ARCHIVED - Land Recreation

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The Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) section has moved. Our current webpage will remain available until the move to Canada.ca is complete. Visit our new location for the latest information. Please be sure to update your bookmarks.

There are hundreds of former military sites across Canada. Many of them were used decades ago and were very remote at the time. As the population has grown the possibility of people accessing these sites is now much greater.

Most legacy sites were remediated and/or cleared of potential UXO by the Department of National Defence before being sold or returned to its custodian. However, there may still be UXO present on or beneath the surface of sites; even though a clearance had been performed in the past.

UXO contain material that was prepared to explode but didn’t. This means that they could still explode. In fact, some UXO become increasingly unstable the longer it is in soil or water.

Freeze-thaw cycles, flooding or storms could uncover UXO in areas that were previously cleared. Just because no one has seen UXO in an area for many years does not mean that it isn’t there now.

Recognizing UXO

UXO does not look like it did when it was first made. It will have been in the dirt or water for many years so it will likely look old and corroded. It may be missing parts so it could look like a piece of old pipe, an old car muffler, a pop can, or just small pieces of rusty metal. It is usually not lying neatly on the ground or underwater – it is usually partly or completely buried. Learn more about what UXO looks like.

Recognizing UXO Sites

The land you are using may contain UXO if there are:

  • reports in the media or the community about the potential for UXO;
  • former or active military bases or training grounds in the area;
  • warning signs (however, because many sites do not have signs – no sign does not mean no danger);
  • reports of previous UXO-related work or incidents;
  • discarded boxes or containers that may have contained munitions;
  • metal fins or other oddly shaped pieces of metal pieces present;
  • circular depressions in the ground (old explosion craters), or
  • dead animals that have been severely injured. 

Advice for Individuals

If you are engaging in recreational activities on or near a UXO site, you should:

  • stay away from areas that have UXO warning signs;
  • stay on marked trails in other areas, and
  • never enter the area at night. 

If you find something that looks like UXO:

1. Don't touch it!
If disturbed, UXO can explode, causing death or injury.

2. Note the location and leave the area
Remember where you saw the object. Go back the same way you came.

3. Call 9-1-1 or local police
As soon as possible, report what you found by calling 9-1-1 or contacting local police.