August 05, 2012

Gap Filler Radar Station - Lac Ste Marie (CG7 / C-2D)

On August 4th 2012 I took a short trip to see one of the few mostly-intact, but seldom photographed, Gap Filler Radar Stations.  The Lac Ste Marie Gap Filler site was being built between 1960-1962, and when the project started to get cut ~1962, the equipment building, the accommodation building, a 50,000 gal fuel tank, a 3 season 3+ mile access road, perimeter fence, foundation for the tower, well and toilet facilities were already in place.  The tower was built to increase the value/use to the new owner (Camp Fortune) after the project was already slated to be cut. It was one of less than a dozen sites considered to be 95% complete, so it is a little special.

Gap Filler sites were built at a varied cost, depending if they had to bring in a road, do significant work on levelling the area, or other local issues. One problem was the time which they were able to work on the site, they could only work from June to December due to the weather, and even then the contractors didn't want to bid or go to some of the places the engineers said they had to build a site.

According to previously classified documents the reasoning for deploying these low-altitude radar sites was to cover off the radar coverage that the Pinetree Line stations were missing, below 6000' was sketchy, "Gap Filler" sites were supposed to firm up the net above the 2000' range.  Other declassified documents show that the intent was to extend coverage to 600' above ground level.

If you're planning on visiting; the road to the top would best be navigated with an ATV, motocross, or mountain bike (if you're an athlete).  It's a steep hike, and I wouldn't recommend doing it by foot.  There is no gate at the bottom, despite what the historical record says or the topo map shows.
Easy to locate, just follow the road "Chemin Du Radar"

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The road to the top is dirt and rock, and meant to be used only three seasons of the year.  I was unaware of that before going, and this is significant because there must be another Steelox building near the paved road where the military would have stored their tracked vehicle(s) for winter transport to the top of the hill.  You see, the plan in 1960 was, for the "Northern" sites to store, locally, a tracked vehicle so the road didn't need to be snow ploughed.  They would store that vehicle somewhere they could get to, right off the local main paved 4 season road.  I have a good idea of where that might have been, and I think I saw what looked like a quonset hut, but didn't think to check it out as it was very far from the gap filler site.  I guess that's something to check out the next time I visit!

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I've added comments to the pictures so it is more evident what they are...

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