Roots of Radar
This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
During the Second World War, Canada’s National Research Council was the centre of Canadian contributions to radar technology. With NRC’s help, Canada installed the ﬁrst operating radar system in North America – a coastal defence system near Halifax. A few years later, building on secret British war plans, NRC designed one of the ﬁrst mass-produced radar systems manufactured in Canada.
In the late 1930s, NRC began to explore the possibility of detecting aircraft by electrical means. Meanwhile, the British had devised high-powered compact radar designs for an anti-aircraft system. Using British plans, NRC developed a special anti-aircraft radar. Although it did not see action in Britain, this system was installed in Australia, South Africa, Russia and Canada.
NRC’s success soon led to further radar design and production work. By 1945, NRC had developed about 30 different types of radar for various military purposes, helping the Allies win the war.