Dear Friend of “Radar”,
My name is Peter Garland. Perhaps you’ll remember me as the morning radio host on CKSL and CFPL in London for 33 years starting in 1970.
However, you probably aren’t aware of my military service prior to my career in broadcasting.
Between 1958 and 1970, I was a Royal Canadian Air Force “Fighter Cop”—Fighter Control Operator, one of about 25,000 over the duration of the Cold War—that staffed radar stations on the Pine Tree Line, the Mid-Canada Line and the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line. We were North America’s sentinels.
If, God forbid, the USSR launched nuclear bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, we gave warning to all to seek shelter. There was no shelter for us, as we were the eyes on the enemy. Canada was the battleground as the interceptions would happen in our skies.
In 1962 we came terrifyingly close, closer than most civilians realized at the time. We knew, and we kissed our loved ones goodbye when the alert reached DefCon 2—war is imminent. This was the October Missile Crisis. There were other close calls when nuclear war was narrowly avoided.
I wrote a semi-autobiographical novel about those times in 1991 called Permanent Echoes and dedicated it to my parents, and the “forgotten Fighter Cops.”
You see, in 1991 we were forgotten. There was no museum with sections dedicated to those Cold War Radar years. Today, to my knowledge, there are three museums that recall the history of the Cold War in any detail. The North Bay and Kingston museums receive federal operating funding to stay alive.
The Secrets of Radar Museum, in London, Ontario, does not. It relies on the generosity of sponsors and donors to keep Cold War service to our nation from being overlooked. When you visit the Secrets of Radar you can see a display that recalls those Cold War years and how Canada’s contribution was exemplary. It also brings our story into the community and schools through outreach programming, and provides researchers with material and assistance.
We never want to feel like forgotten Fighter Cops, or technicians, or any of the other trades that served you proudly in times of war and peace while watching the skies—again.
Please donate if you can to the Secrets of Radar Museum.
Peter Garland, CD.