HISTORY OF VEA, DAWSON CITY, Y.T.
1923 - 1947
Royal Canadian Signals Radio Station at Dawson City, Yukon Territory
has the distinction of being the first station completed, and "on
the air', of what is now known as the "Northwest Territories
& Yukon Radio System, with headquarters at Edmonton, Alberta.
was set up and ready for business early in October 1923; a few days
later its Yukon mate at Mayo, Y.T. was completed and we were officially
opened for public business on Oct. 20th 1923.
1923 the N.W.T. & Y. R. S. was not even thought of; except,
perhaps as a rather remote possibility -- If the Dawson-Mayo link
proved satisfactory. Prior to 1923 the then your and recently organized
Signal Corps had gradually and somewhat painfully proved its metal
and possibilities of providing comparatively long distance Radio
communication with low powered, low coast equipment and maintenance.
In the fall of 1921 the Corps first experimented with a two station
link between Ottawa and the R>C.A.F. Depot at Camp Borden; next
year we tackled Forestry Department communication in co-operation
with the then Civil Aviation ranch, with similar stations operated
at Winnipeg, and Victoria Beach, Berens River and Norway House on
lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. Early the following year (1923) we elaborated
still further on this Manitoba System which had done yeoman service
and earned for itself quite an enviable reputation for its work
in remote places.
had now gained considerable experience, "know how:" and
personnel, and by the fall off 1923 we were all set to provide communication
between the isolated mining town of Mayo, and Dawson City in the
Major W. Arthur Steel, technical officer of the Corps at that time,
assisted by Lieut. H.E. Taber, planned and organized this first
"Expedition Yukon" and the gear and equipment for it.
Selected personnel consisting of Sgt. Bill Lockhart, Sigmn. Art.
Lamb & Sigmn. Bill Whelan, destined for Mayo; and Sgt. Frank
Hearth, Cpl. Cec. May and Sigmn. Charlie Routh booked for Dawson,
gathered in Ottawa early in August 1923 for extensive "briefing"
and outfitting for the then unknown Northern adventure.
all of us the mere thought of going so far afield and into the sub-arctic
and glamorous Klondike was on par with making a polar expedition.
And judging from the amount of gear, special clothing and equipment
with which we were issued, and the instructions and advice poured
into our wide open and receptive ears and minds we were enroute
to positive isolation and arctic rigours beyond parallel and contact
with the outside world for the next two years.
The mere trip into Dawson in those days was something to brag about;
as a matter of fact it still is, but whereas one may now fly at
any time into the North country with speed and comfort, we then
had to be content to follow the trail of '98. Four days to Vancouver,
four days by boat up the coast to Skagway, Alaska, one day by train
again to Whitehorse, then another two days by steamboat down the
Yukon River to Dawson.