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Canadian Forces Base Chatham – St Margaret’s Detachment:

Opened in 1952 as RCAF Station St Margaret’s, the home of No. 2 Aircraft Control & Warning Unit (AC&W), which replaced the disbanded 2 ADCC from RCAF Station Chatham.

In 1953, RCAF Station St Margaret’s became part of the newly formed Pinetree Line, a network of radar stations established as an early warning detection system against a Soviet air attack.

In August 1957, the James Park School opened at the station, named in honour of Air Vice-Marshal Arthur James.   Similarly, the station post office was also named the James Park Post Office in 1966, two years after the death of A/V/M James.

As a result of the Unification, St. Margaret’s became a Detachment of CFB Chatham.

In 1974, Detachment St. Margarets became a Satellite Identification Tracking Unit (SITU), a part of Air Defence Command, which became Air Command later that year.  The SITU collected and analyzed satellite tracing and optical date and transmitted the information to the NORAD Space Tracking Wing in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

St. Margarets functioned as the controller site for the 22nd NORAD Region until August 1984 with St. Margarets incorporated into Canada East as a part of the consolidated Regional Operational Control Centre (ROCC) for the realigned Canadian NORAD Region based at CFB North Bay. St. Margarets then reverted to being just a long range radar site.

In 1985, DND announced that the Pinetree Line would be shut down as a part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Plan. Radar equipment at many Canadian Forces Stations was replaced with a new automated system. As a result, CF Detachment St. Margaret’s closed on 31 August 1988.

21 AC&W Squadron re-located to 22 Wing North Bay on 6 October 1988 and was re-designated as 21 Aerospace Control & Warning Squadron.

Today the facility has been renamed to James Park in honour of Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Lorne James. James Park is operated by a local development authority which has sold or rented many of the residential units. Most of the military buildings have been demolished.

The station’s former receiver site located on Route 11 between Chatham and St. Margaret’s still exists, but the small brick building that housed the radio equipment is to be demolished. The Transmitter site was demolished many years ago.

Additional Source Material: DND press release from May 1989 & information supplied by Sherman Fisher, local resident involved in the construction of RCAF Station Chatham and RCAF Station St. Margaret’s (2001).

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


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  1. Bojack

    Hi, I live in St Margaret’s now and was wondering if there was any information on the existence of underground bunkers that we think exist here. In some of the field we find what we think are 3×3 foot ventilation grates embedded in the ground. Some think there are tunnels that may have been connecting some of the buildings together.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bojack,

      I haven’t heard of any bunkers at St Margaret’s, but if there were any, they were ikely ammo bunkers. Maybe someone from the area or who served there will see this post and respond.


  2. Duane

    Sorry, it might be a bit of a late response but I came across this article searching for info, I lived there as a child from 77 to 80 and visited again in 1992. I couldn’t believe that they had demolished all military buildings and left the PMQs at the back. Depending on where these grills were located, they could be basements for some of the buildings that were town down.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Duane,

      It’s too bad that with all the money spent building the bases that most, if not all, were sold for pennies on the dollar. Fortunately some of the bases and their buildings have seen a second life, but not all. If you have any photos that you would like to share, please send them to bruce @militarybruce.com. If you want to see another good site, go to The Pinetree Line web site – http://www.c-and-e-museum.org/Pinetreeline/homepage.html. It’s an archived site as the webmaster died back in 2005, but you can see lots of photos from all the Pinetree sites.


  3. Tammy Paradis

    Hi Bruce,

    I wonder if due to the radar (i.e. microwaves) were there infertility and cancer issues on these sites with those living so close? Proximity and strength matters.

    As per Royal Naval radar and microwave expert Barrie Trowers, the microwaves from radars, wifi, cellular towers, etc. can shred delicate reproductive tissue (i.e. eggs, sperm) leading to fertility issues, as well as cause “cot death” in infants and eventually cancer in adults.

    This could possibly be the reason they moved some of these sites, to move the radars away from people. They probably wanted to continue to exploit the technology without raising any health concerns (and liability issues) amongst employees. So they were quietly closed and moved.


    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Tammy,

      I do know the apparent risks of radio waves, but the reason that the Pinetree Line sites were closed was because of advances in technology that made them unnecessary. If there were any health concerns, I’m unaware of that.

      Thanks for stopping by.


      1. D. Wildey


        “Posted to” CFS St. Margaret’s 1981-1982. Have many long-time friends and colleagues who served/lived on-base at many of the now erstwhile Regional Control Centers, Pinetree and DEW line radar sites. Not aware of any short- or long-term health issues amongst the alumni but there were potential RF energy risks, and why all ops crew and maintenance personnel alike were, when on duty, required to wear their (radiation) monitors–which we’re checked periodically. Enjoyed the sporting spirit at “Billy Boy” e.g., the curling, broomball, three-par golf, basketball, floor hockey, too many Wiser’s Rye + Canada Dry Ginger Ales, fishing, winter carnivals, canoeing, and backpacking the mounts of New Brunswick.


  4. D. Wildey


    Forgot to mention… the photo above of the “GATR site” is that of the SITU site. Our #1 dude on defense (broomball) worked there. The GATR field is/was approx three kilometers north-north west of SITU, on the other side of NB-11.


    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Thanks for the correction and for sharing some of your memories.


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