The End of the World as We Know It


This is the way the world ends                          This is the way the world ends                          This is the way the world ends                          Not with a bang but a whimper                        T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

I moved around a lot when I was a kid, mostly because my father was in the military and the Air Force liked to keep its people and their respective families mobile. One of the most unusual places I lived was a tiny radar base in the middle of nowhere in central Saskatchewan. CFS Dana was a part of the Pinetree line, NORAD’s third string of early warning detection bases that scanned the skies for Russian Migs and bombers. The base proper was little more than a radar tower perched on a hill, surrounded by a trailer park (known as PMQ’s or Permanent Married Quarters), a school, a few offices and some sporting amenities (curling rink, swimming pool, rec centre) all surrounded by a chainlink fence that could only be accessed through a guarded gate. It’s existence depended on the threat of war and yet, in the end, it wasn’t a bomb that destroyed CFS Dana, it was Glasnost. The premise for these world changes was rather simple: No more cold war…no more Pinetree line (but probably better spy satellites)…no more radar bases…no more CFS Dana. So the place where I once watched Neil Armstrong step on the moon, learned to swim and ride a bike, picked buckets of Saskatoon berries for my Mom’s pies and saw the best lightning storms of my life, was no more. It was simply abandoned and left to the elements.

Last summer I visited the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala. What was once the largest city of Meso-America, with an estimated population of 425,000 at its peak, was little more than an impressive archeological site in the midst of ever-encroaching jungle. Although still famous for its spectacular temples, this metropolis, which had been inhabited for over 1500 years, was completely abandoned by 900 AD. The once-great Mayan civilization failed as a result of climate change – a prolonged drought decimated their ability to feed themselves, and their complex society of religion, government and trade collapsed with the demise of their agriculture. To put it in the the simplest of terms: No more rain…no more food…no need to appease the harvest god Chaac…no incentive to adhere to rigid laws and religious dogma…no more Mayan society. Who knows if the Mayans actually realized that they were in the twilight of their existence as they endured those final years of drought, famine and the anarchy that ensued – but the world as they knew it did come to a definitive end.

There’s a lot of talk about the end of the modern world going on right now and it probably won’t be the first or last time that we hear about it in our respective lifetimes. But it’s not the comets of mass destruction, the apocalyptic plagues, the end of the Mayan calender, or even the nuclear bombs that we need to worry about – it’s the everyday ignorance we exhibit as we run this planet into the ground. The premise is quite simple: Exploit the Earth for profit…create more carbon dioxide than our tiny biosphere can absorb…watch the inevitable acidification and demise of our oceans…witness the end of most living creatures, ourselves included. No one really knows where that proverbial ‘tipping point’ lays and yet it is that environmental point of no return that we really need to be worrying about – and if we don’t, we just may be facing our own end of the world as we know it.

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7 Responses to The End of the World as We Know It

  1. Sharon Squires says:

    I also lived in Dana, Sask…from 1968 to 1970. I was in grade 8 and then grade 9 in Cudworth. I would like ro hear back from you.

  2. Gordon Welch says:

    Sept 11, 2011

    I lived in Dana in 1972 and I was in grade 2-3? Do you remember the Wilkinsons or the Vanstones?

    Gordon Welch

    • Gordon,
      Good to hear from you – it might surprise you how many people from Dana have contacted me about that little piece. We had moved to Winnipeg by 1970 or 71, so I’m afraid I don’t remember the families you mentioned. Mind you, I was only a little kid at the time. In any case, it’s always good to hear from a fellow ‘Dana-ite’. Take care. Mike

    • robert craig says:

      hey gordie: I remember you, I hung out with your brothers Gerry and Glen. Mike Wilkinson was the oldest son, his little brother nicknamed Sharky (Mark?), Susan his sister was my age. Vanstones I think had younger boy(s?) and older girls, but they had cool banana seat bikes.I lived at the top of your street, Gerry and I were in the same grade. I have had some of the best experiences of my young life as well met people of the same quality.All the best Gordie! Bob C

  3. mark says:

    I tried to take a look around Dana a couple years ago, and the farmer wouldn’t let me. Looked like it was in pretty rough shape. Seems like a waste of those buildings.

  4. blairmckenney says:

    Saw the complete base in 1995 and the gymnasium roof was falling in then.All the trailers , the street lights were gone.Looked like the owner had sold everything he possibly could to recoup the purchase of a 180 thousand.
    Like the pictures ,some people have posted, even the shoes were left in the bowling alley

    We were there in 1968 and 1969.I will always remember Dana , both good and bad.My mother died there in 1969.But the good part as a kid there .The freedom was tremendous.

    Does anyone have pictures from way back ?Especially pictures from Mr.Bidulkas grade 5 and also grade 6 He taught in 1968, 1969 and possibly longer.My dad was posted in late 1969 so after that do not know how long he taught at sagehill school.

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