Tag Archives: the old barracks

Glory Days of Carleton Place-The Olde Barracks– Sharon Holtz– Part 2

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Stories from The Olde Barracks–Part 2

 Today’s guest author is Sharon Holtz who ran the Mississippi School at the Olde Barracks. You can find part 1 here

The entire building was heated by hot water pipes running through radiators along the outside walls of the building.  This was all heated by a 1962 oil burning boiler in the basement, whom we named Bessie.  Bessie certainly was temperamental.  I became an expert on Bessie.  When she was in a good mood she provided lovely heat for the whole building.  But she had her off days and in March of 2008 she heated her last water.  Her demise eventually led to the closing of the school and sale of the building.  In fact, since she died in March and we needed to complete the term for our students, we all moved into the front meeting room, and with space heaters and the wonderful assistance of Scott Patterson of Patterson Electric, we completed the school year in our winter coats, doing jumping jacks to keep warm. 

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The network of pipes supplying the heated water to each of the rooms ran through the walls and provided a great raceway for a family of baby weasels that we had one year.  Great fun and, boy, could those things move!   We also had someone drop off a domesticated Canada goose who kept trying to get into the school.  Finally we found a refuge for it, a pond which a gentleman keeps open year round for geese who never learned how to migrate.  People take them as goslings and then dump them as adults, when the birds are too old to learn how to migrate.  Silly people. 

 

            Down in the basement we found large old maps from the 1960’s and ’70’s.  It was a huge space, running the whole length of the 200′ above ground building.  When it was originally built there was space for men to sleep and a men’s washroom.  As women joined the army they had to later add a woman’s washroom and a separate smaller sleeping area.  There was a kitchen and showers for decontamination.  The fire escapes were square towers going up to the surface with a ladder to climb.  They had been filled with sand to stop anything from coming down.  The back escape had been cleared and we used it to lower things into the basement.   Despite the fire, the basement is probably intact.  Except for the front stairs, there would probably be little damage from the fire, however the basement has been flooded for many years.  There were unconfirmed rumours that the building had been built on an artesian spring.    Early on during our renovations we managed to track down someone who had worked on the original construction.  He said that he was still bound to silence by the Official Secrets Act.  We were never able to find blueprints for the original structure.  However, the sump pump had to be kept running at all times to avoid flooding up to a depth of over four feet.  I believe that the pumps haven’t worked for several years and I know that the basement was entirely flooded. 

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            I have been in many old buildings.  Some were haunted.  Some were quiet.  The Barracks was an alive building.  It pulsed with energy.  Some found it uncomfortable but I found it energizing.  There was definitely a gremlin alive and well in the building.  We had a motion sensor light at the front door.  Despite having the electrician wire it properly, it didn’t always work.  One night there was a square dancing group using the front room.  I stayed around to lock up after they were finished.  As they left around 10 pm, one of the gentlemen came in to tell me that the light wasn’t working.  I turned on interior lights to help illuminate the parking lot for them.  Then I switched everything off and locked up.  I headed out the front door and, when I had gone a short ways down the front walk, the light suddenly came on.  I swear I could hear soft laughter.  The gremlin was never malicious but a real prankster. 

 

            At the far end of the building there was an addition called the Cedar Room.  It was a lovely room all paneled in cedar.  Unfortunately there had been a leak in the roof for many years and some damage had been caused.  I heard that the room had originally been a swimming pool.  That was filled in with cement and it became a workout room.  Then it was converted to a fine dining hall and there were several large dinners there.  I never found pictures or evidence of these uses but I heard lots of stories. 

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            When the building was sold in 2010 to a private owner, I took all of the historical records from the building and donated them to the museum.  There were some log books and records from the military and from other training groups.  I’m now glad that I took the time to remove all of these.  In 2006 or 2007 The Book Gallery started using the upper floor for book storage.  At the time of the fire they had thousands of books stored there which were all burned.  Other tenants included Lanark Community Programs, the United Way, Tania’s Dance Studio, and several smaller tenants.   It was also an election site for many levels of government.   From 2004 to 2008 it was an alive vibrant building filled with offices and sounds of children.  It stood at the intersection of Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place, and Beckwith – touching all three townships. by -Sharon Holtz–

 
MEMORIES OF THE OLDE BARRACKS

 

             

Aerial Images of the Old Cold War Barracks Fire-Carole and Bill Flint

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Thanks to Carole and Bill Flint for these fabulous pictures.

The Old Barracks left this planet yesterday totally destroyed by fire.

The Olde Barracks was built in 1962 to serve as a bomb shelter for federal employees. The building was built to withstand a bomb and the foundations were said to be able to last at least 200 years. The building also served as a communications centre for the military. Even as construction of the Diefenbunker began, COG planners clearly realized that the new complex would be too small to accommodate the required number of essential emergency personnel, since the search for alternate accommodations began almost immediately.

A separate but related requirement was space to stockpile supplies for the relief of civilian evacuees from Ottawa in the after math of a nuclear attack. To minimize costs they considered basements in existing buildings such as schools, churches and community centres. Closer examination showed most of these buildings to be too crowded or already in use, so EMO decided to construct two entirely new buildings for this purpose, called Federal Readiness Units, in Kemptville and in Carleton Place.

Read the rest here

 

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“Everywhere are evidences of the continuous underground, cancerous movements of Communism … Only eternal vigilance can protect us against Communism and its infiltration into our way of life.” – Canadair advertisement, 1955

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The proposed relocation site at the Canadian Civil Defence College in Arnprior, intended to house up to 280 people and planned for completion in 1967, was plagued by funding shortages and labour disruptions, and was never completed. Also, the proposed relocation site in Pembroke never progressed beyond the planning stages.

