Construction of the Pinetree Line commenced as a joint Canadian (RCAF) and American (USAF) project in the early 50's. These radar stations were constructed and strategically located to counter the Soviet air threat against North America, and initially, they were fully manual early warning or aircraft control and warning (AC&W) systems which were established into geographical sectors.
The majority of the Pinetree Line radar stations were constructed in the early 50s, and most of these became operational by 1953.
The awkward part of this entire process is the knowledge that some of these stations were closed down before many were aware of what was going on.
52 AC&W Squadron in Tofino, BC, was the first to go in December 1957. This was quickly followed with the closure of 51 AC&W Squadron in Comox BC. Comox was closed in June 1958.
Unknown to many in the RCAF were the details pertaining to the closure of 6 USAF manned Gap-Fillers in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1960. Say goodbye to the Elliston Ridge and La Scie Gap-Fillers in Newfoundland. Along with these two locations were four others all in Labrador: Fox Harbour, Spotted Isle, Cape Makkovik and Cut Throat Island.
The USAF wasn’t stopping with their Gap-Fillers. The AC&W Squadrons in Frobisher Bay, Resolution Island and St. John’s Newfoundland (Red Cliff) were all closed down on 1 November 61.
For those in the RCAF, there was a bit of a break before that fateful day when Mr. Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Minister of National Defence announced the closure of radar stations located at Edgar Ontario, Parent Quebec, St. Sylvestre Quebec, and Beaverbank Nova Scotia. All four of these locations bit the bullet on April Fool’s Day – 1 April 1964.
The RCAF continued along their merry way closing down Pagwa and Puntzi Mountain as of 1 October 1966. Not to be outdone, the USAF continued with the closure of Cartwright, Hopedale, St. Anthony and Stephenville – all in the 1968-1969 time period.
At the rate they were going, it appeared as if the Pinetree Line was going to simply go "poof" and disappear into the northern lights.
We could go on – but then there would be nothing to add – so, we will stop the preamble – and provide you with some articles of interest.
Updated: March 4, 2002