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The WW II RESEARCH LABS

The John Street Laboratory, a former 
paper mill, was home Canada's Chemical 
Defence Labotatories  during World War II.
The John Street Laboratory, a former
paper mill, was home Canada's Chemical
Defence Labotatories during World War II.

THE WW II RESEARCH LABS

Planting the Seeds of Excellence

The culture of excellence that led to the remarkable performance of the Alouette I did not materialize spontaneously in 1958. Excellence and world-class performance were habits of the Shirleys Bay organizations long before the Alouette I was ever conceived.

As early as 1935, in anticipation of a European war, Canada was tasked by Britain to manufacture gas masks. After a less than successful start, it was determined that in order to manufacture quality gas masks, Canada required more depth in it's technical expertise. Dr. E. A. Flood of the National Research Council traveled to Britain to review British research capabilities and brought back with him the knowledge required to establish Canada's own R&D facilities. Rather than simply meet British standards, Dr. Flood created a team to improve the technology, working within the Chemical Warfare Laboratories on John Street in Ottawa. Their developments extended to the point that Canadian gas masks became recognized as the most advanced in the world.

Similarly, in 1940, Britain again tasked the Canadian Government to manufacture radar equipment in Canada. As part of that initiative, the National Research Council opened the Radio Branch in Leitrim near Ottawa, to manufacture and test experimental radar equipment. This facility was the focal point of Canada's contribution to the development of radar technology during WW II. By 1945 this branch had developed about 12 types of radar that were put into mass production. Approximately 20 other types were produced in smaller quantities for specific services requirements. These radars set a world standard for performance, playing a key role in establishing the outcome of the war.

By the war's end in 1945, Canada had created world-class defence research capabilities in numerous technology areas including gas masks; radar design; radio propagation; flamethrowers; and batteries. In 1947 the Department of National Defence (DND) proceeded to form a number of defence oriented research establishments all reporting to the newly created DND agency called the Defence Research Board (DRB).

Three of these organizations, which originally fell under the DRB, were the Defence Chemical Research Laboratory (DRCL), the Defence Research Electronics Laboratory (DREL), and the Radio Propagation Laboratory (RPL). The RPL and DREL were subsequently merged under the Defence Research Telecommunications Lab (DRTE). The DRTE and the DRCL being the two organizations that came together as the inaugural members of the new research campus at Shirleys Bay in 1952.



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