for Fred Hammond
November 11, 1999
delivered by Martin Rosenthal, VE3MR
Fred Hammond's name and call sign, VE3HC are respected and
admired around the world. Perhaps Canada's best known amateur, because of his long and
distinguished professional and amateur radio career.
Fred began building radios in 1923 at the age of 11 and
became a radio amateur in 1929. A true promoter of amateur radio, and always ready with a
smile and advise. Fred was the essence of the true amateur radio spirit, honorable,
patient and knowledgeable.
Few other Canadian amateurs have contributed so much to
the hobby. His generous support for worthy amateur radio causes is legend.
Here are just a few of Fred's many honors and
He founded the Guelph Amateur Radio Club in 1946; Was
Radio Society of Ontario Amateur of the year in 1977; Received the ARRL certificate of
Merit also in 1977; Honored by the CNIB Amateur Radio Club in 1978 for his assistance to
the White Caners program by providing hundreds of prepunched cabinets for mounting special
CNIB equipment; CRRL amateur of the year 1979; RAC Member of the Canadian Amateur Radio
Hall of Fame 1997 and in May of this year was presented with a certificate from the QCWA
for 70 years as a licenced radio amateur.
So where do I come into this picture. Fred claimed he knew
me since I was knee high to a transistor.
My first recollection goes back to the fall of 1952. 1 was
just out of high school and had entered our family business on a full time basis. Fred
made regular visits to our store and would meet with my father discussing the sale of
It was a year later when I got my amateur radio licence
that the common bond started. Parts of Ontario were still on 25 cycle current. Amateur
equipment advertised in the USA functioned on 60 cycles and was a no go in Toronto without
Hammond custom replacement transformers. Projects listed in the monthly radio magazines
usually called up chassis and enclosure sizes that were not compatible with the Hammond
catalogue of products. This was the start of Fred's direct generosity to me.
In later years, it became known as government jobs where
miraculously no company paperwork was ever generated. Fred already had his own X-files. I
often wondered how these invisible projects might have affected the bottom line when
Hammond published their yearly financial reports.
Fred did have one problem though, he could never say no.
That was his nature. I am sure there are many here today who have called on Fred for
assistance in the past. He was a very gracious benefactor to the world wide Ham community.
From supplying WI AW new station racks to custom designed cabinets for VK3AMH and VK3HW in
He did not know the meaning of the word 'one'. On most
occasions with my requests I would reiterate to him time and time again, one Fred - only
one. When my customized piece was received there would usually be two. When questioned
Fred shrugged his shoulders and simply said, it will save me doing it for you again. He
was uncanny in this regard and I must admit on many occasions I did require the second
The design for our home station called for 5 rack
cabinets. Six were delivered.
I explained there was only room for 5 units. If I used the
6th, I wouldn't be able to access the back of the cabinets. Not to worry he said and took
it back. Fred never threw out anything and was always a good source of supply for obsolete
Bill, Rob somewhere in one of your factories for the last
20 years sits a special custom cabinet with a special paint finish and thanks but no
thanks, I still can't use it.
Over the years I have verbally thanked Fred for his time
and efforts on my behalf. On November 14, 1997 1 got the urge to put it in writing. I will
read this now and it best describes the feelings I had for Fred:
This note is long overdue.
The enclosed are small tokens of my
appreciation not only for your recent assistance with the radio station move but
also for your endless past favours.
You are a unique person. A one of a kind I
truly value our very special relationship over these many years. I want you to know
the many projects you have done for me directly or indirectly, have never been
taken for granted
I have been told that it is a very
fortunate individual who can count his close friends on one hand during his
lifetime. You certainly fall into this category for me and I am proud to have been
linked with you over these many decades.
Business is business, pleasure is pleasure
and we have been able to successfully combine both into a friendship that I prize
Both Truus and I wish you many more years
of good health and happiness.
