WW11 RCAF range finder found at Point No Point

WW11 RCAF range finder found at Point No Point

After World War II, a number of interesting items were to be found within our coastal defense system, not the least of which was this early range finder at Point No Point.

While the two army training camps in our area were Otter Point Camp (foot of Kemp Lake Road) and Milne’s Landing Camp (where Edward Milne Community School stands) smaller defense installations were located at Point No Point (shown), at Jordan River, Port Renfrew, DeMamiel Valley, Becher Bay, and more. This was a brief era in our history, when coastal defense became a top priority for Canada.

The experimental unit pictured was photographed by Gwyn Owen in 1955, showing his wife Rosemary Owen standing on the little rustic footbridge which led to the radar site, marked by a flagpole today. Retiring here in the 1980s, the Owens made this photo available to the museum.

Evelyn Packham, a Registered Nurse who had served as matron at the army hospital at Terrace during World War II, bought the large tract of land in 1952, at a time when the west coast rainforest was beginning to regenerate after extensive logging had taken place there during the 1930s.

When Miss Packham bought the land she envisioned nurturing the site back to its beautiful west coast growth and creating a roadside tea house for Sunday drivers to stop by and enjoy her hospitality and her baking. While getting her plans established and having the teahouse built, Miss Packham lived in the tower. Eventually she built four cabins and began serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Gwyn Owen described this unit as one of the RCAF’s earliest experimental ultra microwave stations, an Air Force high frequency range finder. The tower remained standing until 1967, when it collapsed on site, leaving its octagonal concrete foundation in place.

In time, with Miss Packham’s advancing years, it was her teahouse manager Grace Soderberg that bought the place, and began developing comfortable cabins for vacationers. Grace’s son Stuart, and Stuart’s wife Sharon, have carried on with this development, while also creating a top notch restaurant, making Point No Point Resort one of the most popular vacation spots in the region.

Elida Peers

Sooke Region Museum