1937 one of the RC Signals stations was located at Fort Rae. The decision
was made early in the Fall to close down the Fort Rae station and
move it to Yellowknife due to the mining boom there, with its subsequent
increase in aircraft activity.
is situated 80 miles southeast of Fort Rae, on the north arm of Great
Slave Lake. As the boom activity increased, more and more aircraft
for the Great Bear Lake mining fields were being routed via Yellowknife
in addition to supplying the local needs. This of course resulted
in Fort Rae being by passed and reverting to its pre 1933 status of
straight trading and providing a base for a RCM Police post.
McAulay and LCpl. Burgess packed all the Fort Rae equipment, which
was loaded aboard the Hudson Bay Transport vessel "Dease Lake"
and transported to Yellowknife. It arrived there on 15th September.
The boys had even been far sighted enough to bring the outdoor privy
along as they were none to sure what facilities existed at Yellowknife.
equipment, consisting of a SITD 100B LF transmitter, Northern Electric
20 watt HF transmitter and two CSR2 Marconi receivers (one of which
was modified for long wave), was set up in a tent next to the Camlaren
Mines Ltd warehouse. Two 60' angle-iron masts were erected on the
bald rock and power was brought into the equipment tent from a Briggs
Stratton 1 112 HP 700 watt plant housed in a packing case.
this work was completed, communications were quickly re-established
on the 13th of October with the old Fort Rae outlets namely, Fort
Smith, Cameron Bay and Gordon Lake.
combined station/living quarters building which had been ordered pre
cut from Edmonton arrived before freeze up and was quickly set up.
The equipment was transferred from the tent. Yellowknife Radio Station,
destined to become the largest and busiest on the System, was now
firmly and comfortably established, making nineteen stations in full
time operation on the ever expanding network as of the year's end
RADIOTELEPHONE SERVICE FOR THE COMMUNITY
1938 a new radiotelephone service was provided for the general public
at the following RC Signals stations: Edmonton, McMurray, Fort Smith,
Yellowknife and Goldfields. Repeater equipment was installed in the
Edmonton Radio Station with connections to the offices of the Alberta
Government Telephones from where local or long distance connections
were made in the normal manner.
booths were installed in the northern stations mentioned, tied in
with the HF transmitting and receiving equipment and thus customers
were able to converse with friends or business associates in homes
or offices in Edmonton or points beyond.
long distance radiotelephone service was restricted to the Western
Provinces for reasons unknown but, nevertheless was greeted and used
enthusiastically by mining and transportation companies particularly,
and the general public at large, for both business and social calls.
Christmas and New Years were especially popular times for such service,
all stations being swamped with calls.
service was improved the following year with the addition of 'scrambler'
equipment so that customers could rest assured that their conversation
was strictly private and not capable of being intelligently heard
by any broadcast listener with a short wave receiver tuneable to the
frequency in use.
the outbreak of war more urgent equipment commitments became greater
and greater until finally the long distance telephone agreement with
Alberta Government Telephones was cancelled in October 1942 and the
improve the weather information available for aircraft involved in
the DEW Line airlift, the Department of Transport decided to open
a forecast office in Yellowknife in August 1955 and called upon the
NWT& Y Radio System of course to handle the large volume of various
types of weather reports required for such an office to function.
Since the RTT equipment in use was not adapted for the transmission
of weather symbols and all weather traffic was handled by the hand
keyed circuits, it was not possible to carry out such a commitment
fully until such time as the Department of Transport provided weather
symbol keyboards for the RTT equipment at Edmonton, Fort Smith, Yellowknife,
Fort Simpson and Norman Wells. This was done early in 1956 and full
use was made then of the RTT equipment for the dissemination of weather
information between the weather office in Edmonton and the four main
1955 The increase in aircraft movement also created air ground air
service problems. RC Signals installations were located anywhere from
4 to 14 miles from the airports at the main northern towns boasting
all weather fields so it was becoming increasingly impracticable for
them to control aircraft movements at these points. The Department
of Transport however was located right at the airports in question,
operating Radio Range Stations and doing field maintenance, so it
decided that they were in a much better position to exercise the necessary
aircraft movement control By the end of May the Department had taken
over all air ground air communications at McMurray, Fort Smith and
Yellowknife, while Canadian Pacific Air Lines assumed the same responsibilities
at Norman Wells. This of course relieved the pressure on the Sigs
staffs at these stations a great deal and they were able to handle
their other heavy traffic commitments much more efficiently.
BROADCAST RADIO STATIONS
after World War II, NWT& Y Radio System had installed and operated
low power broadcast transmitters at Whitehorse, Dawson, Aklavik, Norman
Wells, Hay River and Yellowknife for the benefit of these communities.
