The history behind the ‘Stripped’ show location – the Picton Barracks

By: Dahlia Labatte

Sep 24, 2021

The location of ‘Stripped’ is about as unique as the show itself. With a long history and kept in its original condition it adds another layer of meaning, and visual depth to ‘Stripped’. Here is the history and identity of our venue for the ‘Stripped’ show, the Picton Barracks. An interview with Jacqui.

Which war(s) were the Picton barracks in service for?

Training Plan (BCATP). An agreement signed by the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand Dec. 17, 1939. This resulted with 231 sites like Camp Picton being built in the 4 countries, where pilots and aircrew could safely train in preparation to fight in World War ll. Canada built 151 of the 231 sites and managed to train over half of the Allied aircrew who fought in WW2.

Who was stationed there? Can you give a brief history of the camp, till now?

Camp Picton was first opened in April 1941 and remained home to the Royal Air Force (RAF) until November 1944. At that time, it was known as No. 31 Bombing & Gunnery School and was one of eleven such schools based in Canada.

From Nov. 1944 to January 1946, it was taken over by the RCAF No.5 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit.

January 1946 to 1962 the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) was posted at the site.

From 1962 until September 1969, the First Battalion of the Canadian Guards were stationed at the camp and the site was renamed CFB Picton.

In 1970, the current Mayor of Picton, HJ McFarland, purchased the site from the government and initiated the Loch-Sloy Business Park. He passed away in 1974.

In July 1999, a WW2 veteran, Mr. Viv Scott, purchased the site not only for nostalgic reasons, but also because he recognized the potential to rebuild the site into the business park once envisioned by the former mayor and in the process manage to salvage as many of the buildings as possible.

What was Building 12 used for?

Because Camp Picton was used by essentially 4 different military units, the buildings have had varied uses. Building 12 was built as a barracks building and was used as sleeping quarters for trainees. The walls would have been lined with cots.

How did the Picton camp play a part in shaping what the county is now?

According to Winston Churchill, The BCATP was Canada’s largest contribution to WW2 as an allied country. This program saved Canada economically during a very challenging economic period. I believe that Canada spent roughly $1.6 Billion out of $2.1 Billion spent throughout the Commonwealth countries to build and operate these schools.

To have a BCATP site built in your community was a blessing economically. The materials, the transportation of materials from train station to the site, the supplies, the food, the jobs provided to community people as support staff and the funds being spent by trainees in the local restaurant, bars, and stores certainly aided in our little community of Picton. The fact that this was not the only BCATP base built in our area also aided our community. BCATP bases were also established at Mountainview (PEC), Trenton, Tyendinaga and Kingston.

What are the different purposes of the buildings in the barracks?

Administration/switchboard Ground Instruction School Officers’ Quarters
Officers’ Mess Hall
Sergeants’ Mess Hall
Sergeants Quarters
Men’s quarters
Dentist office
Royal Canadian Engineers’ unit (moto pool, and workshops) Gymnasium/drill hall
Lecture Hall/Theatre/Dance Hall
Turret training/Parachute building
Gas chamber (gas mask training room)
Guard house/holding
Truck storage
Quarter Master’s store
Hostess house/Fire Chief’s house
Fire department
Artillery storage
Plane hangarage