John Bartley
Forum Participant

Just as an aside to the discussion on radium painting dials … One of the long time business families in Ottawa was the Ashtons, who (among other interests) owned a company that serviced equipment such as printing presses etc. from a building in Stittsville (just west of Ottawa). The following is as told to me by Carl Ashton many, many years ago, so please excuse if some of the details are incorrect. The basics should be close enough for playing grenades. During WW2 their plant in Stittsville was used by Bristol Aviation to manufacture parts of the instruments/communications gear used in their airplanes. Carl told me that they employed local women to paint the radium solution onto the dials and indicator needles at this factory. He described how they would form their brushes into a fine point by licking the brush hairs with their tongues, then dip them into the radium paint. They would then rinse off the brushes and repeat. He also told me that the radium was mined and refined locally. This meant little to me until I met Bill Argue, a local farmer and pilot whose father’s farm was expropriated (bought) during WW2 and used as the land to build the Carp Airport. The Carp Airport was a BCATP bombing or bomb aiming school I think. He told me that the radium ore came from a small quarry at the intersection of the Richardson Side Road (now Kanata Ave.) and The Goulbourn Forced Road. Yes, as a youngster I swam in that quarry many times as it was only a couple of miles from the farm I grew up on…. The Ottawa area is known for high levels of Radon in the ground, so given that I have heard this story now from two, level headed, reputable sources, I have to assume it is true. In the images attached, the quarry (now filled in) is at the north corner of Kanata Ave and Goulbourn Forced Road. The Ashton factory was located where is now shown as Stittsville Trailer.

ps : sorry for the off topic diversion.