Recent History 2000-2002
July 13, 2000
DAWSON CREEK – More than 500 people will converge on Dawson Creek this weekend for a reunion of Canadian National Telecommunications (CNT) employees.
The reunion will kick off Friday at Memorial Arena with registration and wine and cheese.
Saturday will find visitors playing in a golf tournament at the Dawson Creek Golf and Country Club, followed by an evening social at the arena.
Following breakfast Sunday, a memorial service will be conducted for those who have passed on.
“It promises to be an exciting event with old friendships being renewed and many memories being shared,” said Bud Armstrong, who has been helping to organize the reunion for more than a year.
About 600 people worked for CNT, of which about 100 were stationed in Dawson Creek. The local headquarters was in the second floor of the post office building and CNT had works buildings at other locations.
CNT was once known as Canadian National Telegraph. But in 1947, took over the communication line built by the U.S. Army, which stretched from Edmonton to the Alaska border.
The system played a key role in the defense of North America during the Cold War. A breakdown would draw an immediate response from Strategic Air Command.
There was a repeater station every 100 miles that was manned 24 hours a day, usually with four families at each site. There were more CNT employees in the larger centres such as Watson Lake and Whitehorse.
In 1960, CNT’s Yukon District headquarters was moved to Dawson Creek, where it stayed for about 10 years.
This was also the time of the building of the Grande Prairie-Alaska microwave system which signaled the end of the land-line era.
With the advent of satellite and cable along the coast, the system eventually became an entirely commercial operation and in 1971 the headquarters was moved to Whitehorse.
In 1998, Bell Canada bought the system from CN, and along with such improvements as the advent of digital, it now serves the entire Arctic.
Among those who will be attending will be 94-year-old Dan Dalke and 90-year-old Bob Sutton, who will help cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, set for 7 p.m.
Armstrong worked for CNT for over 30 years before retiring in 1992. Along with a good pension plan, he said CNT was simply a good employer to work for.