Spectrum Management - From the Early Years to the 1990s

by Laval Desbiens

Page 03 of 26

Builders of The Radio Branch


Harold Edgar Walsh


William Elliot Connelly


Horace Merriman


Charles J. Acton


James William (Bill) Bain


C. Mornington Brant


William A. Caton


William J. " Bill " Wilson


E.D. (Dave) Hayman


Some names and dates (many forgotten and more should be written


Alexander Johnston was the Deputy Minister, until December 31, 1931 .


According to some, he is the person who welcomed Marconi to North Sydney and persuaded him to stay in Canada by guaranteeing him assistance from the Canadian government.


On November 6, 1931, in response to a complaint from a New Brunswick wireless operator that Canadians experienced discrimination in job opportunities with the Radio Branch, Deputy Minister Johnston reported to Prime Minister Bennett and disclosed that 22 employees out of 79 at headquarters had been born outside Canada, while 131 out of 303 employees in the regions had been born outside Canada. He argued that it had been difficult to find trained wireless radio operators, but that the situation was righting itself.


Cecil Doutre, Dominion Superintendent of Wireless Stations . After holding several positions within the Division and various departments responsible for the radio frequency spectrum, such as Superintendent for the Dominion Government Wireless Stations in Prince Rupert and then Superintendent of the Canadian Government Radiotelegraphic Service in Ottawa.


Charles P. Edwards was named head of the Radio Branch. He held this position until 1936 when he became the Head of Air Services in the Department of Transport. He was Deputy Minister of Transport from 1941 until his retirement in 1951. Born in 1885, he had come from England to Canada as a Marconi employee to erect the coast station at Camperdown and Sable Island.


H.E.A. Hawken, a career civil servant with experience in shipping, was assistant deputy minister.


Walter A. Rush, a former Marconi employee, assistant to C.P. Edwards, Superintendent of the Service from 1919 and controller at the Department of Transport until approximately World War II.


A Scot and former Marconi employee in the 1920s, Donald Manson was a senior radio inspector for the Branch. He was then promoted to chief radio inspector and was the secretary to the Aird Royal Commission before becoming general manager of the CBC.


G.C.W. Browne, born in Ireland in 1889, a wireless ship operator during World War I and a wireless instructor at headquarters afterwards, was appointed radio inspector in 1922 and senior radio inspector in 1926 to replace Donald Manson. He continued his career as a bureaucrat with the Department of Transport, where he still worked in regulations in the 1950s.


E.J. Haughton was superintendent of the Pacific Division and Alex Sutherland, superintendent of the Atlantic Division after 1926.


After the war, there was a reorganization and the Radio Division became part of the Air Services Branch directed by A.T. Cowley.


The Branch and Division offices were located in Temporary Building No. 3 on Wellington Street in Ottawa.


The Branch consisted of several work groups.


A.N. Fraser was responsible for all marine communications. His group oversaw ship/land HF communications, from those with the Hudson's Bay Company stations and those in the Hudson Strait, including Coppermine in the Northwest Territories, and many other stations belonging to the RCMP, HBC and Health and Welfare.


He also had administrative responsibility for the Radio Test Room at 683 Wellington, a nice building that had been a grocery warehouse for a time. It housed the shop for all the Radio Branch groups, except Broadcasting, which had a small shop at the new transmission monitoring station on the Experimental Farm, between Merivale and Fisher in Ottawa.


H.E. Walsh was responsible for all aeronautical communications, including the communications systems on aircraft flying the transatlantic routes to Europe. Many fixed stations in this group were also responsible for carrying out and transmitting weather observations to the Branch concerned for preparing weather forecasts.


W.E.Connelly was responsible for the financial aspect, revenues and contracts for marine communications. His group administered the contracts with the Canadian Marconi Company for operating the coast stations along the St. Lawrence River and on the Great Lakes.     The policies governing international telephone and telegraph communications were also this group's responsibility.


J.W. (Bill) Bain, born in St. Polycarpe, was responsible for broadcasting regulation and for relations with the FCC in the US with respect to broadcasting. The service and operation of the transmission monitoring stations were under his jurisdiction. This group operated a number of ionosonde  stations for the Defence Research Board (DRB).


H.O. Merriman was responsible for the suppression of inductive interference, mainly at broadcasting receiving sets. (Horace Merriman, together with an Englishman by the name of Lionel Guest, made the first commercial electrical recording on November 11, 1920, at the ceremony for the "Unknown Soldier" at Westminster Abbey).


The Branch's first efforts to inform users in the general public on how to solve interference problems properly were his work in 1925 and in subsequent years.


C.J. Acton was responsible for authorizing stations except for broadcasting, the examinations and certifications for radio operator candidates, and the inspection of all stations. Relations with the International Telecommunication Union were also his responsibility, as well as co-ordinating the frequencies and bilateral treaties with the United States.


At the end of the World War II and in the early 1950s, there were about 8,000 licensed radio stations in Canada. This number was growing exponentially, and it became necessary to reorganize the division. A new group, the Radio Regulations Division, grouped the international, policies and authorization, broadcasting and measurements, inductive interference suppression, inspection and regulation enforcement subsections.


In 1954, C. Mornington Brant became Head of the Regulations Division which was organised along the lines of a similar service at the General Post Office in the UK.   


The directors were:    W. A. (Bill) Caton - Head, Authorization, Inspection and Enforcement  C. J. (Charlie) Acton, Head, International and Policies, Wilbur B. Smith - Head, Engineering and Techniques.


Several years later W. J. (Bill) Wilson became Director General, Telecommunications regulations.


...........................  And many others that should not be forgotten


Informing the public


A well-informed public had always been one of the concerns of frequency spectrum managers, even back when the service first began. In the early years of radio, receivers were often home-made and reception was difficult.


To help the public, many newspapers and radio stations had "technical" programs. Plans, assembly tips, addresses where parts could be obtained and other instructions were provided.


In Ottawa, E.D. (Dave) Hayman, a senior electrician responsible for the Naval Radio Test Room, wrote a column for the Radio Department section of a local newspaper.


On April 29, 1922, the newspaper carried an article entitled <<Station OA speaking>>, "OA" being the call sign of the station, containing a statement to the effect that the next Saturday's column would contain complete plans to build a radio for the price of 10 to 15 dollars. Detailed instructions would be provided with illustrations that could be easily understood by amateurs. Readers should watch out for it and tell their friends. ....




1. Radio Communication in Canada, Sharon A. Babaian, NMST


2. A compilation by W.J. Wilson


3. David Hayman


4. In the Shadow of the Shield, Arthur E. Zimmerman   


Spectrum Management - From the Early Years to the 1990s

by Laval Desbiens