The Bill Hillman Military Tribute Series
Canadian Joint Air Training Centre

Photos by Johnnie Bachusky

Research Information from the
Ghost Towns of Manitoba Site

CFB Rivers, located seven kilometres west of the Town of Rivers, closed in September 1971.

In September 1972 the land was turned over to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for use as an industrial training centre for Manitoba Indians, the Oo-Za-We-Kwun Centre. The Rivers Gliding School, a summer Air Cadet glider camp opened at the former base in 1974, remaining until 1984, when it re-located to Gimli.

In 1980 the Oo-Za-We-Kwun Centre closed and the land was sold by the Federal Government. Hangar Farms Ltd, a hog farm operation, opened at the site in 1988.

Today, only small parts of the old air station still exist, including the old supply buildings, two World War II era hangars, a post-war "arch style" hangar, the power plant, the fire hall, some of the two-story H-huts, and five of the PMQs. The entire airfield remains, and used by crop dusting airplanes, although a reservoir sits across one of the runways.

In the mid 1990’s, the RCAF reutrned to the former RCAF Staion Rivers, with the help of some movie magic, in the movie “For The Moment”, a film about an Austrailian pilot who comes to Manitoba to train under the BCATP, starring Russel Crowe. While most of the movie was filmed at the Brandon Airport, scenes of the actors standing outside their barracks were filmed at Rivers, requiring a fresh coat of green paint to be applied to the old buildings.

RCAF Station Rivers originally opened in May 1942 under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as No. 1 Air Navigation School (No. 1 ANS). As the war progressed, RCAF Station Rivers also became a training centre for Army pilots and parachutists as well as flying instructors from the Army, RCN and RCAF. Additionally, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and the Air Dispatch School made Rivers their home.

In 1947 the Canadian Parachute Training Centre, established at Camp Shilo in 1942, merged with the Airborne School of the Canadian Joint Air Training Centre and moved to RCAF Station Rivers, making the station Canada’s main para-training centre. Also in 1947, the Army Aviation Tactical Training School was established at Rivers to provide pilot training to Army aviators, as well as helicopter instructor training for the Army, RCN and RCAF. No. 6 Signal Regiment, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and the Air Support Signals Unit provided communications duties at Camp Rivers. 444 Air Observation Post Squadron was formed on 1 October 1947, but disbanded 1 April 1949.

In 1948, the Joint Air Photo Interpretation School opened at Rivers. The school closed in 1960.

The Basic Helicopter Training Unit was established at Rivers in August 1953, initially to train RCAF pilots, but by 1956, Army helicopter pilots were also training at Rivers. 

In December 1963, No. 1 Transport Helicopter Platoon (No. 1 THP), a unit of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, was established at RCAF Station Rivers, along with their fleet of CH-113A Voyageur transport helicopters and one CH-112 Nomad. 

408 Tactical Fighter Squadron, whose primary functions were reconnaissance and weapons delivery, moved to Rivers in 1964 from RCAF Station Rockcliffe, and remained until disbanded on 1 April 1970.


Rivers I | Rivers II | Rivers III | Rivers IV | Rivers V | Rivers VI
Rivers VII | Rivers VIII | Rivers IX | Rivers X | Rivers XI | Rivers XII
 | Rivers XIII | Rivers XIV

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Bill Hillman