SAINT CROIX VALLEY AMATEUR RADIO CLUB THROUGH THE YEARS
This is not a history of the Saint Croix Valley ARC. An historian would assemble the known data from the records, then write a summary or digest, then draw some conclusions about what it all meant. Rather, this paper contains only abstracts of entries in the four binders of Club minutes that struck me as interesting, noteworthy, or simply amusing. Burns Getchell VE1CL and Tom Brigham VE1DUQ reduced the handwritten notes from the early years to typewritten form. These typed copies were presented for Club retention on Sept. 18, 1994. This made my job much easier, and I am most grateful to these two men for their efforts.
3/14/57 This is the date of the first Club meeting. The meeting was held at Burns’ house. Burns was the first President of the Club. Walter Dresser W1EOP was Vice President, Jack Muir VE1JP was Secretary, and Frank Haughn VE1DP was in charge of publicity. “The meeting was then open for general discussion on everything,” and dues were one dollar a year. There were other events happening in 1957. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik on Oct. 4, and signals from that satellite were broadcast on 20 and 40MHz. I was ten years old that year.
2/58 The Club callsign arrived, VE1PF. This call was in the name of Erin J. Brown of St. John, according to www.qrz.com. Mr. Brown’s name was still listed in the St. John telephone book when I looked it up in Oct. 10, 2005. The phone was answered by his daughter, who explained to me that her Dad died in the year 2000. He worked on cable ships in WWII. What connection did this man have with our Club? How did his call become our’s? And why was his name still listed in the phone book five years after his demise?
1/8/61 Mention is made of a Teenage Net on 3900kHz. It was primarily a ragchew net, and secondarily a traffic-handling net.
1/12/64 There is a cryptic entry for this date: “A lot of discussion on the schemes of Black John and the Voice of Distortion were taking place, but no one had any solution to that problem.”
1/14/68 Annual dues go up from $1 to $2 per year.
3/9/69 The Club does a demonstration to the Cub Scouts in the Passamaquoddy Branch of the Legion Hall.
12/14/69 Burns reported on the NBARA meeting: “It is the aim of the NBARA to have a Canadian branch of the ARRL as they feel Canadian hams should receive more attention and by having a separate Canadian branch there would be more recognition of Canadians.”
2/14/71 The Club presents copies of the ARRL Handbook to the St. Andrews and St. Stephen libraries.
10/73 Al McQuoid receives the Order of Canada at Ottawa. Read his fascinating life story in The New Brunswick Reader, Jan. 22, 2005. Al was not born blind. Rather, the wrong drops were put into his eyes shortly after birth. He was much in demand as a pianist. As a mechanic, he developed a special interest and expertise in carburetor repair. He was capable of disassembling a carburetor down to fifty or sixty small parts, cleaning them, then reassembling the parts in proper sequence. At the age of 16, he received his amateur license and callsign, VE1ER. This was one of the proudest moments of his life, as he recalled later.
5/6/79 This is the first mention of transfer of the call VE1IE. This was a memorial call, originally held by Harley Richardson of Grand Manan.
2/19/89 It was moved, seconded, and passed that VE1IE be made available for packet investigations. This is the first mention of packet radio in the Minutes.
2/18/90 Jim Dunfield VE9PI becomes Secretary. Now begins a period characterized by style and humor not seen in the Minutes before or since. Here is a sample: “Unfortunately the entrance door (of the Calais Senior Citizen’s Recreation Center) was found to be closed. A chilly half hour ensued while the members stamped their feet and swung their arms to ward off the effects of the cold. Eventually, one of the more scien-
tifically minded members enquired whether anyone had actually tried the door to see if it was locked. When the door was found to be unlocked, the members gratefully trooped into the warmth of the building. Which proves that with the concered attention of all members, there is no problem too difficult for this club to surmount.”
(11/18/90) “Hitch stated that the club should be making greater efforts to increase attendance and membership. It was felt by many that those members who were inclined to attend meetings would do so awhile, short of dancing girls and free booze.”
