CFS Alert: Photos 1 - Geography

The highest recorded temperature for CFS Alert was +20°C on 8 July 1956 while the record low was -50°C on 9 February 1969. No wind speed  was recorded hence the record lacks a wind chill factor. In contrast, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada was -63° C on February 3, 1947 at Snag, Yukon, a defunct airstrip located east of Beaver Creek. The highest temperature ever recorded in Canadian history was 46 °C (114 °F) and set at Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan on July 5, 1937.

Q -  How do you know when its really, really cold in Alert?
A - When the snowman begs to be taken inside.

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This satellite image of the northern portion of Ellesmere Island and northwest Greenland underscores a  particular brand of beauty found only in the Arctic  (Photo courtesy Google Maps)

These detailed maps show the location of Alert and Eureka.
( Maps courtesy Microsoft Encarta Maps. )

Alert from 34,000 feet. The runway in the centre of photo is 5,000 feet long and situated on 
bearing 048/228 (true). The main site is the small cluster of buildings in the upper right quadrant. Fuel to heat these buildings is stored  in the eight white tanks adjacent to the road which connects the base to the runway. Alert's Pusher antenna is believed to be within the red circle. Can anyone confirm ? There is not much aircraft fuel stored at the airstrip, just enough for an emergency. (Photo courtesy Derek  Bywater, circa Jan-Jun  2003. Submitted by Jim Troyanek).

This general  map from 1950 shows the area in the vicinity of Alert. The cross at Cape Belknap denotes the graves of the Lancaster crew who perished during the delivery of supplies. (Extract from the document  'The Establishment of Alert')

alert_topo_map_s.jpg This is a section of a detailed DND topographical map originally drawn in 1967. Featured is the slice showing Alert and the area south of it. Included is a scale on the enlargement.  Click to enlarge. (Map copy provided by Terry Whalley) 

Alert personnel walking down a shallow crevasse.  At certain times of the year it would be almost impossible to get out of the crevasse unless you were equipped for mountain climbing. The worst part was the possibility of sinking into the crusted snow at the bottom of the crevasse and not be able to get free. This actually happened to two lads around  1960. By the time they were declared missing and a search party was formed, it was too late. (Photo via Maurice Drew)
This is an example of a deep crevasse. The camera is  facing north with the Lincoln Sea in the distance. (Photo via Maurice Drew)

Maurice Drew  (left) atop Mount Pullen  in 1960. Maurice comments. "Mount Pullen (1,500 feet) is made up of small chunks of rock. It was exhausting getting to the top because of unsure footing. Getting down was easy because we slid down the glacier to the bottom. It wasn't fun because once we got going we couldn't stop and the surface was full of ripples that hurt when you hit them at speed. We could have been killed so we never did that again! By the way, my 1959 driver's license should still be in the cairn atop the mountain."  (Photo via Maurice Drew)

Credits and References:

1) Jim Troyanek <intarsia(at)>
2) Google Maps:
3) Microsoft Encarta Maps:
4) Runway data courtesy Spud Roscoe <spudroscoe(at)>
5) Alert Temperature records -
6) Alert local map courtesy of the PDF document: The Establishment of Alert, N.W.T., Canada J. Peter Johnson  Jr.
7) Maurice Drew <maurice0404(at)>
8) Terry Whalley <terry.whalley(at)

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Feb 24/08