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The Mid Canada Line

Source Material (unless noted): Larry Wilson Web site – http://www.lswilson.ca.

Between the DEW Line and the Pinetree Line was the Mid Canada Line, consisting of 8 Sector Control Stations and approximately 90 unmanned Doppler radar sites. The line operated for a very brief time from 1958 until 1965, when improvements in technology made the line unnecessary. All the stations are now closed there is no military presence at any of the former stations today.

The Mid Canada Line sites were:

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Royal Canadian Air Force Station Dawson Creek (British Columbia):

Opened on 1 October 1956, as part of the Mid-Canada Line, the second of three Early Warning Lines under command of NORAD, which stretched along the 55th parallel. Like all MCL stations, Dawson Creek was responsible for the maintenance of ten Doppler Detection Stations, small unmanned stations consisting of radar and communications equipment.

As there was no airfield at RCAF Station Dawson Creek (only a helicopter pad), the local municipal airport, a former WWII RCAF station used as part of the North-West Staging Route, was utilized for aircraft.

With advances in technology, the MCL eventually became redundant and associated stations were closed. RCAF Station Dawson Creek closed on 31 March 1964.

The British Columbia government purchased the former station and in September 1966, the property became the Dawson Creek Campus of Northern Lights College.

Most of the buildings remain, including the helicopter hangar, which now houses the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering faculty, the communications building, which is now the college administration building, the messes, which house the Professional Cook faculty. The former barracks now serve as student residences.  The 22 PMQs were turned over to the RCMP for use by their members posted the area.

Additional source Material: information supplied by Northern Lights College (2004).


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Cranberry Portage (Manitoba):

Opened in April 1957 as one of eight Sector Control Stations (SCS 700) on the Mid-Canada Line system of early warning radar stations.

RCAF Station Cranberry Portage closed in March 1964 and the Mid-Canada Line ceased operations the following year.  The former station was turned over to the Government of Manitoba for civilian use.

In the late 1960s, the Frontier Collegiate Institute was established at the site, using one of the barracks as the Frontier Collegiate Residence, as well as the Area Four Administrative Office.

Today, most of the station remains.  The former mess hall serves as the cafeteria to high school students who reside on campus. The former Officers Mess is utilized primarily as a meeting room and location for large group presentations. The helicopter hangar is now by Area Four school buses and the Officer PMQs are now homes provided to teachers at subsidized rents, while the three barracks are used only for storage.

Additional source Material: Frontier Collegiate web site – http://home.merlin.mb.ca/~froncoll/fcihistory.htm


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Winisk (Ontario):

Opened near the mouth of the Winisk River in January 1957, RCAF Winisk was one of eight Sector Control Stations on the-Mid Canada Line system of radar stations. Each SCS received signals from a series of unmanned detection sites located approximately 50 km apart.

In Winisk, radio wave signals were transmitted along the chain of stations to the SCS, then to RCAF Station Ramore via tropospheric scatter system and finally to RCAF Station North Bay by land line. As there is no road or rail access to Winisk, a 6000-foot airstrip was also built to serve the base.

The eastern portion of the Mid-Canada Line was shut down in 1965 and as a result, the Winisk base was closed.

Today, many buildings remain, abandoned and rapidly deteriorating.  Serious environmental issues also remain at the abandoned base.  When many of the Mid Canada Line stations closed, clean-up agreements between the military and the provinces were drafted, but partly due to the remote nature of Winisk, no agreement was ever reached and the environmental damage was allowed to fester while governments disputed who should be responsible for the remediation of the site.

In 2006, the Member of Parliament for the area, Charlie Angus, stated that there are over 50,000 barrels of toxic material and that PCB levels in the soil are 16,000 times acceptable levels.

Additional source material:  A toxic legacy in the heart of the wilderness – The Globe and Mail.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Knob Lake (Quebec):

Originally the station consisted of a group of general purpose huts on the north-west shore of Knob Lake, near Schefferville, bordering the northern Quebec mining community of Schefferville, with a small RCAF Detachment. A permanent station was built on the opposite shore and became operational 20 June 1957.

The station had the usual amenities of an RCAF station, such as a theatre, recreation centre, library and churches.

The area was serviced by a 4600 foot airfield beside the station, along with railway tracks to ship the iron ore mined in the area. The Quebec Department of Transport and the Schefferville Flying Club operated from the airport.

McGill University also maintained a Sub-Arctic Research Laboratory at the airfield.

RCAF Station Knob Lake closed in April 1965

The former station is now the Schefferville Airport.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Stoney Mountain (Alberta):

RCAF Station Stoney Mountain was opened in March 1957, 24 miles south of Fort McMurray, as a Sector Control Station.  Due to its remote location, an airstrip was built to transport personnel and supplies.  A United States Army base had previously been established in the area during World War II.

In June 1963, the detection function ceased due to a relocation of the Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone (CADIZ) north of the Mid Canada Line in its area.

RCAF Station Stoney Mountain closed on 1 March 1964 and nothing remains of the former station today. 

The Town of Anzac was established on the station property in August 1979, which is now accessible by highway.

In 1991, Alberta Forest Service moved their nearby fire lookout and cabin to the old RCAF station site.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Bird (Manitoba):

RCAF Station Bird was established in December 1956.  As it was accessible only by the railway, an airstrip was built to transport personnel and supplies, in addition to the railway.

The station has all the usual amenities, including three large barracks, a mess hall, administration building, garages, power plant and gymnasium.

The station had a compliment of around 100 men; around 12 who were RCAF, with the rest being civilians. 

RCAF Station Bird closed in January 1964, after a brief seven years of operation.  All the buildings were demolished, leaving only the concrete foundations and roads.

Today, the Fox Lake Cree Nation part of the property, to the south-east of the domestic area of the former station.

Additional source material:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_railway_station, Historic Sites of Manitoba: RCAF Station Bird (Fox Lake Cree Nation) (mhs.mb.ca).


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Great Whale River (Quebec):

RCAF Station Great Whale River was established in 1955 on the shores of Hudson Bay at the mouth of the Great Whale River. Originally a detachment, it but became a full station in 1957 as Sector Control Station 400.

The station was supported by RCAF Station St. Hubert, with a 5100 foot airfield servicing the station.

RCAF Station Great Whale River closed on 2 April 1965.

Nothing remains of the station today, other than building foundations and roadways.  The station’s gravel runway is now operated by the Quebec Government as the Kuujjuarapik Airport, servicing the Village of Kuujjuarapik.

Additional source Material: www.snipview.com, RCAF Station Great Whale River – Wikipedia

 


Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/the-mid-canada-line/

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