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The Lonesome Life

Built I 1938, the 100-foot steel fire tower atop Eagles Nest, providing a view of about 1,800 square km, where smoke could be detected from as far away as 24 km, was one of approximately 325 wooden and steel towers built across Ontario by 1947.

Each tower was situated to overlap with at least two of its neighbouring towers so the precise location of a fire could be determined by a process of triangulation using a device called an alidade.

Radios were used to communicate between the towers and with the Chief Ranger’s Office and Fire Protection Supervisor, until replaced by phone lines in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Tower men” would spend months each year in complete isolation. How would you have liked the lonely life of a Forest Fire Tower Ranger?

Women too, especially during the Second World War, took on the job of Forest Fire Ranger with the Department of Lands and Forests.

The tower system ended completely by 1973 and has been replaced by aerial and electronic lightning detection systems.

Information courtesy of Robert Eno, Iqaluit, Department of Lands and Forests/MNR Fire Lookout Tower Detection System 1922 – Present.