May 17, 2013

CFS Carp, Richardson, Almonte, and Dunrobin

Researching the sites in my own back yard, I discovered a few things about where I live that I didn't know, as always.

I thought CFS Carp was previously RCAF Station Carp - not true. 

Previous to being called CFS Carp, it was the "Experimental Army Signal Establishment" - Oh, an "establishment", I'm familiar with other establishments, and they usually do some pretty cool science!

I then found out that CFS Carp had 3 associated locations, detachments (I didn't know what a detachment was in context)

- CFS Carp Detachment Richardson
- CFS Carp Detachment Almonte
- CFS Carp Detachment Dunrobin

Well, that answers my questions regarding what those antenna farms were in Dunrobin and Almonte, but it also makes me sad to think they sealed up Richardson's little bunker.

The antenna arrays at all the sites are long gone, but I would like to understand better what these facilities were being used for.  Radio?  SIGINT?  Experimental field radio testing?  I have more questions than I have answers.

Canadian Forces Station Carp Richardson Detachment

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CFS Carp Richardson Detachment
Courtesy The Atlas of Canada Toporama

Canadian Forces Station Carp Dunrobin Detachment

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CFS Carp Dunrobin Detachment
Courtesy The Atlas of Canada Toporama

Canadian Forces Station Carp Almonte Detachment

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CFS Carp Almonte Detachment
Courtesy The Atlas of Canada Toporama
Canadian Forces Station Carp:

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CFS Carp

Full Name:    Canadian Forces Station Carp
Preceeding Unit(s):
    701 Comm Sqn
    Experimental Army Signal Establishment
In its first Canadian Forces Organization Order 1.16, dated 27 May 1968, the Experimental Army Signal Establishment was redesignated as Canadian Forces Station Carp. On 14 September 1970 the stations consisted of a receiver site at Carp and a transmitter site at Richardson, Ontario, reporting to Canadian Forces Communication Command. CFS Carp was to provide the administration, security and housekeeping services needed to maintain a constant state of operational readiness for all sites under its command; most importantly, the communication facilities at Carp, Richardson, Almonte and Dunrobin. It also administered support services to terminal stations at Renfrew, Arnprior, Carleton Place, Smith Falls and Kemptville. The NATO Satellite Ground Terminal and some elements of the Canadian Emergency Measures Organization at Carp also fell under its operational command. On 1 July 1971 CFS Carp was disbanded and reformed by amalgamating 701 Communication Squadron (formed on 1 April 1965) whereby it was given an increased operational emphasis on providing strategic communications for the Canadian Forces. CFS Carp was closed in 1994.

A two-story communications bunker was also constructed near Perth (Richardson Detachment), which was staffed exclusively by members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS), later 701 Communications Squadron post-Unification. 
Although the bunker was never used for its intended purpose, it did serve a valuable function as a government communications station staffed by RCCS personnelNo. 1 Army Signals Troop.

Following the end of the Cold War, most of the Diefenbunkers were decommissioned, including CFS Carp and the Richardson Detachment in 1994.  Communicaitons functions were taken over by CFS Leitrim outside of Ottawa. 

 Source Material: Cobourg: "Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume I: Ontairo" by Paul Ozorak, information supplied by the Diefenbunker Museum (2004) & information supplied by the Carp branch of the Ottawa Public Library (2011).  


  1. Hey Steffan,

    Richardson was Carp's remote transmitter site and Almonte and Dunrobin were Carp's remote receiver sites. All three sites were linked to Carp by landline. While Richardson was manned by a small group of military signals personnel, the two receiver sites were unmanned.

    I was a radio operator in the military and although I never had the pleasure of working in Carp, during one of my training courses I toured the Carp complex, the transmitter site and one of it's receiver sites while they were still in operation.

    You might also be interested to know that just off Craig Side Rd in Carp (lower left corner of your Google Map for Carp) the radio dome you see is actually a former NATO satellite tracking station. The tracking station was not part of the Carp complex and was not run by the Canadian military (toured there the same day I toured the Carp complex). The tracking station is no longer in operation, I'm not sure when or why it shut down. It's been a few years since the last time I was there, but I seem to recall the dome was still there.

    1. Excellent tip Stephen - Thank you very much! The Carp NATO Satellite Ground Terminal (F8) seems to have been shut down because it was redundant or otherwise not needed.
      I didn’t know it wasn't really part of CFS Carp and have driven by it many times - Thank you!

      One thing that hasn’t been elaborated in any literature that I've come across was the mission of CFS Carp, beyond being a bunker for the government way back in the day. It's common knowledge that after Soviet nuclear bomb/warhead yeilds increased the bunker wouldn’t have been any use, but nobody mentions what CFS Carp was doing from the time the Diefenbunker became ineffectual (1960s?) until it shut down ~1994. They weren't just keeping it warm, as you said, it had an operational transmitter that was manned by Jimmies, and I assume they didn't just play cards at the site :)

      Without a military radio background I cant tell from looking at the antenna farm, location, distance from the receivers, distance between the receiver sites, antenna size, configuration, or some other detail, if a particular frequency was obviously being used, therefore suggesting a particular purpose.

