Saskatoon Mountain, BC

1961 – Guide to Saskatoon Mountain AS – USAF Historical Division

919th Aircraft Control and Warming Squadron

Guide to

Saskatoon Mountain
Air Station


This booklet has been prepared with the wish that your trip into Canada and your tour at the 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron will be a pleasurable and fruitful one. For any further detailed information do not hesitate to contact the Information Services Office at the 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Saskatoon Mountain Air Station, Beaverlodge, Alberta, Canada.

Commander’s Welcome

919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
Saskatoon Mountain Air Station
Beaverlodge, Alberta, Canada

As Commander of 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, I wish to extend you a warm and cordial welcome. Whether you have been assigned out of the United States or not, I recognize that you will have many questions concerning the installation, its facilities, service and procedures. While all your questions cannot be anticipated, I feel this brochure will prove to be of valuable assistance as a guide.

Saskatoon Mountain, so-called, is not really a mountain as the word is understood in Alberta, but is high enough to command a sweeping view of a lush countryside. Nearest center of population is Beaverlodge, which serves an immensely productive agricultural area.

About a mile from Beaverlodge is a Dominion Experimental Farm – a show place in itself – and from here can be seen a panorama of rich farm land to the south, with the mighty Rockies visible nearly two hundred miles away.

An interesting fact about Beaverlodge is that very large amounts of pedigreed seed of all kinds are produced here. It is estimated that nearly one quarter of all the pedigreed cereals and forage crops in the entire province of Alberta is produced at Beaverlodge, and much of this seed is marketed in the United States.

I trust your tour will be personally rewarding as well as productive to the mission of the squadron and the United States Air Force.


Page 2 – Photos of some base facilities

Big Picture

The mission of the 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron is to conduct Air Defense Operations including radar surveillance to the maximum limits of radar coverage, reporting surveillance and tactical data to the Sector Direction Center, controlling Interceptors as directed by the Sector Direction Center, training to attain and maintain the highest possible combat potential and operational readiness of the unit maintaining installed operational equipment at optimum performance level.

We of the 919th AC&W Squadron are proud of our role in carrying out the tasks assigned to the Air Defense Command of the United States Air Force.


The 919th AC&W Squadron was activated in April 1952 at Geiger Field, Washington, Western Air Defense Force.

Beneficial occupancy of the site did not take place until February 1953 when a group of officers and airmen were airlifted to Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

In the latter part of February 1953 a motor vehicle convoy left Geiger Field for the new operating site, carrying more officers and airmen.

The site has had many harrowing experiences since that day in April 1952 when it was activated. For example, it has weathered a red alert and has been instrumental in locating several lost Canadian aircraft, once saving the life of an RCAF pilot who went down not far from here.

Proud of its record in the Air Defense Command, the 919th AC&W Squadron stands as a symbol of friendliness with the Canadian Government and an ever-ready alert point for both Canada and the United States to any potential aggressors.

Before Leaving the States

Weather (What to Expect)

The winters here are long and cold with occasional icy conditions hampering private travel. Snowfall usually begins in September and lasts until early May. Actually the average frost free period lasts just ninety days. The temperature has been known to fall as low as fifty degrees below zero, and remain there for a week or more; however, this is an unusual situation. The monthly average of daily mean temperature for the coldest month (January) registers at six above zero and the annual at thirty-five. The summers are beautiful: comfortably warm in the daytime and cool at night. This is slightly marred by an abundance of rainfall in June and July and a bumper crop of mosquitoes. Also, in the spring and summer, as a result of spring thaw and summer rains, much mud is to be found making driving on unpaved roads difficult and dangerous. If this reads like the dark side, it is because we want you to be prepared. Bring your snow shoes, raincoat and mosquito repellent.


As this book goes to press – July 1961 – it is announced from Ottawa that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will install high power television broadcasting stations in the Peace River area within the next few months, bringing "live" TV to local viewers. Hitherto it has been difficult or impossible to bring in television in this area.

Family Housing

There is no government housing available at the 919th. Private rentals are available but are moderately expensive. The average rental unfurnished is $65 a month for one bedroom, $85 to $125 for two or three bedrooms, unfurnished. Please do not misunderstand the word "unfurnished". When Canadians use this word it does not include a refrigerator or cooking stove. If you have your own furniture, it would be advisable to buy a stove and a refrigerator in the States prior to your coming here.

Utilities are moderate with gas for heating and cooking running $20 to $25 per month, electricity about $10 a month and water $5 per month. These figures are obtained from a family of five (5) living in a three (3) bedroom home.

Trailer Facilities: There is a modern trailer court on base. Trailers may be brought to the site only with the permission of the Squadron Commander, and they must be capable of existing in sustained extreme low temperatures with safety and comfort to the occupants. Each trailer pad is complete with sheltered entrance and room suitable for storage.

