Central and Arctic Region

Operational Stations
Marine Communications Officers
A fully integrated Centre, MCTS Thunder Bay is located at the western end of Lake Superior, in the Coast Guard Base at Keefer Terminal. Its radio coverage is quite vast as Lake Superior, the St. Mary's River, northern Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Lake Superior and western Hudson Bay all fall under MCTS Thunder Bay's area of responsibility.

The original Port Arthur wireless station (now Thunder Bay) was opened in November 1910, and operated by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada. It is the first and oldest of the Canadian Great Lakes stations, and has been in continuous operation from the same city. The station proved the usefulness of wireless, on the Great Lakes, when the SS Dunelm (a bulk cargo canal boat) ran aground off Blake's Point, Isle Royale, on December 7, 1910 and the ship and crew were rescued. The Dunelm didn't have wireless, but the ligher (barge) Empire did, and it relayed a call for help to Port Arthur.

Because of this incident, a chain of wireless stations, approximately 300 kilometers apart, from Port Arthur to Kingston, was built and completed by 1914. The Kingston station had sufficient range to communicate with Montreal, linking to the east-coast system, thus giving straight-through communication to Cape Race, Newfoundland.

In 1962, the Port Arthur station was combined with the aeradio station at the Fort William airport, and came under the authority of the Air Services Branch, in Winnipeg. In 1970, the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William were amalgamated into the new city of Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay was one of the last stations to provide both air and marine radio services in the region. The combined station continued operation until April 1, 1986, at which point the air and marine divisions were separated, and it was relocated to the Thunder Bay Post Office Building as a Canadian Coast Guard radio Station.

Winnipeg Radio/VFW5 and Churchill Marine Radio/VAP closed down operations that same year. With equipment being remotely controlled from Thunder Bay, the new Coast Guard radio station provided Morse code coverage for western Hudson Bay, until the end of 1998. Today it continues to provide VHF radio services for western Hudson Bay and Lake Winnipeg.

On April 1, 1997, the station was again relocated, this time to the Coast Guard Base at the Keefer Terminal complex. The services of both Wiarton/VBC and Sault Ste. Marie/VBB (both closed in 1997) have been integrated at the new Thunder Bay site ever since.
Unifor Local 2182
Thunder Bay / VBA

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