↑ Return to The Pinetree Line

Print this Page

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Canadian Forces Station Kamloops:

Established as part of the Pinetree Line of radar stations in 1958 as Kamloops Air Station and operated by No. 825 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron of the United States Air Force, one of the many that would make up the Pinetree Line of Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar sites.

As a GCI base, the 918th’s role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit’s radar scopes. These interceptors were based at the 25th Air Division, Larson Air Force Base in Washington.

On 1 April 1962, the USAF transferred control of the base to the Royal Canadian Air Force as a part of an agreement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.  Colonel G.G. Atkinson, Comandar or Spokane Air Defence Sector formally handed over control of the station to Group Captain D.L. MacWilliam, representing the RCAF.

Radar operations were taken over by 56 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron and the base became RCAF Station Kamloops.

Most of the married personnel from the station were housed in the Hidden Valley trailer court in the Rose Hill subdivision of Kamloops.  Some families were housed closer to the station in the 8 trailers in a trailer park named McNair Park, in honour of Second World War flying ace Robert (Buck) McNair.

Radar operations at 56 Squadron were automated on 1 May 1963 with the implementation of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, and the station became a long-range radar site. It would no longer guide interceptors but only look for enemy aircraft, feeding data to the Spokane Air Defense Sector SAGE DC-15 Direction Center of the 25th NORAD Region.

As a result of the Unification of the Forces, the station was re-named CFS Kamloops in 1967.

Beginning in 1983 the station began reporting to Canada West ROCC.

CFS Kamloops closed on 1 April 1988, the 64th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force as advances in technology made the station redundant.

The Station briefly came back to life when the movie “Cadence”, staring Charlie Sheen and Lawrence Fishburne, was filmed at the site in 1990.

The site is now virtually abandoned, except for areas used by Telus, the local TV Station, Kamloops Airport, Forestry, RCMP, and the local Amateur Radio Club for radio communications.

The buildings in the domestic stood until 2005 when they were all demolished. The city of Kamloops moved the last search antenna to be used at CFS Kamloops, an FPS-20, to Riverside Park as a memorial to the former radar station.

In March 2012, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada returned the land to the Tk’emlups Indian Band from whom it had been expropriated and it officially became part of Kamloops Indian Reserve No. 1 in July 2012.

Source Material: DND press release from July 1989, ”

What’s the story behind that old McNair Park sign?” Kamloops Daily News, 14 March 2012, information provided by Warrant Officer (Ret’d) Peter Hayes & Mount Lolo – http://wikimapia.org/1246321/Mount-Lolo.

 

Canadian Forces Station Baldy Hughes:

Opened in June 1953 as Baldy Hughes Air Force Station of the United States Air Force, with the radar functions being run by No. 918 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron, one of the many that would make up the Pinetree Line of Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar sites.  The squadron’s role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit’s radar scopes. These interceptors were based at the 25th Air Division at McChord Air Force Base in Washington.

Control of the station was transferred to the RCAF on 1 March 1963, radar functions taken over by No. 54 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron, as part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.  As a result, the station was designated RCAF Station Baldy Hughes.

Radar operations at 54 Squadron were automated on 1 June 1966 with the implementation of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, and the station became a long-range radar site. It would no longer guide interceptors but only look for enemy aircraft, feeding data to the Seattle Air Defense Sector SAGE DC-12 Direction Center of the 25th NORAD Region at McChord AFB, Washington.

As a result of the Unification of the Forces, the station was re-named CFS Baldy Hughes in 1967.

The station began reporting to the Canada West ROCC in 1983.

In 1985, DND announced that the Pinetree Line would be shut down as a part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Plan. As a result, CFS Baldy Hughes closed in 1988.

Today the former station is The Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community and Farm, an addiction treatment centre.

Visit – www.baldyhughes.ca


 

Canadian Forces Station Holberg:

Opened 1 January 1954 as RCAF Station Holberg, with the radar functions being run by No. 501 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron, reporting to 5 Air Division located in Vancouver. The station was declared operational on 25 April 1954.

