Doug Brabner

Civilian operator at Beaverlodge and Pt. Radium RC Sigs stations.

Doug Brabner and daughterDoug on Drums

A Civilian Operator with the R.C. Sigs

by Doug Brabner

In 1956 I was working for Canadian Pacific Airlines at Fort Wrigley, after coming down from the D.E.W Line in the Arctic.

I spoke to an RCCS operator via C.W. at Fort Simpson and he told me that the Sigs needed C.W. operators. I quit CPA and had an interview with RCCS in Edmonton. They offered me a job as civilian C.W. operator and sent me up to the station at Beaverlodge Lake for a month as a relief operator because one of their regular ops was going on leave to get married.

I liked Beaverlodge because there was LOTS of C.W. traffic. As a further benefit there was also no graveyard shift. Of course we had to handle R/T traffic with boats on the lake and small aircraft landings. We also had to answer the telephone and take (and word-count) commercial messages over the counter. There was plenty of C.W. traffic, to and from Gunnar Mines. Some of the assay reports were well over 100 words in length. (GREAT STUFF). Messages had to be typed in lines of 10 words each, to make it easy for the receiving operator to make sure the CK was correct. I think I used to sign DB in the preamble. When XD told you first thing in the morning that he had 50 - 100 QTC waiting, you had to be "smart". While copying one message you had to insert the message form - with a carbon - for your office copy into the mill, so that as soon as you pulled the copied message out of the typewriter you were ready to copy the next one. I can remember there were times when I went on shift in the a.m. there would be 50+ messages waiting to be sent, and maybe another 50+ to be copied from XD. In cases like that I would get "peeved off" with one of the operators who could only operate C.W. at a top speed of 25 words per minute. I would ask her to get Sgt. Wade on the "bug". Then we could really get rid of the traffic. In those days I was a very fast C.W. Op. (Still am!)
I think B'lodge went RTTY in 1958 or so.

We used to have some "nice" Wing-dings on the weekends. I remember I bet "TA" I could drink a bottle of Gilberts gin in ONE hour. This was a Saturday. I woke up on MONDAY morning sick as a dog. I left one inch of gin in the bottle, and lost my dollar. Being a Scotsman this was sacrilege, i.e., not being able to finish the bottle and losing my dollar to boot. The following Saturday I bet "TA" two dollars that I could finish a bottle in One hour again. I woke up on Monday morning sick as a dog again with my head over the bath and a bad case of diarrhoea with extreme pain in my lower belly. I went to the nurse and she said I had better get to the hospital real quick. I got a taxi to Uranium City, 11 miles away, and saw the doctor at 12 noon. At 2 p.m. I was on the operating table. At 4 p.m. the doctor came into the ward with my HUGE appendix in a jar. He told me if I had been an hour later it would have been a burst appendix. I was out of the hospital on Wednesday and a walked the 11 miles back to B'lodge. The doctor said "No boozing for a week!" I must have been deaf because I was back at it again on the following Saturday.
Some of the people whom I served with at B'lodge sticks in the memory. One was a Sigs operator named Bev Berry, who had a girl friend who worked as a waitress in the mess hall. (see photo). "TA", the Sgt. OIC, had a little cat which gave birth to kittens in his bed. Another one was a chap named "Zeke" (see photo), and I'm not sure that this was the same guy, but here is the story:

After I left Beaverlodge and went up to Port Radium I eventually came down on leave to Edmonton where I stayed with an English family for a few days. One day in Edmonton, when I went to get on a bus, the door opened and just as I was about to step into the bus the door closed. I stepped back and the door opened again. Once again, as I was about to step in the bus the door closed. I stepped back again. This happened three times. I finally got in the bus and was just about to "raise hell" with the driver when he said, "Hi there Scotty, how's it going". I looked and couldn't recognize the driver, and then he told me he worked with me at B'lodge. We finally had a good laugh and a chat. I am quite sure that this was Zeke.

Overall I really liked B'lodge because there was so much C.W. and the personnel were fine fellas.After being on leave for a month I had to go back to XD and then fly up to Port Radium. We took off from the Commercial Airport in XD and landed at Sawmill Bay. (see photo)

ED NOTE:  The guy that Doug remembered as Zeke was probably Hal Zinn.


Radio Beacon
Beaverlodge LakeTA
Sawmill BayBaseball at Beaverlodge

Bev Berry and friend

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Other Doug Brabner Pages [2] [3] [4]


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