Transmitting Station



In 1950, two parcels of land, collectively 4419 acres in size, were transferred from the Department of Transport to the Department of National Defense at mileage 467.32 of the Hudson Bay Railway. The intent was to use the site for a proposed Joint Service Transmitting station. After the transfer, the property was allocated to the custodial care of the RCN. The new station, named the Chesnaye Transmitting Station was located 42 miles south of Fort Churchill and approximately 7 miles east of the main Canadian National Railways line. A few clues suggest that this site was within the Churchill rocket range, but it is hard to believe that the rocket range extended so far south considering that the Town of Churchill was only so 24 km (15 miles) due west of the launch pad at 5844'3" N, 9349'13" W.


Four buildings were constructed on a prominent sand ridge shaped roughly as a vee and pointed north west. The legs of the vee are approximately 3 miles in length, with the structures being situated at the point of the vee. This ridge was about 50 to 60 feet higher than the surrounding countryside. There was a rail spur line to the site originally but it had been ripped out only leaving the right of way. For reasons unknown at this time, the project was subsequently abandoned after the structures were erected.


In a letter dated January 6, 1960, the Naval Secretary wrote to the Chief of Staff outlying the situation at the Chesnaye site. This letter was prompted because the Secretary Treasurer of the Grace Church in Churchill requested that the buildings be leased to the church for use as a Summer Bible Camp. The Navy wanted to know if the Army had any use for the property before proceeding any further since the Navy contemplated leasing the the structures and a small parcel of land for a ten year period. A month later, the response from Army headquarters indicated that they had no use for the site, however, they would not concur in having the land leased to the Grace Church because the property was located within the Churchill rocket range.


Over a year later, on March 8, 1961, the Board of Officers convened at Fort Churchill to discuss the handover of the land and buildings at the Chesnaye Transmitting station from the RCN to the Canadian Army and see if there was any other use for the property. There was no conclusive outcome from this meeting other than to say that the buildings could be placed in long term storage for an expenditure of $2,000. There was also the problem of accessibility since the site could only be reached by helicopter or snow vehicles unless a road and four bridges were constructed


Today, the Wat'chee Lodge occupies the property where the proposed transmitting site was to be. Chesnaye is now an unmanned rail stop in the VIA rail network and the usual way to get to the Lodge.


Source:  Jerry Proc's Family of Web Pages