On 1 August 1956, the radar unit became known as 53 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron. Holberg was later assigned the duties of EW and Ground Control Intercept (GCI).

On 30 September 1957, the squadron took over the area-of-responsibility for RCAF Station Tofino after its closure. The stations role evolved to one of providing data to the SAGE system of the North American Air Defence Command.

In 1958, 53 AC&W became 53 Radar Squadron. Holberg reported directly to the Seattle NORAD Sector of the 25th Air Division and in June 1963 Holberg was SAGE-capable.
As a result of the Unification in October 1967, RCAF Station Holberg became Canadian Forces Station Holberg.

Holberg had been a BUIC site but terminated that phase of its operations on 31 December 1973. They did, however, remain as the back-up to 25 Division at McChord. McChord transferred the 25th Division to Malmstrom AFB, Montana on 21 August 1981 as part of the Regional Operations Control Centre (ROCC) concept.

Holberg began to transmit radar data to the Canada West ROCC at North Bay on 18 June 1983.

Holberg was unique within all of Air Defence Command since it had its own Marine Section due to its remote location on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. When first formed, the Marine Section was fully manned by RCAF personnel. However, after the Unification, the RCAF Marine Sections were disbanded or turned over to Naval personnel. As a result, CFS Holberg became the only station within the Air Defence community to have Naval personnel assigned.

CFS Holberg closed on 17 January 1991, one of the last Pinetree radar stations to close. Holberg was selected as the site for a Canadian Coastal Radar sites, one of four on Canada’s coastlines.

Other than the radar towers, nothing of the former CFS Holberg remains today.

Visit – www.holberg.ca

Source Material:  The Pinetree Line web site – http://67.69.104.76:84/Pinetreeline/homepage.html


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Puntzi Mountain:

Opened in 1952 as Puntzi Mountain Air Force Station of the United States Air Force, with the radar functions being run first by No. 917 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron, then 55 AC &W Squadron.  As a Ground Control Intercept base, the 917th’s role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit’s radar scopes. These interceptors were based at the 26th Air Division, McChord Air Force Base in Washington.

On 1 February 1963, the station was turned over to the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.  The operating unit was re-designated 55 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron and the base became RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain.

Radar operations at 55 Squadron were automated on 1 October 1963 by the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, and the station became a long-range radar site. It would no longer guide interceptors but only look for enemy aircraft, feeding data to the Seattle Air Defense Sector SAGE DC-12 Direction Center of the 25th NORAD Region at McChord AFB, Washington.

RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain closed on 1 October 1966. The closure was not expected and the community was shocked.

Very little remains of the former station today. The mobile equipment garage was left standing, destined to become a community hall for those who remained in the area. The gatehouse was turned into a pump house.  BC Telephone use a small portion for their communications equipment.

 


 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Tofino:

 

Originally opened 1943 as a “Radio Detachment”, part of a chain of radar stations conducting surveillance of the Pacific Coast.  The threat of Japanese incendiary balloons was a significant threat at the time.
Due to it’s remote location, the station had its own airfield, with a squadron for rapid response.Due to the flying hazards presented by the mountainous terrain, a secondary responsibility was crash sight location and investigation.  Not one single incendiary balloon was ever recorded in our area.The radar chain was disbanded in 1945 and the station closed.
The station re-opened in 1955 using some of the WWII buildings, with the radar functions being run by No. 52 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.
The station had a very brief existence as it closed on 10 January 1958.
The airfield was transferred to the Department of Transportation.  It sat virtually abandoned for many years, but is now the Tofino Airport.
Nothing remains of the former radar station today. A plaque was placed on Radar Hill to commemorate the men & women who served with No. 52 AC & W Squadron.
Additional information supplied by Thomas Wagner.

