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EPISODE | 2x02

Vanastra, Ont.

AIR DATE: TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016 at 9 P.M. / 9:30 NT on CBC-TV

In this episode, Jonny loads boxes of 'nipples' (pipeline fittings), gets up-close and personal with a swarm of chickens, and tries his hand at a game of curling. 

Vanastra was once home to a top-secret military base during World War II. Today the same buildings that were built to withstand bombs are crumbling to the ground. For this once-secret town to thrive, it must tear down its decrepit buildings, and shout from every rooftop that Vanastra is open for business.

5 facts about Vanastra, Ont.

  • Population: 650
  • Vanastra, Ont., was once a military base whose soldiers were sworn to secrecy while they worked on the RADAR technology that would end World War II.
  • As a result of amalgamation in 2001, Vanastra became one of many communities to make up the Municipality of Huron East. So when you look it up on the GPS, addresses are listed as Huron East, not Vanastra.
  • Big part of the community are the Dutch — giving rise to the saying, "If you ain't Dutch, you ain’t much." Dutch is the second largest group in Huron county — known for farming, practical build and the historical Klompen Feest.
  • Walt Disney’s father was born on the family farm in Bluevale (an hour away from Vanastra).

Built as a military base in 1941, the village of Vanastra was born as Royal Air Force (RAF) Station 31 and was the first RADAR training school in North America. The base remained open during the Cold War but was decommissioned in 1971, leading to an exodus of nearly 2,000 people. Some of the buildings in what became the community of Vanastra were occupied by light industry, but many were left derelict, unsightly and unsafe. Vanastra has been in a holding pattern every since.