Scientific Spider Has Radar Eyes
The biggest and most sensitive eyes in Central BC lie atop a hill 27 miles from Prince George.
They never blink and are cared for by about 65 civilians and 130 members of the armed forces.
They seem small cog in the vast web of defence woven by the latest technological spider.
But the string of Baldy Hughes that make up the Pinetree system of radar across Canada prefer to be the unsung heroes of the national defence system.
If there was a nuclear war, it will be Baldy Hughes of the continent which will give warning.
A community in its own right costing an estimated $2.5 million a year to run, Baldy Hughes is often criticized by outsiders.
"People ask us to justify ourselves financially," said Captain Art Hawkes, "We act as an insurance and a deterrent".
But new complaints are heard from the men themselves.
It is more the rule than the exception for married men to volunteer to serve more than their posted time of two years. To a lesser extent, the same is true for the yearly stint of the single man.
So what is it about this comparatively isolated bush site?
"I think it is because this is a small base", explained Captain Hawkes, "everybody gets to know everyone else and it is run on a friendlier and more informal way".
Perhaps that is the reason why things have been accomplished around the base.
Take recreation, for example.
While many of the servicemen at Baldy Hughes live in the large, privately-owned trailer park adjacent to the main camp area, many others are billeted in Prince George.
This has not been to the detriment of facilities at the base.
A ski-run complete with tow rope, football and softball fields take second place this year to a curling rink.
Raised by the men themselves through the loan from a fund, $75,000 worth of effort is due to reach fruition later this month.
There are three "clubs" available according to rank. The Officers Mess, now only occupied by nine men and their guests; the Sergeant’s Mess where there are 28 NCO’s and finally Club 54, open to Airmen and Corporals with 81 members.
This article was written by Jim Sterling and published in the Prince George Citizen newspaper on Tuesday, 1 October, 1968. The detail has been made available for inclusion on the Pinetree Line web site by Keith Carson. Pinetree Line web site Note: There are four photos in the Baldy Hughes 1968 photo section which were a part of this newspaper article.