Day 12 – June 18 – Cold Lake, AB

WARNING! WARNING! We spent almost three hours in the Cold Lake Museums. This is a very long blog, you may to want break it up into smaller reading bits. What can I say, I love museums.

The museums are located in the old radar station and are comprised mostly of CFB Cold Lake history, with an Oil & Gas section, a Heritage section and an Aboriginal section. There will be LOTS of photos of placards as I am too lazy to write down all the stuff I find interesting. The good – or bad – thing about taking the photos in a place like this is I get to choose the things that I like or find interesting. I bet if you looked at John’s photos there would be all-together different images. And, unusually, he took more photos today than I did.

We woke to steady rain but by the time we left the building at 2:30 it was sun and cloud. There had been a thunderstorm alert posted, but it never materialized.

Outside the building is one of three former big white globes. These covered the radar dishes. The one inside the this globe, which has been moved to side of the parking lot, still has the dish that collected data on width. The height one is inside the museum and the third one we saw yesterday at CFB Cold Lake.

It was not possible to get a photo of the dish as it pretty much filled the whole globe.

This is what the station looked like during its heyday. Note the long ‘corridor’ between the main building and past the radar dishes to the end. The rooms for Oil & Gas, Heritage, and Aboriginal Museums offshoot from this corridor. It is 724′ or 221 meters long and you walked the length of it to see the three display rooms and back again to exit the building.

The first room we entered was the old radar room. There was lots of different equipment lining the walls and information on how the radar system works.

The ‘height’ radar dish.

Radar scanners.

Every black dot and every ‘globe’ is a radar site. You can see they extend the full length of Canada’s northern coastline, even into Alaska.

How could you ‘forget’ to build the control tower at an airbase???

4 Wing CFB Cold Lake from the air circa 2019.

My favorite thing in this room was the ‘lavatory roll’ survey. Apparently some brilliant supply officer decided the Department of Defence was using too much toilet paper and issued a directive that the use be monitored so it could be determined if ‘they were getting their money’s worth.’

I have included the most pertinent correspondence written over the 9 months of this important survey. They are worth a read if you want to take the time. I still chuckle over the absolute absurdity of this and can only imagine some of the ‘reports’ that were submitted.

They had four former soapboxes on display. My two favourites are below.

The museum had displays about pretty much everything that happens and every service branch and squadron at the base. It was really well done.

The Dutch word for this French designed, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle translates to Sparrohawk. It was primarily designed to carry a Forward Looking Infrared payload. It saw active use in Canadian Forces missions in Afghanistan.

This large CFB Cold Lake crest is carved from wood.

The page below had fallen off the wall and was partially hidden behind an artifact. I was able to photograph this section which tells the beginning of the story that led to Charles Sweanor’s capture and subsequent roll in “The Great Escape.”

The photos of the 50 men who were executed were taken from German identification photos. The painting was done by Flight Lieutenant Ley Kenyon. His story is below the Great Escape stats.

A Sidewinder Wing Pylon & SUU-20 Bomb Dispenser.

John and I were both surprised at how small the bombs were in this thing considering how much damage they can do.

There was an entire wall of paintings by a Cold Lake artist and former member of 410 Cougar Squadron of CFB Cold Lake. Jim Belliveau, from 1993 to the present has been responsible for the design (and in most cases the actual painting) of over 50 aircraft paint schemes on over 10 different aircraft. We could not tell whether these were design paintings or images of the aircraft flying in their finery. The Canada 150 airplane design is on a T-shirt in the gift shop.

What happens when a large bird impacts a CF-18 Hornet windscreen at 600 km/hr and less than 100 m above ground?

One section of the very long corridor that led to the other three museums located here. We came first to the Oil and Gas Museum which was a room filled with large information boards telling about the geology of the area that makes it rich in oil and gas and details the extraction process, etc. I sat on a bench and rested my feet while John looked it over.

There were displays all along the corridor and this machine was sitting in one of them. I had never heard of a Graphotype so I looked it up on Google.

Graphotype was a brand name used by the Addressograph-Multigraph Company for its range of metal plate embossing machines. The machines were originally used to create address plates for the Addressograph system and mark military style identity tags and other industrial nameplates.”

Next was the Heritage Museum which had lots of ‘old’ stuff in it, some of which were things my mother or grandmother used.

A local amatuer historian named Denis Gardner was instrumental in getting the Cold Lake Museums started. He is also a very talented model maker. When he brought his farm, logging and other historical models to the museum he included his pirate ships. I only photographed the one.

There were hundreds, if not thousands, of other items I could have taken pictures of today, but I tried really hard to not photograph everything. I still ended up with 86 pictures and I think there are about 60 of them in today’s blog. John took 116, so I didn’t do too bad.

This Red River cart is carrying a birch bark canoe. I love models and miniatures. People that can make them amaze me, especially when they are so detailed.

When I was a child there was a Black Beauty horse somewhere that we would beg mom to put a nickel in so we could ride it. If you pulled on the reins it went faster. It didn’t have red eyes though. I don’t know why they painted them red.

Pick your shoe size for the cobbler to make your next pair of boots.

I tagged my daughter on Facebook and asked her if she wanted me to get this sign for her. She declined. Weird, I wonder why?

The final museum was about the Aboriginal Dene people.

Of course there were airplanes in the yard, but there we no id plaques to say what they were.

We rested our feet and had a PB & J sandwich and an orange for lunch then headed toward Cold Lake Provincial Park which is a very popular fishing spot.

The Cold Lake area is home to more than 200 bird species and the shores of the lake are important nesting grounds. The lake is one of the largest in Alberta.

We returned to the hotel to go through photos before dinner. Tomorrow we head into Saskatchewan and go to North Battleford.

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