This service was of course outside of normal duties and soon became
too burdensome for Sigs personnel to cope with so local citizen volunteer
committees were formed to assist in the operation of these broadcast
1958, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation decided that it was their
responsibility to provide broadcast services for the residents of
the Yukon and Northwest Territories. By year's end the CBC had taken
over operational control of almost all remaining stations, including
CFYK Yellowknife. The final station,CHAK Aklavik was also turned
over to CBC early in 1959.
1958 at the start of the System Handover to the Department of Transport,
countless letters had been received at Headquarters from airlines,
water transportation companies, mining firms, government agencies
and numberless private individuals, all expressing sincere appreciation
for the outstanding services provided over the years and the deep
regret at having to say goodbye to Signals in the north. These letters
were most gratifying, confirming the knowledge of a job well done.
was chosen as the station at which symbolic ceremonies to officially
mark the occasion of the transfer of the System to the Department
of Transport would be held. Elaborate preparations were made well
in advance and the historic event took place on the 6th of November,
the operating room at the Yellowknife Radio Station, Lt. Col. D Grant,
CO NWT&Y Radio System, opened proceedings by introducing Col.
ET Munroe, representing the Minister of National Defence, the General
Officer Commanding Western Command and the Director of Signals. Col.
Munroe then addressed the assembly, briefly outlining the System history
and terminating his remarks by formally relinquishing control of the
System to Mr. HJ "Jeff" Williamson, Regional Director of
Air Services, Edmonton District, Department of Transport, representing
the Minister of Transport. At this time Col. Munroe wrote a message
announcing the relinquishment and handed it to a Sigs operator for
transmission to the Minister of National Defence.
Williamson then spoke to the gathering, acknowledging the fine reputation
RC Signals had built for themselves in the north and expressing the
vow that his Department would carry on in the same tradition and endeavour
to improve upon it if at all possible. He then drafted a message announcing
formal acceptance of the System, which he handed to a Department of
Transport operator for transmission to the Minister of Transport.
large crowd then repaired to an unoccupied Married Quarter to partake
of refreshments, which had been expertly prepared and laid out invitingly
by that peer among chefs, Pte Al Reynolds. Many compliments were received
regarding the variety and excellence of the food and many guests were
heard to express amazement upon learning that even the perfect French
pastries were a product of Reynold's wizardry. Highlighting this reception
was the presentation of a mounted, suitably inscribed, silvered Morse
Telegraph Key by Col. Munroe to Mr. Williamson, to tangibly mark the
occasion of the System handover. Speeches were also heard from such
prominent guests as Mr. CL Merrill, Administrator of the Mackenzie,
Frank McCall, Area Administrator, "Scotty" Gall, Hudson
Bay Company store manager and member of the Territorial Council and
"Ted" Horton, Mayor of Yellowknife. All speeches took the
same trend, that of eulogizing System personnel, expressing regret
at their departure and wishing them well in their future endeavours.
from the press, radio and TV in Edmonton were also present and gave
full coverage to the affair.
credit for the success of this Symbolic handover must go to Maj. "Rosie
" Larose, 2 IC NWT& Y Radio System, and Lt. Bob Becker, Quartermaster,
for the planning and organization, as well as to WO 1 "Red"
McLeod and his Yellowknife station staff, along with Sgt Bob Ballantine,
Sgt. George Behm and Cpl. Ron Gould of the Edmonton staff, for their
active and wholehearted cooperation in the preparations.
the transfer of Yellowknife completed, the Department of Transport
now controlled all the main RTT circuits from Edmonton to the north
and Sigs were left with 5 secondary stations. This number was reduced
to 4 on the 9th of December with the transfer of Beaverlodge Lake
Radio Station. The handover of this station was without doubt one
of the easiest for the Audit Team. There were no buildings of any
description or power plants to account for as all accommodation and
power were supplied by Eldorado Mining & Refining Company thus
making it a relatively simple matter of checking the technical and
a small amount of office equipment. A similar situation had prevailed
at Inuvik, where the Department of Public Works supplied accommodation
and power. Revenue from the Beaverlodge station had dropped off considerably
in the last year as most of the uranium mining companies were finding
it impossible to operate profitably and were closing down. Eldorado
Mining & Refining Company planned to continue operations but would
be unable to absorb many of the unemployed miners so, at handover
time, the future for this area did not look too bright.
figures for 1959 are only available for the period 1 Jan 1 Jul, at
which time the Department of Transport took over the traffic accounting
for the System. During this 6 month period, 1,234,471 messages of
all types were handled for an estimated value of two and one half
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals assigned tasks of providing public
communications in Yellowknife, and throughout the north, had come
to and end after 36 eventful years.
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