Spectrum Management - From the Early Years to the 1990s

by Laval Desbiens

Page 14 of 26

Spectrum Surveillance and Monitoring - Other regions


Elsewhere in Canada

On the subject of the daily work at the Ottawa monitoring station and its statistics, Ed Davey continues:

"Around 1942, at the time of the fall of Tobruk I think, I had to appear as an expert witness with Mr. Bain in a suit of breach of contract in which Gooderham Worts (a distiller) had leased its facilities in Toronto (CFRB and VE9GW) to the CBC on the condition that they would be turned over "in a condition in keeping with the progress of the art". The suit was for $50,000. Routine measurements were being made and our files clearly indicated almost to the hour at which the CBC, after taking over, had installed crystal control, which of course resulted in our files suddenly showing frequency deviations changing from the order of 1.5 Kc to only a few cycles. This item was used by the defence and the judge awarded a much smaller award."


Point Grey Monitoring Station

Afterward the war, a network of  monitoring stations was gradually established throughout the country.


A new Point Grey station in Vancouver was put into service in 1950, in a back room of the coast guard station. A technician from Ottawa installed a General Radio frequency measurement system and an RCA AR88LF receiver. At first, only frequencies under 30 MHz were monitored and VHF (Very High Frequency) was added later.


Vern Reid was the operator-in-charge and the service was provided only on weekdays, except when there were special work assignments. This station was moved to Ladner in 1957, to land leased from the COTC. Reid remained in charge, with four operators.



The station at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, was established in 1949 and Lloyd G. Cope was in charge until 1955 when he was replaced by Ed Leaver.


Lloyd set up a new station at Melville, Saskatchewan, in 1958 and C.W. Colpitts accepted the position of officer-in-charge.


In 1956, Ed Davey, who no longer liked working at the head office, became the officer-in-charge of the Almonte station. He was succeeded by Albert Berry, Ron Powers, Ross Ritchie and Peter Dalton.

In 1957, V.J. Reid was in charge of the Vancouver (Point Grey) station; it was eventually moved to Ladner.

That same year, the Department's certification laboratory found it necessary to acquire a vehicle for monitoring purposes. A trailer was equipped with a Schomandl frequency measurement system.



Unfortunately, the laboratory was not authorized to buy a tractor-truck powerful enough to pull the weight of the trailer, so Lou Colpitts and Ed Leaver often found themselves being ticketed because they were travelling too slowly on Ontario's highways.

In 1961, C.R. Spracklin was still in charge of the Hartlen Point station. It did not provide good coverage of stations located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, since the Hartlen Point site had been chosen mainly for direction finding. Consequently, the station was moved to Montague on Prince Edward Island where Robert Ferguson was in charge.

The station at Port Arthur (Lakehead), Ontario, was established in 1957. The one at Acton was put into service to replace the station at Strathburn (an old site acquired from the CBC) where reception was becoming more and more subject to interference.

A new station was also established at Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories by Lou Colpitts and Jim Dunston.


In the 1970s, thanks to adequate budgets and especially funding provided by our American neighbours who needed to extend a DF baseline, a few direction finding facilities were set up in the country.

Ron Powers relates:

"Bill Wardlaw of the regulatory laboratory on Clyde Avenue came to set up a wide-aperture Wullenweber direction finder at the Almonte station in Ontario.

The antenna system consisted of 60 vertical whips 11 feet high mounted in a circle with a radius of 450 feet (this type of set-up was called a "turkey farm"). The system was optimized at 10 MHz but it could be used from 500 kHz to 30 MHz. The whips were connected to an electronic switch that allowed automatic or manual matching of the signal received from each one. A figure eight plotting on an oscilloscope allowed the monitoring station to determine the azimuth of the source of the signal.

This system was very easy to use and we could get a bearing in a few seconds when reception was good. In day-to-day operations, we used it routinely to boost the reception of a desired signal. Unfortunately, when the Almonte station was closed, this direction finder was sold as a surplus asset. It was the only one of its kind in Canada. The other direction finding systems elsewhere in the country were ancient models, quadrature types that had been written off by the Armed Forces. They were difficult to calibrate and they required quite a bit of maintenance."

Spectrum Management - From the Early Years to the 1990s

by Laval Desbiens