An important element of the Pinetree radar project which was approved by an Exchange of Notes between Canada and the United States on August 1, 1951, is the chain of radar stations extending from Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island, down the Coast of Labrador and Newfoundland to St. John's. 61 When the Pinetree project was originally planned it was realized that due to ice conditions some means of supplementing the sea re-supply of the Labrador and Northern Newfoundland radar stations would have to be provided. (There is, of course, an air strip already in existence at Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island, and construction of an air strip at Resolution Island was authorized last May). It was hoped that it would be possible to use helicopters but this has not proved feasible. The Exchange of Notes of August 1, 1951, authorizing the Pinetree project, made provision for this situation in the following terms:
"5. Within the sites made available to the United States . . ., the United States . . . may do whatever is necessary or appropriate to the carrying out of its responsibility in Canada in connection with the construction, equipment and operation of the extension in accordance with this note, including:
(a) construction, installation and operation of the necessary structures, facilities and equipment, and such improvement of the sites as may be required to fit them for their intended use, PROVIDED that there shall be prior consultation with the appropriate Canadian authorities with respect to all major construction . . ."
2. The United States Embassy, in Note No. 18 dated July 20, 1954, (copy attached), has now requested permission for the United States Air Force to carry out surveys preliminary to the construction of air strips in connection with the radar stations at St. Anthony, Newfoundland (Station No. N-26) and at Cartwright and Hopedale, Labrador (No. N-27 and No. N-28). The air strips which the United States Air Force wishes to build will be made of gravel, approximately 2,500 feet long and 100 feet wide. They will be suitable only for the light aircraft used in the re-supply of the radar stations; i.e. Beaver and/or C-47 aircraft.
3. The Secretary of State for External Affairs, with the concurrence of the Minister of National Defence, recommends:
(a) that the Department of External Affairs be authorized to send to the United States Embassy the attached draft Note concurring in the United States request for authority to carry out surveys for proposed air strips at St. Anthony, Newfoundland, and Cartwright and Hopedale, Labrador; and
(b) that, when in due course a request is received from the United States Government for permission to construct the air strips, the Department of External Affairs be authorized, after consultation with the Department of National Defence, to approve the request in accordance with the provisions of the Exchange of Notes of August 1, 1951, and subject to the condition that the air strips should not be used by the United States Air Force for any purpose other than the re-supply of the radar stations without the express approval of the Canadian Government, and that they should be available for use by the Royal Canadian Air Force if required. 62
Note No. 18
Ottawa, July 20, 1954
The Ambassador of the United States of America presents his compliments to the Secretary of State for External Affairs and, with reference to the Aircraft Communications and Warning Stations at St. Anthony, Newfoundland (N-26), and at Cartwright and Hopedale, Labrador (N-27 and N-28), has the honor to recall that initial planning provided for helicopter pads in the vicinity of each of these stations in the expectation that support by helicopter would largely satisfy support requirements.
However, observations for the past several months have clearly indicated that while these sites are relatively near their support base, weather conditions and other factors combine to effectively isolate them. In this connection, the following considerations are pertinent:
Each site is manned by ten officers and 115 airmen. Approximately five tons of mail, electronic communication spare parts, perishable foodstuff, and personnel require airlift to each site each month. Exclusive of emergency evacuations, it is estimated that approximately ten personnel must be removed to and from each site each month.
Transportation by amphibious aircraft can be made in the open water areas during the summer months. However, this type of transportation becomes extremely hazardous and cannot be utilized during part of the year, especially during the early spring and early fall due to the free air temperature causing ice formation on the aircraft hull during landing and take off and while on the water.
The general limitations of helicopters preclude their use for the full time support of these facilities.
In view of the foregoing, the United States Air Force is considering the possibility of constructing airstrips at the three sites and has requested the Ambassador to seek the permission of the Canadian Government to conduct surveys to determine the feasibility of the project.
In support of its request, the United States Air Force has stated that it would welcome Canadian participation in the surveys; that, if the surveys indicate that the airstrips are feasible, it will request Canadian Government approval before undertaking any construction, and that the airstrips it has in mind would be of compacted gravel, measure approximately 2,500 feet by 100 feet, and be capable of handling L-20 and/or C-47 aircraft.
The Ambassador would be grateful if Mr. Pearson would submit this request to the appropriate Canadian authorities and inform him in due course of their decision.
The Secretary of State for External Affairs presents his compliments to the Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America and has the honour to refer to the Embassy's Note No. 18 of July 20, 1954, requesting permission for the United States Air Force to conduct surveys to determine the feasibility of constructing airstrips at the Aircraft Communications and Warning Stations at St. Anthony, Newfoundland (N-26), and at Cartwright and Hopedale, Labrador (N-27 and N-28).
The Secretary of State for External Affairs is pleased to state that approval is granted for the conduct of the surveys described in the Embassy's Note.
It is noted that Canadian participation on the surveys would be welcomed. The Royal Canadian Air Force will provide an observer to accompany the survey parties. It is requested that the United States Air Force approach the Royal Canadian Air Force through service channels in order to settle the details of this Royal Canadian Air Force participation.
It is also noted that the approval of the Canadian Government will be sought before any construction is undertaken.
61 Voir/See Volume 17, Documents 671-673.
Approuvé par le Cabinet le 8 septembre 1954./Approved by Cabinet, September 8, 1954.