CFS Alert: Photos 5 - PEOPLE

1950: Pictured are five out of the eight personnel that opened the JAWS station Alert in 1950. Names are unknown at this time. (Photo by Jim Traver)

'C' Shift 1957-58: (L-R) L/S Lynn Tennant (deceased), Earle Smith and LAC Bill "Scotty" Parr (deceased). (Photo submitted by Earle Smith) 

1961: Alert alumni relaxing at the canteen. (L-R) The Army medic who was simply called "Doc",  Sgt. Ken Calhoun and unknown. (Photo by Maurice Drew)

Army Sgt. Ken Calhoun from Cape Breton  had a penchant for presenting 
unsolvable puzzles to anyone who would listen and in such a convincing manner that they were considered solvable.  That is, until someone found out the he would shave thin slices of the puzzle or jig them around rendering them completely unsolvable.  In the meantime he drove everyone crazy thinking they could emerge victorious with the solution at hand.  All the time he was quietly chortling away. 

"FUGUM" night was an occasional event held between the Warrant Officers & Sergeant's Mess and the Senior Staff Mess (SSM).  Brian Kebic explains. "There were two trophies. One was the front half of a polar bear to be held by the winner of the night and the other was the back half of the polar bear held by the loser.  The host of the night festivities always alternated between the two messes and the host (the challenger) was always the holder of the butt of the bear from the previous competition.

How was this possible?  Welcome to Alert!

 The night consisted of a series of games, again chosen and officiated by the host.  And, while the host might lose several contests, they always won enough games overall or at least the ones worth the most points to take the evening total.  Participating as part of the guest team you might find yourself playing a game of darts and notice that your darts keep falling out of the dart board.  Close examination of your equipment might lead you to realize that the tips of your darts (graciously provided by the hosts) had been filed down.Or, perhaps your mess might have had the best two pool players on the station, pretty much guaranteeing you a win in the pool competitiion.  Cries of foul, upon realizing that the pool cues they had been given were missing the felt tips, only brought on the reply that it was not the hosts fault, or concern, that the visitors abused their own gear.  Obviously the host team should not be penialized for the carelessness of the challengers.

How about a beer chugging relay?  Its a tough go when you, as the first in your relay team, race to the table at the other end of the room to discover that while you are trying to chug back a "FULL SIZED" glass of beer, your opponent is chucking back a shot glass full.  This is the advantange the HOST team has.

 The great challenge was for the host team to come up with new variations for the games.  I assure you they never failed in the mission.  There wasn't I game I knew of that the folks in Alert couldn't put some bizarre twist to".

The term FUGUM had its origins in the SIGINT community but no one is sure how an evening of fun and games became prefixed with the term. Ray White expands on this. " Fort George G. Meade is the large military installation near Washington which also houses the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA).  Along the roads leading to the base there are (or were back in the late 50s early 60s) road signs indicating FGGM. Thus it became a commonplace term to be pronounced -- you guessed it -- FUGUM, and this has continued within the various units that worked there, especially US Armed Forces, but also including Canadian.  I first heard it in 1959/60 when we had USN personnel in Coverdale who used the expression in a variety of ways.  FUGUM was used by many personnel as an expression of disgust with the system.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Alert FUGUM nights acquired this sobrioquet as a means to let off steam and have fun."

alert_change_of_staff_ may_1962.jpg
May 1962: David Smith (L) applied for a 3 month extension and was staying at Alert (a rare event at the time) while his navy colleagues were catching the flight out that day having finished their six month tour of duty. Since David was also celebrating his 21st birthday, the chef baked a cake  to celebrate both occasions.  (Photo via David Smith)

In August 1962,  there was a personnel exchange between Alert and Whitehorse, Yukon. This group is nearly ready to leave Alert as evidenced by the departure party. The cook made this cake on day the group was scheduled to leave. He was great for that - if someone had a birthday, or anything to celebrate he would come out screaming and singing at the top of his lungs. It was a great moral builder.  (From the collection of Jim Thoreson)

Back Row: (L-R)  Bob Ross, Ron Kaul, Wayne Perrault, Bo Scavlebo, Fred Crossland
Front row:( L-R) Ron Hume, Don Lavigne, Taffy Baynam, Vic Garbett, (Army cook, name unknown) Jim Thoreson.

1962: Shwailets duty in the summertime. (Photo by Jim Thoreson) 

1962:  Serge Duchaine, an Army type, would always fall hard asleeep wearing a cap after an intense evening of revelry.  (Photo by Jim Thoreson) 

1962: Jim Thoreson on the right. At the left is Mr. U, a pen name. He was quite a writer and was always printing stories for Alert personnel to read. One story he wrote compared  our solar system to an atom. (Photo via Jim Thoreson) 

1964. Back row; left to right: Cpl. Stirling Wight (Army), ABRS1 Ed Frey (Navy), Cpl Robet Blackmore (RCAF), Signalman James Humes (Army), ABRS1 Al. Sauderson (Navy), Signalman Jack Todd (Army), LAC Al McConnell (RCAF), Signalman Dennis Ray (or Roy) (Army), Cpl. Marcel Perier (Army), Cpl. Ray Griffin (Army).

Centre row; left to right: ABRS1 Dave Brunton (Navy), Sgt. Roger Powers (RCAF), Staff Sgt. Merlyn Mac Donald (Army) Signalman John Krantz (Army), Signalman Paul Holtby (Army).