(11/18/90) “Ben’s first prize of a new-appearing $700 Toyota car radio was thought to be rather difficult to bring across the border. The helpful suggestion was made that Ben could tell the Customs officials that his car had been stolen and all that was left was the radio.”
(2/17/91) “Burns and Hitch were having a vigorous discussion as to how many bee stings it would take to make a person arthritis-free for Field Day. Burns felt that a few stings would keep a person fit, while Hitch felt that a boat load of stings hadn’t done him any good. A suggestion was made that perhaps Hitch’s bees were too mild-mannered. He should import some African killer bees for that extra punch to the bee sting remedy.”
(4/21/91) “Amidst triumphant sounding of the trumpets, the stamping of feet and the waving of banners, Eric proudly announced that he had found the missing membership cards. Freed at last from the ignominy of losing the cards, Tom Brigham was once again declared to be a free man of outstanding honesty and honour above reproach, to which Tom modestly replied, “See. I told you so.”
“About this time Hitch and Charlotte were heard on the air speaking with VE1ARZ who was on a fire line. Hitch and Charlotte were on their way home from P.E.I. A four-way radio conversation ensued between Hitch, Don, Don P. and a five-pound lobster. With much gratuitous advice and snide remarks about Hitch’s lobster, Hitch and Charlotte were enticed into making a side trip to join the meeting. A pot of boiling water was offered to hold the lobster during the meeting, but Hitch preferred that the lobster be kept in the refrigerator.”
Don Trynor won the third prize of a jar of Solomon Grundy which was because of it’s Gourmet flavor and piquant odor was placed outside on the front porch for Don to pick up on the way home. It was last seen being attacked by Howie’s cat with a screw driver and a hammer.”
(10/20/91) (This meeting was held at Eric and Bette’s camp.) “When the meeting was finished, Eric fired up the BBQ. Members could sautee, fricassee or scorch their own choice of dead animals’ flesh which the member had brought with him. The only reason for going home hungry would have to be leaving your teeth at home in the glass.”
(6/7/92) Interesting things turn up in the W5YI report. “There were two old timers who made An agreement to contact each other by radio if one should die before the other did. After the death of the first OT, the second was not surprised when he received a call on 20M one night. He expressed his delight on hearing from his old friend, and asked how things were up in heaven. His old friend replied that every amateur entering the Pearly Gates was given a brand-new Kenwood 950S DX free, the reception was great with no QRM or QRN, and there was a net that ran twenty-four hours a day. ‘Sounds wonderful,’ said the earthbound OT. ‘An amateur’s heaven! What possible bad news could there be?’ To which the heavenly OT replied, ‘Well! I’m sorry to say that the bad news is that you are next week’s net control!’
(11/15/92) “For those who do not understand or take seriously the DOC cautions in regard to the use of microwaves, the simplified explanation is that if you do not heed the warnings you will not have any offspring recognizable as human beings, but that is all right because you will also be blind and not able to see them anyway.”
11/21/93 Scott Nichols VE1OP proposes a HF committee, dedicated to increasing interest in HF work, DXing, and motivating members to upgrade their talents and techniques. At the meeting of 1/16/94, Scott reported that he had a RTTY QSO with a station in the Northwest Territories “through the mother of all pileups.”
2/19/95 Living near an international border has furnished us with some good stories involving customs officers. Burns tells this one: When the Italian sea planes known as the Balboa flight were in Maine, their onward flight up to Moncton, NB, was held up by the need for a battery-powered receiver which could tune to the Canadian frequencies. The Ferry Point Customs were adamant about not letting a SW3 receiver across the border for use of the Italians. A quick-thinking US amateur simply took the SW3 around to the Milltown crossing, where the Customs personnel were quite happy to pass the receiver through. It seemed that the two crossings used different regulations to control the flow of declarable goods through the border checkpoints. Much the same as today.
1/15/95 Burns VE1CL gave a talk on early radio. Anyone interested in the history of the Club should look at the Minutes for 3/14/57 (the very first recorded meeting, at the back of Vol. I), 3/19/95, 4/23/95, 4/19/98, and 6/17/01. These are eyewitness accounts of someone who lived through the early days of radio, and participated directly in radio development. I believe his talks were recorded on cassette by George Haney VE1LBR. Burns’ biographical sketch will be found in the back of Vol. III of the Minutes. Burns was chosen to receive the Award of Excellence of the Hall of Fame by the Radio Amateurs of Canada, and in an article in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, 4/17/98, he was referred to as the “godfather of amateur radio in New Brunswick.” That ar5icle will be found in Vol. IV, 3/15/98.
