inuvik_cfs_badge.jpg Naval Radio Station (NRS) Inuvik CFV was established in the Northwest Territories in 1961 as a result of the move of NRS Aklavik. On 10 September 1963, the site was commissioned and became HMCS Inuvik. As a result of the Armed Forces Unification, the station was renamed CFS Inuvik in 1966. In the Inuvialuktun dialect, the town of  Inuvik means "Place of Man" and it was the first model town in the Canadian Arctic when it was built between 1956 to 1962.

BADGE  Blazon: Party per pale Sable and Or, the figure of an Eskimo in native garb, Argent, embellished Azure, his back affronts and launching with his dexter arm a lightning flash Gules.

Badge Significance: The black and yellow background is symbolic of the long, seasonal Arctic nights and days. The Eskimo is used here in reference to the meaning of the word "Inuvik" - The Place of Man - or The Place Where Man Is. He is shown in the act of hurling a flash of lightning as a reference to Naval Communications.

Ship's Colours: Yellow and Black.


The Town of Inuvik, 68º 21'N Longitude: 133º 43' W, was located on the east side of the Mackenzie River delta, 97 km south of the Beaufort Sea. It was approximately 75 miles distant from Aklavik. (Map courtesy of


Aklavik East-3 was designated as the future seat of government for the Mackenzie Delta and all the federal offices of the RCMP, Northern Affairs, NCPC (Northern Canada Power Corporation), DOT, DPW, as well as National Defence (RCN and RCCS  - NWT and Yukon Radio System) were scheduled to be administered from East-3, which later became known as Inuvik. In June 1957 the last station to join the NWT&Y, Aklavik East Three, was opened by Corporal Peter Grey of the RC Sigs. Although Inuvik was primarily a "government" town,  a large percent of its population were trappers, miners, and private entrepreneurs.

Although Aklavik grew to be a moderately settled town by the early 1950s, it's restricted waterways and instability of the silt and permafrost terrain were considered by experts as inadequate for any new construction. Because of this, the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources started to plan the move to a new site on higher ground as early as November 1954 with construction commencing in 1956. The new site was called Aklavik East Three[1] but was always referred to as East 3 and later renamed to Inuvik.

The "Welcome to Inuvik", booklet issued to all new arrivals, provides details about the move from Aklavik to Inuvik.

"Late in February 1961, a tractor train of four sleds started on a journey from Aklavik that would follow the frozen channels and branches of the Mackenzie River, the north's winter highway. Labouring under the heavy load, the train would arrive at Inuvik in slightly less than three days. This journey was one of the final steps in the several stages of the transfer of the old naval station Aklavik to new Inuvik.

Early in November 1960, the Royal Canadian Navy took over the complex of buildings comprising the new naval radio station from the contractors. This included an Administration/Accommodation building located in the settlement, an Operations building 4 miles to the north, a Transmitter building 7 miles to the south, a six-bay garage and an assortment of warehouse and stores facilities. An advance party of four men with a Petty Officer in charge was immediately dispatched from Aklavik to take possession and maintain a boiler and fire watch until arrangements for the move could be actually implemented.

Although the buildings were new, the advance party was not without problems. Frozen pipes, defective circulating pumps, fuel oil too cold to circulate,  jury-rigged oil tanks,  malfunctions in the fire protection system as well as continuing difficulties with transportation were among some of the immediate hazards and problems. Progressively, the advance party was expanded to include a cook, storesmen, technicians and working hands. The task of erecting antenna, installing transmitters and consoles, interior wiring of the Operations facility, along with the storing and fitting out of the buildings, gathered momentum, bringing the date of the long awaited move closer to reality.

The move took place during the latter part of March 1961. Prior to this, many items were transferred well in advance - spare parts, furniture, equipment, stationary, provisions and an endless list of stores that could be spared from the day-to-day requirements in Aklavik. The intervening 75 miles of frozen waterways to Inuvik became a well-worn path as tractor, snowmobile, and sleds drawn by muskeg tractors gradually moved supplies.

