BACKSTAGE

Backstage IN THE NORTH

Think pioneering's dead? Not in Frobisher Bay

Peter C. Newman September 26 1959
BACKSTAGE

Backstage IN THE NORTH

Think pioneering's dead? Not in Frobisher Bay

Peter C. Newman September 26 1959

Backstage IN THE NORTH

Think pioneering's dead? Not in Frobisher Bay

EVERYONE’S HEARD from grizzled old-timers or fired-up editorial writers the complaint that the freewheelin' hearties who pioneered Canada are a dead or dying breed. Still, say the news stories, our true north's getting stronger and more prosperous. If pioneers aren’t at work, who is?

Consider Edward Gallacher, frontiersman '59. He’s the man most likely to be seen if a passenger on any of the ten trans-Atlantic flights now landing at Frobisher Bay, on Baffin Island, NWT, happens to glance out a porthole during the 20-minute refueling stop.

At 38, Gallacher. who looks like a balding Tyrone Power, is the young community’s — and perhaps the whole north's — busiest entrepreneur: postmaster. Bell Telephone officer, sole taxi-fleet (four cars) operator and only hotel owner in Frobisher Bay (pop. 2,000). He also runs the only service station in town (Esso), is the local evaluator for insurance companies and often doubles as chef at his 40-room East Coast Lodge or as projectionist for the three weekly movies shown in the lobby.

Gallacher expects early approval of his cocktail bar application that would make his hotel the only official drinking place north of Yellowknife. Someday he hopes to be importing acts from Montreal for the Northwest Territories’ first night club. Once the Department of Northern Affairs builds its promised new townsite at Frobisher, Gallacher expects also to move into the bowling alley, flying school and restaurant businesses. For next summer, he’s booking fishermen into his lodge who are anxious to try the fighting Arctic char.

Ambitious Gallacher has already invested $300,000 in his company — East Coast Carriers Ltd. Although he now employs 28 men, he fills in himself on all the jobs involved in his many enterprises.

“You have to,” he says. “Up here, you can’t ask a man to do anything you’re not willing and able to do yourself."

British-born Gallacher interrupted his pre-med university course to join the RAF in 1938. He flew night fighters against the Japanese, ended the war as a wing commander with a DFC, in charge of an airbase near Singapore. He joined TCA as a pilot in 1945. first came into contact with Frobisher when he transferred to Maritimes Central Airways to pilot a DC-3 during Pinetree Line construction. When northern flying activity decreased, he moved to Winnipeg, joined the Manitoba department of labor, and within three years was named an assistant deputy minister.

He returned north two years ago when Frobisher was picked as a fueling point for trans-polar flights. Gallacher realizes that his miniature business empire is a gamble on the future of Frobisher as an international airport. “I'm just too frightened,” he says, “even to consider thinking about what could happen if my plans don’t work OUT.”-PETER C. NEWMAN

PETER C. NEWMAN