Basement space in federal buildings in Smiths Falls was reassigned and the access tunnels filled in. Only the Kemptville and Carleton Place sites managed to survive. Government reports from 1968 reveal that by then, both buildings, or at least their basements, were showing unmistakable signs of neglect.

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Magic Mountain, set on the grounds of the Royal Air Force’s Alconbury base in the flatlands of eastern England, was given the protected status because it reflects the “determination to continue operating even in the most extreme horrors of a possible nuclear holocaust.”

The determination of our Carleton Place cold war bunker tried to weather the years, but after yesterday’s fire now all is lost.

“The horrors of the Second World War, the chilling winds of the Cold War and the crushing weight of the Iron Curtain are little more than fading memories. Ideals that once commanded great loyalty are now taken for granted”.Jan Peter Balkenende

 

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Tim Campbell (Beckwith Councillor and Historian) It is a piece of Cold War history that just went up in flames. When the Comrie Pipe Band came over in the mid nineties, we put them in that building. I remember that whenever somebody took a shower, it set the fire alarm off. I remember working with my wife, Joyce Tennant, Ron and Barb Goebel to try to clean that place up before the guests arrived. Quite an effort.

 

Dr. Strangelove’s Doomsday in Carleton Place

Was it Just a Matter of Time? The Old Barracks

In the Year 1998… what happened?

 

 

Dr. Strangelove’s Doomsday in Carleton Place

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Please play music while reading.

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PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS BUILDING IS SITUATED ON MISSISSIPPI MILLS

A few years ago I chatted with a man on a Greyhound bus that worked inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. For anyone that has no idea what that is; it was a bunker built under 2,000 feet (610 m) of granite on five acres completed in 1966. It is now the center for the United States Space Command and NORAD, who monitor the air space of Canada and the United States through a world-wide system for missiles, space systems, and foreign aircraft through its early-warning system. It is still considered a Cold War icon like our Diefenbunker in Carp.

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Personally, it is difficult for me to resist the temptation to compare Canadian Cold War bunkers with their American counterparts. After I took pictures at The Olde Barracks yesterday and saw the rot, decay, and neglect, it just hit a nerve. As a mother bird swooped down on me protecting her young while I took pictures, I understood how she felt. Even though the building was wide open, I could not bring myself to venture inside, as I felt it would be intruding on a sacred space. The building had been a moment in history that is now desecrated and abandoned. I felt a need to protect it. What once was– is no more.
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The Olde Barracks was built in 1962 to serve as a bomb shelter for federal employees. The building was built to withstand a bomb and the foundations were said to be able to last at least 200 years. The building also served as a communications centre for the military. Even as construction of the Diefenbunker began, COG planners clearly realized that the new complex would be too small to accommodate the required number of essential emergency personnel, since the search for alternate accommodations began almost immediately. A separate but related requirement was space to stockpile supplies for the relief of civilian evacuees from Ottawa in the after math of a nuclear attack. To minimize costs they considered basements in existing buildings such as schools, churches and community centres. Closer examination showed most of these buildings to be too crowded or already in use, so EMO decided to construct two entirely new buildings for this purpose, called Federal Readiness Units, in Kemptville and in Carleton Place.
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Being above ground, these buildings were only suitable for use during the recovery phase of an attack, leaving open the question of how to accommodate additional federal emergency personnel during the shock phase. To secure the necessary “Relocation Sites,” EMO devised a four-part strategy. First, it identified temporary unprotected basement accommodations in existing federal buildings in Renfrew and Pembroke. Second, it arranged for future federal buildings in suitable locations to be built with special protected basements. For example, the basement of the new Federal Building in Smiths Falls, then under construction, would become a relocation site. Third, it developed specifications for a protected basement to be included in a new building planned for the Canadian Civil Defence College in Arnprior. Fourth, two more relocation sites, each capable of accommodating forty people, were excavated beneath the Readiness Units already under construction at Kemptville and Carleton Place in 1961, at a cost of $25 671.

Material Cultural Review Information
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As the Cold War tension ended, the building was used for other purposes including: a training centre for the RCMP, offices for the United Way, and a school.

In 2000 Donna Davidson of Lanark Community Programs discussed the possibility of converting the Olde Barracks outside of Carleton Place into the Eastern Ontario Organic Food Terminal, a place where members of a proposed coop could store, process and market organic produce. However in July of 2010 vandals broke in and caused $40,000 worth of damage including broken telescopes, glass beakers, test tubes and petri dishes that were stored for future science classes.

In 2013 The Carleton Place Canadian reported that random destruction continued at the Olde Barracks located on County Road 29 in Mississippi Mills. Grant Purdy, owner of The Book Gallery in Carleton Place said the damage on the books he stored there was appalling.

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This building now lies open, and in complete neglect. I agree with Nic Forster of Agrinews.

“What do you do with a bomb shelter if the bombs aren’t falling?

 Another piece of dying history.

Darla Fisher Giles– It really is (was) a neat building. The basement was a bomb shelter…it was said that there was 22 inches of cement between the basement and the first floor. There were provisions for several people to stay for a few months should the need arise. It was also had underground communications to the bunker in Carp.

Buddyzee FisherI’ve seen the thickness of the main floor concrete and it was close to three feet thick lined with a ton of rebar as well. Basement was a thick concrete rectangle. Sad to see it like this.

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Related reading on Diefenbaker and The Diefenbunker

historicalnotes

MEMORIES OF THE OLDE BARRACKS

Was it Just a Matter of Time? The Old Barracks