Kamloops, BC

1987 - A History of Kamloops - Armed Forces Day Pamphlet

Canadian Forces Station Kamloops was a long range radar station located 16 km north-east of the city of Kamloops at Mount Lolo. The station was designed to augment the long range radars of the Pinetree Line and to provide aircraft control and warning to the air defence systems of North America.

Construction of the buildings on the station was completed in 1957 by the United States Air Force. It was one of four such installations in British Columbia at that time. In 1958 the radar and communications systems were installed and a limited degree of operations was achieved. The station, designed and manned by American personnel, became home of the 825th Squadron and was fully operational by March 1959 under control of the 25th Air Division at McChord AFB, Tacoma, Washington.

Kamloops warmly welcomed the over than 150 USAF men and their families in 1958. Besides the general friendliness local people felt towards Americans, Kamloops was pleased with the half million dollars worth of business the base brought to the city each year. This included the hiring of many local people as civilian support staff. For their part, the Americans seemed to enjoy Kamloops. For many of them Kamloops was a large city compared to some of the small communities they had been stationed at previously. As well, Kamloops was close enough to the border to allow the Americans an easy return to the United States on vacation.

On 1 April 1962, the Royal Canadian Air Force accepted responsibility for the manning of the radar station. With the formation and activation of 56 Radar Squadron Kamloops, the American Squadron was disbanded. Mount Lolo underwent a number of changes and modernization during the next 26 years. In late 1962 the station was tied into the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment System (SAGE) and became part of the 25th NORAD Region with Headquarters located at McChord AFB. Upon re-designation of Aircraft Control and Warning Squadrons to Radar Squadrons, the name was changed to CFS Kamloops.

The NORAD System was realigned in 1982 and CFS Kamloops reported to the 24th NORAD Region at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. The station maintained its affiliation with the 24th until 1983 when it was changed to a configuration under the command of the Canada West Sector in the Canadian NORAD Region, North Bay, Ontario.

Because of its location, CFS Kamloops also had many support functions in the area. In addition to its primary role, the station also provided radar data to the Ministry of Transport (MOT) for civil control of air traffic in the Vancouver area.

On 1 April 1988, CFS Kamloops ceased operations and the station was formally disbanded on 1 August 1988. At the time of shutdown the base had 95 military personnel and 50 civilian support staff. Rapidly changing technology and military strategies had made radar bases like the one at Mount Lolo obsolete. The new North Warning System was to provide NORAD with the necessary data to maintain control of Canadian and American air space.