9/21/97 Don Price VE1AU and Steve McLay VE1ESM reported on a training program at St. Stephen High School. The original aim was to qualify a half dozen students so that they could run their own amateur radio station at the school. The bulk of the classroom instruction was done by Eric Nesbitt VE1ABL and Jim Dunfield VE9PI. On 1/16/98, six students attempted the Basic exam, and five passed. The next year, four out of eight passed, for a total of nine students passing. “Credit for the success was largely due to the high degree of cooperation by the school and the teachers, and by the patient diligence of Eric in hammering home of concepts.” On 3/15/98, Ray Williams addressed the Club, on behalf of SSHS. This is the first such effort in Canada, and the station has the callsign VE9SSH.
Mention should be made in these pages of the many hours of amateur radio instruction given by Eric VE1ABL and Jim VE9PI. From 1992 to 2005, a total of thirty-four people studied under Eric and Jim and became licensed amateurs. About sixty-six hours of instruction are required per student to present the topics and concepts covered by the exams. This means that Eric and Jim put in at least 2,244 hours of instruction time to produce those thirty-four new hams. A noteworthy effort, indeed!
1/18/98 Paul Thompson KB1P reports on his harrowing week as emergency coordinator for Washington County during the Great Ice Storm of 1998.
2/20/00 During the Y2K changeover, about forty hospitals in Maine were linked by 2M and HF radios by amateur operators. The operation went smoothly. A community service bulletin was broadcast several times that night by WQDY/WALZ, and read as follows:
“This evening on New Year’s Eve, amateur radio operators are providing communication support to about forty hospitals throughout the State of Maine. In our listening area, the Saint Croix Valley Amateur Radio Club in conjunction with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service is participating.”
3/19/00 Alan Ames N1ZCI has set up our first website, shopdowneast.com/hamradio.
6/17/01 This December will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the famous dit-dit-dit sent across the Atlantic to Marconi’s station on Cape Breton.
9/16/01 The Club observes a minute of silence for those who periched in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania on 9/11/01.
10/21/01 The 700 repeater participated in a cross-Canada net that linked all the provinces in the nation.
12/16/01, 5/19/02 Minutes contain fascinating accounts by Doug and Pat Brown VE1PHB of voyages of the Beltane into the waters of Chesapeake Bay and the Bahamas. Pat could be heard on the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club Net on 40M, and also on the Mississagua Maritime Mobile Net on 20M.
4/21/02 The Club has the first of several foxhunts, organized by Mike Sanford KB1GEO.
9/19/04 Special event callsign W1S was used on 7/4/04 and 7/5/04 in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of the landing of Samuel de Champlain and Pierre du Gua Sieur de Monts at St. Croix Island. Roger Holst W1LH, Pedro Ceijas WS4KEO, Eric Nesbitt VE1ABL, Dick Smith VE9HX, and Skip Colson KB1HXC operated from Red Beach and completed 158 QSO’s.
9/18/04, 9/17/05 The Club held hamfests at the Alexander School on those dates. The first, on 9/18/04, was the first hamfest the Club had held in many years. It was organized by Skip Colson KB1HXC.
The Club Minutes note the passing of nine Silent Keys through the years. They are
Walter Dresser W1EOP (5/11/90)
Bill Smith VE1FC (1/21/91)
John Reynolds W1FJP (3/93)
Frank Haughn VE1DP (12/97)
Charlotte Hitchings WB1CZP (10/17/99)
Al McQuoid VE1ER (see the Courier article on file, 1/11/99)
Dave Thomas VE9KDA (9/21/03)
Doug Manza K1ZIL (10/17/04)
Edgar Burns Getchell VE1CL (2/14/06)
Mike Breckinridge N1JXP
Jan. 21, 2005