From the south, the RCAF entered their support with Hercules and Boxcar aircraft hauling the stores and furnishings required to complete the fitting out of the  new station and the 42 Permanent Married Quarters. A ½ ton jeep, also included in the airlifts, helped to alleviate the transportation situation. In sub-zero temperatures ranging between –30F and –40F, several hundred tons of stores were moved without incident.

The final transfer began on the 17th and 18th of March as the families, belongings, and personnel who could be spared were airlifted by a Pacific Western Airways Otter aircraft to their new home. On the 19th, the remainder of the complement with the exception of a de-storing party of five and their equipment, flew to Inuvik completing a total of eighteen flights transporting more than 100 personnel and their baggage in a three-day period. With all personnel pitching in, Naval Radio Station Inuvik was made operational at 00001Z on the 20th of March, l961, a credit to the hard work and co-operation of all personnel.

To those from Aklavik who had endured the limited conveniences and “humble luxuries” of isolation, Inuvik was a return to civilization. This new town of the North provided all those things lacking in Aklavik - a modern school for more than 700 pupils, an 80 bed hospital, central heating, water, sewage, modern and fully equipped houses and apartments".

Ray White provides this recollection when the town of Inuvik was officially inaugurated in July 1961 by the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon John G. Diefenbaker. "He visited the Administration section of the Navy Base in downtown Inuvik and also paid a visit to the Operations site.  The CO, the Operations Officer, and the Operations Chief were with him when he toured the main operations room. None of his Diefenbaker's assistants or staff  were allowed into the secure area.  I was Watch Supervisor at the time and answered a number of very knowledgeable questions posed by Mr. Diefenbaker, who also regaled us with anecdotal stories about Nikita Khrushchev’s heavy drinking problems at the time."

In 1962, RAdm P. D. Budge, visited NRS Inuvik on his final tour as Chief of Naval Personnel. On this occasion, Ceremonial Divisions were held in the gymnasium of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik. This ceremonial occasion was attended by all personnel except those on duty at the Operations site. It was a memorable occasion for those rates who had served with Admiral Budge, a significant figure in the history of the RCN. Many dependents, other civilians, and students of the school were also present.

Gary King was stationed at Inuvik from September 1961 to June 1962 . He recalls the visit of Admiral Budge. "At that time there was a cook by the name of AB Penney.  He was much more than a cook and his talents were certainly wasted except when Admiral  Budge showed up.  I recall that Penney made three things that were memorable for the dinner for the Admiral.

1. Tomato juice glasses arranged as a fouled anchor
2. A salmon salad rearranged to look once again like a fish - it was amazing.
3. A 'Baked Alaskan' made in the shape of an igloo.

Regarding the latter - the Admiral wouldn't touch because it looked too good to eat so he sent it to the school as a treat for the kids.

Ray White knew AB Penney well.  "He was an ABCK1, first name Alan, and was part of the complement of Aklavik that moved over to the new station at Inuvik.  He was (is) a superb cook and he made life a lot more liveable in the north, a noteworthy achievement when one considers the limitations on rations available. In his off time he provided catering services to the Officers' Wardroom and the Chiefs and POs Mess and it was always a delight to partake of his goodies.  Alan was a West Coast rating and his culinary reputation is said to have preceded him to his various postings. Even on ordinary duty days in the galley, he was invariably dressed like a chef in a fine restaurant. A great boost for Aklavik's and Inuvik's morale".

An 1964 issue of Crowsnest magazine (Vol. 16, No 3 and 4) describes Inuvik's comissioning ceremonies.

"On September 10, 1963 a comissioning ceremony was held in front of the Naval Administration Building on Distributor Street and was witnessed by most of the 850 pupils of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, who were released from class to view this event. Several hundred townspeople turned out for the occasion as well.

The guest of honour was Rear-Admiral M.G. Stirling, Chief of Naval Personnel, who was visiting Inuvik in the course of the annual tour of supplementary radio stations. His entourage included Captain A. O. Solomon, Naval Secretary; Surgeon Captain F. G. MacHattie,  representing the Surgeon-General; Cdr. P. J. Pratley, Director Supplementary Radio Activities, and Cdr. B.E. Gaynor, representing the Director General of Naval Supply.

