1974 – Disposal of Property – National Archives of Canada
Armstrong Station, Ontario
21 May 74
Air Defence Command
Canadian Forces Base North Bay
Hornell Heights, Ont.
CFS ARMSTRONG - DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY
- The current problem of maintaining employment and essential services at CFS Armstrong illustrates that CFS Armstrong will be a continuing drain on our resources as long as DND owns the property. DND could take the initiative to transfer the property to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
- Since the closure announcement, I have been working indirectly with the leaders of the civilian community to find a replacement occupant for the site. DOMTAR Ltd., the company that owns the timber rights in this area, sent two representatives last Oct to examine the site and the facilities in the surrounding area. Our discussions established the feasibility of the company constructing a mill here which could operate in perpetuity. The plan depended upon the company’s receiving certain concessions from the provincial and federal governments and on the townspeople organizing Armstrong as an Improvement District. DOMTAR was the most desirable candidate because the construction of a mill with the attendant influx of people and business would have provided a lasting boost to the local economy. I do not know what, if anything, was done about the government concessions but do know that the townspeople failed to organize. DOMTAR announced recently a major expansion of their mill at Red Rock, Ont. And confirmed their decision to truck the timber from this area to Red Rock. This week, the provincial Ministry of Correctional Services rejected the suggestion to operate the station as a minimum security correctional institution. The provincial Ministry of Education has shown no interest in the site as a much needed addition to the community college at Thunder Bay. None of the many politicians, civil servants, and others who have visited or expressed interest in the station have come forward with concrete proposals, at least to my knowledge. If DND is to free itself of the property, the DND will have to take the initiative.
- The sooner we dispose of the property the better for not only will it continue to drain our resources, but also it is bound to deteriorate from weather and vandalism thereby decreasing in value.
- The property could be used for a residential vocational training school for native children. Existing quarters, messing facilities, amenities, and support facilities could accommodate more than 100 staff and students. The power plant and garage could be used for on-job-training of diesel attendants, steam engineers, heavy equipment operators, and mechanics. Other space could be converted to teach small motor repairs and home economics. Guides could be trained and employed in the area.
- In selling the idea, DND would have to anticipate objection to the relatively high operating costs of this plant and a capital outlay of $250,000.00 to install a sewage treatment plant. I have no suggestions at the moment.
- I can suggest an argument to counter the probable objection to the residential school concept which has caused social problems elsewhere in the north. One of the main reasons residential schools have failed in the past is because the children have been too far removed from their families which is completely contrary to the mores of Indian society. Clergy, police, and citizens here who have had more experience than I with the Indians share this opinion. A residential school at Armstrong, however, would cater to the needs of a large indigenous population. The children could spend much of their free time with their families.
- Now is the time to push this idea while it could be endorsed and exploited by candidates in the forthcoming election.
- I recommend that the MND be asked to approach the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development with the idea of taking over CFS Armstrong as a residential vocational training school for the local Indians.