September 19, 2013

CFS Foymount GATR Site

Looking for unrelated information, I often stumble across tidbits I didn’t have any knowledge of.  This is one of those times!

High atop the Openongo Mountains west of Eganville is the highest populated point in the province of Ontario.

The village of Foymount was built as an Air Force radar installation in the early 1950s as part of the RCAF Air Defence Command's Pinetree network. Once built, this installation was christened No. 203 RCAF Radio Station but this was soon dropped in favour of RCAF Station Foymount. The station's main lodger unit was the 32 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron which was initially equipped with an FPS-3 Search, FPS-6 Height-Finder and TPS 501 Back-Up Height-Finder radar. These radars had approximately a 200 mile search radius and could pick up targets at 50,000 feet.

From its birth to the early 1960s, RCAF Station Foymount operated as a Ground-Control Intercept base. This meant that its role was to direct interceptor aircraft stationed at RCAF Station Uplands to unidentified targets within its jurisdiction. In 1963, air defence operations were automated or "SAGEd" and interceptors were now controlled by Ottawa NORAD Sector Headquarters, first located at Station Edgar and later on, at North Bay. The role of radar units was now only that of intruder-detection. The change in methodology not only brought new equipment but also a new name for the unit, 32 Radar Squadron.

In 1967, the Armed Forces' integration process caused yet another re-designation. Radar Squadrons and RCAF Stations were disbanded as official entities and the personnel were simply assigned to new Canadian Forces Stations. However, Foymount did not break all ties with the past as it retained 32 Squadron's crest and motto of "Silent Sentry". Total station strength in 1970 was about 208 military and civilian personnel.

From unification on, the Canadian Armed Forces have pretty well known only cutbacks. New equipment may have been acquired but real property, for the most part, hasn't. In fact, a large number of these bases and stations were closed in the late 1960s and 1970s. Seeing that radars at Falconbridge and Lac St. Denis were powerful enough to cover Foymount's area of responsibility, it was decided to close Foymount in 1974. Operations were shut down in April of that year and the station disbanded the following October. It was sold for $251,000 to a Waterloo holding firm soon afterwards.

Today, most of the station remains although not all of it is being used. Street names reflect names particular to this area: Madawaska, Openono and Algonquin. Station Headquarters are now being used by Sebastopol Township and other buildings house the Black Water Factory Store and Vissan Designs. Neither the radar towers nor the operations centre now stand. Nothing also remains of the remote Ground-Air Transmission site that was two miles south of the Highway 512/515 junction.

-Paul Ozorak, Abandoned Military Installations of Canada, 1994
I've already been to what was once RCAF Station Foymount / CFS Foymount, but had no idea there was a nearby GATR site.  That GATR site would be distinct from the RX and TX buildings of the 1950s which I've already seen.

Clearly I need to take a quick trip!



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Post-trip Update:

I stopped by in the Spring of 2013 to see if I could find out who owns the property and introduce myself.  Unfortunately, nobody was home, but I can confirm that is absolutely the former location of the Foymount GATR site.  The foundation for the original building is still there, as well as chopped telephone poles.

3 comments:

  1. hey there, i was wondering (although this is an old posting) whether or not you ever followed up with the current owner, and if so, what the outcome was... would love to hear more.. look forward to hearing from you (hopefully) ...till then, take care --- btw, if you DO get this message and would be kind enough to email me back at - promethious_@hotmail.com - ....i would really appreciate hearing from you

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  2. I served at Foymount from 1959 to 1964 as a Telephone Tech; met my future wife there; and brought my 2 daughters into the world in Pembroke.. Lived in "A" apartment bloc an later at 5 Algonquin. I loved every moment of my time at Foymount. I now live in beautiful Comox, BC.

    Carl Munn
    carmun@shaw.ca

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