A Key to Gander's History

by R.G. Pelley

I recently came across a long lost item from Gander's history...in fact the only reason that I found it is because someone did indeed loose it.  Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it wasn't really lost but rather that someone forget to leave it where he should have!

I now have in my possession the key from room 41 from the Saturn Hotel which at one time existed just across the road from the old terminal, more precisely in front of Hanger 21.  It is a key made by Dominion Lock in Montreal, which is quite logical given that Ferry Command who ran that part of Gander during war had its Headquarters in Dorval.  For the key collectors who might read this posting, it was made from a no 22 key blank.  I got this key from a chap in Mt Horeb which is small town near Madison, Wisconsin, about 50 mile west of Milwaukee.


Looking at this key reminds us that things were in some ways much simpler back then.  On the key fob it is inscribed " If carried away return unsealed - we guarantee postage".  We sometimes still see that today...with one very big difference : in those days, no long address with postal code was necessary. Just Saturn Hotel, Gander was enough - quite a change!


I have had quite a few discussions over the years about the exact location of the buildings near the old terminal. I am happy therefore to have found a diagram from a brochure published by the Atlantic Guardian in 1948 which should clarify the situation a bit.  As can be seen from the enlargement, the Saturn Hotel occupied in fact two buildings.

RAF side

The bldg right in front of the terminal as such was Jupiter and further to the east was the North Star bldg which took care of the drinking and dining with the Skyline Club dining room, bar and lounge (though from the main diagram the Skyways Club is also shown as part of the Saturn Hotel. I believe there was a small bar with limited hours). There was another prominent bldg nearer the main road from the town to the airport for crew accommodation.

Some of the confusion of the location of the bldgs came from later name changes.  The crew quarters was also known as Mercury and the most westerly of the Saturn bldgs when used for civilian accommodation was known as Mars.

Researched and contributed by R G Pelley from his personal historical aviation collections.


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