“X marks the spot”
The Hall-Vatcher report

In late 2007, I managed to make contact with an antique dealer in London England who had come across important documents related to the original of Gander Airport.  He had obtained them from another dealer who want to keep only the furniture he obtained from an estate sale.  The second dealer planned to spend a short time trying to sell these ephemera before getting rid of the lot, figuring few people in England would be interested in the start up of a small town in Newfoundland. To his surprise there were several persons interested.

He had in his possession to my great delight the original report sent on 15 November 1935 by TA Hall and Alan Vatcher to Thomas Lodge, Commissioner for Public Utilities with the Commission government, proposing a site for the construction of an airport at an unnamed spot along the east – west railway line.

The on-site study leading to this report had really only one very specific objective, namely to ascertain to which degree the proposed site meet the rigorous specifications laid down by Mr Ivor McClure of the Directorate of Civil Aviation of the British Air Ministry for a future site suitable for trans-Atlantic flights.

It includes firstly the original five-page report by TA Hall, which describes the general situation and includes, for example, a fair amount of detail on the expected unit costs for materials and labour.

Photos of these five pages can be seen here.  These documents were made on a typewriter and the quality of the reproduction is average; however using the browser zoom will made it readable.

Allan Vatcher's original 9-page report, which can be seen here, then explains the soil and subsurface, wind conditions, the general layout of the land and other survey information. His basic task was to describe to what degree the area south of Hattie's Camp met the conditions sent out by British authorities for the construction of an airport in terms of approaches, drainage, obstacles, etc. 

Five original maps compliment his report which can be seen here. The first one is indeed of the type “X marks the spot”, a black-and-white map of Newfoundland where one can clearly see, marked in red, the words "proposed site".

The second Vatcher map is more of a close-up of the Gander region. You can see next to the name "Hatties Camp" a circle in red indicating where he suggested the placement of the airport, out of 4 possible choices.

There are three other maps giving for example horizontal elevation cuts, contour lines, survey trails and similar survey information.

The Hall-Vatcher report became the property of the Town of Gander near the end of 2008 and is now in good hands in the Newfoundland archives in St. John’s.