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Celebrating humble beginnings and 100 years of freedom has partnered with Canadian Forces Base Borden with a series of articles celebrating "100 years of freedom" and promoting the upcoming Centennial events. In this article Captain Rob Bungay, Public Affairs Officer Canadian Forces Base Borden, focuses on the early days and the creation of Camp Borden.
humble beginnings
Camp Borden, 1916. Copyright DND

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden.

The Base will celebrate throughout the year with events that include a Freedom of the City Parade on June 4th, the unveiling of a community donated Memorial Wall and a Centennial Ball on June 9th, Canadian Armed Forces Days and Airshow on June 11th and 12th, and other local community events.

“This is the celebration of 100 years of freedom - not just an acknowledgment of the time that has passed, it is also recognition of all of the students, staff and their families that have passed through Borden to train, not only in a time of war, but as they further their career in the Canadian Armed Forces," said Colonel Carl Doyon, commander, CFB Borden, military personnel generation training group.

"This is an opportunity to further recognize those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great country.” 

100 years100 Years of Freedom

The base, located in the heart of the region and about 15 kilometres west of Barrie is a major economic entity in Simcoe County, which enjoys excellent relations with the surrounding local communities.

“Canadian Forces Base Borden is not only a key strategic training base for the Canadian Armed Forces, but it has been an important friendship and economic pillar in the local communities of Simcoe County,” said Honorary-Colonel, Jamie Massie, Honorary-Colonel CFB Borden.

In response to a need to train more troops for Canada’s contribution to the First World War, an area in Simcoe County, known at the time as “Sandy Plains”, was designated as a new training grounds for Canadian Expeditionary Force battalions destined for over-seas duty.

What started out as trees, sand and glacial debris in 1916 became what is now Canada’s largest training establishment in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The area 20 kilometres south west of Barrie, Ontario was cleared and training facilities were constructed by the Simcoe Foresters.

Initially an infantry training area only, a group of Royal Flying Corps officers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Cuthbert Hoare, arrived at Camp Borden in January 1917.

Under Hoare’s leadership, the organization known as the Royal Flying Corps Canada (RFC Canada) built Canada’s first flying station from the ground up and trained thousands of air and ground crew for service overseas.

Borden is the birthplace of today’s Royal Canadian Air Force.

CFB Borden is the largest training establishment in the CAF and has trained in the order of two million men and women for a wide variety of trades and occupations within the CAF since its humble beginnings as an infantry training base of 1916.

Different training facilities have come and gone or may have undergone changes over the last 100 years at CFB Borden, but the mandate has remained the same and that is to train the men and women of the CAF to provide them with the tools, skills and knowledge we expect of them in support of operations and Canadian interests at home and abroad.