August 16, 2012

Gap Filler Site Oba (CG10 / M-119D) - Planning

Just to clarify my last experience, I had no expectation or plan of any sort that the Gap Filler site at Westport would be a home of someone, I fully expected it to be an industrial building or garage of some sort.  I'm bummed that I didn't get any pictures, but it really wasn't a "picture taking" atmosphere.  If I'd had my GoPro2 HD at the time I might have got some "dash cam" footage, which would have been priceless.

I think I've mentioned before that the best Pinetree Line sites, and in this case the best Gap Filler sites, are located in the middle of nowhere - because nobody visits them if they aren't easy to get to.  Well, the location of Gap Filler Site Oba is certainly not easy to get to, and I think that makes it a perfect make-up site for the disappointment of the last one.  South East of the town of Oba, Ontario there is a hill with a fire tower and hopefully two Steelox buildings left over from the Cold War.  The Oba Gap Filler was intended to be under the control of RCAF Station Ramore, until it was decommissioned, then it fell under the control of RCAF Station Lowther, for care and feeding while it changed hands to private interests.  Originally Lowther was being maintained by the USAF, so when Oba was being stood up, having the Yanks maintain it wasn't an option. What I really like about the site is, unless you know it's there, and you're looking for it, there's no way you'd stumble across it - there's no road access - AT ALL!  There have been gold mining exploration to the West of the gap filler, so if anyone has visited the site, I'd guess they had to do with either mining, or logging.  That's right, break out the compass and the GPS, we're going hiking in Northern Ontario!

View Larger Map

 There pictures are air photos from the 1960s and 1970s.  On them you can see the circle of defoliation that was done to build the base, and if you blow up the picture you can see the diesel fuel tank and two rectangular Steelox buildings which would house the accommodations and equipment.  The 2nd early spring picture shows a good contrast with the snow and the roofs of the buildings, they're quite clearly visible.

Cropped Image of Roll A24345 Frame 193- National Air Photo Library

Cropped Image of Roll A18016 Frame 028 - National Air Photo Library

What I find really encouraging is the following memo regarding an inspection done at the end of 1963, showing that the buildings were complete, but the tower was not erected.  This gives be a good degree of hope that there is *something* still standing at the top of the hill.  The satellite images above show the access road which was also mentioned in the documentation. 
Our file ref. 10-36 (SOCE)
St. Hubert PQ
29 Oct 63

Chief of the Air Staff
Dept of National Defence
Ottawa 4, Ontario

Ref: -- CE M966, 31 Jul
Inspection - Oba Gap Filler Site
An inspection visit to the Oba Gap Filler Site was conducted by the SCEO of Station Lowther with the following findings:

Steelox Buildings:
1. Winterized by the construction contractors; windows covered with plywood and caulked.
2. Several condensation stains were noted on the walls and ceilings.
3. Electrical conduit and boxes installed but the buildings were not wired.
4. Several hairline cracks in concrete floor; floor not tiles.
5. Building thoroughly aired during visit, but no apparent moisture problem.

1. Concrete foundation installed for tower base appeared in good condition.

Bulk Storage Tank:
1. This 100,000 gallon storage tank was never painted and is in rusting condition. The unit has been requested to arrange the cleaning and painting of this tank in the summer of 1964. Fuel supply lines are not connected.

2100 Gallon Tank:
1. This tank was not installed and is only slightly rusted. Vent outlet covered during inspection to prevent filling with rainwater.

Access Road:
1. This road is approximately two miles in length and is in surprisingly good condition. There were minor washouts, but the road is considered passable for vehicles. No maintenance required before next inspection visit.

1. Several items were left outside with the contractor’s departure. A large electric motor was put in the building during the inspection visit. There is a variety of material on site that could be used for repairs such as plywood, caulking material, asbestos board, etc.
2 In conclusion, the unit advised that it is not considered necessary for a maintenance party to visit the site before the next inspection visit in the spring of 1964. It is to be stressed that to reach the site requires a train from Hearst to Oba and then another train from Oba to Neswaubin (approximately 8 miles). From the tracks to the site is approximately 2 miles by the access road or 1 mile by a path through the bush.

(JW Johnston) S/L
In the coming weeks I hope to have a trip report ready for you to read regarding my experiences near Oba, Ontario - look it up on the map, it doesn't get any more off the beaten path than Oba!

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