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  1. CFD Alsask

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Growing up in Saskatchewan, I feel that I had several hometowns. Flaxcombe was where we get our mail and is the closest to us; I tell people I'm from the Kindersley-area when they ask me where I'm from; Marengo is where I went to all 13 years of school; and Alsask is where we went to church and I worked as a teen.

    Yellow is my farm // Alsask is the blue marker on the far left, the white line is the Sask/Alberta border

    In terms of photos, Alsask is the most interesting as it is an abandoned Canadian Forces Detachment. It was opened in 1963 as part of the NORAD Pinetree Line (a full list of sites is here) during the Cold War. The base comprised of three radar towers, a school, pool, barracks and mobile homes, and a rec centre with a bowling alley, snack shop, arcade and beauty parlor - among other things. The detachment was disbanded in 1987 and the radar tower became a designated historical site in 2002.

    When the base was active, it was huge. The base had it's own school for a while, but when my dad went to school (the same as me, in Marengo) in the 70s, the base kids went to Westcliffe (and dad said they were pretty cliquey). Actually, I think all the towns in the school area were pretty big - my dad's graduating class in the 70s had about 30 kids, compared to my graduating class of 6.

    Alsask itself as a hamlet of the R.M. still exists with homes and a church and a few businesses (like the best Chinese food I have ever had!) but all that remains at the base are a few buildings, all abandoned with a very creepy, distopian aura. I worked at the Gopher Dip Pool (which I think is closed now due to a boiler fire but I'm not 100% sure) and I hated being the last one to lock up at night. It was so creepy being there in day, let alone at night (but I'm a scardey-cat).

    When I was home for the weekend I took the time to stop in Alsask to take some photos of the base before carrying on into Alberta. I would love to go in the buildings to do photos like what you would see on How To Be A Retronaut but I would want to be accompanied by someone who knows about the base (and I'd need permission from the R.M. too).

    Entrance building
    The Gopher Dip Pool

    Back of the pool, radar tower in the distance

    Administration building

    Administration building

    Recreation Centre with bowling alley, snack shack etc.

    Abandoned playground

    One of a few mobile homes still standing

    Driveway to nowhere.

    Another playground
    Tumbleweed Chapel

    the Retirement Villa

    Craft centre / baseball diamond

    Craft Centre


    The Radar Tower

  2. 7 comments:

    1. I think this blog is really useful and informative. Please keep up the good work it is great to read content on a blog that is not just self obsessed nonsense.

    2. JanFRN said...

      I lived at Canadian Forces Station Alsask in one of those mobile homes from 1968 to 1971, ages 10 to 13. It was a great place to grow up, small, safe and friendly. I learned to swim at the Gopher Dip, was confirmed in the Tumbleweed Chapel and went to school at what is now the 'craft centre', only then it was John A Silver Elementary School. It makes me so sad to see how it has all fallen to rack and ruin. But then so many of the radar stations I called home as a child are in the same state... or just gone altogether. But the good thing is that we PMQ Brats never forget where we came from and how we got where we are. And when we run into each other all these decades later (which happens a lot more often that you'd believe), we're still friends. There's a large bunch of us in the Edmonton area so I know whereof I speak!

    3. Anonymous said...

      Thanks for the Alsask update.
      Yes it was a great place to grow up, freedom to roam to the horizon as long as you showed up for a meal and, did not miss a moment of school up on the hill. Yes, the Chinese restaurant was great. The Central Creameries made butter for markets west and east to Toronto, the Beaver Lumber's open face lumber storage shed was a great place to play. Ned Preston landed his bi-plane on the main street to pick Dr. Harvey at his front door, then continue the take off over the top of the CN station at the end of the street. There were good years but lots of tough years as the dust storms (top soil) darkened the sky and winters of hard packed snow which carried a team of horses and sleigh over the drifts at 60'F below.
      Born in Alsask in 1926, moved to Nipawin in 1937,but never lost that "Don't Fence Me in" feeling.
      Don Beckett

    4. Anonymous said...


      Was ANDREW COX one of your group ?


      Maybe he worked there in the later years before close down.

      Don B -------

    5. Anonymous said...

      I drive through alsask alot and about 3 weeks ago decided to pull in and check it out, weird place For sure. And the barracks building had like 2 cars parked in front of it and an suv pulled up and left. Also the mobile home had a bbq outside like someone was actually living there, there was also a guy at that playground working out and a other in the creepy park outside his car smoking , is this some kind of drug stash place lol

    6. Anonymous said...

      Hello, I also lived at CFB Alsask as a kid; 1968-1972. I have many memories of the place. Living and being a "service brat" in a small, rural, military base during the Cold War era, was a very interesting experience. Your photos are great. I notice your blog doesn't mention the years you lived near by. Also, I used to swim at the Gopher Dip pool too. Thanks for the great work. Cam Folk

    7. Anonymous said...

      The Radar site is now owned by the Canadian Civil Defence Museum Association

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