Home > North meets South > Inuit Recollections on the Military Presence in Iqaluit > The Pinetree Radar Station site: “Upper Base”

Caribou in the Koroc River Valley, Torngat Mountains.

On the shore of Ungava Bay south of Killiniq.

The Pinetree Radar Station site: “Upper Base”

Uqi Kunuk

"I went up there once when I had one child in 1959. They showed us how they operated the transmitter. There was a map. They knew the whereabouts of the planes and ships that showed on the screen. I remember they were explaining to us how much they knew about what was going on."
In Chapter Five, the Elders talk about the Upper Base radar station, built in 1952-1953, during the cold war. Iqaluk Ipeelie used to go to the base at that time to collect the wastewater and he saw the qallunaat building the base, but he does not know if Inuit worked there during the construction or if Canadian military personnel were there, because the Inuit did not associate with the qallunaat. Bill MacKenzie and Jimmy Kilabuk describe the location and the buildings. Jimmy Kilabuk remembers that the children were too afraid to go in there. Simonie Michael tells how one night everyone had to put out their stone lamps (qulliq), because a German plane had been spotted. Elijah Mike and Mittuk Nowdluk confirm that the Inuit had been ordered to put out their lamps each time the siren sounded. Mittuk Nowdluk says that the Inuit had radios at that time and that they were informed by radio when it was alright to relight the lamps. She recalls that at the time they were living in cabins they had built themselves. She talks about the construction of Quonset huts, Atwell tents and Butler buildings. She recalls that the base was open every evening and that movies were shown there. However, the Inuit were only authorized to go there on certain occasions. Those who sold crafts could not go to Upper Base to offer them to the military personnel. Tomassie Naglingniq tells us about the fear he felt when he and some friends were stopped near the military site. Uqi Kunuk recalls one time when the military personnel took them on a visit of the site. Bill MacKenzie says that Upper Base was an interesting place to go for a walk. He talks about how he helped tear down some buildings after the federal government had bought them from the Americans.