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The Mid Canada Line

Source Material (unless noted): Larry Wilson Web site –

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:


RCAF 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.

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.

Source Material: Frontier Collegiate web site –


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, an airstrip was also built to serve the base.

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

Today, many buildings remain, rapidly deteriorating.  Environmental issues also remain at the abandoned base. In 2006, 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.



RCAF 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 ft 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.

RCAF Station Stoney Mountain (Alberta):

RCAF Station Stoney Mountain was opened in March 1957, 24 miles south of Fort McMurray, as a Sector Control Station .

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 disbanded on 1 March 1964.

Alberta Forest Service fire lookout approx 2 1/2 miles to the east of the station.
In 1991, Alberta Forest Service moved their nearby fire lookout and cabin to the old RCAF station site.


RCAF Station Bird (Manitoba):

Additional source:



RCAF 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.

RCAF Station Great Whale River closed on 2 April 1965.

The station’s gravel runway is now operated by the Quebec Government as the Kuujjuarapik Airport.

Source Material:




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  1. Phil Lawrence

    Does anyone know about a crash landing of chopper CF-JTI in about 1960 near Stoney Mountain Site 800?? Where/why did it happen?? I have some pictures of the incident that have been passed down from my father.

    1. Larry McArdle

      Hi Phil , i worked at Stoney Mountain from April 1958 till it closed in the Spring of 1964, i was on one of the choppers that crashed in 1961 right at the base , i also worked with Al Lawrence.

  2. Pat

    Not sure if it is the same incident, but there is a crashed helicopter sitting in the muskeg at Poison Lake (~19 km east of Stoney Mountain) that looked really old when I flew over it around 2003. Poison Lake is on the Opti Nexen SAGD site (now just called Nexen). Contact Canadian Helicopters. Most of the old heli pilots know of the site.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for the information.


  3. John Moors

    Our tours at Stoney Mountain were all extended 3 months at Stoney Mountain and across the line so the posting cycles could all be changed to summer months vs throughout the school year. Lots of unhappy Airmen but we all got our preference Postings that year.!The best crew of guys you could ever assemble !!!!

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi John,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. If you have any photos from then that you would like to share, please send them to


  4. Larry McArdle

    hi Bruce , I spent 6 years working at Stoney Mountain plus 12 doppler sites between April 1958 and spring of 1964.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Larry,

      If you have any photos that you would like to share, please send them to



      1. Larry McArdle

        hi Bruce , i just sent you a email with some old photos.

  5. bob

    I see the one sign for CFB BIRD any other info that you have regarding this base. Also the CFB Gypsumville both in Manitoba.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bob,

      Bird is one of the stations that I apparently haven’t written up yet (thanks for the reminder), but you can find a really good site about the early warning lines at I have an entry on Gypsumville in the Pinetree Line section at A really good site on the Pinetree Line can be found at It’s an archive site as the webmaster died in 2005, thus there are no updates past that year, but it’s still a great site.



  6. bob

    Thank Bruce not to sure if my Dad was an active service man or a civilian working on both those bases but he could not and would not talk about any of it.

  7. Hilary Valliant

    My Dad was a civilian helicopter pilot at the Great Whale River base from 1955 to 1965. We were just about to move to Persia for Dad to shuttle workers to the oil rigs when Dad got the offer to work at the MCL at Great Whale River, so we moved to Canada in September 1955.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Hillary, Thanks for sharing your story.


  8. Glen Peacock

    I was in the British Merchant Navy and during 1956and 1957, engaged on ships transporting machinery to build radar stations in the Hudson Bay at Great Whale River and Bear Island and Winisk. We were based at Montreal and on charter to the Bell Telephone Company. It was all very exiting stuff and we not only had to transport the equipment but unload and get it ashore for engineers to erect the stations.
    On the return journey we called in at places like Cartwright, Goose Bay, Rigolet, loading scrap machinery and vehicles.
    Very impressive stuff for a young navigation apprentice.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Glen,

      Thanks for sharing your story. If you have any photos that you wish to share, please send them to I’d love to see them.


  9. Bonnie Parsons

    Johnnie Walker served in the Canadian Navy and was assigned to the Schefferville, Quebec location around 1969. His hometown was Hemmingford, Quebec.

    Does anyone know anything about Johnnie Walker and the dates he was in Schefferville? He was a dear family friend and I would appreciate any help you can give me for my family.

    Bonnie Parsons

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Bonnie,

      Good luck in your search. I do get a lot of traffic on my web site, so hopefully someone who can help you will see this post.


      1. Bonnie Parsons

        Hi Bruce,

        Thank you very much. I hope someone has access to lists of assignments for 1969-1971.

        Much appreciated.

        Bonnie Parsons

  10. Colin McKeeman

    I am an aviation historian based in Ireland and presently researching the history of the Piasecki H-21 and Vertol 44 helicopter and wonder has anybody got photographs of these fine choppers that I know worked on the mid-Canada Line construction?
    Any images regardless of their condition would be most welcome.
    I am attempting to record the individual history of all H-21/V.44s constructed.
    Regards and thanks,
    Colin McKeeman

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Colin,

      Your best bet might me to contact the Libraries and Archives Canada, in Ottawa, Ontario –


  11. Colin McKeeman

    Hi Bruce,
    Many thanks for that URL, I will contact them when they reopen after COVID-19.
    Stay safe and well,

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