Naval officer cadets inside the Naden Drill Hall circa 1950. (Photo courtesy of Department of National Defence)

Historic site at CFB Esquimalt to be reborn

Site of Naden Drill Hall part of major new facility

Stand at ease. The historic Naden Drill Shed at CFB Esquimalt has received its new marching orders.

The site of the original building, which was built in 1941 as part of the Second World War effort, will be part of a new Junior Ranks Training Accommodation building.

The estimated cost of the project is in the range of $100 million – $249 million. Implementation of the plan will begin in 2022-23, with completion scheduled for 2026-27. The project will increase the capacity of single quarters to support pan-Canadian training to be held in Esquimalt, according to a federal government release. Plans call for a single, multi-storey masonry structure between 8,000 and 10,000 square metres with a 200-bed, 200-room capacity on the site of an existing SQ building and administrative complex.

The original structure was demolished and the site decontaminated between October of 2019 and January 2020. It was deemed a risk for continued prolonged use due in part to seismic codes, noted Andree-Anne Poulin, media relations with the Department of National Defence. At the time it was constructed, drill halls and large hangars were built using the Warren Truss structure method and painted over time. Cracks in the trusses were filled in and could no longer be verified.

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As older buildings are difficult to maintain and in some cases are beyond economic repair, the decision was made to demolish the Naden Drill Shed.

The addition of glassed-in bulkheads in 1943 added a far more recognizable element to the original structure, which was simply a steep, Mansard-style roof and supporting pillars. The structure was repurposed in 1944 and used as the Mechanical Training Establishment. It reverted back to its use as a drill shed in 1959.

Countless promotions, awards, ceremonies and qualifications were conducted there over the years, as well as trade shows, fundraisers, expositions and sporting events.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com


 

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CFB Esquimalt

 

Admiral Grant’s inspection with Governor-General Harold Alexander outside the Naden Drill Shed in 1949. (Photo courtesy of the Department of National Defence)

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