New collection of Coal Harbour RCAF base photos found

Down time at the cabins in Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)Down time at the cabins in Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)
Machine gun practice in Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)Machine gun practice in Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)
Soliders goofing off in Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)Soliders goofing off in Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)
A soldier leaning against a boat in Coal Harbour. (Roland Guertin photo)A soldier leaning against a boat in Coal Harbour. (Roland Guertin photo)
Sunlight through train windows. (Roland Guertin photo)Sunlight through train windows. (Roland Guertin photo)
Horsing around in the snow, 1941/42. (Roland Guertin photo)Horsing around in the snow, 1941/42. (Roland Guertin photo)
Trains in 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)Trains in 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)
Training drills at Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)Training drills at Coal Harbour, 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)
A group of soldiers stacked up in a tree near Coal Harbour in 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)A group of soldiers stacked up in a tree near Coal Harbour in 1942. (Roland Guertin photo)

Dennis Guertin of Ottawa had been rooting through his late father’s photo collection to assemble some family history of sorts when he found a year’s worth of images from the army base in Coal Harbour.

His father, Roland Guertin, was a security guard who worked his way up to being a station defense instructor. He taught jiu jitsu, rifle, machine gun and hand gun shooting, and grenade use.

Among the photos Dennis found were dozens of people he doesn’t recognize, so he mailed them to the North Island Gazette to be shared with the Royal Canadian Air Force Museum in Coal Harbour.

The small, black and white images revive moments of daily life during World War II on the Vancouver Island base, including serious combat training as well as goofing off or just waiting for a train to arrive. The Coal Harbour base was charged with patrolling for Japanese submarines. It was staffed just four days after the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941.

Perhaps you’ll recognize a face or two? Here’s a selection of the images Dennis shared.

READ MORE: Remembering the Forgotten War in Coal Harbour

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

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