Additional Radar Stations on the Labrador Coast

Canadian External Relations - 1955


Volume #21 - 339.









Extract from Cabinet Conclusions
Top Secret

[Ottawa], May 6th, 1955


4. The Secretary of State for External Affairs, referring to the decision by the Cabinet on June 30th, 1954, that Canada should construct and operate the mid-Canada warning line, reported that, subsequently, the United States had expressed the desire to extend the line from Hopedale, its eastern terminus, down the Labrador and Newfoundland coasts to Cape Race.66 Since the U.S. already operated a chain of radar stations on this coast, as part of the Pinetree project, the proposal really meant the insertion of a number of gap-filler radars at appropriate points. In the circumstances, the Chiefs of Staff Committee had agreed that the project might be handled by the U.S. as a supplement to the existing Pinetree installations.

Surveys had been carried out by the North East Air Command of the U.S. Air Force and it was recommended that these gap-filler radars be established at six sites near Cape Makkovik, Cut Throat Island, Spotted Isle, Fox Harbor, La Scie and Elliston Ridge. There would be accommodation at each for thirty people, although the permanent staff would probably amount to twenty per station. Not more than 50 acres would be required per station although, for technical reasons, larger areas might be needed in some instances.

The U.S. Air Force had delayed requesting permission to begin construction because it had been waiting for the conclusion of the D.E.W. Line agreement on the assumption that this would serve as a model for the agreement to authorize the construction of these stations in Labrador and Newfoundland. The D.E.W. Line negotiations, however, had taken longer than anticipated. The U.S. fiscal year ended on June 30th, 1955, and part of the funds allocated for the Labrador extension, if not obligated at that time, would revert to the Treasury. This might delay construction of the stations and prevent their being operational by January 1957, when it was expected that the mid-Canada line would be completed. For this reason, Canada had been asked to consider allowing the U.S. Air Force to begin construction immediately, pending the conclusion of mutually acceptable terms and conditions between the two countries. The Minister recommended, with the concurrence of the Minister of National Defence, that the U.S. government be allowed to construct and operate the gap-filler radar stations mentioned, subject to the conclusion of an appropriate exchange of notes.

An explanatory memorandum had been circulated.

(Minister's memorandum, May 2, 1955 - Cab. Doc. 89-55†)

5. In the course of discussion the following points emerged:

(a) It was the usual practice for Canada to acquire and hold title to land needed for U.S. defence installations on Canadian soil. The Department of Transport acted as agents for the Department of National Defence and the provinces usually made their crown land available without charge.

(b) The proper provincial authorities should be kept as fully informed as possible about defence projects which involved the use of land belonging to the Crown in the right of a province. In acquiring such land, methods should be followed which did not offend the susceptibilities of the provinces who had the constitutional right to the land in question. If private property was required, normal expropriation methods were of course followed. It was pointed out that, as far as Newfoundland was concerned, the province had been kept informed, as a rule, about proposals to construct defence installations.

(c) As much consideration as possible should be given to Canadian contractors in the matter of supplying equipment and erecting buildings and living quarters. For installations in the Maritime Provinces, the work should be done by contractors from the area when this was feasible. In this connection, it was observed that, under the proposed conditions governing the establishment of the project, Canadian contractors would receive equal consideration with U.S. contractors and preference would be given to qualified Canadian labour.

6. The Cabinet noted the report of the Secretary of State for External Affairs and agreed:

(a) that the United States be authorized to construct and operate gap-filler radar stations in Labrador and Newfoundland as the following six sites:

Site number and name Parent Pinetree station
N-28A-Cape Makkovik N-28, Hopedale
N-27A-Cut Throat Island N-27, Cartwright
N-27B-Spotted Isle N-27, Cartwright
N-26A-Fox Harbor N-26, St. Anthony
N-26B-La Scie N-26, St. Anthony
N-22B-Elliston Ridge N-22, Redcliff

subject to the conclusion of an exchange of notes along the same general lines as the exchange for the Distant Early Warning System,67 and that, pending the conclusion of the agreement, the U.S. could proceed with preliminary procurement, shipment and placement of materials and other measures for the construction of these stations;

(b) that the Department of External Affairs be authorized to inform the U.S. Department of State of this decision; and,

(c) that every effort be made to ensure that proper and tactful methods be followed when acquiring land belonging to the Crown in the right of a province. ...

66 Voir/See Volume 20, Document 466.

67 Voir Canada, Recueil des traités, 1955, N° 29.
See Canada, Treaty Series, 1955, No. 29.