      Thanks for the tip again!

    2. Stephen, are you aware if the two RX sites were constructed for redundancy, or were they receivers for different transmissions entirely? I dont yet have the layout for their antenna farms, but if they're laid out similarly I'll guess they're redundant, but if they are configured different, shouldn't I guess they were for different frequencies/purposes entirely?

    3. Stefan:

      I am doing a slide presentation on some of Carp's facilities and lack much info about Richardson.
      Can I email you?


  2. Ralph Cameron: ramcam@magma.ca19 March 2015 at 22:22:00 GMT-4

    I am in process of preparing a slideshow of "Radiocommunications at the Diefenbunker during the Cold War and have been looking for someone to provide details of types and numbers of antennas at Richardson, Dunrobin and Burnt Lands. Burnt Lands had one rhombic which I saw when it was active and also a silo containing several programmable receivers. as Mr. Leafloor mentioned. Dunrobin and Burnt Lands were unmanned receiving. I am still trying to confirm that CFS Carp actually had an emegrency HF and LF transmitter in case Richardson was hit. I was recently assured by someone who was stationed at Carp for 4 years did no actual transmitting. Certainly the very elaborate LF antenna must have been capable of transmitting. I have seen part of the lF antenna tuner and it was capable of handling several KW.

    1. I like where you're going with this Ralph! I too would like better diagrams of the antenna sites. I'll see what I can come up with.
      I'm also confused why there are two RX sites at CFS Carp, but none of the REGHQs..? Was it redundancy?

      From the person you talked to who said there was no TX happening at CFS Carp itself; there's a difference between them *not* transmitting, and being *incapable* of transmitting. BUT, if CFS Carp were a back-up TX site to Richardson, there would have to have been some very large amplifiers and cooling - that should be on the CFS Carp blueprints.

    2. Steffan:

      I have pretty well the complete story now as I researched the Carp site and Richardson and know that the Diefenbunker was a critical federal government message distribution center. All the transmitting was done from Richardson. They four LF antennas of the umbrella type on 325' towers All the rest were wire log periodics at mounted at 120-200ft. The LF antennas served Shilo, Camp Borden , Valcartier and Debert when traffic got busy on HF. The LP antenna were used at HF for military bases at Nanaimo, Penhold, Shilo, Camp Borden, Valcartier Debert and Alert. The log periodic antennas were duplicated so they had 12 plus the 4 -LF monsters as well as a vhf antenna and a microwave antenna for communication to the. The one and only picture I've eve seen of the Richardson site when it was just being placed on the market, still had its antennas and that was in the Ottawa Citizen in July 31, 1996.

      The receiving site at Dunrobin had at least one log periodic and I believe a corner reflector but have not yet found a site plan for this site. Almonte had a rhombic on Europe for contact with Interpol for use by RCMP which had a room at the Diefenbunker. This was part of the Continuance of Governance project in the event of nuclear war. There were also LP antennas and a Beveridge receiving antenna at Almonte for receiving Alert.

    3. Ralph,
      I was just reading over this discussion and I live in Perth which is just beside Richardson and I have been to and photographed the site. ill include a link to the photos below. my main focus when there was not to document the location of and remaining infrastructure pertaining to the antenna's themselves, but there is some photographs of the area where the antennas were and the property layout itself. I could also get you some better pics of certain areas of focus. I pass the site all the time. there's also a link to photos of the burntlands antenna farm. I find this stuff fascinating and Stephens blog here is just fantastic. I've been following for a while and have visited many of these and other cold war sites across Canada and hope to visit many more!
      cheers guys,
      Jarred aka Suburbex

    4. and heres Dunrobin, went to check it out last weekend. all the antenna cables in the building are labeled for which other bunker they received from. pretty neat site, very well preserved compared to Almonte and Perth.

    5. Holy Crap - did you get a picture of each of the tags on those cables? That's a huge puzzle piece regarding the setup of the whole network

    6. Could you shoot me an email Jarred? I have some more questions...

  3. ANyone know what the legal ownership status of the Dunrobin site is? Is it still Federal? The Richardson site
    was sold to private interests many years ago, and is largely used as cattle range.

    I'm looking for a site for a radio telescope project...

    1. I don't know myself, but I bet the farm next door would know. Maybe drop by with a case of beer and see? That's been my plan for a little while but haven't executed it yet ;)

    2. I have friends who live up there who are making inquiries.

      The Almonte site got turned into Burnt Lands Provincial Park, which is what they call an "inactive" provincial park. Might ask the province about using it for our radio telescope project--would be in keeping with what it was historically used for.....

  4. Went out to Burnt Lands this evening:

    The site is fantastic from our perspective. No major developments immediately next-door. Largely clear, flat, land. Excellent view to the south. Farking perfect...