What to Buy in the States

Clothing – Almost everything needed may be purchased in Grande Prairie or Beaverlodge. Both centers have modern business establishments which carry complete stocks of men’s and women’s clothing. However, the price of most clothing is higher in Alberta than in the States. The Base Exchange stocks some clothing and other clothing can be ordered through catalogs at the Exchange. This however, takes approximately six (6) weeks to arrive at this station. If you purchase clothing before coming to Canada (an this is money-wise), be sure to buy heavy garments, keeping in mind the severe winters. Buy for comfort and warmth, not looks when coming to this country. Although you may look good, it doesn’t keep you too warm and if you have to walk five miles in sub-zero weather. For summer, rainwear and rubber boots are a must.

Food – Canadian customs allow you to bring two day’s supply of food into Canada. Some varieties of food which you have a taste for will not be found in this area of Canada, but all of the basic foods and some varieties which you may find interesting are on hand. The prices of food run a few cents higher than Stateside prices, while meats and dairy products are normally a few cents lower than most of us are accustomed to paying. Remember, this base does not have a commissary store.

Auto Insurance, License and Repairs –

When you are assigned to duty you will be considered residents for all licensing purposes, including automobile licensing. Persons having current year plates from one of the States may obtain Alberta plates for $2. Which are good for the remainder of the current fiscal year, ending March 31st. The rate for new plates averages $11 and the highest rate for the biggest cars is $25. You will be required to purchase an Alberta Driver’s License upon arrival at this station. A license, good for five years, costs $5. A refund of $1 for each year the license will not be used will be made before you leave Alberta. Also, be sure you acquire a pink card from your car insurance company to verify that it is recognized in the Province of Alberta Local insurance, good only in the Province, is surprisingly inexpensive. For example, PL & PD for a 1960 Chev costs $23 a year for a year’s coverage at 10, 20 and 5 thousand if over 25 years of age and $60 if under 25. Moreover, many ZI companies will not extend "Resident" coverage once you are stationed here but only on an in-transient basis. Be sure to check your car insurance policy to determine if your car will be covered in Canada.

Auto repair facilities are available for all American cars and some foreign cars, at prices comparable with those you are accustomed to. All main roads are kept open all winter, and everyone uses their cars the year round. By changing over to lighter lubricants in the fall, and installing a motor heater which plugs into an ordinary socket, your car can be used 12 months in the year.

The Trip Up

Modes of Travel:

Private Auto – Persons travelling by car should understand that TPA mileage in Canada is paid on the basis of airline miles, which is usually only sufficient if two or more people travel together, sharing expenses. Two routes are available from McChord Air Force Base, the shorter of which, through British Columbia, is occasionally closed in bad weather. That route through Fraser Canyon, the "Cariboo Trail" and Hart Highway ends at Dawson Creek where Highway No 2 connects through to Beaverlodge. The other route is farther and better roads are found. It generally follows the bus route by way of Edmonton. The Provincial Highway from the Canadian Border to the Station via Edmonton is all black-topped. Recommended this route be used if you travel in your own car. Either route will see distances of fifty to one hundred miles between communities and occasionally a community will consist of nothing more than a single establishment offering gasoline, café, garages and possibly cabins. Drivers should avail themselves of the services of AAA for information on route conditions and accommodations. Roads generally from Edmonton west to Vancouver are gravel or black-top.

Persons planning to drive their own cars are advised to have them winterized and equipped with tires designed for mud and snow, such as "Town and County" or "Suburbanite" tread. Equipment carried, particularly during the winter, should include shovel, axe, chains, tow chain, and emergency source of heat such as camper’s stove or sterno, food (candy is well recommended for compact storage, keeping quality and high energy source) and spare cans of gas and oil. Winterizing a car is most popularly taken care of in this country by block heaters and trickle chargers. Although there are no garages for storage of private cars, either in town or on the base, almost all parking facilities are equipped with outlets to which block heaters may be connected.

Travel by Commercial Carrier – The best mode of travel is by commercial air to Grande Prairie. There is a liberty run from the site leaving Grande Prairie at 2330 three nights a week and personnel are authorized to phone the base for transportation to the base. The trip by air involves changing planes at Vancouver and again at Fort St. John, and is by far the quickest and most comfortable trip. Bus is the next best. The trip by bus involves travelling across Washington to Idaho, thence north easterly to Edmonton, then a change to Canadian Coachways bus which serves the Peace River area. When you arrive at Beaverlodge by bus, transportation from the site will pick you up. Call Beaverlodge 19, then ask for the orderly room or the Junior Officer of the day.


