Second World War
The base at Picton originated as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. An airfield was built on a high plateau overlooking Picton and the Royal Air Force's No. 31 Bombing & Gunnery School officially opened in April 1941. Five bombing ranges were also created to allow the students to practice. Aircraft flown at the base included the Avro Anson, Fairey Battle, Bristol Bolingbroke and Westland Lysander. The school offered six week courses in bombing, navigation and air gunnery until it was disbanded in November 1944.
After the Bombing & Gunnery School was disbanded, the Royal Canadian Air Force established the No. 5 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit at Picton. This unit was responsible for aircraft storage and maintenance of the airfield itself. This unit operated until January 1946 when its functions were absorbed by a unit at RCAF Station Trenton.
After the departure of the maintenance unit, most of the base was taken over by the Army for use as the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) (RCSA(A.A.)). The school provided training for anti-aircraft gunners, gunnery radar operators, technical assistants and artillery instructors. A number of operational artillery units were also located in Picton, including the 127th and 128th Medium AA Batteries, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) and the 2nd and 3rd Light AA Batteries of the 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment,RCA. The RCAF also maintained a small detachment at the base to provide aircraft targets for the gunners.
In July 1960, the base was officially renamed Camp Picton and the RCSA (A.A.) disbanded a few weeks later. Two new units were formed later that year, namely the 1st Surface-to-Surface Missile (SSM) Battery and the 2nd SSM (Training) Battery of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. Both units were transferred; the 1st went to Europe in December 1961 to be equipped with Honest John rockets and the 2nd was transferred to Camp Shilo in 1962. The 1st Battalion of the Canadian Guards then transferred to Camp Picton from their previous base in Germany.
With the unification of the Army, RCAF and Royal Canadian Navy to create the Canadian Forces, Camp Picton was renamed Canadian Forces Base Picton. However, reductions in the Canadian military meant that the base was no longer required and CFB Picton was closed in September 1969.
Today, the facility continues to be used as a combination industrial park, and Air Cadet flying facility.
This is what I was really looking for when I had stumbled on Prince Edward Heights. I was going more or less by memory of the maps I'd seen online, driving around Picton, looking for buildings that looked characteristically military.
After having looked around Prince Edward Heights, I continued around a few nearby roads and came upon exactly what I was looking for.
On that particular day, it appears they were having an auction, and there were many people and vehicles around. As a result, I wasn't really noticed. I took my time wandering around and taking in this historic place.
Many of the buildings are being used for other purposes now, including auctions.