BC Tel- Brown Bear Radio Site Pg 1

North-West British Columbia, Canada

(taken by Glen Olver)
Originally the living quarters at Brown Bear, was a 12 ft TeePee Trailer, at the side of the Nass Road.
Beside it, was a Snow Cat Garage.
Later, in the early 70's, the trailer was moved up to the Radio Site, only a few meters from the Radio Room.
The Garage was moved 100 yds up the road, still visible from the highway.
The TeePee was replaced with a permanent Living Quarters, built by Herman Wiebe and Rolly Anderson.
It was one main room, with an open porch, and closed bathroom, equipped with a Humus toilet.
This building burnt to the ground in the 90’s.
It was replaced by a house trailer.
I left $5.00 in the table drawer, for an emergency trip to Hyder, can I claim that now?
Originally the site was powered by 2- BMC Diesels.
One was always on stand-by.
These were replaced by 2 Deutz diesels.
Originally there was no battery back-up at the site.
The first radio system was the Lenkurt 71 radio, and later 74 radio to Aiyansh.
Both of these were tube type analog radios. _

Tee-Pee Trailer Sleeping Conditions

Some Brown Bear stories that come to mind, are the living conditions in the little Tee-Pee trailer.
I worked with one fellow, by the name of Birke Brookbank, who could shake the trailer with his snoring.
You learned quickly to go to bed early, and get to sleep before him, or you were up all night.
The heater seldom worked in the winter, so in the morning it would sometimes be a little frosty on the floor.
It was big enough for one person, but crowded with 2.
I remember days and nights with 4 sleeping in the trailer, and 1 or 2 in the radio room on the floor.
Imagine all them in this little trailer to eat!
Speaking of eating, Birke Brookbank, would order in New York steaks the size of a dinner plate to be prepared on the hibachi, summer or winter.


Bum Guts?

One story retold, is the day Chuck Lequereux, came upon a dead moose, and as the story goes, he removed the “Bum Guts” and cleaned them, and had them drying in the open porch.
When the supervisor, Don Parr came to the site for a visit, what a surprise he got staring at the entrails, of a moose hanging in the porch.
This also happened with a few fish that Chuck had caught. What's wrong with a couple fish heads, hanging up at the door?
Needless to say, Don wasn’t impressed!

In the mid 60's, the Teepee trailer was located at the bottom the radio site road, next to a creek, for water access.
Next to the trailer was a BC Tel yellow garage in which we kept the snow machine, for winter access to the top of the mountain.
Today this narrow gravel road is a paved highway. Only the creek and road access are left.
Also visible in the picture on the right, is one of the old Chev Panel trucks, that we used for many years, running up and down the Nass Road.
Those days the road was not connected to Kitwanga. The Cranberry connection wasn't built for many years.
All of our trucks were 4×4's and we needed 6×6's some days!
We were almost the only ones driving the road up there at that time, other than loggers, forestry guys, Fisherman, or hunters.

The color picture above, was taken when the creek flooded in 1972.
Notice now the Teepee trailer is gone, moved up to the radio site.
Having the living quarters up by the radio site, made life a lot easier, even though we did have to carry water with us up the hill.
It meant a lot less travel in the snow machine, and we had our food and clothes in one place, until we left.
All of these radio sites we would stay from Monday until Thursday afternoon.
We would work late on each night to get Friday off each week. Basically we worked a 4 day week.

Brown Bear 1967
with Westerasmaskiner “Skinner” Snow-Cat in the foreground.
This was before the machine was painted BC Tel colors.
Visible on the right was 1 of 2 large Diesel tanks
The left of the peaked roof was the radio room, The right was the diesel room, with 2 access doors,
and the middle peaked portion, was a storage room.
It had an access door up high, in case of heavy snowfalls.
on the left end, radio room end was the main access door.
All the radio sites on the Nass System were the same design, built by CT&S in Burnaby, for Lenkurt Electric, the contractor that built the system.

Birke Brookbank ca 1972
This picture shows the TeePee Trailer, we used as our living quarters, located up by the radio building.
You can see Birke Brookbank, BBQ'ing one of his famous special cut, plate size, Porterhouse Steaks, on our little Hibachi grill.
Notice the classy stand for the grill!!
Tin foil on the windows to keep the temperature at a cool 110 deg F inside during the summer. No air-conditioning in this baby!
You can maybe see them in this picture, but we also had mosquitoes and Black flies, big enough to carry you off to eat.
All the North has this bug problem. If you drench yourself in diesel fuel, you will find they don't bother you at all!

I heard from John Hardie in Aug 2004,an d he now has lived in Australia since 1973.
He was living in Downer, ACT, Australia at the time.
He heard from Birke about ca 2000-01. He was working for Ericsson in Belgium.
He'd been with them for quite a while supervising GSM projects in Indonesia and other fun places, per the message from John.
I did talk to Birke a few years ago, and he was in southern BC at that time.


Before the Living Quarters building was built, showing the Teepee trailer on the left.
On the extreme left, is the most necessary piece of equipment we had, our Outhouse!
On the right is the Radio and Diesel Room.
Also shown by the radio room, is the Thiokol Spryte Snow Machine.
Extreme right the diesel tanks can be seen.
At this time the Antenna structure, was wooden poles, later a steel tower was erected, next to the radio room.

Pictures below from Brian Wolfe, Ladysmith BC

View of Radio Room

Brian Wolfe; Ron Strumecki

Doug Gent, Ron Strumecki

Tree across road, Tucker snowcat with Antenna Crew on board
A frequent occurence in the winter time.

Brown Bear antenna Structures, old wood one, new steel tower

Claude Bussieres, and Unknown Antenna Crew

Rabbit at the site

These are all from slides and are very poor quality.
But they are better than nothing, for inside living quarters pictures.
l/r- End wall with water jug, heater, fridge and bunk beds; Ron Strumecki between 2 sets of bunk beds; Don Parr; Art Normandeau; Pete Normandeau; Doug Gent, all at the kitchen table

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  • Last modified: 2018/01/12 11:47
  • by dlgent