March 08, 2014

1970 Hydro-Québec Eric / Logan troposcatter link

Site Name: Eric?
Location: Poste Montagnais Hydro-Québec / Eric
Built: ~1970
Operational: Unknown
Coordinates: 51.98483, -65.6545
Condition: Active (Last info as of 2008)
Current Ownership: Hydro-Québec
Distance from paved road: Unknown, area is unreachable by road
Condition of access road: Unpaved road leads from rail line to tropo site

Site Name: Logan?
Location: Churchill Falls, Québec
Built: ~1970
Operational: Unknown
Coordinates: 53.5879, -64.2012
Condition: Active (Last info as of 2008)
Current Ownership: Hydro-Québec
Distance from paved road: 1 Km from main road, not sure if the 500 is paved at that point.
Condition of access road: 1 Km access road of unknown condition, expected to be passable but gated as the site is active


While researching the communications link between Goose Bay and NORAD/SAC facilities further south, I found reference (thanks to Alex Lupták) of a whole world of troposcatter facilities (  I mistook the currently operational Hydro-Québec troposcatter sites "Eric" and "Logan" to be old Cold War facilities that had been repurposed... now, I don't know that's entirely untrue, since there was a 6 site (5 hop) troposcatter network that joined Québec and Labrador built in the 1950s and potentially decommissioned around the same time as the Logan-Eric link was made... but let's say it was purely coincidental that Eric-Logan used seemingly identical antennas and technology.

With a little help from Google, I found the following from the Utilities Telecom Council of Canada:
"Hydro-Quebec reported that they intend to continue to operate one troposcatter hop in Labrador, which is above 200 kilometers and operates currently in the 1.7-1.9 Ghz band.  While Hydro-Quebec expects to replace this hop within the next five years, it needs to continue to use it for the foreseeable future because it has not found any other equipment in another band that could be used."
Correspondence between Utilities Telecom Council of Canada and the Director of Spectrum Engineering Branch of Industry Canada (2008.07.25)
Rail Map of the Tshiuetin Rail route
(click to enlarge)
Extrapolating from the information in that correspondance, I believe it stated that the link between Eric and Logan is a 60 channel analog link.  Eric to Logan is just over 200Km, matching the description, and it's only one hop.  They do mention that there is a two-hop troposcatter link used by Hydro-Québec somewhere, and I'm not sure where yet. 

So why is this important?  Why care?  Why is this so interesting?  Well, troposcatter sites of this design were used along the Mid-Canada line at Site 070, 060, 050, 415 and 410 - which were all shut down in 1967.  Other sites, like the troposcatter link that went from Hay River to Lady Franklin Point for DEW Line communications were decommissioned by the military in the 1970s.  The White Alice network along the West Coast up to Alaska was decommissioned many years ago as well.  Polevault along the East coast?  Long gone.  To the best of my knowledge Eric and Logan are essentially the same as those other troposcatter facilities, making them living museum pieces (as much as Hydro-Québec might cringe from me calling them that).


Regarding getting to Eric;
I'm not really sure there's a GMC Suburban-passable road to Eric from Sept-Isles, so it seems the only way to get there is by train.  Not VIA, they don't go that far, it's Tshiuetin Rail Transportation (wikipedia here, web site here)  The train from Sept-Isles leaves at 8am Monday and Thursdays, and Eric is half a day's train ride away.

I get the feeling that walking up to a remote critical infrastructure building, in the middle of nowhere, with a fence, would be a bad idea; so I'm going to have to ask around and see if I can find someone with an interest in the history of this site within Hydro Quebec.  Also, I'd rather see the inside of the facility than just the outside.  Now that would be a trick.  Wish me luck.

Logan is right off HWY500, the trans-Labrador Highway

Trip Report:

Haven't been, yet...


Eric Troposcatter Antenna Site (pointing at Logan, 200Km NNW)

Eric Troposcatter Antenna Site
(There is a road that leads West to, and along, the rail line) 1:30000

Logan Troposcatter Antenna Site 1:15000


L'Avenir Page 16 - May 9th, 1972 (Thanks to Alex Lupták - and Google News too)


  1. Hello. The Tropo site in CF (Mount Logan) is very much active and it links to the HQ site as you mentioned, Eric. There used to be another here a long time ago on Sona Hill. I believe it was Aliant's (maybe Newtel at that time)...however that's long been decommissioned. I used to have pictures of that site.

    1. I'm eager to know where the Sona Hill location of that other site was; I presume it is the one I referenced in my other blog post as the repeater from Goose to Emeril..? I'm actually not sure where Sona Hill is... I'm pretty sure I had previously seen it on a map of the Churchill Falls area though...

    2. Sona Hill is about 10 km's from Churchill Falls, heading East. I'm not 100% sure exactly what it was however the reflector in Churchill Falls and the direction suggests it was used primarily for voice and that time. However somewhere along the way a comms link had to be made for Emeril. Today the reflector still stands however the Sona Site is long gone....just some concrete blocks to show that a site used to be there. On the outskirts of town there is a microwave tower that is also owned by Aliant that heads in the Emeril direction. This microwave tower obviously has a couple of hops along the way but it does hit the tower on Emeril. So maybe back then the Tropo link went to the Aliant CO and then from there it travelled via the microwave system that is still currently here.

    3. Pretty sure is was tropo from Goose, to Sona, to Emeril - then it was supposed to branch North/South to Shefferville and South to... well, here's the whole blog post about it with some vintage 1966 IEEE Spectrum images :)
      Looking East from Churchill Falls my eye is drawn to a microwave tower near (53.4149, -63.3933) that has some bare spots in the bush where there could be the aforementioned footings; is that the right spot? South side of the Trans-Labrador... but now I measure it, that's 45km East of Churchill Falls by road...

    4. In hindsight, I think the site might have been at (53.5644, -63.8440) - it's 1850-1950ft high, seems to have a trail that leads to an open spot, and may have some man-made-look debris... it's closer to the 10Km range you mentioned.

      Feel free to email me details at :)

      THANK YOU!