Gander, NF

1979 – History of CFS Gander – Alma Williams

of CFS Gander

The history of CFS Gander is rich in aviation heritage. The streets of the Town of Gander are named after famous airmen and even the bars have aeronautical titles such as the Flyers Club or Cloud Nine. The airport on which the station is located was initially begun in 1936 and in November, 1938 became an operational airport. The airport played an important role in World War II with the RCAF, RAF and USAAF conducting operations from the extensive runway system that was carved out of the bush land. Winston Churchill once referred to Newfoundland as the "largest aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic" which is understandable in view of the many thousands of aircraft ferried via Gander to Britain and which is evidenced by the Hudson monument located on the road to the airport. Gander’s strategic location led to its post-war role as a "half-way house" for the air traffic between Europe and North America. Thus, it is fitting that today CFS Gander is an Air Command Station which plays key roles in the air sovereignty and search and rescue posture of the Canadian Forces as well as serving as host to a communications research unit.

In celebrating our 25th Anniversary as an operational station we are accepting our roots in the air defence world as the beginnings of CFS Gander. For it was in September, 1953 that the then 226 Aircraft Warning Squadron took command of the Pinetree Line radar site constructed by the US Government. In February, 1954 the 226 Aircraft Warning Squadron was declared operational and thus 1979 marks our 25th year of functioning in a defined role from the present site of the station. On 28 Dec 54, the title was changed to 226 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. Purists may attempt to trace our roots to the first RCAF landing at Gander on February 10, 1940, to the RCAF wartime operations from 5 May 41 to 31 Mar 46, or to the RCN establishment of a High Frequency Direction Finding Station here in 1950 at the "Old Navy Site" on the edge of town. Some may argue that our CFS Gander history should commence with the 1968 unification decision when the Naval Radio Station Gander was disbanded to become CFS Gander and occupy the RCAF Station Gander premises and 226 AC&W Squadron. However, it has been those recent twenty-five years, since February 1954, that have seen this station function as an operational base.

In Apr 70 the 226 AC&W Squadron became a lodger unit as Canadian Forces Communication Command took over control of the station. The new communications research building, affectionately referred to as the "Turkey Farm", was completed in 1970. The recent growth dates from the December, 1976 decision to locate marine search and rescue capability at Gander. On May 9, 1977, CFS Gander became a unit of Air Command and the 770 Communications Research Squadron became a lodger unit. The 103 Rescue Unit was formed to replace the SAR detachments which had established the initial search and rescue capability. 226 AC&W Squadron was to endure until 26 July 1978, when the radar site hook-up to the SAGE system was completed and the unit was retitled 226 Radar Squadron.

Today CFS Gander is the host of two integral units, 226 Radar Squadron and 103 Rescue Unit. 770 Communications Research Squadron, as a unit of Canadian Forces Communication Command, is a lodger unit. In addition, CFS Gander acts as an advance deployment base for CF-101 Voodoo aircraft performing air sovereignty missions over the western North Atlantic.

CFS Gander is unique in its diversity of operational roles and unusually rich in military heritage. In celebrating, February 1979 as our 25th anniversary we are recognizing our past and preparing for our future. While the occasion may seem of particular significance to 226 Radar Squadron, all personnel at CFS Gander share the customs and traditions associated with the station site as well as our present association with Air Command.


CFS Gander
25th Anniversary
Mess Dinner
Guest List

BGen DC Mackenzie, CD

Commander ATG

Captain AG Niles


BGen DP Harrison, CD

Commander CFCC

Captain RH Brill


LCol DE Carney, CD

Representing Commander ADG

LCol EB Abbott, CD


Col AE Keddy, CD

Air Com DCOS C&E

LCol RF Holland, CD
Former CO of 226 Radar Squadron

Air Com SOGE

LCdr (Ret’d) HR Steele, CD
Former CO of CFS Gander

President and Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Provincial Airways; Owner of Albatross Hotel, Sinbad’s Motel Restaurant and Cloud Nine; distinguished Newfoundland businessmen and entrepreneur.

Present CO’s

Station Commander

LCol PJ (Bud) Taggart

wife – Evelyn

CO 103 RU

Major AH (Austin) Hayes

wife – Rowena

CO 226 Squadron

Major BS (Bruce) Greaves

wife – Donna

CO 770 Squadron

Major HJ (Harold) Bitcon

wife – Marg

XO 103 RU

Major CR (Colin) Gillis

wife – Patsy