January 01, 2014

RCAF Station Pagwa


RCAF Station Pagwa was one of the Pinetree Line radar stations guarding the north from the threat of Soviet Cold War bombers, and operated from 1952 to 1963 by the USAF as Pagwa Air Station, and 1963 to 1966 by the RCAF as RCAF Station Pagwa.  It was also the 1st of the Pinetree Line stations to be decommissioned.  Overall it had a poor "view" for a radar site, and as the power of the other radar stations grew, they elected to close this one first. It had a small residential site with administrative buildings, and a tri-gravel-runway setup similar to Ramore, built around the same time, to the same specifications. As with most Pinetree Line sites, it is right beside the railway, making it easy to get supplies. Unlike Lowther, RCAF Station Pagwa is well off the beaten path away from Highway 11.

From all indications that I can find online, RCAF Station Pagwa has been scrubbed off the face of the earth.  I expect to find, at most, a few foundations... but I'm eager to make the pilgrimage and see what the area looks like.




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Photo Credit: TBA

Photo Credit: TBA
Photo Credit: TBA

Photo Credit: TBA

Photo Credit: TBA

11 comments:

  1. I was a member of a SAGE/NORAD team that went to Pagwa River during the summer of 1963, when it was being transferred to DUADS Sector, because SSMADS Sector was being closed down. Maj. George Davis flew us there from KI Sawyer AFB in a USAF C-47, and we landed on the turf runway just west of the radar station. I still have a photo of myself and RCAF Flight "Lef-tenant" Kline, with both of us in civilian clothes, standing beside that railroad shack with the "Pagwa River" Sign. There was an interesting Hudson Bay store just east of the railroad bridge across the river. I remember seeing a lot of Cree Indians. Remote, indeed; the only ways in/out were by air, railroad or very long distance walking. John R. Wright, Ph.D. (a retired chemistry professor today, but I was a USAF 1stLt in 1963). jrwrightseosu@yahoo.com

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  2. Thank you very much for commenting sir! I wish I could say I've already visited the former site of Pagwa AS/RCAF Station Pagwa, but I haven't quite made it yet... I'd love to hear any other stories you have of the site. You might be in a unique position to know - was Pagwa's TX and RX sites upgraded to a high-power TDDL GATR site? Thank you again!

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  3. I lived at the DOT airfield in Pagwa from 1956-1961 as my father was the manager. The Pagwa Road by the Pagwa River bridge on HIghway 11 is not driveable.The only way to get to the village now is by using Pitopiko Rd, west of Hearst. Follow the road until you get to the old CN roadbed, turn left and stay the course until there is no more road. You are now in the village. The railbed was dismanted from the tressle many years ago. You need a boat to cross the river to get to the air base and the air field. As far as I know, there is nothing left. In the early 1970's the DOT houses as well as the furniture from the base was sold. Our family bought a few pieces. This past summer I visited Pagwa, to help rejuvinate one of the cemeteries. There are no permanent residents as the last families moved in the early 1980s to Constance Lake or Longlac. There is a Facebook site ~ PAGWA RIVER, ONT. VILLAGE & IT'S HISTORY~ with many former residents commenting and a lot of good pictures.

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  4. Hi Linda ! I also lived at the DOT airfield in the early 60's. My Dad probably took over from your Dad. We lived in the first house closest to the garage. I remember no TV, just a good radio. Christmas's at the USAF base. black flies, bombardier type passenger snowcats, rr track cars, the library truck coming from (Hearst ??) once in a while and mostly Beavers landing at the strip. I've tried to do a little research online but havent been to successful...until now. I also remember the huge RR trestle and the one room school house with the very large (multi vitamin??) they used to make us take every morning in the village. I got a few pics I will try and dig up. Not sure of exact dates but they will be on the pics. We left there for the new Malton airport, where my Dad worked as a supervisor for airfield maintainence until he passed away at age 59. Isnt the Internet a wonderful tool? lol......bilko440@gmail.com

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  6. I was just there on the weekend. Found it by fluke. Picked a logging roar and just started driving. I knew it was up there but didn't know where. The train bridge has been stripped of all the ties and the railway bed is pretty much gone about 2k south of the installation. I did not find the runways though. I will be heading back with my son next year to show him. One of the guys that used to hunt at my dads hunt camp had been stationed there. I wasn't even born when it closed but I will say this. The black flies haven't changed. dmadman@vianet.ca

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  7. When I tried to get there this spring there was a washout impassible by my SUV. I am pretty sure you would need a ATV to get through. Is this washout fixed or did you use another road? Which road did you use? jacobdalcin@gmail.com

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  8. Gus MacDonald.....I was one of the last RCAF stationed there...I closed out the message centre at the end of 66...BLACK FLIES I REMEMBER!!!

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  9. I was there in May 2012, I do have photos to share of remnants, but I dont see how I can do that. Ruins of the radar structures, fire hydrants, steps to a building, ceramic tiles, etc.

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