September 17, 2013

Falher, Alberta - Mid-Canada Line POL Site

Back in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s the town of Falher, Alberta was used as a supply point for moving Petroleums, Oils and Lubricants (POL) to two stations of the Mid-Canada Line (MCL).  The rail runs through Falher, and rail was the most efficient way to get supplies to the Northernmost reaches of Canada which didn’t have ocean access.

Location of Mid Canada Line Sites near Alberta
Courtesy of Larry Wilson -
MCL Site 830 and MCL Site 833 were part of the MCL radar "fence", and were likely run off Diesel generators.  Supplies such as fuels and lubricants for remote locations of the Mid-Canada Line
had to be flown in by helicopter, but where possible supplies would be trucked.  I have no information to confirm this, but considering roads were in existence around Falher, I have no reason to believe MCL Site 830 and MCL Site 833 were overly difficult to reach by road, so why would expensive helicopter time be used?  MCL Site 830 was southeast of Falher, toward High Prairie, Alberta, and MCL Site 833 was southwest of Falher toward Sexsmith, Alberta.  The exact location where MCL Site 830 or MCL Site 833 were, I'm not entirely sure of.  We can assume the fence would have been placed at relatively high points, and they would have been staggered ~30 miles apart.  Drawing a straight line between Falher and Sexsmith, and Falher and High Prairie we can see the MCL sites would have been south of that arbitrary line.

Credit: The Atlas Of Canada
From the open-source satellite imagery available, the railroad spurs and sidings can be clearly seen.  However, no discernible military or contractor related unloading depot can be identified, by me anyway.  Considering railroad design, unloading would ahve been done on a spur or siding.  Using Google Street View I can see several grain silos, but off hand I do not see any buildings or artefacts that might suggest a previously military use.

I'd like to know where the Falher POL Site was, if it was ever remediated for PCB or other hydrocarbon contamination, and know if there were any buildings built when it was being used as a POL site, or if existing buildings were just repurposed for that time period.

Also, if you know the locations of MCL Site 830 or MCL Site 833, I'd like to know where they were also!

If anything is still at either the location of MCL Site 830 or 833, it's highly unlikely that the building is intact, or the antenna(s).  The antennas, if present, would be lying down, where they were laid to rest when the site was decommissioned around 1964.  However, if anything was there - I'd really like to get a picture of the remains of the facilities and surrounding area.

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