The ceremony was under the direction of the commanding officer, Lt.-Cdr. D. W. Smith, and the religious portions were presided over by the Rt. Rev. Henry G. Cook, suffragan Bishop of the Arctic, of All Saints Pro-Cathedral, Aklavik; Rev. Fr. Adam, OMI, pastor of the Church of Our Lady of Victory, Inuvik, and Rev. A. G. Morton, Protestant officiating clergyman for HMCS Inuvik, of the Church of the Ascension, Inuvik. Admiral Stirling addressed the assembly and briefly reviewed the history of the Western Arctic, paying tribute to the naval and civilian explorers who penetrated the north in the early days of Canada. After he had inspected the ship's company, Rear-Admiral Stirling made rounds of the naval buildings.

To commemorate the commissioning, a medallion was designed bearing the ship's badge on the obverse and a map of the Mackenzie Delta on the reverse. This was struck in the same diameter as a Canadian silver dollar in bronze, silver metal, sterling silver and goldplated sterling silver. A limited number of bronze copies of the medallion were available to naval personnel from the ship's canteen,  HMCS Inuvik, for $2 ".

The circle denotes the RCN's Administrative Building in Inuvik in this early 1960's photo. The white pipelines in the upper central and left portion of the photo are called "utilidors". These are insulated ducts that distribute steam, hot/cold water to the buildings and also carry waste away. The view is roughly to the northwest  (Photo courtesy Northern Affairs submitted by Eric Earl)
After the town of Inuvik was established, the CBC took over radio station CHAK in Alkavik, raised the power to 1 kilowatt and changed the frequency to 860 kHz.  One of the operators hired by the CBC was Nellie Hvatum, who later married Russ Cournoyea (pronounced Korn-yay), a Communications Supplementary rate, now deceased. Nellie went on to become CEO of a corporation worth more than $300 million dollars and also became the first Premier of the NWT.  Her hands-on grass-roots, leadership style kept her in charge of the Northwest Territories for close to three decades.

Ray White relates this story. "In Inuvik, a civilian entrepreneur, Bruno Weideman, who ran the only taxi service in town, would make a watch-change run around the PMQ's and barracks and pick up the watch-keepers.  In winter, he used a Bombardier snowmobile. (In those days it was pronounced Bom-ba-deer). Mr Weideman was a German immigrant to Canada, having arrived in the late 1930's. There was a story in Aklavik about him coming in to Peffer's Hotel one day during the London Blitz and announcing that he had been listening to the shortwave and had heard that the German Luftwaffe had really given it to the English. Needless to say he was not very popular around town for this".

inuvki_admin1_bldg 1961-1968..jpg
Inuvik Administration Building from 1961 to 1968. (DND file photo)

Gerry Burton describes the town while he served there in 1959. "If you look at the town site as a "T" with a very long top you might imagine the following:  The shank of the "T" ran from the river approximately 1 km with the power plant on the right and the Navy Administration Building and living quarters on the left.  The RCMP Building and radio station CHAK were also along this road.  At the top of this road, if you turned left, you went past the Hudson Bay Company and you would eventually come to the Navy Ops Building which was about 5 km out of town and the end of the road.  On the other hand, if you turned right, went out of town past the hospital for about for about 3 km you would come to the Navy Transmitter Building which was about 1 km before the Airport".

Invuik started as a tender to GLOUCESTER, as did Aklavik, Gander, Frobisher Bay, Masset, Bermuda and in its day, Chimo. None of them had an official badge, at least as tenders. Gloucester provided all the administrative functions, pay etc, in its capacity as home to the Senior Officer, Supplementary Radio System (SOSRS).  In actual fact, SOSRS was also the Commanding Officer of  HMC NRS Gloucester which became HMCS Gloucester sometime around 1956. The badge depicted at the top of this document was the station's badge as a Canadian Forces Station. Select this link to see an image of the badge approved by Queen Elizabeth II and the Director of Ceremonial in 1972. (Image courtesy of Ray White)

SUPRAD stations (Supplementary Radio Activities) were given the cover "Search And Rescue". John Murison, a former CS rate (Communicator Supplementary)  , explains. "Search and Rescue was our cover. If there were any personnel on the same base who were not from our branch and  asked what our duties were, we said "Search and Rescue". This happened at any base that I served in and  my answer had to be the same even when I was  home on leave. Our work was Intelligence. Any one who didn't know that should have".

