BC Tel- Bell Irving Radio Site

North-West British Columbia, Canada


Located on Bell Irving Mountain

Bell-Irving Mountain was named in honour of Henry Pybus Bell-Irving, Lieutenant Governor of BC, 1978-1983

This was a ~4” thick , 8’ diameter, Fiberglass Structure, made by CT&S in Burnaby, with 3 floors,

  • 1st Floor- 8 Propane Tanks, (headroom 6’)
  • 2nd Floor- 3 Propane TELAN Thermo-Electric Generators (headroom 5’)

Example of a Telan Generator above

  • 3rd Floor- Radio room and original living quarters, (c/w, 2 clip in cloth hammocks).

Huge Propane tank farm was built in the 80’s, to augment the internal tanks.
Access to the building was by only 2 outside doors. Both of these doors were similar to a ship door.
Top floor was via an outside aluminium ladder, and a small 3ft high ship style hatch door.
Access to the middle floor was via a 2ft hole, in the floor of the upper level.
Being in this structure was like sitting in a Rocket Ship! Looked like one too!
The propane was hauled up every summer via helicopter, from a fuel truck on Highway 37.
The First Bell Irving Building came fully equipped with radios, and was dropped by the helicopter, used to lift it to the top of the hill.
The second and present building was flown up completely empty.
The radio first installed was the Lenkurt 78 system.
Outside the building was a massive propane tank farm, visible in the picture above, and an antenna structure, pointing toward Brown Bear Radio site.


I remember one day at Bell Irving in the Spring, very little snow, when 4 of us flew up to the site in a Bell 206.
While we were there, off on the next rise, towards the south, we seen 2 younger grizzly bears running like hell, then they would stop, look behind, then run again.
Wondering what the heck would be scaring a grizzly bear, we found out real quick. Over the hill came Momma Grizzly Bear, who had enough of these 2 kids hanging around,
and she was putting the run on them.
We had a CT&S guy with us, and he had a camera, and seen an opportunity for a picture.
So to get a good picture, the helicopter pilot decided he would whistle, and make the bear stop, and stand still for a great picture.
Well that worked for a second, and away she ran again.
Again he whistled, and only this time the bear turned, and in seconds it was right beside us!
Don Parr and myself climbed up the ladder, and got into the top floor of the building,
the CT&S guy was up the ladder behind us, and the Pilot took to the antenna structure.
This bear was not happy, and she circled the antenna, the helicopter, and us, before remembering what she was doing, and away she went.
While she was circling the helicopter, the pilot wasn’t whistling any more! I learned that day, a grizzly can out run a man, very easily.

This Picture was taken shortly after Bell Irving was installed, in the background is the CT&S installer, installing the propane tank farm fittings.
It clearly shows the doors and ladders and area around the building.
The building can be seen bolted to a cement pad floor, and in front of the door a cement pad to set the large round propane tanks on, when they were being lifted into place by helicopter.
Inside the bottom door, was a roof track, similar to a meat packing plant, which we could use to lift, and move the large cylinders, full of propane into place.

Pictures above are all taken of fuelling Bell Irving
The large round upright propane tanks were all inside the bottom floor.
they were the last ones to be used, after the large propane tank farm.

Bottom 4 rows are all Bell Irving Site and antenna pictures
Last one on right bottom row is the emergency living quarters we had built

Bottom 2 series of photos courtesy Brian Wolfe, Ladysmith BC

Bell Irving “Pack Rat” Hilton
Emergency Living Quarters
Built by Herman and Rolly, this plywood building was only used a few times as emergency shelter.
The couple times I stayed overnight there, we were kept company all night by a family of Pack Rats.
As well as Pack Rats, we had our own family of mice to keep us company.
As you can see in the picture, the building was anchored to the bed rock with a couple cables over the tin roof.
It was equipped with a propane burner stove, and a propane heater. A couple of rough bunks, were home!
If the building wasn't in this picture, it would look like a moon scape! No trees at Bell Irving!

Apr 1972
This picture shows the ladder into the top 3rd floor.
Also shows the Boat style hatch door, in the open position, which was only about 3ft high.
The bottom floor is covered with snow.
The half moon vents shown, are the air vents for the 2nd floor Telan Generators.
In the picture is Dave “Zoomin” Newman, pilot with Okanagan Helicopters (now Canadian) and on the right is Radio man Birke Brookbank
Bell 206 is in the background
Pictures taken by myself

Couple more Bell Irving views
One from the living quarters, and other of the radio building
The Orange stripe was added for a flying aid for the Helicopters when landing in white-out conditions.

Picture above shows the radio building, a Vancouver Island 206 helicopter, (probably Ian Swan was the pilot)
and in the foreground is Left- Carl Lofroth, and Right- Ray Homeniuk both radio microwavemen.
This picture you can see the door into the bottom floor, where the large round propane tanks were stored.

My BC Tel Bell Irving Radio Site Picture Page


  • Last modified: 2018/01/12 11:43
  • by dlgent