New owners outline plans for former Dairy

by Vance Gutzman

Months of speculation came to an end last week as the new owners of the former Laurentian View Dairy in Deep River outlined their plans for the building.

High-tech plans, that is.

Caroline Roberts and Dr. Ben Quine, of Thoth Technology Inc., made a presentation to town council about the company’s ambitious plans.

Thoth Technology is a Canadian space and defence company founded in 2001 which specializes in space situational awareness (SSA).

Among its offerings are spacecraft navigation and tracking services, spectrometers, electronics software and hardware, thermal vacuum systems, and atmospheric optical simulation services.

Thoth’s SSA capabilities are greatly enhanced by the fact that since 2008, the company has operated the 46-metre radio astronomy antenna at the Algonquin Radio Observatory (ARO) at Lake Traverse in Algonquin Park.

The ARO (weighing in at 1,500 tonnes) is unlike other commercial radars, in that it’s capable of tracking space objects, like satellites and debris, up to an amazing range of 50,000 km.

Roberts pointed out to town council that, up until now, all other radars with similar capabilities have been government-owned.

“This is the first commercial capability in the world,” she said.

Thoth Technology has also recently developed a deep space pulsed compression radar called “Earthfence” to surveil geostationary orbits.

Thoth Technology has also been offering its thermal vacuum and vibration-test services to Canadian industries since 2007 and the company says it has tested components for most major space programs.

Thoth Technology also has space-proven instrumentation division, and is lending that expertise to “Northern Light,” a Canadian mission to send one or more landers to the surface of Mars.

“We have all the pieces of the puzzle,” Roberts said of that venture, for which York University is the official research host.

“The only part missing is the launch facility.”

Thoth Technology also has ambitious plans for the development of a “space tower” reaching some 15 km above the earth’s surface.

Roberts and Quine are both business partners and a happily married couple who call Mackey home.

They also have a sense of humour.

After taking ownership of the former Laurentian View Dairy building earlier this year, they polled local residents as to what business they thought would be going into the structure: another dairy; a marijuana factory; a craft brewery; comic bookshop; McDonald’s; or another Tim Hortons.

It was an unofficial survey, they were quick to point out in their presentation, with results not scientifically proven.

Make no mistake about it, though, they do have serious plans for Thoth Technology’s new headquarters in Deep River.

Those plans include the installation of a 5,000 square foot world-class space test facility.

The facility will include a thermal vacuum chamber, space production facility, clean room facility, super-computer cluster, analytical test equipment, 10-metre antennas and office space.

An additional 3,500 square feet of space in the west end of the building will be used to house, surprisingly enough, a restaurant which at this point is tentatively called “Plan B.”

“It would be a space-themed family restaurant,” explained Roberts, with healthy menu items including vegetarian and Halal.

An additional 5,000 square feet of space, meanwhile, in the south building, will be leased out, as will the detached double bay garage on the building’s west side.

Quine told town council a lot of work needs to be made to the building to accommodate the company’s plans, and it may take anywhere from six months to a year to bring it up to spec.