January 01, 2015

RCAF Station Uplands - Cold War Quick Reaction Alert Hangers and Weapons Storage Area

"A load of rocket pods destined for 428 Squadron Mk. 5s, Uplands, March 16, 1960. (DND)"
Credit: http://www.canaero.ca/subpages/Article%20content/cf-100rocketspage1_Rocket%20podsa.html
(Updating this post from a couple of years ago with new info) In the early 1950s the Cold War was in full swing, and Canadian Forces bases across Canada were outfitted with hangers suitable for fighter-interceptor aircraft to be stationed, on alert, with their air crews standing by to hop in and take off in minutes.  Nearby to these Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) hangers were munitions storage facilities. What kind of facility was dictated by what kind of ammunition would be stored.  Both conventional ammunition storage facilities and Special Ammunition Storage (SAS) facilities (for the AIR-2 Genie nuclear air-to-air missile (well, rocket)) were built.  I have no evidence that the AIR-2 Genie was ever located at CFB Uplands, since the nearby munitions storage facility was not designed to store nuclear ammunition.  Also, the RCAF 410 and 428 squadrons, which were based out of Uplands, flying the CF-100 Canuck then CF-101 Voodoo, were retired in 1961 and 1964, before the AIR-2 Genie was delivered in 1965.

When 410 and 428 squadron ceased operations at the Uplands base, did DND move out of the hangers completely? Have the hangers been shuffled from department to department until today?  From the outside the hangers look to be in remarkably good shape, even the domestic building between the two hangers, where the fighter pilots would have hung out on alert looks to be in good shape.  Many similar domestic buildings have been destroyed, at other bases, so it's nice to see that one is still intact.

Also, the National Historic Sites Directorate has recognised the importance of preserving the CFB Bagotville QRA and as of 2007 it is designated a National Historic Site of Canada under the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. 
It is the only QRA hanger site to hold that designation.

RCAF Station Uplands QRA Hangers - Blue

QRA Hangers @ the former Canadian Forces Station Uplands

Domestic bldg between the QRA Hangers @ the former Canadian Forces Station Uplands

QRA Hangers @ the former Canadian Forces Station Uplands

QRA Hangers @ the former Canadian Forces Station Uplands

QRA Hangers @ the former Canadian Forces Station Uplands

QRA Hangers @ the former Canadian Forces Station Uplands

From the fantastic Bing Maps Bird's Eye imagery you can clearly see the pair of earth covered magazines at the munitions storage facility just East of the QRA hangers, are almost identical to those I photographed by the runway at the former CFB North Bay aerodrome.  Conventional munitions for the CF-100 and CF-101 would have been stored in these very same bunkers back in the 1950s-1960s.  The five bay building is a mystery to me, and looks newer than the others; it doesn't seem terribly structurally secure from the outside, but does have berms in front of the five garage-sized doors on both sides.  The building with a pass-through looks like an assembly or workshop area to load/unload munitions through all seasons and under cover.

The building is still actively in use by the Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa), as stated on their web page.

North-ish Facing - Bird's Eye - Bing Maps
West-ish Facing - Bird's Eye - Bing Maps

South-ish Facing - Bird's Eye - Bing Maps

East-ish Facing - Bird's Eye - Bing Maps

Further reading:
The following web site shows images taken in April 2006 at the QRA in Comox with CF-188M fighters from 441 Squadron, Cold Lake.


  1. You may have read this already but thought you might be interested. Has a lot of good info about Canadian QRA and SAS facilities that may answer some of your questions: http://books.google.ca/books?id=0s2V4fxHfS4C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    1. My apologies for the delay; yes, I have two copies of the book and John Clearwater's books are my first line of go-to sources of information :)

  2. Based on the photos, the newer building you refer to appears to be in use with the Geological Survey. Given that they use aircraft to map possible mineral deposits and such, it makes sense that they would be using a repurposed facility at the former QRA site. Note that, given its location on the YOW site, that it has ready access to both the runways and easy access to Alert Road, and all this is inside the airport security fence.

    1. Agreed - it looks like Geological Survey is using the QRA hanger now (or was until recently, their sign is still on the wall!), but the "newer" building I meant was the one inside the double barbed wire fence to the NE; there are 4 buildings in the munitions storage area - two bermed on three sides that look almost identical to the ones I saw at North Bay, one looks like a workshop/handling building, and another that I cant figure out with 5 garage doors on either side. I'm assuming it's storage, but I'm surprised it isn't bermed like the other two...