The Establishment of Alert, N.W.T., Canada

J. Peter Johnson, Jr.

Abstract


The Joint Arctic Weather Stations of Canada and the United States were built in the Queen Elizabeth Islands of northern Canada. The Eureka and Resolute stations were established in 1947 and another two, Mould Bay and Isachsen, in 1948. In the summer of 1948 the U.S. icebreakers Edisto and Eastwind reached Dumbbell Bay on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, where a cache was deposited for a fifth Canadian station, Alert. This station was established by air from Thule in April 1950. Unlike earlier satellite stations, the eight regular station personnel were supplemented by four extra men to aid in construction of the buildings and a gravel airstrip. During the spring a message left at Cape Sheridan by Peary in 1907 was found and evidence, including an unreported marker, of the 1875-76 British Admiralty Expedition was discovered. Equipment failures and supply problems later on caused construction delays, which were relieved by air drops. One of these led to the crash of an RCAF Lancaster and the death of all aboard. An RCAF Canso sent to investigate was damaged during an attempted takeoff but was repaired when the Eastwind arrived with support and badly needed equipment. Completion of the station proceeded rapidly after this, and it became operational in September 1950. As an important Cold War listening post on the northern rim of the continent, its population of specialists grew to more than 200.

 


Keywords


Alert; N.W.T.; Joint Arctic Weather Stations; Ellesmere Island; Cold War

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic1587

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