The following document was given to me by Bill Wilson, retired Director General, Telecommunications Regulations Branch in July 2002. I believe Carl Robinson had passed away around that time. Carl was a long-time employee of the Ionospheric service in the Department and was the author of “A History of Canadian Ionospheric Work”.
This document is clearly an initial draft. I have made some annotations in italics from my own knowledge, and would welcome additional information from others. I would particularly be interested in the whereabouts of any of the people mentioned in the paper.
29 October 2004
February 13, 1961
A HISTORY OF RESOLUTE BAY IONOSPHERIC STATION
The earliest information regarding Resolute has come from Jim Atkinson who kept a written record of his time at Resolute. Information has also been gathered from Lou Colpitts, one of the first Ionospheric Staff, members, from J.C.Wyatt, who made the original survey for the Ionospheric Station, from J .G. Gilmore, and from Lloyd Avery, lately diesel mechanic at Resolute.
Jim Atkinson arrived at Resolute by a U.S. Naval Ship in the summer of 1947. J.E. Atkinson, Radio Operator, Met Division, DOT. Others from the ship erected 2-24x32 pre-fab buildings, one for operations, and one for living quarters, (likely building #1 & 3 respectively). A third building 24 x 64 was erected for a combined mess hall and living quarters (called mess/recreation hall on plan). The refrigeration unit was attached to the outside north side and remains there at this date (1962). A Quonset hut (probably #8) housed 3-20 kva diesel generators. Building #7 was constructed at that time, and provided, in the south part, an office for the RCMP. It seems likely that several other Quonsets were raised for storage areas.
An antenna system was installed consisting of 4-85' mast (towers still standing) and 3 plywood masts, which were for NBS recording of WWV, by the use of Brown recorders.
Transmitters consisted of 1-2kw Wilcox 1 channel beacon, a T4FRG four-channel and a T5 low frequency unit.
Bill Ray was OIC Met. R.W. Rae replaced J.D. Cleghorn as OIC Resolute, I believe at Christmas 1947.
Weather traffic was sent to Norman Wells and Edmonton, while administrative traffic went to BW8 (Thule) or to Crystal 2 (Frobisher).
During the winter one member of the staff was electrocuted. L.B. Manion, Radiosonde Operator, Met. Branch.
In October (1947) E.R. Ted Gibbon (currently -1961 - Radio Inspector, Port Arthur) of the weather staff was mauled by a bear as he went from the mess hall back to the operations building.
Fuel was in 45 gallon drums.
Vehicles consisted of 2 - D7 tractors, a "White rat", two passenger snowmobile and a fork- lift.
Personnel consisted of 8 Canadian Radio Operators, and 8 USWB and an RCMP constable.
The Air-strip appears to have been started at the same time as the settlement and a Quonset, a Jamesway and some tents were provided on the south east end of the runway to house the work gang who came in by ship and constructed the buildings.
Jim remembered an RCAF Canso arriving the second summer (1948) carrying Jack Wyatt, who made the initial survey for the Ionospheric Station
In the spring of 1948 a C54 crashed on take off. The same spring the mess hall at the strip was destroyed by fire.
200 US soldiers came in with the 1948 resupply cargo, who, under Major McDonald and Cpt. Bradovitch constructed the garage, (with power plants), the North Star Hotel and sundry Met buildings. Several Jamesway and Quonset huts were put up to house the men and provide work- room.
Likely four 13,000 gallon oil tanks were installed, two on the beach and two above the buildings.
One of the newly erected buildings which was partly a mess hall (building #10) and partly quarters burned 3 days after completion, forcing the men who were sleeping to escape through the windows.
Atkinson departed by A/C (?) September 1948. He met J.C.Wyatt, however, some time before he left, he, having arrived by plane alone to select a building site.
It is thought that JC Wyatt put up a Jamesway building to house the Construction crew and lonospheric Staff. Other reports indicate that the construction people lived in tents until the building was erected.
The radio operator staff of the Ionospheric Staff with the construction crew, and J. C. Wyatt, arrived by RCAF Canso September 1948. F/O Game was aircraft captain, and the route was via Coral and Arctic Bay. McFaddon and Paul Serson were among the passengers.
The 1948 resupply was by Navy ships East Wind and Wyandot. Supplies were left on the beach.
