Continuing my story of the tank range training facility, I should first acknowledge the hardship of the farm families who were pushed out during WWII. Expropriation came with its own hardship and disruption as families were torn apart and had to find new places to live, but there was confusion too. .
First, some misunderstood what expropriation actually meant, some thinking that if they did not sell voluntarily at a set price, the government could take it for nothing. Others thought they could return after the war. On the other side of the coin, patriotism was a big reason for selling - 'If others were giving their lives, the least we could do was give our farms'.
There was certainly resentment over how the move-out was handled. Deadlines were rushed and no help was provided, either for finding a new farm or for the effort of moving itself. Harvest was often incomplete so the government was forced into making available dates when farmers could return, especially to complete apple picking.
Never-the-less, people moved out, soldiers and tanks arrived, and training began. The Meaford Military Camp began operations. Initially training focused on tank warfare, and the base continued to be quite active into the 1960s.
Vehicles changed over the years, and the transfer of some training to Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick led to the Meaford base being mothballed in 1970. Only five security guards remained.
However, reserve forces (apart from regular full-time paid forces) from the Toronto area began using the base informally to save the time and cost of a drive to Petawawa, another base in Ontario east of Algonquin Park. It only took a year or two before plans were made to re-activate the centre as a training ground for those reserve forces.
Into the 1980s and the early 90s the area saw steadily increased use as the government expanded the number of reservists and new light armoured vehicles were introduced. By the late 1980s major investment began to build a state-of-the-art facility, which it is today. Over $80 million in construction provided new buildings and other infrastructure, so the base can support 600 trainees at any one time.
By the mid-1990s it became the Land Forces Central Area Training Centre. Today it provides some year round training for regular forces, and expands during summer with training for reservists. Basic courses for infantry and artillery (the guns we hear) are held, covering rifle training as well as the use of bigger guns up to and including howitzers. This includes full time summer employment for student reservists, as well as numerous weekend training workshops