms, cottages and homes. There were three churches, several schools and two small summer hotels. Feelings were certainly mixed according to the reports I`ve read. There was a strong feeling of doing your duty by being patriotic, but at the same time there was no assistance in finding new farms to move to, or for the actual move itself. Resentment remained for years. All the buildings are gone, but the army has protected the small rural cemeteries.
I just drove in one day and went to what I thought might be the office. I had been once before on a bus tour, and found it very interesting, and we hear the guns especially on summer weekends during training exercises.
I was expecting to be stopped, but wasn`t, and found no obvious information office either. But one of the soldiers working in the base office took a few minutes to talk to me, and I`ve since read the little I could find out about it.
The base is now the major on-the-ground training centre for the army in this part of Canada, especially for artillery of all sorts. Both regular army soldiers and reserves come here for training. There are large dormitories and space for many tents if needed. On average 600 soldiers are here for training in any given week.
At one stage the base almost closed, but within a short time it was reactivated, and more recently millions have been invested in buildings and equipment. These tanks and armoured personnel carriers that are no longer used are on display at the entrance. This base has no accommodation for married officers, so those families live in town, perhaps creating a closer connection to the local community.
A number of groups beyond the Canadian army use the based for a variety of training purposes. Military units from several other countries have been here, as have police forces and emergency personnel. In early November shortly after we moved here we heard a lot of loud explosions. Turned out that for two weeks they were doing bomb disposal training.
What fascinates me is the landscape of the base. The big largely blank area in the north half of this chunk of Google Maps where the pattern of farm fields is missing is the area, surrounded on two sides by the shoreline of Georgian Bay. The northeast point is Cape Rich. Although a lot in the centre is open field, the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment curl around the right hand side, and another area of claybanks forms the shoreline on the north. You can see Mountain Lake too. I`d just love to be able to explore the area, but of course I can`t, so looking at a map is the best it gets. But I do hope I can find a tour to go on in the future.
I`ve started experimenting with the advice you gave me a few days ago about creating maps like this. This is a screen capture off Google Maps using Microsoft`s `snipping tool`, which worked very easily. I labelled it using Microsoft Paint, which was a little more awkward, but worked. I`m going to look at some other types of software for marking up such images. So thanks again for all the free advice!
I'm enjoying getting to know the area, too. Glad you were able to adapt your PC to such good use with Google Maps. :-)ReplyDelete
Those military reservations that were once farmland are always tempting, since much of the land hasn't been disturbed since it was acquired during one of the world wars. The antique military vehicles look like they're well maintained and would be interesting to examine more closely.ReplyDelete
It’s a fascinating area, FG.ReplyDelete
Several members of my family trained there over the years. Ironically, part of that plot of land originally belonged to relatives who gave the land to the military in memory of another relative who died in the warReplyDelete
Part of our Canadian History that I knew nothing about. Thanks for the information.ReplyDelete
Be Safe and Enjoy!
It's about time.
I do love the history I keep learning from you and others in blogland. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Thats very cool you were able to talk to an officer and see the history there, my other half would be interested in that too.ReplyDelete
There are some old bases in the States that don't check ID at the entrances, but they are few and far between. Next week I have to go to the Whidbey Naval Base to get my military spouse's ID renewed. Because Wayne stayed in the service until retirement (California Air National Guard at the end) we get military health coverage with our ID badges. That works well for us when we are visiting the States. No need for travel health insurance from Canada. - MargyReplyDelete
I was going to say that's not a very Christmassy post, but I see that the Commanding Officer's name translates as Lt Col Happy. Maybe he dresses up as Santa! Maybe not. I once followed a footpath through a tank firing range - you'll be pleased to hear that the path is closed when firing takes place.ReplyDelete
I was aware of the tank range near Meaford but never really knew anything about it. Now I know more:))ReplyDelete
a cool discovery, i am so happy you are getting out and discovering places in the area!!ReplyDelete
merry christmas, have a wonderful holiday!!!
Those are some big tanks. - Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas. Looking forward to blogging with you in 2018. God Bless.ReplyDelete
Interesting post FG. I was aware the base is there but never thought to "just drive in". I would be interested in a tour and a history lesson by those in the know ... maybe a "Doors Open" event?ReplyDelete
I would love to tour this place and see everything.ReplyDelete
That is a lot of 'blank' space. I grew up near a large military ordinance facility.ReplyDelete
I do wonder about photographing in such places. The nearest one here is the base at Petawawa, which you end up driving through if you're going on Highway 17.ReplyDelete