Ikeda, Alert Bay, Prince Rupert, Digby Island, Dead Tree, Triangle Island, Estevan Point, Pachena, Victoria, Gonzales, Cape Lazo Index
Estevan Wireless about 1912

 Rough Radio

 

   This site is dedicated to the early wireless coast station pioneers scattered along the Pacific coast of Canada from 1908 onwards. These primitive stations, some were very isolated, provided safety communications for vessels at the dawn of the radio/wireless age. By 1909 the Point Grey, Victoria, Pachena, Estevan and Cape Lazo stations were commissioned. Triangle, Ikeda, Prince Rupert, Dead Tree and Alert Bay began operations within a few years afterwards. Google Earth locations

   At the end of the 19th Century the west coast of Canada was dangerous place for the movement of vessels.  There was little European settlement north of Victoria. Settlement consisted of isolated native villages and trading posts. The Royal Navy had charted some of the coast, but many dangerous rocks and other navigational hazards had yet to be discovered. 

   The main shipping route to the rest of the world was through the 100 nautical mile Strait of Juan de Fuca, a bit tricky to find from seaward and often filled with contrary winds.  There were a couple of lighthouses in the Strait, nothing major northwards. Vessels would sail, only to vanish, and expected vessels failed to arrive in port. Often debris found on a coastal beach would be the only hint of another tragedy. 

   The shipping authorities and their passengers were becoming very concerned.   The 1907 Canadian Dominion Government, in an effort to provide some measure of safety for mariners, implemented a plan to build a life saving trail along the Juan de Fuca Strait portion Vancouver Island. This two meter wide trail connected Carmanah, Pachena and Cape Beale light-statons with Bamfield and its lifeboat. Dotted along the trail were cabins stocked with food, blankets and a stove.  Each cabin was fitted with a crank telephone to the local lighthouses and life saving station.   

   Keeping the trail and its associated bridges, ladders and telephone line in shape was the duty of a local man. Never the less, the telephone link was often down due to wire breaks, often for days due to falling trees or wind.

 

Drop me a line -->

Estevan Wireless in early the 1910's.   

Site is best viewed on a large screen.  Smaller screens are not configured yet.  Feb 18/20

Rough Radio

West Coast of Canada

Coast Station Wireless  1905-1960

   Eventually a communications network of wireless stations would blanket the BC coast. The first four wireless stations, Vancouver, Victoria, Pachena Point and Estevan Point were all operational by January 1908 while Cape Lazo came on line a few months later. By the time the decade was out, Triangle Island, Ikeda Head (Moresby Island), Dead Tree (Graham Island) and Digby Island (Prince Rupert)were added to the list of stations thus wireless coverage along the British Columbia coast was complete.

 

   Within a decade Triangle was shut down and replaced by Bull Harbour.  Ikeda met a similar fate. Alert Bay was added to cover the busy inside passage.

 

    In November 1919 all British registered vessels were required to be fitted with a serviceable wireless station and operator.

 

Sources

 

   The history is given in the photos and narratives of the people who were there.   All the original staff have passed away now, but their descendants stumble across this site and pass on photos and family information.

 

    Newspaper clippings help fill in some of the blanks.

 

Resources used are:

    Victoria Colonist Newspaper archive,

    Victoria Library newspaper microfilms,

    British Columbia Government online Archives,

    Larry Reid's book "The Story of the West Coast Radio Service", Chameleon Publishing 1992,

    Leona Taylor and Dorothy Mindenhall,  "Index of Historical Victoria Newspapers, "Victoria's Victoria". It appears these two ladies have leafed through old newspapers and copied marine news relating to Vancouver Island's west coast.

    Canadian census documents.

    British Columbia commercial directories, such as Henderson's in the 1910's.

    Relatives of several radio operators.

Roughradio.ca

 

Rough Radio

Ship to Shore Radio on the

West Coast of Canada  1900-70