All personnel are required to clear customs upon entering Canada. This is usually a very quick and painless procedure. A "temporary admission" report is required at time of entry for automobiles, household goods, sporting goods, appliances, cameras etc., This report is valid for a six-month period and may be renewed upon application every six months thereafter. Items (except automobiles) valued at over $10 brought into Canada at a later date are subject to import tax. Your automobile may be returned to the United States for trade in on a new car and the new car brought in without tax. None of your possessions may be sold in Canada but must be returned to the USA. Exceptions involve payment of taxes to the Canadian Government prior to the sale of the article. Packages valued at not more than $10.00 exclusive of liquor and tobacco, may be received by US military personnel without import taxation.

Prior to departure from home station, a power of attorney for entry of household goods and/or personal effects, together with a list of contents with approximate total value should be accomplished and mailed to this organization. This is necessary should the goods arrive in advance of your arrival as Customs will not release the shipment unless this list and a power of attorney are provided. Of course, if you arrive at this station prior to the arrival of your household goods and/or hold baggage at Customs House in Edmonton Alberta, the power of attorney need not be used as you can sign the Customs Form E-29 yourself here at the squadron. The power of attorney will be accomplished as follows:

____(To be filled in by the squadron)____ ____919th AC&W Squadron____

(Name and Rank) (UNIT)

is authorized to enter for me at the Custom House at ____Edmonton____

____Alberta, Canada________________________ the following shipment of

personal and household effects.

Date of Shipment: ___________________________________

Name and Address of Exporter: ___________________________________

Value of Goods: ___________________________________



Address: ___________________________________

Dated at: __________________________ 19______

Cats and dogs may be brought into Canada provided they have been inoculated for rabies. Certification that the inoculation will be good for at least six months after entry must be shown. Canaries and other birds are not permitted entry into Canada.

Now You’re Here

Surrounding Area

The country surrounding the 919th is rolling hills and wheat farms. This site is beautifully located atop Saskatoon Mountain the only appreciable hill in the wheat belt prairies of western Alberta. The foothills of the Canadian Rockies begin their rise about 80 miles to the west. The 919th is located about five miles off Provincial Highway No. 2. This location is approximately 50 miles from Dawson Creek; 300 miles from Edmonton; 13 miles from the town of Beaverlodge; and 26 miles from the city of Grande Prairie. From Edmonton, capital of the province of Alberta, highway No. 2 winds its way 350 miles west-north-west to Dawson Creek, famed starting point, or "Mile Zero" of the Alcan Highway. Provincial highway No. 2 is all paved.

Beaverlodge –

The mailing address for the squadron is Beaverlodge, a community of about 1000 people and home for a large percentage of our separate ration personnel. Beaverlodge is served by the Northern Alberta Railroad with two trains a week and the Canadian Coachways operating one bus each way, every day. There is no transportation on Sundays.

Beaverlodge has a number of excellent stores, garages, service stations, restaurants, a hotel, bank and the largest community center in the Peace River Country; also a curling rink and open air skating rink. For summer sports Beaverlodge has a new sports grounds located just west of the townsite with a new ball diamond. The town has an excellent brass band and is, in short, a friendly and sociable community. The local Lion’s Club consists of members from Beaverlodge and the Air Station which makes for friendly social relations all around.

Grande Prairie – The major community, 8500 population, and principal shopping center for the area is the city of Grande Prairie, headquarters of the county by the same name. Grand Prairie has many modern stores and restaurants. Two theatres in town offer programs six days a week and a drive-in two miles out of town , operates during warm weather. Swimming and picnicking are popular pastimes for the local residents.

Currency and Banking Accommodations:

Canadian currency is the official medium of exchange in Alberta. Military personnel are paid by US Government check from the finance office at McChord Air Force Base. The checks must be converted into Canadian currency. There are two charges. First, the bank makes a service charge, then adjusts the rate of exchange between US and Canadian dollars.

Station Allowances range from $.35 per day for a single airman basis to $3.25 per day for a Major with 5 dependants.

Banking – The nearest bank is located at Beaverlodge. It is capable of all banking services.

Recreation, Hunting and Fishing:

In the vicinity of the 919th there are many types of recreation to be found, depending upon the season. Winter time finds quite a few sports getting under way such as hockey, curling, skiing and tobogganing. Hockey and curling are the main attractions with rinks in the surrounding communities.

Summer time offers a sportsman’s paradise. Hunting and fishing are found in your back yard. There are a number of lakes within a few miles radius which offer excellent fishing. You can expect to catch trout, pickerel, jack perch, whitefish and many other fresh water fish. Hunting can also be found close by, ranging from moose, deer, elk and bear to small fowl. Hunting and fishing are strictly enforced and hand guns are strictly prohibited.

