Northern Vignettes... # 1

by Chas Fisher VE7YD


Yellowknife has had it's share of visiting dignitaries.  When Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh made his first visit in 1953, my neighbour Ralph Murray VE8RZ,  thought  the Duke might be interested  in seeing an amateur radio station.  Accordingly, Ralph approached the committee responsible for  H.R.H itinerary.  They decided it was not a bad idea.


A date and time was decided and Ralph proceeded to prepare his "ham shack" for Philip's inspection .  The  Prince's arrival at Ralph's house did not go unheralded.  When his entourage arrived, a group of neighbourhood ladies gathered at the gate and got a big grin from Philip when they started to sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"


Somewhat surprised, Philip had to duck his head going down Ralph's basement steps but he found that Ralph had done a good job preparing for the visit. He had set  up three transmitters , three receivers and three separate microphones..each tuned to a separate amateur band -  40, 20 and 15 metres,  I believe!  There was no such thing as  an HF transceiver in those days.


Ralph explained to the Prince that about 20 Arctic amateurs, among others, were tuned in and anxious to say hello and welcome him to the N.W.T.  Then he proceeded to call the roll. Philip was impressed to say the least!  "I say, this is quite a hobby, isn't it ?" he remarked. Then he pulled out a prepared speech, sat down at the table and prepared to read it. The local photographer, Henry Busse, got ready to take some pictures.  Philip, never too enthused about the media and photographers, said "What the Sam Hill are YOU doing here?"  Henry explained that he wanted to take some pictures.  " I can't read a speech with you popping flash bulbs in my face " said Philip.  Finally  he relented and said, "Very well, take one picture - then go strangle yourself!"


The Prince made his broadcast to the amateurs  and the rest of the party prepared to leave ..they had other commitments.  However, Philip was enjoying his  introduction to Amateur Radio. "What's your hurry?" he asked, " This is interesting. Besides, I would like to hear those chaps check in again"   So Ralph Murray proceeded  to call the roll again and got a good response.


On the way out, the local ladies were still gathered at the gate, now silently awaiting the Duke's departure.  "What's the matter?" he asked, "Did you all get sore throats?"                                       



Below is a picture of that event.  This is reproduced from  DOT Western region magazine Western Flyer.  I originated this article for the Flyer. I donít remember where I got the picture from since I was not at the station, but I was one of the stations talking to Prince Philip. Chas if you see Ralph again give him regards from Milt ex VE8MW Cambridge Bay.... Milton Watts


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