(Click to Enlarge)

inuvik_inuvik1961_s.jpg Inuvik, November 1961 Aerial Photo: West is roughly the top of the photo and North is on the right side. 

The group of interconnected buildings at the bottom of the photo are the Inuvik General Hospital with the nurses quarters being in the 'L' shaped building.  PMQ's ( Permanent Married Quarters)  are in the area immediately above the hospital and also to the right.  The road on the right goes through the town coming. At the the lower right it proceeds to the airport. Past the curve in the road was the Mackenzie Hotel, known as The Zoo in its earliest days. The RCN Operations building and the Administration building  are to the left and down the road from the hotel. Near the top of the photo is a straight section  of the Mackenzie River. Although it may not look it, it was a very chilly day and it's around noontime. In a very short time the sun will set. (Photo credit unknown. Submitted by Ray White)

inuvik_today_s.jpg Inuvik 2000: A general view of the downtown area. (Photo by Jane . Inuvik Regional Health and Social Services Board Bulletin) 
inuvik_downtown1_s.jpg 2006:  This satellite image of downtown Inuvik pinpoints the old Navy Administration Building and a few other key buildings in the vicinity. (Image courtesy Google Earth). 


The book "History of Canadian Signals Intelligence and Direction Finding" provides a good account of the life threatening  fire which occurred in 1968. Since it was not possible to contain the fire, all efforts went into saving the Operations Building.
"On August 10, 1968, a small kids camp fire between the airport and the town site, quickly erupted into a blaze that devoured trees and tundra.. The fire raced north, past the town, and headed towards the antennae farm. The entire town of Inuvik, aided by volunteers from Aklavik and the surrounding Delta, was mobilized to fight the fire. Even the bars were closed and their customers were used to help with the fighting of the fire. Smoke could be seen for more than 50 miles (80 km) and the wind-driven ash fell as far away as Aklavik, 75 miles to the west.
This photo gives some idea of the billowing smoke. (Courtesy of "History of Canadian Signals Intelligence")

At its most critical stage, the wind was gusting in from the north and northeast, driving the fire directly toward Inuvik. The fire jumped over the fire breaks, across the tundra and down river towards the Operations site. About eighty defence personnel and fire fighters were at the Ops site soaking buildings, and the ground as the fire raced past at an estimated speed of 40 miles (60 km) per hour. With visibility only a few feet and the fire now on both sides of the road, the CO gave the order to retreat to Swan Lake. There was no possible way that the group could have fought such a fire with the equipment available.

The antenna farm was demolished and twenty-five power poles were downed, but the only damage to the Ops building was scorched siding. On August 18 the rains came. This was eight days too late for the crews at the town and Operations site but just in time to ease the pressure on the firefighters. The rain reduced the hazards in the bush and washed the smoke out of the beautiful northern sky".

Antenna farm after the 1968 fire. (Courtesy of "History of Canadian Signals Intelligence ")
/inuvik forest Fire 02.jpg
This is how close the fire got to the Administration Building, ( DND file photo) 

Located 123 miles north of the Arctic Circle at 68°24'52"N, 133°46'12"W,  Inuvik the SUPRAD station, served as a communications research station, part of Canada's National Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization. The station was not part of any DF net but personnel did obtain line bearings on targets of interest only.

Gerry Burton was in the first class of Technicians which graduated from Gloucester about 1954. He remembers his first draft. "In 1959, I was drafted to Inuvik to install and set up both the receiving site and the transmitter site.  As a C2 at the time, I had six technicians working with me. My instructions were to have everything ready and that the transmitters had to be air by 17 March, 1959. Our goal was achieved - we sent our first test message on 13 March.

