Pinetree Line Background
The Cold War, as I remember, managed to last for close to fifty years. Many of us who were employed during the 50’s and the 60’s are quite familiar with terms and acronyms such as the North America Air Defence Command (NORAD), the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, the Mid-Canada Line and the Pinetree Line.
This web site is dedicated to the many thousands of men and women who spent a part of their life on the Pinetree Line.
I have often wondered exactly how many people actually worked at the radar stations that formed the Pinetree Line. We have to remember that these radar stations were operational from coast to coast and that some of the Pinetree Line radar stations were operational for close to forty years.
Construction of the Pinetree Line commenced as a joint Canadian (RCAF) and American (USAF) project in the early 50’s. These radar stations were constructed and strategically located to counter the Soviet air threat against North America, and initially, they were fully manual early warning or aircraft control and warning (AC&W) systems which were established into geographical sectors.
The Pinetree Line consisted of four administrative groupings of stations.
Group I sites were funded and manned by the USAF and these were located in the Northeast Air Command (64th Air Division). Sites in this group included Cartwright Labrador, Frobisher Bay NWT, Goose Bay (Melville) Labrador, Hopedale Labrador, Resolution Island NWT, Saglek Labrador, St. Anthony NF, St. John’s (Red Cliff) NF and Stephenville NF.
Group II sites were funded by the USAF and manned by the RCAF. Sites in this group included Gander NF, Moisie QC and Sydney NS.
Group III sites were other than Group I and manned by the USAF. Sites in this group were located at Armstrong ON, Baldy Hughes BC, Barrington NS, Beausejour MB, Beaverlodge (Saskatoon Mountain) AB, Kamloops BC, Lowther ON, Pagwa ON, Puntzi Mountain BC, Ramore ON, and Sioux Lookout ON.
Group IV sites were funded and manned by the RCAF. Sites in this group included Alsask SK, Beaverbank NS, Chibougamau QC, Cold Lake AB, Comox BC, Dana SK, Edgar ON, Falconbridge ON, Foymount ON, Gypsumville MB, Holberg BC, Lac St. Denis QC, Mont Apica QC, Moosonee ON, Parent QC, Penhold AB, Senneterre QC, St. Margarets NB, St. Sylvestre QC, Tofino BC, and Yorkton SK
Computer technology led to the introduction of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system in the 60’s and the arrival of SAGE resulted in a significant decrease in manpower at the Pinetree Line locations. Ongoing changes in the economy and technology in the 70’s and 80’s continued to result in the closure of Pinetree Line radar stations across Canada. The North American Air Defence Modernization Agreement was signed in March 1985. This agreement modernized the air defence system for North America, but it also brought about the closure of the Pinetree Line as we knew it to be. Four of the original Pinetree Line sites were still in use at the start of the 1990s. These sites were equipped with the AN/FPS-117 and they were now referred to as Canadian Coastal Radars (CCR). These sites were located at Holberg, Barrington, Sydney and Gander.