Front row; left to right: ABRS1 Frank Verella (Navy), Ken Proctor, Vancouver, BC and  Maurice Drew, Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo submitted by Maurice Drew) 

Gord Walker as seen here in September 1965. (Photo via Gord Walker) 

1967: Enroute from Edmonton to Alert in July 1967.  The cargo containers were strapped in the centre of the plane with the single bench seats mounted fore and aft. That's Ray White at the forward end of the starboard seat.  The other people in the photo remain unidentified. Note the very spartan interior appointments.  (Photo via Ray White)

1967: An entertainment show for personnel stationed in Alert and Thule, was staged in the Fall of 1967. It was produced by Radio Canada (French Network) who taped the show on location and broadcast it at Christmas time of that year.  It was a good show with good looking performers. (From the Alert photo pool)

This was known as the "Pantie Wall" and was situated in the Senior NCO's Mess. Based on current knowledge, it went up sometime before 1972 and lasted to sometime after 1989. (Photo credit unknown at this time).
Jim Troyanek provides some background on how the Pantie Wall got started. "I was there in 1976 and had just been promoted to Sergeant.  As a result, I was therefore the newest member of the Mess.  That dubious honour meant that I was recognized as the "Sheriff" of the Mess.  One of the sheriff's duties was to ensure that a pair of panties was obtained from each visiting female that ventured to Alert and into the Senior NCO's Mess.  It could be embarrassing task!  Fortunately or unfortunately I wasn't called upon to perform this duty while I was there.  This little ritual was started way back, whenever the Senior NCO's Mess was started up, however I don't know the date. The first pair of panties was obtained from one Catherine McKinnon, a well known Canadian crooner (singer), with Don Messer's Jubilee and appearing on the CBC on numerous occassions. She married a CBC personality namely Don Herron.  I know also, that the collection of panties were still displayed in the Mess as late as May 1989, having visited the Mess a couple times during my last tour in Alert. The fate of the wall is not known at this time but it is believed that the ritual was dropped after the Senior NCO's moved into their new quarters from the GP Huts. "

 John Bennett adds. "Any female visitor to the NCO's Mess was expected to produce a pair of panties for the wall.  Usually the ladies were told prior to arriving in the Mess and they brought a pair with them".

George Fraser says. "By 1972,  if I recall correctly, there were at least a dozen panties pinned up to the wall by that time an a few ties as well" .

Chris Collin recalls. "As others have said, the Sgts and WO's mess members would ask visiting ladies to donate a pair of panties.  By the time I was in Alert in 1979, the ladies were usually pre-warned.  Some would donate a pair, suitably signed, scented and framed, while others would hop up on the nearest table, and haul them off right there.

Another tradition was the wearing of ties. Any visitor that wore a tie would have it cut off.  Many of these (from notable visitors) were also posted on the wall of the Mess. I was a Jr. Rank for all of my tours, and the only tradition for that mess that I can remember was the drinking!"

By 1993, the Pantie Wall was still there but the artifaacts had deteriorated to the point where they were ready for the garbage.

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Dec 1972 -- Jun 1973.   WO and Sgt's Mess. (Photo credit unknown)

Jim Thoreson (L) and Morton "Taffy" Baynham - Alert, 1962. (Photo by David Smith)

Hanging on the end of the beam is a dead wolf. Jim Thorenson explains. "In Alert, we had several Husky dogs. Arctic wolves frequented the camp. Every so often they would get real hungry, stray into our camp and tried to kill our dogs. There were also occasions where our members exited buildings only to be confronted by the wolves. Permission was obtained to “thin” the wolves out a bit and David  Smith and I were granted permission to go out and hunt and kill some of them. Since were issued FNC1 rifles for our camp defence, we used them and I was able to shoot two of them. The one shown in the photo above was one of them. 

Morton "Taffy" Baynham, whose Lincolnshire twang was legendary at Alert, was originally from the UK. He loved Canada - the country, the people, the can-do attitude and the spirit of enterprise. His rapport with people made him endearing to those who served with him and his time at Alert was one of the most memorable periods in his life.

Morton was the late uncle of Dr. David Camplin of of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, UK. David reminisces about his uncle's service. "Taffy came back to the UK around 1964 because he was very ill. It turned out that he was suffering from gall bladder problems  Fortunately the surgery he had was successful and, after a long recuperation, he bounced back to enjoy nearly 30 more years before passing away in 1993.

He often spoke of his time at Alert and was immensely proud of serving there - from 4th October 1961 to 2nd August 1962 according to his Shwailets certificate.  This certificate now graces my study wall. Morton often alluded to his time at Alert. It was one of the high points of his life. He spoke of the sense of awe he experienced when the aircraft that flew him up there had departed and the immensity, the isolation and the silence hit him. He never forgot that moment".

1962: The navy (and army) boys posted to Alert get their sea time.   (Photo by Jim Thoreson) 
Taken in the summer of 1962,  Jim Thoreson and David Smith built this crazy homemade raft. Then they paddled to the middle of the bay and stood on the ice floe. (From the collection of David Smith) 

Credits and References:

1) Gord Walker  <walker6(at)>
2) David Smith  <drdee(at)>
3) Jim Thoreson <jimthoreson(at)>
4)  Maurice Drew  <maurice0404(at)>
5) Earle Smith - VE6NM
6) Ray White <legerwhite(at)>
7) Jim Troyanek <intarsia(at)>
8) John Bennett <djben(at)>
9) George Fraser <caperfca(at)>
10) Chris Collin <cc(at)>
11) Brian  Kebic <bvkebic(at)>
12) Terence Whalley <terry.whalley(at)>
13 Dennis Stapleton  <lor-den(at)>

Aug 10/12