As I recall, the main HF receivers in the Ops Building  were the British RACAL's and the main transmitters were Model MW 3000 (Westinghouse, I believe). The Ops Bldg also contained many pieces of ancillary equipment like switching panels to permit flexibility in connecting antennae, to receivers and/or other ancillary equipment, audio tape recorders, high speed morse recorders for later transcription, Teletype machines, coding machines.

As for the antenna farm, there was a mixture of the usual Rhombic, sloping V's, dipoles plus some experimental  ones which just laid there on the ground. Perhaps the most unusual one was a Collins log periodic which rose 110 feet in the air, weighed who knows how much and was fully rotatable.

I also recall that I worked with the following people at the time. George MacFarlane now living in Masset, BC. ; Louis Lamoureu and  Fred Linton"

Ray White who served at Inuvik in 1961-62 provides more details about radio operations. " In Inuvik, special two steel receiver bays were employed and were fitted with Racal 17 receivers.  The antennas, mostly rhombics, were vastly superior to the setup in Aklavik and the rotatable log-periodic was a masterpiece of construction. The rotor which came with the antenna could rotate it at 1 rpm. It was used strictly for reception as were the other antennas in the vicinity of the Operations building. The log periodic was amazing at nulling out interfering signals - just  like they didn't exist!

When a receiver was set to 10 MHz, we would rotate the antenna and hear the various time standard stations around the world, most notably WWV  Boulder ,CO,  WWVH, Hawaii, JJY, Japan, and the Argentina Navy station, to name a few. The technicians had problems with the log-periodic because the lubricant would freeze up and the rotor would not rotate. I remember George MacFarlane decided to try it without the grease and it worked fine, but can't remember for how long.

There was no HFDF operations at Inuvit to the best of my knowledge. Watches were changed at 1600, midnight, and 0800.

Our transmitters, situated half way between Inuvik and the airport, were keyed by landline".

By 1964 there were 106 Radiomen Special, five officers and 30 civilians at Inuvik.

The practice in Aklavik, Inuvik, Churchill and Coverdale was to copy manual morse by pencil and paper then transcribe it to fanfold paper on a telegraphic typewriter. Automatic morse sent at manual-level  speeds was copied directly on a telegraphic  typewriter. In 1964, an entry in the Naval General Orders (NGO's) authorized Inuvik to hold 40 telegraphic typewriters.

nuvik Ops 1961-1968_02.jpg
Above and below: Two views of the Ops building, (DND file photos) 
/Inuvik Ops 1961-1968 _04.jpg

The unclassified document titled "Supplementary Radio Activities Consolidation Plan dated May 30, 1966, provides some hints as to the activities in Inuvik in the mid 1960's.

There was mention of wideband and narrowband positions at the station. Ray White provides some insight. "In the early 1960's, receivers were developed that could receive several mHz of spectrum and the output could be recorded for playback at a later time. The idea was that a number of such “wideband” positions could copy large pieces of the spectrum and the tapes could be sent to a central location for processing. Those tapes could be played back into banks of receivers and operators could copy the assigned signals. Over the years this technology was improved to the point that most of the personnel required to operate the station could be diverted to other functions.  Thus, the high cost of keeping large numbers of radio operators in an expensive environment could be used to perform other jobs. The narrowband positions were operated by a single operator tuning to assigned frequencies and copying specific targets, usually items that required timely reporting to Ottawa.  This material would be analyzed on site and the end product reported electronically".

John Bennet provides a glimpse into direction finding activities. "We used line bearings to help identify (locating)  new transmissions and as an aid to identifying specific targets.  I remember that we copied specific targets that changed their call signs every 6 hours.  These nets might consist of up to 10 or 15 outstations. We knew where the outstations were located so a line bearing on a new call sign in the net would let us know quickly just who the specific outstation was using that call.  It also helped when tracking mobile targets (aircraft) across the north of Russia".

