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ÉPOPÉES CANADIENNES EN RADIOCOMMUNICATION

LES ANCIENS QUI ONT VÉCU L'AVENTURE DE LA RADIO

TÉLÉGRAPHISTES SANS FIL  -  PIONNIERS DE LA RADIO

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INSPECTEURS RADIO  -  GESTIONNAIRES DU SPECTRE

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Lorne Greenwood

 
 

 

Excerpts from a correspondance with Lorne Greenwood    (rev. L. 18 Oct 2005)

 

Dear Laval:

 

You asked me how I got into spectrum management. When at Churchill for about four and a half years I applied for a tech position at Winnipeg and an Inspector position at Saskatoon. I won them both and chose the Inspector position to get off shift work. By that time we didn’t have to bother with private receiver station licences (domestic receivers) as that regulation had been rescinded.. Otherwise I would. have taken the technician route.

 

There is so much to talk about with respect to my days in radio that I will just do a bit of rambling in which you may find something of interest. I think it is evident from what I have already said in previous letters that increasing demand. for spectrum usage had a significant impact on spectrum management at ail levels. We were trying to fit users into existing bands by such means as red bandwidths and. restricting propagation by directional antennae and power limitations. Matters were further complicated by the requirement to co-ord frequency selection with our American counterparts within 200 miles of the U.S. border.

 

Personal. usage began with GB in the U.S. and GRS in Canada as the higher freq came into use. I believe Kenora was one of the first canadian aeradio stations to use UHF for working aircraft, in the late 40e or early 50e. About the same time overseas flights were dropping their WT operators as RT became more reliable. I believe PanAm was the first airline to go RT all the way.

 

Operators were expected. to do the maintenance as well as the operating, even to re-lamping the 75-foot range towers. Since the range transmitters could not be shut down for this purpose I would first climb to the insulator at which point the 0IC would. momentary kill the transmitter while I climbed over the insulator and then switch it back while I climbed the live tower. The safety belts provided were not of much use, being more of a hazard, and so were not used.

 

The changing and. expanding RF spectrum kept us on our’ toes stud to keep abreast. I took several radio courses on my own including the Capital Radio Engineering Institute one. Since we all had. to service the emergency power plants these were included in banner exams for advancement. For this purpose I wrote to Gm for their book "What Makes It Tick" which contained a good explanation of the workings of internal combustion engines. Many times we had nothing but instruction books and. circuit diagrams for new spectrum uses such as UHF, Microwave, Fax, and RTTY. When I finally got into management I took studios at Carleton U. and. graduated in 1964 with a diploma in public service studies.

 

It was not my intention to have a career in radio, as I had been working for the CN railroad on the welding gangs and in the stores. I enrolled in Winnipeg for the federal government’s 2nd Class Certificate of Proficiency in Radio for the sole purpose of better qualifying for service in the RCNYR at the beginning of the war. After going through the basic training I failed in the final medical for active service. My younger brother, on the other hand, succeed and was one of three killed in 1941 while serving in the north Atlantic on the Canadian corvette HMCS Trillium.

 

There were three radio telegraphists in our family since my younger sister served as such in the RCAF during the war. Writing for the 2nd Class Certificate took place at the offices of the Supt of radio in Winnipeg, and it took five days for the various papers.

 

As with many lads I had an early interest in radio to the extent of building crystal sets using the cat’s whisker and headphones. We wound the inductance coil on one of those cylindrical salt boxes. Later, when hydro became available, I converted an old car radio to 110 Volts for use in the house. Since car radios had the RF stage with 3-gang condenser they were very sensitive and as good as the more expensive commercial sets. It was also a way for a poor person to get around. the two dollar licence fee, at the time.

 

I believe the Rivers monitoring station you mentioned. on the phone came earlier then Winnipeg, as did. Headingly. I vaguely remember Headingly where the jail inmates performed the janitor duties for us under some contract.

 

One of my first monitoring assignments was to intercept and copy the coded traffic of German naval station DAN where you also had to be alert to grab the short coded messages of the submarines whenever they broke in. More important was to get a DF fix as ‘well. At Winnipeg we had a direct line into the naval station. Duke Coutanche was the OIC and the army provided the transportation at strategic pick-up points. Among many other things we also monitored the shipping channels to intercept the positions and track the course of neutral ships te ensure they were not supplying resources to the enemy, especially the Spanish, Argentine and Irish ships.

 

The lure of the west coast had me work hard to become proficient in the Japanese Katakana code which resulted in my transfer to Lulu Island along with the late Si Lovell and a few others. Most of the japanese traffic was sent automatically at a high speed blur with no distinguishable dots and dashes. Thus, these were recorded and slowed down as much as possible (about 30 wpm) for copy, using the Kana typewriters (2 letters per key). After V day most of us got scattered. I believe those hired within the past year were let go and some preferred to leave for other careers. I spent some time at Pt. Grey before entering the range service at Cranbrook, and thus a career with DOT and DOC. Beside the places mentioned that career took me to Port William (Thunder Bay), Sioux Lookout, Kenora, Goose Bay, Port Churchill, Coral. Harbour,

 

This is the end of the day, not my best for me , so I'll leave you to go play my ruine-babines. My LaRousse calls Babine a drooping lip so I see the connection. Did. you know that it is known In the Southern U. as a French harp? The first contest I entered in the U.S. was in Kentucky listed under French harp. I won the Kentucky State Championship in 1977 for the French harp. And the southern old-time string hands usually included a French hart player. How it got that name I have no idea. For the kids it’s still a mouth organ. Professional players usually call it a harp. I also play the Jew’s harp. Remember Quebec comedienne La Bolduc? She could sure p1ay the Jew’s harp. I played it in an old-time string band. that we put together at the Kentucky contest so I also have a win in that.

Thanks again for the cartoon. I think it’s great.

 

Take care & keep smiling.

 

(adapted for the web 30 Apr 2004)

 

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