The LORAN tower is visible from just about anywhere in tiny Cambridge Bay (population 1582). It was built in the late 1940s to help ships and planes navigate, and is the tallest structure for miles in any direction.
Seventy-five years later, NAV Canada says the tower’s aging structure is deteriorating and has to be taken down.
LORAN is short for “long range navigation." The 189-meter beacon still sends radio signals to help planes take off and land in Cambridge Bay, but GPS has replaced most of its other functions.
People in the community have found other uses for the structure.
'To me it was like a big inuksuk' - John Udlaoyak Jr., hunter
Bruce Peterson says he uses the tower daily to check the weather. “You don't even go on a computer,” he says. “You turn around and if you can see the tower, the planes are coming in. Now they’re taking it down."
"Our beloved tower has been with us for quite some time,” Peterson says.
"To me it was like a big inuksuk,” says John Udlaoyak Jr., a local hunter. “I have actually gotten lost in the fog. You could see in the distance a flash... five miles out of town.
Both Peterson and Udlaoyak would like the tower to stay.
The hamlet looked into declaring it a heritage site, but the tower’s foundation is crumbling. It would cost around $1 million to rebuild, plus the cost of maintenance in the future.
Demolition of the tower is expected to start at the end of November.
It will be replaced by a tower one quarter the size.