Officials probe area’s military past

TERRACE’S MILITARY history was front and centre for some locals as they showed two federal officials around recently.

One was from Defence Construction Canada, the federal crown corporation which provides the buildings and other services for the armed forces, and the other from a federal program which checks out old military sites, focussing on environmental problems, concerns or unexploded munitions typically called UXO or unexploded ordnance.

Types of UXO objects are bombs, grenades, flares/pyrotechnics, mortars, projectiles, rockets and objects that end up underwater that are a hazard as they never did explode.

Local history writer Yvonne Moen, Debbie Letawski of George Little House and city councillor Brian Downie drove one of the officials, Eric Gilbertson from Defence Construction Canada around to several places, including the Northwest Regional Airport, which got its start as a Royal Canadian Air Force base during the Second World War, and the rod and gun club property which served as a rifle range.

“[He was] just looking at if there was any bombs and stuff like that buried,” said Moen of Gilbertson.

While no unexploded ordnance was found, Moen said Gilbertson was pleased with what he did encounter.

The list included two previously undisclosed Second World War bunkers at the airport, added Moen.

And she said Gilbertson also talked to Ed McFadyen, who was here during the war and to Helene McRae.

Gilbertson also went up to Heritage Park Museum where he met curator Kelsey Wiebe said Gilbertson looked at the maps of the local military sites, photos and transcripts of oral histories.

“But they [oral histories] weren’t really that helpful,” said Wiebe, adding that’s because people will give vague locations when remembering and the historians were looking for specific sites.

Gilbertson indicated that a reality TV show, Bomb Hunters, was made with the work he does, said Wiebe.

Several hundred sites which may contain unexploded ordnance are spread across Canada and there 1,100 sites off the east coast and 26 more off of the Pacific Coast, indicates federal information.

A program of historical research currently underway may identify additional sites that will be added to a federal database at a future date.


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