From Small Beginnings
Brief History of the Guelph,
My Life As A Radio Amateur
When I was around twelve years of age, I remember my grandfather had a crystal radio receiver. He had just bought a more modern tube receiver and rather than junk the old one, he gave it to me to play around with and as he thought, wreck it quickly.
This must have been in the early twenties and he was wrong because I got much pleasure out of the receiver, although the cats whisker was liable to bounce off the good spot when someone walked heavily across the floor.
After listening to many radio broadcast stations and also some commercial morse stations with signals that meant nothing to me, I really got interested in radio as a hobby. I bought the April 6th edition Handbook and started studying it in earnest, along with all my other school work. Soon I felt I could build a receiver myself so from a friend who had a friend who was a projectionist in a local movie theatre.
I obtained the necessary parts of a one-tube receiver. I used dry cells to get the six volts needed for the A battery. For the HT B battery, I had to use the AC mains which I managed to rectify rather poorly but enough to give me 80 volts DC. I had saved the headphones from the crystal set and probably some other parts form it as well. Anyhow, the new set worked, but did it ever hum!
Now I was on my way as a short wave listener to the ham bands and was getting QSL cards from all over the world. One of the very first cards was from W1AD in Vermont. It was dated 2nd July 1931. In the meantime I had been studying radio theory and getting to learn the morse code. As far as getting my amateur licence was concerned, I was completely on my own. I learned all the theory from the ARRL handbook and with help from a friend was able to bring my code speed up to the DOT requirements. I passed the examination on the first try and received my licence in 1933 with my call sign being VE3XR.
My first transmitter had an output of twenty watts which was good enough for a starter. Everything in my station including the receiver was home-brew. Many of the parts were salvaged from discarded sets belonging to more ambitious amateurs.
The satisfaction of building rigs from scratch as we had to do in the good old days is a pleasure missed by most modern day hams. That includes myself as I now own a Kenwood TS830 transceiver and a hand-held Yaesu 2-metre rig.
My life as a radio ham has been a very happy one. I have made countless friends on the air and in person. I was a founding member of the old Progressive Radio Club in Galt which operated around 1933 until the outbreak of World War II.
Later on I was president for a term of the Oakville ARC. Among my awards and the ones I treasure most are the Fred Saxon Memorial cup from the Peel ARC in 1972 and the Golden Anniversary award from the QCWA. This latter is only given to distinguished members so I must be considered one of those, although I wouldn't know why.
I was in the electronics business for over twenty years and during the war taught wireless at the Galt Aircraft School. I feel proud in being able to say that I've been an Uncle Elmer to many beginning amateurs in Ontario.
As I dictate this to my XYL from my wheelchair where I am now confined in my declining years, may I conclude by saying that amateur radio has been a great hobby for me and now when I am unable to do much else is a real life line that keeps me happy and helps greatly to pass away the time.
73 to all my old friends.
(Doc is now an SK with his call now being held by the Peel ARC)