By 1966, Inuvik became more "operationally" important than Churchill, Manitoba. There were two major reasons for this. First, the station was becoming increasingly polluted with man-made noise as a result of population encroachment.  Secondly, with its more southerly latitude (approximately 58°N), it was considerably more distant from potential targets than Inuvik or Alert. The consolidation plan called for the closure of HMCS Churchill so the station closed it doors in 1968

The construction of additional administration and accommodation space ( including 42 PMQ), was intended  to provide for the more personnel to man more positions. The estimated cost of the additional administration and accommodation space was expected to cost $840,000.


This is a partial list of the equipment used at Inuvik. Additional details provided below table.

(Click on image to enlarge)

inuvik_mwtx_s.jpg A Westinghouse MW transmitter was collocated at the Department of Transport Transmitter Building which was near Inuvik airport. The field around the transmitter building was covered in copper wire but in spite of that it was very difficult to establish a good ground due to the permafrost. Depicted here is a triple MW installation at  radio station WNU Slidell, Louisiana.  Frequency range: 2 to 30 Mhz; Power Output: 3000 watts.
Modes: A1 and F1; Frequency control: 3 crystal controlled positions;
Instruction Manual: CF-1933  (Photo courtesy WNU6)
inuvik_ra17_s.jpg Racal RA-17 Receiver. Coverage - Tuning range is 0.5 to 30 mHz in thirty 1 mHz bands. (Photo courtesy David Knight, G3YNH)
grd501_s.jpg AN/GRD-501. Eric Earl,  KG4OZO, now living in Atlanta, Georgia was a former CS rate and he confirms the presence of the GRD-501 HFDF set while serving at Inuvik between the spring of 1969 and the spring of 1969. Eric remarks "For some reason, the GRD-501 position was not manned in Inuvik and I only recall a couple of instances of use. The GRD  was located in the LRTS section of Ops.  I, for one, did use it a couple of times to get bearings on intruders in the 20 meter ham band. This was contrary to regulations and I might have been disciplined over it had anyone found out".  John Bennett who served at Inuvik from 1963-1965 also confirms the presence of the GRD-501 at that time. (Photo courtesy RCN)
inuvik_afsav75deck_s.jpg AFSAV-75A Tape Recorder Deck: A reel-to-reel recorder/reproducer employing normal half-track operation. When using the Applique unit, both channels could be used simultaneously. Recording was a done at 3.75 inches per second only. One useful function on this recorder was the ability to adjust the playback speed by about +/- 20%. (RCN photo courtesy Doug Stewart)
inuvik_afsav75_s.jpg AFSAV-75A Tape Recorder Amplifier:  When mounded in the deck,  would face towards the rear. It had two inputs: 1) A line input for recording from a receiver 2)  A microphone input with a separate volume control which could be used for logging or overriding the other input. 

Available accessories included a remote control unit and a footswitch. Tube lineup consisted of 1 each:  6072A, 5751, 6201, 5814, 6AQ5W.
(Photo via E-bay, Germany)


Model: Collins 237-A1
Frequency Range: 6.5 mHz to 60 mHz
Input Impedance: 52 ohm
Power Handling : 25 kw average; 50 kw peak
Dimensions: Longest element is 70 feet.
                   Boom Length: 52. feet
Gain: 8db over isotropic
VSWR: 2 to 1 over the entire frequency range
Wind and Ice Loading: 80 mph with 1/4" radial ice
Circa: 1959
(Photo by Collins Radio Company)
In communications, a log-periodic antenna (LP) is a broadband, multi element, unidirectional, narrow-beam antenna that has impedance and radiation characteristics that are regularly repetitive as a logarithmic function of the excitation frequency. The individual components are often dipoles, as in a log-periodic dipole array (LPDA). The length and spacing of the elements of a log-periodic antenna increase logarithmically from one end to the other. At Inuvik, the LPDA was located to the south and slightly east of the Ops Building.

According to Eric Earle, he remembers a vertically polarized rhombic and several horizontal rhombics to the East and Northeast of the Ops Building.

