PHOTOS: Heritage North Island RCAF base images 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:

Canada military missions

Just Posted

Mount Arrowsmith. Three skiers were rescued from the south side of the mountain on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 with one woman taken to hospital in Comox. (Nancy Randall photo)
Injured skier among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building

‘Multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

The new Malahat Skywalk is expected to be completed by this summer. (Submitted graphic)
Malahat Skywalk expected to be complete by this summer

$15-million project will see 650-metre elevated wooden pathway constructed

Sidney Pier was one of two sites in Sidney as the Netflix series Maid shot in Sidney in late 2020. The show starring Margaret Qualley was one of 38 productions shooting in Greater Victoria. (Bob Orchard/Submitted)
Head of Greater Victoria film commission warns of lost economic opportunity

Kathleen Gilbert said without full funding, region will not be able to attract productions

A senior official with Victoria International Airport says the airport is still researching COVID-19 testing regimes but predicts testing and screening will remain part of the aviation industry even after vaccines have rolled out. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria International Airport researching COVID-19 testing options

Senior official predicts ‘screening and testing will be around long after the vaccination rollout’

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Heather Lucier, a pastor at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship, speaks to an RCMP officer outside of Harvest Ministries on Sunday, Jan. 10. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna church fined 2nd time for violating public health order

Harvest Ministries in Kelowna has previously said they will fight the tickets in court

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

Duncan Christian School will be closed from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1 due to COVID-19 precautionary measures. (Citizen file)
Duncan Christian School, DogHouse Restaurant close doors due to COVID

Voluntary temporary closures announced as precautions

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria attack leaves victim with life-altering injuries

Victoria police looking for witnesses, information in Bastion Square incident

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke senior narrowly avoids lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

Sequoia Coastal Coffee, the first coffee shop in Colwood’s Royal Bay neighbourhood, is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 16. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood coffee shop shuts down after employee tests positive for COVID-19

Sequoia Coastal Coffee closed since Saturday, Jan. 16

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

Most Read