Completed in 1954 by the US Air Force, this radar station was part of the Pinetree Line, a group of radar sites across Canada used as part of the defense against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was manned by the 914th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron.
At this time, there were no roads linking Armstrong to the outside world. As a result, all food rations and supplies were brought in by way of the CNR Rail line.
At the end of October, 1962, along with the climax of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the station was handed over for operation by Royal Canadian Air Force.
In April, 1963, Armstrong would be declared operational on the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) network. This system would help automate control of North American air space, and the guidance of intercepts of unknown targets.
The base ended operations in April, 1974 as it was declared redundant. It officially closed in October, 1975. This left the town of Armstrong in a difficult position, since the base provided much of the town's electricity, all road maintenance, snow clearing, fire and ambulance service.
July 15, 2004:
While camping at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, I noticed a road leading north with a sign that said, "Armstrong".
Growing up, I'd heard many tales of a fabled Armstrong from my father. I thought it might be interesting to go and see what it looked like for myself.
It was a long, uninteresting road, with vast straight stretches. The only interruption of the trees were areas that had already been cut. This was truly heading toward desolation. As the miles of emptiness added up, so too did the speed.
Cresting a hill, we noted a lone person standing in the middle of the road. What kind of idiot just stands in the middle of a remote road like that? An OPP Officer with a speed gun, that's who.
Afterwards, we arrived in Armstrong, and wandered about, taking in the local culture, the ambiance, sights and smells. Still, however, we had not managed to stumble upon the location of the former radar site.
We stopped for lunch at a small "greasy spoon", and later, while paying the bill, I asked the girl at the cash.
"Would you know where the old radar site was?"
"It's closed.", she replies, apparently believing she's being helpful.
"Yes, I know, but do you know where it is?"
"Well, yes, but you're not supposed to go there, it's closed."
I begin to wonder if the military has brainwashed her as part of some terrible conspiracy, or has she merely been the result of PCB contamination in the ground water? "I understand that it's closed, but could you please tell me where it is?"
Finally, a light does come on, and she offers vague directions toward the site that prove to be sufficient.
August 10, 2017:
Thirteen years later and another camping trip brings me back into the area. I decided that another visit was now in order to see what become of the place.
Because I was very new to the entire concept of exploring abandoned places when I first came here, there were many things I missed the first time. It's unfortunate, really, because I wonder if some of the things I found on this trip might have been in even better shape the last time.
While looking about, I had the opportunity to meet three gentlemen who were there for an entirely different reason than I. One was a federal geologist, the second a provincial geologist, and the third a PhD student of Geology. They were there to collect rock samples from the hill on which the operations site had been constructed. Apparently this rock formation was the result of seismic activity rather than glaciers like most formations in the Canadian Shield. After an interesting conversation with them, we each went our own way to resume our specific goals.