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Cold War Radar


The four main Canadian DEW Stations were: Dye Main in Cape Dyer, Fox Main in Hall Beach, Cam Main in Cambridge Bay, and Pin Main in Cape Parry.  They were staffed by military and civilians, Americans and Canadians. Among the civilians were Inuit people from the surrounding area who worked at these stations, especially on outdoor work.  The military were there for one year at a time, and civilians for 18 months at a time, for as long as they wanted.

The staff who worked on radar were located in dark rooms.  There, operators had to identify all aircraft by watching their screens.  Most were identified as commercial planes, but the rest would be sent on to Headquarters.

Supplying the stations was expensive.  For example, in 1962 it took $6 million of supplies by sea and $8 million by air, to supply the stations.  The sealift had 45 000 tons of supplies including everything from 30 000 tons of petroleum to 60 000 pounds of coffee.  The airlift brought food, mail, and electronics.  Supplying the stations was difficult with the weather in the North and co-ordination on such a large scale.

Station Profiles:

Cape Parry was located 204 miles north of the Arctic Circle and furthest west.  There was an attempt to make it comfortable by including features such as florescent lights, tiled floors, water-both cold and hot.  Luxeries such as cards, pool, darts, theatre, beer on the weekends, music, and libraries were also available.  For many at the station, lack of families was a problem.

Here, radar was also used to aid civilians in need, to forcast weather, and in search and rescue operations.  These were all ways to keep up to date with their skills.

Cambridge Bay was in the centre and was the hub of activit.  Governmental personnel operated out of here, which kept things busy.  It was very cold at the station, reaching up to -72 degrees fahrenheit.

Cape Dyer was on the east of the Line, and was the biggest station with a 900 nautical mile front (drawing also on Baffin Island and Greenland).  There was always something going on the station which kept things interesting, but the weather was tough.  There were 10 month long winters with winds of up to 100 knots.