Chalk River

Kowarski-Halban
In 1942 Lew Kowarski and Hans von Halban escape from German occupied France with 200kg of heavy water (the world’s total supply at the time). Both the scientists and the heavy water became key parts of the nuclear research effort in Canada.

Canada’s involvement in the growing nuclear research effort also came about from the conflict in Europe between the Allies and Nazi Germany. In September 1942, British and Canadian governments established a joint British-Canadian laboratory in Montreal, Quebec under the auspices of the National Research Council of Canada. Scientists such as England’s John Cockcroft and French Physicists Lew Kowarski and Hans von Halban relocated to the safety of Canada where they worked together with Canadian researchers on the design and development of a heavy water moderated nuclear reactor for the production of plutonium, a prime fissile ingredient for America’s atomic bombs.

In 1944, the project team moved to specially constructed laboratories at Chalk River, Ontario, 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa on the Ottawa River near the border of Quebec. As Canada’s national nuclear laboratory, Chalk River has grown over the past 60 years and currently employ over 2,000 people.

Chalk River
Chalk River in 1942.
Chalk River
Chalk River today.