From Small Beginnings
Brief History of the Guelph,
Saturday night at home in New Brunswick, all us kids crowding around the kitchen stove to keep warm, mother always wanted to listen to the " Institution " shows. "Chase and Sandborne Hour", "Major Bows Amateur Hour", Kate Smith, Allens Alley, Nelson Eddie and Janette MacDonald, whew.
Whats this other knob for? "VE1CL calling CQ, Grandmanan", voices of men talking to each other by radio, this thrilled the sixteen year old tinkerer. Our gang had a home made telephone from Harkie McInnis's house to Shave's barn; a motor driven "escape" window, all due to a would be ham's inquisitive nature.
Money was a non-existent commodity, working Saturday, Sunday and holidays netted a few dollars a month, a lot of this money went to mothers grocery purse. After buying a 22 rifle, parts for a bicycle and 25 cents for a cinema show some Saturday evenings I finally got enough money to buy a type 49 tube for a space charge detector receiver built from plans in Popular Mechanics.
Bumping the shaky receiver was unnerving, the loose turns moved and the station I was listening to disappeared. No it wasn`t game over, I discovered the station further down the dial, three or four lessons learned already. How do those fellows talk on the air? I found out a lot about ham radio when I received my first Allied Radio catalogue from Chicago. Unknowingly I was already bitten by Bugus Hamalotus.
It was decision time, hobby or income, so at seventeen years old I ordered a test meter and a few parts to start a part time radio repair business, ham radio must wait. I didn't get much business and I also found that radio circuits were very very complex and that the road to the radio business would require work, study, sweat and "sneers". So if some of you old timers will remember when the next young would be ham asks a "stupid" question, some of us are not as bright as others. I muttered many an "epitaph" while trying to sort out some circuit.
In those days girls and gangs were the important interests for an eighteen year old, so my buddy and myself went down to the recruiting center, no way could we be regarded as "Yaller". Square bashing, saluting, eventually landing in the UK I gravitated toward the radio and electronics aspects of army routine ( my buddy did not make it ).
Resistances in series and parallel, tubes, mutual conductance, resonances; all these things were like jewels, all free courtesy of Canadian Armed courses. Transmitters, receivers, if it was not for the gravity of the situation I was having a ball. Radio courses in London Derby, good beer too. Eventually posted to an RCEME Mobile workshop, and mobile it was. We were like gypsies. Aldershot, Epsom, and Folkstone, not the healthiest parts of the world, but a lot healthier than London and some of the other UK cities.
Through air raids and buzz bombs we were gradually organized into a work unit consisting of radio, armament, small arms and vehicle recovery sections. With an advanced unit , a sergeant and myself, we went through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. We repaired #19 sets, #22 sets of HP12's, mine detectors, etc. till we dragged our butts. Some circuits we did not understand but we kept the gear going by working many long hours and dodging "problems".
Driving all over looking for army outfits which of course did not advertise their location. I picked up any electronic equipment which was not tied down, Messerschmidt H.F. rig, European radios, German army sets. As a born pack rat I had more parts stowed away in our truck than we were capable of carrying and was finally told to get rid of some of the "useless" junk. I shed tears as a pair of "Bottles" from Krupps test site were unloaded. Eindhoven multiband radios, black boxes, get rid of all these prizes?? Well, it had to be. A U.S. army Handie Talkie I "smuggled" back to Canada in 1945.
Now as I promised myself if I got back I'll get my Ham ticket so July 3,1946 I was an amateur radio operator. I was going on the air after ten years. The first signal exchange was with Andy VE3AOH, four or five blocks away in Kitchener.
The Progressive Radio Club of Kitchener, Galt and Guelph and the K.W. Amateur radio club with hams VE3CY, VE3QW and others were of great assistance and I felt privileged and proud to belong to the ham fraternity. I got my advanced ticket in 1958. It was possible to use phone in those days by taking an advance exam and having the original licence endorsed for phone operation. So I actually started phone operation in 1947.
The DX bug called and during the sun spot cycles of the 60's it was fantastic to work New Zealand S9 plus ten at 2 p.m. Qsl cards were eagerly awaited. So running home brew receiver, transmitter and antenna (cash was still in short supply) I felt I had at last reached the goal I had wondered about. Some men "work" for worldly possessions, others "play" with hobbies, you cannot have one without the other. It is up to you to strike a balance.