For on base recreation, military personnel and their dependants have an unlimited choice of recreational facilities to make their assignment at the 919th a most memorable one. There is a complete and well equipped woodworking shop, automotive hobby shop, photo lab, shot guns, rifles, fishing equipment and a complete line of camping equipment. For the outdoor man, equipment includes speed boats, outboard motors with trailers for a week-end trip to the lakes and mountains. The new multi-purpose building is equipped with a two lane bowling alley, snack bar, library, BX and recreation hall that provides pool and ping-pong. Baseball and basketball players will meet with stiff competition and will find these sports highly patronized by the local populace during seasonal play in the Peace Rive "Wheat Belt" League. The base theatre is centrally located for your convenience and offers movies seven nights a week for the whole family. An of course, the base gym is open fourteen hours daily and is fully equipped for squadron tournaments, tumbling, muscle-building equipment, volleyball and badminton.

Base Facilities

Air Force Aid Society

The Air Force Aid Society renders assistance to Air Force personnel and their dependants in times of unforeseen emergencies. Assistance is given in the form of non-interest bearing loans and cash grants. If you have a problem which may be solved by the Aid Society, contact the Personal Affairs Section.


Beaverlodge boasts one barber shop with several more in Grande Prairie. In genera, trim fees here are more economical than Stateside.

Base Exchange

The base exchange stocks all the basic necessities plus some attractions peculiarly Canadian. Many more items can be ordered through the catalogues on hand at the exchange.

Day Room

The recently remodelled day room offers relaxation in off duty hours. For the more energetic, pool and ping-pong afford activity. For those who prefer a more relaxed challenge, chess and checkers fill the bill.

Duty Hours

Duty hours for the 919th personnel are from 0800 hours to 1700, Monday through Friday. Personnel in operations phase of the mission are on a round-the-clock shift schedule.


USAFI and ECI correspondence courses, plus counselling and other services are available to those interested. The base has a part time educational advisor and group study courses are offered throughout the year. The educational services are handled through the Educational Service Office, located in the Administration Building. The Education Office is open each week day 1400 to 1600.

Family Assistance Program

This program is designed to assist Air Force personnel and their dependants in solving problems related to family living. The work in the program is accomplished by the volunteer efforts of the AF wives at the 919th under the supervision of the Family Assistance Program Officer. Details on the programs services may be learned by contacting the Information Services Office.

Hobby Shop – Woodworking and Photo Lab

Yes, we also have a hobby shop where airmen with talent may whistle while they work with wood and metal. Almost anything can be made with the hobby shop power tools and a little ingenuity. Photo hobby shop is also available with everything that is needed to produce black and white pictures.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning Facilities

Facilities for laundering will be found in each barracks. There is an on base laundry and dry cleaning pick-up with three day service.


A library is available stocking the latest in fact and fiction as well as technical publications. Usable references are also on hand and helpful assistance in making selections will be given on request.


Mail is picked up and delivered daily except Sundays by the mail clerks. The squadron utilizes private key-type mail boxes for personnel.

Medical and Dental Services

Medical facilities on the base include a well equipped dispensary and two Air Force technicians. There is a daily sick call (not to include dependants) and emergency cases are airlifted to McChord Air Force Base. All military personnel and dependants are covered under Medicare. Beaverlodge has a new hospital. Grand Prairie has complete medical facilities as well.

Dental care is provided by an Air Force dentist, physically located on this base every other month. Some dependant care is available.

Officer and NCO Clubs

The 919th AC&W Squadron boasts of 3 Clubs for its personnel – one for Officers, NCO’s and Airmen. The Airmen’s Lounge serves as a NCO Annex with all airmen serving as associate members. The Clubs, being the social centers of the base, feature programs of bingo, dancing and many other social events.

Religious Facilities

Almost every major denomination is presented by churches and services in the towns of Beaverlodge and Grand Prairie. Base transportation is provided for church services. Also, we are visited monthly by an Air Force Chaplain, all of which offers base personnel a well rounded spiritual program.

Schools for Dependants

Dependants of the 919th AC&W Squadron personnel attend schools in the local communities which offer schooling up to and including the 12th grade. It is recommended that parents bring all pertinent schooling records and transcripts for school age children to facilitate their speedy enrolment into the local school system.


There are no daily transportation runs to Beaverlodge for married personnel. However, the access road to the station has just been black-topped except for a small portion, and private cars will have little difficulty getting to and from work.


Blues are required for approximately 1 October to 1 June. Summer uniforms are worn the remainder of the time. The wearing of the uniform will be prescribed by the commander. All necessary Arctic type clothing is issued to Officers and Airmen.

Wives Club

The Officer’s and Airmen’s wives of the 919th AC&W Squadron hold meetings the second Tuesday of every month. Every Air Force wife whose husband is stationed at the 919th is eligible to join. The dues are nominal and fun’s aplenty.

Page 10 – Diagram of Saskatoon Mountain Air Station

Page 11 – Diagram of Grande Prairie

Page 12 – Matrix providing Climate Statistics

Page 23 - Deluxe Cleaners Ltd., advertisement