51 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron – Royal Canadian Air Force Station Comox:

51 AC&W Squadron opened in November 1954, originally just outside the north boundary of RCAF Station Comox.  As the radar station was close to two other Pinetree stations at Tofino and Holberg, it had a very brief life as advances in radar technology made it redundant less than 4 years later.

As a result, 51 AC&W Squadron ceased operations in June 1958, but the facilities did continue to be used by the Comox Air Traffic Control as a Radar Approach Control (RAPCON) facility on the station.

The FPN-504 radar equipment was installed in 1968. It has been said that the wind played hell with the huge solid sail, and in a few short years nearly took the top roof off the tower. The following pictures show the system coming down in 1983 in time for TRACS.

Although  51 AC&W Squadron had a brief life at Comox, the squadron was re-formed at 22 Wing North Bay in 1989 where it continues to operate today.

In July 1994, the role of the squadron changed to an Operational Training (OT) squadron and it is now responsible for all operational and general training at 22 Wing.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/pinetree-line/admin-3/

5 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Greg Clarke

    Do you have any initial construction photos or know where I can find any. I currently work at the Holberg radar site and am looking for initial photos of the radar tower construction

  2. Jim savoy

    Jim Savoy Dec 31 2015 8 P/M I need all the list of names and photos of all the RCAF personnel who seved in Holberg from April 1954 to jan 1956 including the C/O F/L walker I am retired now I was LAC James A Savoy I arrived at holberg april 1954 I left jan 1956 I lost all my records in a fire. my trade was OPPME mobile equipment I maintained and rebuilt most of the access roads up the mountain Iknew all the personnel who were based there from the C/O S/L walker to lowest A/C2 I am especially interested on the M/E and the C/E personnel that I worked with . you have my authorization to publish my email address I need all the information that I can get in order complete my memoirs A S A P.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. I hope there is someone out there who can help.

      If anyone reading this can help, feel free to write Jim at jimasavoy@outlook.com.

      Bruce

  3. Tom Cheverie

    Salut my Holberg friend..Arrived in Holberg via Canso 075. in December 1954. Left the dump in June 1956. You guys drove us FCO.S up the hill to work.. I only remember LAC Bonavich from your section. He came from 3 Wing in 55 I think. But, you guys had one terrible job, especially in the winter when even a bulldozer could not make it to the top due to snow..And we had to walk the 1000ft practically straight up.. Tom Cheverie wintering at Saratoga Beach Resont between Comox and Cambell River.. Jan.2016..

  4. JAMES A SAVOY

    Tom Nice to hear from you. I Just now found your reply sorry for not getting back sooner. Before Lac bonavitch arrived and others I was the only OPMME there Repairing and maintaining the roads From the Dock Landing to the top of the mountain. Yes it was a hell hole .We got snow in mid July off and on till the big snows came in oct Some operators were sent in in Sept snow plow drivers who couldn’t stay on the road in dry conditions most were scared of the mountain switch backs. Did you hear about the Guy who went over the bank with the snow-blower at the top just below the 1st dome That should have never Happened. He was sent up there By SGT Hogan I/C M/E section without proper supervision and guidance .He wasn’t hurt but damn well shook up. There are a few hair-raising stories of what happened on that mountain I was fortunate to have had mountain experience . My Dad taught me how to drive trucks , Bulldozers Backhoes etc starting in 1944 on the Alaskan Highway during WW11 That’s why I was transferred there from Sea Island VAN. as there were no Heavy operators at Western Air Defence Command Van They all had been transferred to other bases that needed OPMME types that’s why I was there all alone for 4 months. These new types that came needed mountain road training Cpl Dog Field OPMME did the Driver training I also trained men on how to drive the 6×6 troop carriers that carried all your Fighter-cops to the domes on top the mountain. I ran the Grader and pulled a lot up the hills and out of the ditches .I loved the work it was Damn Scarry most of the times. I will be going to Alert Bay late this Fall ph me at Calgary 587-350-3911 ASAP and I will try and look you up OK? Jim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>