Cold-War radar dome finds new home at museum

Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland (left) helps cut the ribbon to officially open the dome at Cold Lake Air Force Museum. He is with 4 Wing Commander Col Dave Moar, Major Kael Rennie and museum curator Jennifer Ross. Photo: Cliff Kenyon
4 Wing Commander Col Dave Moar gives visitors a tour inside radar dome at Cold Lake Air Force Museum. Photo: Cliff Kenyon

Cliff Kenyon

It’s finally home.

Local leaders on August 8 officially opened “the dome” at the Cold Lake Museums after a lengthy project to save this large and visible reminder of the past.

It’s the aluminum and fibreglass dome which houses a cold-war era radar dish which was part of the Pine Tree Line of early warning radar sites which once stretched across Canada.

The radar installation was at 4 Wing Cold Lake and was operational from the 1950s to the 1990s. There were three domes at the base protecting radar equipment. The domes were dismantled when the equipment was decommissioned and no plans were made for use of the dome structures.

Major Kael Rennie was instrumental in efforts to rescue one of the domes to move to the museum.

“We needed a dome for the skyline.”

It is an impressive reminder of the past and the history of Cold Lake region.

Key to moving the dome from 4 Wing to the Cold Lake Air Force Museum was Alan Duncan of Canadian Space Services Ltd., based in Ontario. His company as been involved in erecting, maintaining and moving domes for more than 30 years.

The dome at the museum is 42 feet across.

“It is a specialized kind of work,” Duncan says. “We will be back to maintain it.”

The geodesic dome consists of an aluminum frame and triangular shaped panels which make up the covering. The panels are made of aluminum and fibreglass which don’t interfere with radar signals. To be moved, the frame and panels must be disassembled then reassembled with the structure mounted and connected to a specially designed concrete slab.

Duncan says he expects the structure, similar to those used throughout the world and in such demanding climates as the Arctic, will withstand winds of up to 170 miles and hour.