Late in August 1936, F/L Coleman and LAC Joe Fortey of an RCAF aerial mapping party were reported missing in the Barren Lands. To better serve the communications needs of the search party LCpl. Joe Slean and the Outpost radio equipment were moved to Fort Reliance at the eastern end of Great Slave Lake. This was to be the base for search operations for the lost aircraft and crew. Regular schedules were kept with Fort Rae RC Signals and Government Survey parties at Aylmer Lake and Lac de Gras, sub bases for the search.

The communications provided by "Outpost Joe" were invaluable in bringing the search to a successful conclusion on 16th September with the finding of the downed aircraft and crew of Coleman and Fortey extremely weak from hunger but very much alive. They were immediately evacuated 'outside' to recuperate from their harrowing three weeks in the Barrens before returning to duty. The radio station remained open until gas and a new crew had been flown in to the downed aircraft and it was brought back from the Lac de Gras area to Reliance on 20th September. The following day Slean and his radio equipment were returned to Outpost Island.

- Excerpt from the Official History of the NWT&Y Radio System, by WO Cal Vince.

In the fall of 1936 an extensive search was under way in the Ft. Reliance area, for two lost RCAF fliers. This required extensive communications between Reliance/Edmonton/Ottawa, etc. These were being carried out under most difficult conditions, by the RCAF personnel who were engaged in the search. They had low-powered, portable equipment and relayed their traffic to Resolution or Rae, whichever of the stations could read them thru the summer static.

LCpl. Joe Slean was the Outpost Island operator, and I believe it was Joe who suggested that the Outpost Station be moved to Ft. Reliance to aid in message handling during the search. This was carried out and was of great benefit to the conduct of the search. As an aside, the lost were found, on the verge of winter, after enduring for 28 days on 2 weeks rations. Joe Slean was part of the move to Reliance. He set up the equipment at Reliance and remained there for the duration of the search, putting in many long hours at "the key" in handling all of the communications requirements during the search.

Because of clues that had been found, the latter part of the search was centered in the Lac de Gras/Aylmer area. This was far from the main base at Reliance. A sub-base (read "tent camp") was set up at Aylmer with some of the search aircraft based there. My records make no mention of a base at Lac de Gras. So, the "Govt. Survey Parties" (mentioned by Cal Vince in the official history of the NWT&Y RS) that Joe was "working" were part of the search party, the ones who happened to be in camp at that particular time

All this, of course, was long before the RC Sigs station was build in Ft. Reliance. That didn't happen until twelve years later, in 1948

- Note from Rex Terpening, former Aircraft Engineer serving the northern bush airlines

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