Inuvik had at least one Beverage-like antenna that extended a very long distance and was not supported above ground. It was just laid on the ground and extended about a mile or so over some pretty rough terrain. Since the ground is frozen for most of the year, there was no interaction between the earth and the wire. It was a superb antenna for both LF and VLF operation. Terminated in much the same way as a normal Beverage, the only basic difference was its placement on the ground for the entire span. This idea originated from the National Research Council and it worked because the real earth ground was several thousand feet down below the permafrost.

Inuvik also has some VHF capability.


Throughout the SUPRAD system, the ECM machine was the main cryptosystem for Operational traffic, ie, messages pertaining to equipment,  assignments, etc.

Administrative traffic was processed on the Adonis KL-7 system. That included traffic pertaining to personnel, accommodation, etc and any matter that was considered too sensitive to be handled in an unclassified manner.  This included promotions (in the 1950's), drafts (postings), discipline and training of CS personnel.

Stations whose operational load required an extremely large amount of traffic, (Coverdale, Churchill and Aklavik/Inuvik) used Rockex in the 1950's. When newer systems became available, the KW-26 was introduced for general useage throughout the RCN as a point-to-point cryptosystem. Additionally, in the SUPRAD system, it employed special channels for operational use. Traffic passed on the SUPRAD KW-26 links did not use the same keying material (ie, the same one-time IBM-type cards) as the RCN general communication channels.

For HFDF operations, the  KWT-37 was used for Net Control Stations, such as Coverdale and Gander and the KWR-37 (for the HFDF stations). KW-7 was used for the outstations’ reporting circuits.


After the move from Aklavik to Inuvik, there was a gap in amateur radio operations. Call sign VE8AY, used at Aklavik, continued to appear in callbooks with its Aklavik coordinates as late as 1963. No one knows why.  Sometime around the 1964-65 time period, VE8MK was procured as a club station call sign. Its address was shown as: Inuvik Radio Club, P.O. Box 1352, Inuvik. The 1963 callbook shows VE8MK as belonging to an individual in Watson Lake. Access to VE8MK was strictly controlled.  Anyone other than a navy operator would need an invitation and would have to be signed in and out of a special visitors book as well.

Eric Earle remembers HMCS Inuvik's Amateur Radio Club. "It was located in the Mens Downtown Quarters. I do remember, shortly after having arrived in Inuvik, Riggers from RCCS putting up a new tower for us with a 3 element beam at the Mens Downtown Quarters. They were probably in town to install a vertically polarized, fixed Log Periodic at the Operation site".

Harry Billard , currently holding call sign VE7JH,  operated amateur station VE8CB while he was stationed in  Inuvik between 1971 and 1972. This was not a club call sign but one he procured for himself in order to run phone patches. He operated Collins type equipment into big beams which he set up at his own expense. Because Harry procured a station licence, this would suggest that VE8MK was no longer in use by that time frame.
There were no listings for VE8MK in the 1977 Callbook, a sure sign it was retired.  A 1983 Callbook listing shows VE8MK as belonging to an individual in Pelly Bay. In 1987 it went to Tuktoyaktuk.  The Radio Amateurs Callsign  database does not indicate any ownership in August 2007.


CFS Inuvik closed on 1 April 1986 and the site was transferred to the Dept. of Transport for use as a telecommunications station.  Nothing remains of HMCS/CFS Inuvik today. Paul Komaromi, an Inuvik resident reports that "the Town of  Inuvik never really recovered after the base closure.  Even 20 years later, many people of all  backgrounds still  lament its closing. The Navy Operations base at the end of Navy Road was completely dismantled and removed.  What’s left is simply the footprint.  At Operations, everything was removed including the ground wire arrays".

inuvik-closing_message 1986.jpg This is a copy of the message which announced the closure of Inuvik in 1986. Click on image to read message, 

In 1954, the first survey teams flew to the Mackenzie Delta, looking for the best site for the future, but unnamed town. A number of potential sites were identified with this location being referred to as East Three. The site was on a navigable river with access to wood,  gravel, a good, clean water supply and enough flat land for a major airport. Moreover, the site had plenty of room for expansion and definitely no concerns about flooding. The East Three site was selected and in hindsight, the choice was a good one.