The JAWS operation was in full swing that fall (1948) with a staff of30 to 40 men. Don Bowers was OIC of Ionic, with a crew consisting of Vern Carmichael, Lou Colpitts, Phil Warton, and George Simpson (Cook after November).
Electric Power was generated locally by 3 Turner Diesel 5 kw units. No attempt was made to get power from the JAWS. Water was obtained from ice & snow until late winter when the JAWS personnel delivered water on a sleigh.
A Bombardier snowmobile was the only vehicle provided Ionic.
It is thought that Jack Clark and Dr. Rose arrived by ship in Aug 1948. Dr. Rose installed Cosmic Ray equipment in the Ionic station. He lived in one of the Jameway huts and messed with the JAWS people.
The C2 ionospheric recorder was installed in January 1949 by Alex Burney from the RBM office. Later in the spring, Lou Colpitts shot a polar which was wandering around the building area bear using the station .300 Savage.
The Ionic station staff changed in August with Lloyd Cope becoming OIC and a staff consisting of Bill George, Rolly Ludwick --- Bentley
The fall of 1950 Jim Gilmore became OIC (he left July 7 1951 ). Staff of Kapitski, Bill Willis, old Bob Campbell.
The Fall of 1950, a cable was laid to carry 2300 volts from the RCAF to the Ionic site. One Turner was to float on the line to care for surges, but synchonizing difficulty engendered the decision to depend entirely on RCAF power, except when they changed engines, which wouldn't synchonize. This arrangement was in effect until the D13,000's were operating.
1950 Hole drilling under Peter Bremner at JAWS site for the purpose of soil studies. Bemner relieved by Frank Cook summer 1951.
Early in 1951 difficulty at RCAF power plant made it necessary for Ionic to run 2 5kw plants and for one week send 5 kw to RCAF to operate local essential services.
July 1951 Vic Decloux OIC.
That winter Bill Campbell and Harold Serson set up the F1 measurement program.
Spring of 1952, John Chrome led an expedition to set out food caches around the island, using the snowmobile as transportation.
The summer of 1952, Lloyd Avery accompanied Frank Cook and another geologist on a trip around the island.
Co-ordination of DOT communications was agreed upon, resulting in John Chrome making a survey (Spring 1952) of the Resolute area and designing an antenna farm to be located on the plateau above the Ionic station.
Joe Merrifield became 01C the summer-of 1952
In 1952 it was decided that the JAWS station and Ionic should combine power plants, consequently a power house and 3- 75kw plants were shipped via the 1953 re-supply for this purpose. .
Midsummer 1953,- Al Simpson took over from Joe Merrifield as acting OIC until Ed Leaver arrived on Oct 14th. Roger Small was the magnetician.
Summer of 1953, the RCAF site at the air-strip was completed and the JAWS people moved to be with them.
The Ionic Garage and power-house were constructed that summer and the D13,000 units put into operation. Lloyd Avery and Gordon MacDonald were the operating staff, living in the North Star Hotel while the RCMP constable and Frank Cook lived in the JAWS administration building. The D7 tractor likely arrived that summer.
Sept 27 1954,the two 8 room barrack buildings and the utility room were completed. Kit Loomer, magnetician, left at that time.
Lou Colpitts arrived in Sept 1954 to become OIC, and Ed Leaver left in October. The staff consisted of Sy Tucker and George Forrah. Bill Letang, who became a long term resident diesel mechanic, had just arrived.
The RCAF site was developed further that summer.
December 54, the RCAF steam plant burned, Ron Kyle was OC (RCAF)
The “on the ground” cable to RCAF was removed and strung to south beacon via the water hole. Garage was insulated and inside wall lined. Old sleeping quarters were converted to rec room.
1954, new pipelines were laid from beach to tank farm. C02 system was installed in power house
Lou Colpitts left July 1956
1956 IGY buildings were constructed
1957 - Six additional 13,000 gallon fuel tanks added to farm.
1958 Fedorack OIC. Overhead power line constructed IONIC to RCAF, carried by 2 D13000 on test.
1959 Heated food storage.
RCAF constructed the large power plant
1961 new mess and lab building - George Butler OIC. George had been at Eureka 1957-59.
Power obtained from RCAF . December 1961.
1962 OIC Richard Chan.
Administration transferred from Radio Regs to CMO, April lst. Satellite tracking began September 28th 1962.
Transcribed by OCR. Jg 28 Oct 04 with minor edits.
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