Time Lines







Gander - Pre & 1936

by Frank Tibbo


1893 - The railroad was laid through area

1899 - Newfoundland map shows the site as Dashwood

1906 - A logging camp was established by Hugh Hattie from Nova Scotia

1917 - A forest fire burned the area

1930 - Hattie's Camp and Cobb's Camp were flag stops on the Newfoundland Railway. Hattie's Camp was 213 miles west of St. John's and Cobb's was 216. Cobb's Camp was occupied at various times by Reuben Brown, Heber Greening, Jack Kelly, Roy Lane and the families of James Greening and Albert Oldford. Reuben Brown and Heber Greening were members of the fire patrol operated by the Anglo Newfoundland Development. They patrolled 14 miles of railway on a hand car or velocipede.

1931-1935 - The decision to establish an air service across the North Atlantic was made at an air conference in Ottawa in November between Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and Newfoundland. It was concluded that it would be necessary to establish an airport in Newfoundland to facilitate refuelling operations.

Ottawa received permission from the Newfoundland government to conduct a survey for suitable airport sites.

1936 - A decision was made to use Botwood as a base for flying boats and Hattie's Camp for land based aircraft.

There were several men whose names are associated with determining where the airport would be constructed: A Mr. Powell, a surveyor, who had done survey work in preparation for the Newfoundland Railway; Mr. Alan Vatcher, an engineer and surveyor on loan from the Commission of Government Department of Public Works; who was accompanied by Mr. Lester Shea; Captain Doug Fraser; (Fraser was accompanied on his survey flights by Lord Snowdon Gamble of the British Air Ministry); Mr. I. McClure of the British Air Ministry; Squadron Leader L. F. Stevenson, an air force officer seconded to the Canadian Civil Aviation Branch, who was assisted by two meteorological officers, one Canadian and one British.

In June, 1936, Mr. T. A. Hall, a civil engineer, who had retired from the Newfoundland Dept. of Public Works and Mr. Alan Vatcher with some 50 men arrived and began running survey and contour lines for the airport and brush cutting for the original runways began. The place was first wrongly called Cobb's Camp which was several miles farther west. The nearest familiar point on the railway was the place referred to as Hattie's Camp.

Mr. Vatcher became very ill and had to resign from his position. He was replaced by Mr. T.G. Woodyett, an engineer from Ontario, who had considerable experience in the laying of asphalt.

An agreement between the United Kingdom, the Irish Free State, the Canadian and the Newfoundland Governments for the establishment of a transatlantic aerial service, was announced in London on July 30, 1936 confirming the development of transatlantic air service to a route connecting the four states.

The official name of the proposed airport was Newfoundland Airport. The general area was referred to variously as Milepost 213 (being 213 miles from St. John's via train), Hattie's Camp ( Hugh Hattie was a Nova Scotian logging for Timber Estates Ltd. somewhere about 1906) and Cobb's Camp (which was approximately 8 km west).

Mr. Tom Moores came to open a Telegraph Office. (Newfoundland Railway).

Dr. Knapp of Lewisporte, riding on a little railway speeder, made weekly visits to the airport from 1936 to shortly after the outbreak of war, when a military doctor set up a medical centre, prior to the Sir Frederick Banting Hospital being constructed.

There were no roads built as such, accommodation for the construction workers consisted of construction shacks, cook houses, and a staff house which were mainly used by the engineering and supervisory staff. Initially there were no wash rooms, toilets or showers and workmen often swam at Deadman's Pond to get clean.

contributed by F. Tibbo


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