HMCS Aklavik

A sketch of the towers and cables that operated at Aklavik

HMCS Aklavik

There has been only one establishment named Aklavik in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Aklavik became part of the Northwest Territories and Yukon (NWT&Y) Radio system in October 1925. The NWT&Y system, a true pioneer system, was critical in providing communications in Canada's north, and was operated by the Royal Canadian Signal Corps of the Canadian Army. In Aklavik, besides providing services to the general population, the NWT&Y Radio system also provided communication for any aircraft that overflew the site with or without radio. An aircraft without radio that was simply passing over one of these stations and not destined to land would simply fly very low over the station so that it could be identified and the date and time of its passing would be recorded.

Naval Radio Station (NRS) Aklavik was established in the Northwest Territories in 1949 to supplement the Army’s establishment. The naval station was part of the SUPRAD (Supplementary Radio) network tracking emissions and reporting the information to a control station where it was analysed. In the Inuvialuktun dialect it means "barren-ground grizzly place". From 1953 to 12 March 1961, it was formally known as Her Majesty’s Canadian Naval Radio Station (HMC NRS) Aklavik,but the base personnel just called it NRS. During the early stages of NRS Aklavik, personnel consisted of six to 12 men with a Petty Officer in charge. Personnel were provided with accommodation for dependents, however when the site originally opened, personnel and their families weathered rustic conditions, and severe hardships. Dwellings lacked central heating, water and sewage and there were no modern, fully equipped houses. While Aklavik was in service, there was no interaction between the Royal Canadian Signal Corps and the Royal Canadian Navy other than on a social basis. They operated as two independent entities in spite of many common skills.

Although Aklavik grew to be a moderately settled town by the early 1950s, its restricted waterways and instability of the silt and permafrost terrain were considered inadequate for any new construction. Because of this, the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources started to plan the move to a new site on higher ground as early as November 1954 with construction commencing in 1956. The new site was called Aklavik East Three but was always referred to as East 3 and later renamed Inuvik. The old station closed on 12 March 1961 and personnel were transferred to the new facility at the Naval Radio Station Inuvik, which became operational at one minute pass midnight (GMT) on March 20, 1961.

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