One of the highest points in South-Eastern Ontario, RCAF Station Foymount was opened in 1952, as part of the “Pinetree Line” of NORAD radar stations. A joint defence plan, between the United States and Canada, Foymount was one of 33 radar stations built across Canada to keep an eye on Soviet aircraft. Located off the historic Opeongo Road, atop the Opeongo Mountains and some 1800 ft above sea level, at its peak, the facility was a self-contained, self-supporting community and home to about 375 people. The community was named for John Foy, postmaster. It remains Ontario’s highest populated point with homes still occupied at about 500 meters (1,600 ft) above sea level.
The views from Foymount are spectacular. Golden Lake is visible in the background.
At one time there were mess quarters, maintenance buildings, 65 houses, a school, gym/recreation centre, indoor Olympic sized pool, medical and dental facilities, a general store, post office, radar-domes, receiving and transmitting equipment and a whole lot of other stuff. The station was closed in 1974 and largely abandoned.
The military just left everything behind, including neatly stacked dishes in the cafeteria and tools lying where they were dropped- along with about 90 civilian jobs and a payroll nearing $2 million per year. A couple of businessmen purchased the 737-acre site, literally, “as is, where is” for $351,000. The deal included 45 homes, five barrack apartments, recreational complex and all the associated buildings, including three huge diesel generators. They planned to build an industrial complex and hotel/convention centre, dubbed Foymount Estates”. A nightclub was aptly named “The Three Barrels” and were planned to be housed in the 3 abandoned radomes (radar-domes).
As many as 1000 jobs were promised, but things went awry and Foymount reached its pinnacle in the mid-seventies with a population of around 200 and a handful of industries employing less than 50 people. There is story upon story and the rumour mill abounds with accusations of what went wrong but the assets were sold off piece-meal and in 1980 developers announced they were unable to pay outstanding electric bills that were crucial to the community water and sewer system.
In 1982 a Toronto businessman bought the 15,000 sq foot barracks for $4000 and opened Black Water Designs Limited, manufacturing outdoor clothing and equipment under the label Sierra Designs. In its hay-day there were nearly 70 employees employed there, on the mountain. In 1983, the fabulous recreation centre that had sat unused for two years burned down. Black Water closed in the 1990s.
The 1996, CBC docu-drama entitled “Peacekeepers” was filmed for ten days in Foymount, which had been artfully transformed into a Bosnian village. Virtually a ghost town for decades, in recent years, some of the homes have been reclaimed and renovated. There are still many reminders of the history of this hillside village, and of course, the views remain quite spectacular.