Inuvik now has a population of  3,200  as of 2000 and now sports two radio stations. CHAK/860 is the CBC Radio One station (non-commercial) and CKLB/101.9 is a 10 watt satellite station of CKLB Yellowknife, a community station. Local languages are predominately Gwich'in, Inuvialuktun and English. The community belongs to the electoral district of Mackenzie-Delta and to the land claim area of Gwich'i.

(Click to enlarge)

inuvik_aerial_today_s.jpg Inuvik Today (2000): The town has changed substantially since 1961.
The circular road at the right which connects to a straight road going north - the top of the picture – is, in fact the Dempster Highway with its connection to Tuktoyaktuk.The straight road, now called Highway 8 is also known as Navy Road. It was named after the Royal Canadian Navy whose personnel were amongst the original inhabitants of Inuvik. Lion Street, one of the original streets, became part of Navy Road in the 1970's to avoid confusion.  (Photo courtesy of Municipal and Community Affairs from the Inuvik Regional Health and Social Services Board Bulletin. Submitted by Spud Roscoe).

In May 2008, Jane Baryluk comments on the changes in Inuvik.  "The hold hospital is no longer there, being torn down in 2003. The new one is built along the main road right below the old hospital in the 1961 photo. There is now a parking lot where the old hospital stood. The staff residence is still there and used for our transient professionals.

There are plans in the works to tear down the school and create a central park of some sort. A new super school is in the planning stages now. Both of the student hostels have been torn down years ago. The old Navy admin building is all boarded up. After the military left it became a community college for several years until a new building was erected. Everyone is wondering what will become of that prime piece of property.

All those PMQs are still there along with several other houses. The (Hudson's Bay Company) house we live in has not even been put on the lot (in the inside crescent) yet in this photo. The town has grown significantly since 1961 but in many ways it is still the same.

Low Level Aerial Photos
People Photos 1
Receiving Site  Photos
Transmitting Site Photos
Other Photos


[1] Many documents referred to the new site as Aklavik East-3.  In the Aklavik Journal newspaper (December 1956 and March 1957) the usage was always "East 3", or "E3".


1) What model of Pusher antenna was used at Inuvik? Was it the British Plessey AN/FRD-13? Contact:

Contributors and References:

1) Ray White e-mail: <legerwhite(at)>
2) Spud Roscoe e-mail: <spudroscoe(at)>
3) Gerald T. Burton  e-mail: <acagerry(at)>
4) Canadian Warship Names. David Freeman. Vanwell Publishing, St. Catharines, Ont.
5) Bruce Forsyth's  Canadian Military History Page
6) SUPRAD Consolidation Plan. May 1966.
7) Inuvik Encyclopedia
8) DND Web site
9) CBC Life and Times series.
10) NWT&Y Web page.
11) Communications and Electronics Museum.
12) Joe Costello's RC Sigs Miltaria Page.
13) MW transmitter photo .
14) John Murison : <jolomurison(at)>
15) Collins Collectors Association
16) Inuvik Regional Heath and Service Board Bulletin.
17) HMCS badge image courtesy Ready Aye Ready web page.
18) CFS badge image courtesy Naval Security Web page.
19) Eric Earl,  KG4OZO <eearle52(at)>
20) John Bennett <djben(at)>
21) David Warmington <davidwarmington(at)>
22) Paul Komaromi <komar(at)>
23) Harry Billard VE7JH , <ve7jh(at)>
24) History of Canadian Signals Intelligence and Direction Finding by Lynn Wortman and  George Fraser.
25) Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory
26) Gary Westhouse VE3NIT. VE3 QSL manager . <g.westhouse(at)>
27) Jane Baryluk   <Jane_Baryluk(at)>
28) Gary King  46214-H RCN  1959-1968  <jgking(at)>
29) Inuvik folder

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Sept 23/21