Ham Radio & Canada: The Early Years (Part 2)

The history of ham radio officially began in 1901. It began when the federal department of Public works established two radio stations at Chateau Bay (Near the northern tip of Newfoundland).

The stations were built to be an extra option instead of the cable connecting the north shore telegraph line with Newfoundland due to it being prone to ice damage during the winter.

The two stations communicated with another using telegraphic code.

Telegraphic code: is one of the character encodings used to transmit information by telegraphy. Morse code is the best-known such code. Telegraphy usually refers to the electrical telegraph. (Source: wikipedia)

Due to Canada’s harsh conditions, radio technology laid the foundation for the adoption of radio communication in connection with linking places and people which were inaccessible by telephone lines or telegraph.

Canada’s government interest in radio came from a variety of sources over a period of time. Although, there was a need to promote trade through the maintenance of a safe and efficient shipping system, isolated regions of the north came into the economic and political frame work of the nation. During the wars, strategic and defence concerns also have turned into motivations to expand the use of radio.

Developing a Marine Radio in the Atlantic Coast

At the start of another century, Canada was a young, rapidly developing nation. Its economy was mainly export-based and it’s most important markets were in various locations such as: Great Britain, Europe and parts of the British empire.

In result. a great significance was attached to maritime transportation and communication by politicians and businessmen from Canada.

Any further developments in the field would naturally gain the attention. In particularly those who promised to improve ship to ship and ship-to-shore communication in the Atlantic North. It now seemed likely that Marconi’s progress in Britain was followed with high interests among certain circles within Canada.

Big Debut

By 1901, Radio had its big debut in Newfoundland and Canada, Marconi’s progress had most definitely become substantial. Marconi had progressed his system over increasing distances in Britain and elsewhere. His company had already secured two British government contracts for radio enviroment along with the war office during the Boer war and the other with the admiralty in 1900. Both of those provided financial and public relations benefits for the organization.

In September of 1901, an agreement was made under Loyd’s the famous marine insurance company. In the terms of contract, the Marconi company was to attain and operate a series of radio stations to further improve communication and passage of information among more than a 1000 agents worldwide. The Loyd’s only agreed to use Marconi equipped stations and vessels.


Babaian, S. A. (1992). Radio communication in Canada : A historical and technological survey. Ottawa, Canada: National Museum of Science and Technology (Canada). doi:https://documents.techno-science.ca/documents/Transformation1RadioCommunicationinCanada1992.pdf