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Canadian Forces Station Yorkton:

RCAF Station Yorkton opened as a Pinetree Line radar station on 15 October 1962, about 10 miles west of the former wartime training base No. 11 Service Flying Training School. 46 Radar Squadron was formed to handle the radar duties, reporting to the Central NORAD Region.

The station was re-named CFS Yorkton in May 1967.

CFS Yorkton closed on 1 August 1986. The site is now the Whitespruce Centre, a youth addiction facility. Most of the original buildings remain and are in good condition.

Additional source material: “Sentinel” Magazine from June 1968, pg 46, History of 2CFFTS web site – http://www.moosejaw.dnd.ca/2his_e.asp#to_top, the Pinetree Line web site – http://www.pinetreeline.org & the Air Cadets Glider Training web site – http://www.mts.net/~rgspra/hist.html.

Canadian Forces Station Alsask:

Opened in 1962 and designated as 44 Radar Squadron in 1962, the station became operational in May 1963 and was re-designated RCAF Station Alsask, with the radar unit being re-named No. 44 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.

The Alsask towers were the last of the Pinetree Line to be built, closing the last gap in coverage across the prairies. Sitting on steel beams and covered in corrugated steel sheets, the tower was divided into two levels; a lower level housing the computer equipment and an upper level serving as the command centre. Sitting at the top of the tower was a radar unit, covered with a fiberglass dome resembling a giant golf ball.

As a part of the Unification of the Forces in 1966, the station was re-named Canadian Forces Station Alsask.

Improvements in radar equipment lead to the closure of some radar stations throughout the 1960s and 1970s as fewer stations were needed to cover the same area.

By the mid-1980s, technology had improved to such a degree that only the far-north Distant Early Warning Line was needed. Throughout the rest of the 80s, the remaining Pinetree Line stations were gradually closed, with the last ones shut down by the early 1990s.

CFS Alsask closed in 1987 and the land was sold to the Village of Alsask.

The concrete operations building and two of the three radar towers up on the hill were demolished.  The remaining tower was turned over to Transport Canada for use civilian aircraft control.  It was finally decommissioned in 1996.

Most of the buildings in the domestic area remain today; some occupied and some vacant.  The PMQ trailers were once a senior’s village, but most are gone and the remaining ones are now vacant.  The old school became a senior’s centre but too has been vacant since the 1990s.  The gym and pool are also still in use as a public community centre for the Village of Alsask.

The former Construction Engineering building is a mechanical shop and one of the old buildings is used as offices for the Alsask Golf Club and a craft centre.

The single-members barracks have been remodeled into single-family row-houses.

The remaining tower was turned over to Transport Canada after Alsask closed in 1987 and finally decommissioned in 1996.

Despite being abandoned, the Alsask tower remained unchanged for two decades after its decommissioning, with its original dome remaining relatively intact.

The Edmonton-based Canadian Civil Defence Museum and Archives took over the site in 2018, and after a year of restoration work, was finally able to open the site for public tours through the spring, summer and fall, with future plans for the site to be used for events.  

Although much of the Pinetree Line has been demolished, or allowed to slowly crumble to pieces, this piece of Cold War history will be preserved to honour the men and women who served at these isolated sentinels.

Author’s note:  When I was driving around the domestic area, I was approached by a man in a truck, who wanted to know what I was doing.  When I told him, he advised me that he was the mayor of Alsask ( I can’t remember his name), and we chatted for a few minutes.  He told me that the town was being sued by a fellow who had climbed to the top of the radar tower, after climbing over the fence with the razor wire on top and ignoring the No Trespassing signs, but was so drunk that he fell off the tower, and was now suing for his injuries.  Yep, you can’t save everyone from their own stupidity.

Additional source material:   the personal recollections of the author (2004), Google Maps (2017), https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/museum-preserves-promotes-cold-war-history-in-sask.

Canadian Forces Station Dana:

Opened in 1962 as RCAF Station Dana (also known as Sage Hill), with the radar functions being run by No. 45 Radar Squadron.

The station consisted of three pulsed radars, and support facilities, including barracks, married quarters (trailers), a school, chapel, bowling alley and gym. The site was powered by a natural gas-fired power plant, that also generated steam for heating some of the buildings.

Good Morning Bruce

The Junior Ranks Mess was known as “The Pink Panther Club”, with pink leather on the seats in the dance area.  The Pink Panther Club held dances, darts, cards and movies one night a week.

With the Unification of the forces, the station was re-named CFS Dana in 1968.

The station closed in 1987.

The Sagehill Development Corporation bought the base for $180k.  For many years the PMQs (trailers) were rented out to civilians, but they are no longer there. For a time in the early 90s, a food company operated out of the site, but went out of business within a couple years. In the mid 90s, the base was sold again and became the Signal Hill Buffalo Farm.

As of 2011, the buildings are in disrepair, with roofs collapsing on some of them. Only one radar tower remains, and its radome has been deflated. The owner died in 2011 and current ownership is unknown, but it is still a buffalo ranch.

Additional source material:  information provided by Norm Rumpel, RCAF service member at CFS Dana 1970-72.

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

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