Fred was not a gourmet eater, when he found a product he
liked he stuck with it. So it was for many years that in late August or early September,
he would load up his vehicle with ripe Niagara peaches and take off to barter for his
favourite honey. It was only a trip of 1700 km. each way. That's product loyalty.
In 1983 Fred and Tom Wong, VE7BC were invited to China to
be the first foreigners to operate the new club station in Beijing
BYIPK. This culminated a 10 year project where Fred was
the kingpin in supplying a good portion of the required equipment to put China back on the
amateur radio bands. There had been no activity from there since 1948.
Fred was not a world traveler as such, except of course
via short wave radio. He would take trips but these were usually by his car or van. So
when he accepted the invitation from the Chinese government, this raised a lot of
eyebrows. Fred as I said before was a simple eater and was concerned about a possible lack
of familiar foods in China. So in order to protect his well being he made sure that he had
a small travel case for clothing and a large suitcase to take an ample supply of corn
flakes, digestive biscuits, assorted chocolate bars and Coca-Cola. Quite a combination.
Can you ever imagine pouring Coke over corn flakes.
Fred was very modest when it came to recognition. He
preferred to be that anonymous face in the crowd. He did relent a little and on October
27, 1984 - a Fred Hammond appreciation dinner was convened at San Giovanni's Banquet Hall
in Guelph. The room was packed to capacity. Speeches from government officials and many
ham friends made it a fun evening and one to be fondly remembered.
Fred suffered a severe stroke on June 21, 1998. It was a
major shock for all concerned. The doctors stated that a stroke of this magnitude is
usually fatal in 99 out of 100 cases. But Fred was a fighter and over the next 17 months
there was a steady flow of hospital visits by the family and friends to help ease his
pain, discomfort and frustrations.
A website was established with updates of Fred's
activities and condition. A local band was reunited aptly called the Ham Band lead by
Rocco, VE3YJ and accompanied by John, VE3AMZ, Rich VE3DCC, Jerry VE3DYY, Emerick VA3EM,
and Larry Best from the factory. Fred, the nurses and other patients enjoyed the eight
performances that were given at the hospital. OK, guys when can we expect your first CD to
There was something about our visits. For some reason, our
appearance always seemed to kick start his reflexes. Each visit started with a 15 minute
firm handshake, followed by our long standing but friendly disagreement as to who was No.
1. Then there was always that twinkle in his eyes and a wide grin when he saw Truus. I
know he looked forward to receiving her arriving and departing kisses.
Besides good memories, Fred has left us all an invaluable
legacy " The Hammond Museum of Radio".
From a humble beginning in the back shed of his house on
College Ave. West, a collection of radio memorabilia got started. Over the years, it grew
and grew. With the walls bulging at the seams, it was decided to relocate to a large room
in the small transformer plant. For a time this alleviated the space problem. But Fred was
always looking for new additions, his collecting reputation brought many unsolicited
items. He would spend numerous hours on each radio refinishing the wood case and then
making the necessary repairs so that it worked. This goes for all the items on display.
The word world class is very appropriate for this unusual
display. Recently the complete collection was moved into a much larger space in the
Southgate plant. Great efforts were made to catalogue every item for the first time and to
reorganize the display areas to encompass different eras of broadcasting history. Items on
exhibit start from the early 1900's onward. Fred was given a tour prior to the museum
reopening and notwithstanding his eagle eye for perfection, he was only able to spot a few
pieces out of sequence. Once these units were repositioned, he gave his full approval. He
had over the years accumulated one of the finest radio collections in North America. It's
simply a must see.
Fred has now joined the ranks of other silent keys. Out
there somewhere, he is being received with open arms by those friends who have preceded
him. He's in good company. However, this leaves me wondering as to how he's going to
handle the government jobs this time around.
It's the good things in life that should be remembered and
with Fred it was all good, super good. He will be sorely missed by many.
For the Hammond families there has been much tragedy in
their lives in recent times. With all of them in mind I would like to repeat the words
that are engraved on my parents gravestone "There is a link death cannot sever, love
and remembrance last forever".