Top News

Everything you watched in the 1960s and 70s came through Mill Village, Nova Scotia

This Satellite Station put Mill Village on the map in the 1960’s. It was built as only one of five satellite stations in the world to make use of the first fixed satellites.
This Satellite Station put Mill Village on the map in the 1960’s. It was built as only one of five satellite stations in the world to make use of the first fixed satellites.

MILL VILLAGE, N.S. - If you watched the famous hockey match between Canada and Russia in 1972, you were watching it thanks to one of the world’s only earth satellite stations – located in tiny Mill Village, Queens County.

Members of the Port Medway Area Communities Association is documenting the history of the amazing artefact through photos, videotaped interviews, and documents.

Bob Whitelaw is chairman of the communities association.

He says when he learned the importance of the site for not just Queens County, but for the entire world, he wanted to delve into the history so others could realize its importance.

He applied for, and received, a Canada 150 Forward grant to gather the research and conduct the interviews.

The satellite station was one of only five in the world at the time – and one of only two in North America. It was built in 1963, just after the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite, says Whitelaw.

“It was part of an international program to establish peaceful uses of space,” says Whitelaw.

Mill Village, Nova Scotia, was chosen because of its remote location – with very little radio interference – and was also close to railways and roads to bring the large equipment necessary to build the station.

It was dedicated to beaming telephone and television signals from a fixed satellite, and drew in other major events – like Muhammad Ali's Rumble in the Jungle.

“One of the main functions of that station was to bring in and receive important sporting events,” he says.

During its heyday, there were probably up to 60 people working there, says Whitelaw.

“We have many sources of photographs,” he says. “Ken Dagley of Liverpool, it turned out that he had photographed the opening of the earth satellite station and he took many pictures of the construction phase.”

The end result will be an exhibition of photographs and documents and video interviews. It will be featured at the Port Medway History Show – 10,000 years of connections – Ice Age to Space Age – which will take place at Port Medway Lighthouse Park in July.

There will also be an exhibit at Liverpool’s Town Hall and Cultural Centre.

Whitelaw said he decided to document the satellite station after seeing it’s present state as “an archaeological ruin, and wondering what happened there,” he says.

“Gradually, I began to figure out that something extremely important had happened there, and talking to people in the community, many of them would say ‘oh yeah, I remember that’. The deeper I got into it, the more important it became.

He says at one point, there was a conference in Washington, D.C., of engineers from over 40 countries and they flew to Mill Village to see cutting edge technology.

He says many people no longer remember the station, or realize the importance of it.

Whitelaw is now looking for former workers at the station to interview.

Latest News