Harold started his operator career with Queen Charlotte Airlines.  He joined the Government radio system in 1953 and was posted to Point Grey Radio. Transferred to Prince Rupert in 1954 and eventually spent 15 months as an operator at Cape St. James lightstation. Next was Pachena from 1957 until the station moved to Tofino in 1959. 10 years at Tofino then to Prince Rupert as Area Operations Supervisor (AOS) until 1972.   From 1972 until retirement in 1989 he was the AOS at Victoria.  In this position he was responsible for the operations side of Victoria, Tofino, Comox, Alert Bay and Bull Harbor radio stations. 

   He ended his career in Victoria as the Area Operations Manager responsible for the operational side of all stations on the island.

   Although the photos are modern (post 1950), Harold does have some of the old letters and messages that were circulated by the generation earlier than him. I've included all these items as they are interesting never-the-less.

  01   A group of lighthouse keepers on course at the Victoria electronics shop in August 1961. The beacons mentioned in the photo caption refer to the radio transmitters installed at many lighthouses. These beacons could either transmit continuously or in a sequence with a similar beacon on an adjacent light station. A ship could use its radio direction finder and get a bearing from the local beacons and thus determine her position.

   There would be two beacon transmitters, one in use and the other on standby, monitored by an automatic change over panel (checking power output and correct Morse modulation). On a sequenced station there would be an additional timing panel plus a general coverage receiver for accurate clock checking.

02   A second set of grizzled light keepers. There were generally two keepers on each station, a senior and a junior. It wasn't uncommon for the senior's wife to act as the junior if the other was off station for holidays.

Reverse of photo is below.

03  Signatures and stations of the keepers on the back of the above photo.

04 Bull Harbor before the station's construction.  Station was completed and operational June 1921.

05 1954 Christmas Card from Vancouver aeradio station. The aeradio station performed a similar function to the marine station, but communicated with aircraft. There were combined marine/aeradio stations eventually along the BC coast: Prince Rupert, Sandspit and Tofino come to mind. The operators worked side by side switching between the two positions as the shift cycle progressed.

   As the card came from Harold, there were no names against the photos for some strange reason. Al Miller supplied a few names, but Harry Lathwell's daughter managed to come up with all but two of them, and eventually all the names were filled in.

   Frank: Reference the Vancouver Aeradio 1954 Christmas card pictures. Of a few I recognize are as follows. Top centre I think in Norm Hadley OIC, second right Robbie Robertson probably supervisor operations, next right Maurice Martin, next Freddie Keller. To the left of Hadley is Glen Vallance probably supervisor technical, next left Martin Jensen then Jack Lumb, both technicians under Glenn Vallance. The middle row Nr 4 right I think may be Harry Lathwell and number 6 is Pierre Guinness. I recognize several but just can't think of their name.    Al Miller

   Frank: Concerning the 1954 Christmas card, I have one from my mother's archives (she died a few months ago at age 94): In the middle row, 4th from the left is Harry Lathwell, my father.  On the far right of the top long row is Bob Thicke.  Our families were good friends.  Both men are long gone, my father died in 1992. Pat Lathwell  


    In July 2019 Pat sent me an overlay of the photo with the names.

06   Cape St. James (southern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands) was an important radar/communications site during WW2.
07   Cape St. James barracks some time after WW2.
08   Cape St. James light station and beacon antenna in the distance. Beacon was continuous, not a sequenced radio beacon, as it was primarily an aircraft navigation aid. The next similar aeradio  beacon to the south was Cape Scott and another at Tofino.
09   Cape St. James barrack block.
10   September 3, 1935 letter from E. Haughton, Divisional Superintendent, asking the lads to do the paper work correctly.

   Looks like he is trying to keep the Ottawa money and his own local budget separate. He didn't want the local money being spent on Ottawa's projects.
11   April 4, 1933 letter from the Divisional Superintendent E. Haughton where he mentions some new transmitters going in at Victoria/Gonzales. By this time vacuum tube transmitters and receivers, while not perfected, were displacing the old spark transmitters and crystal receivers.
12   March 24, 1943 letter signed by Walter Howard, Radio Inspector. The wave meter is a device to measure radio frequencies/wavelengths.
13   A testy message from E. Howard to the workshop, November 1938. The number of words in a telegraph message determined the transmission charge.
  14   This is a display of some vacuum tubes. I suspect it was put together as an example of those used in the typical transmitter of the day. The larger ones would be the transmitter output tubes. Vacuum tube transmitters had the advantage of good frequency stability and a very much reduced set of harmonics, resulting in less spectrum use over the old spark equipment.

   The big bottle types may be an English Marconi T250 used in the latter half of the 1930's. This tube was rated at 250 Watt plate dissipation. It could handle up to 4000 volts on the plate. Filament required 12.5 Volts at 5.5 Amps.

   The smaller may represent the oscillator and driver tubes.
15   Message from operator Deacon at Pachena (VAD) to L. Stephenson in Victoria (VAK) on May 16, 1932
16   Cape St. James transmitter and receiver around 1952. This equipment stashed in the corner kept this very isolated station in contact with the world. Receiver is sitting on top of the transmitter. Transmitter would be fixed frequency so no external tuning would be available. Station transmitted synoptic weather reports to Prince Rupert radio and wasn't a coast station as such itself.

   The device above the clock is a wind direction indicator. Against the right hand side of the photo is a recording barograph. Completing the meteorological equipment would be the rain gauge, wind speed indicator, a mercury barometer, wet & dry bulb thermometers and the light keeper's eyeballs. The keeper would take a weather observation at, say every six hours, and radio it in to the local coast station, in this case Prince Rupert.  The coast station would pass it on to the weather office.

17   1928 pay record for the wireless service on the British Columbia coast. All the names of the folks manning the stations. By this time there were nine stations: Prince Rupert (Digby Island), Dead Tree (Queen Charlotte Islands), Bull Harbor, Alert Bay, Cape Lazo, Point Grey (Vancouver), Victoria (Gonzales Hill), Pachena, and Estevan Point.

18   This and the next photo is an antenna change over switch. If there was only a single antenna at the station it would have to be shared between the transmitter and receiver, since only one of the devices connected at any one time. Or alternatively, one antenna could be switched to serve either two transmitters or two receivers.

   This unit could do it easily. The devices would be connected to the tops of the insulators, and the centre nut would connect to the long wire antenna. The big solenoid would be energized remotely to pull the antenna arm from one side to the other. There was also a second switch on the bottom right which would provide a connection to energize an indicator back at the operating position to confirm the position of the change over switch.
19   Another view of photo #18.

There are very high voltages associated with transmitting antennas, thus the need for large insulators.
20   February 1936. A pointed letter from Division Superintendent Eddie Haughton after he discovered the workshop is wasting money.
21   Eddie Haughton letting the Workshop know the vacuum tubes are on the way--December 1935.
22   Les Tickner at Bull Harbor, 1952 or so. Note the National HRO general coverage receiver near the top of the centre rack and the Marconi at the bottom. I think those are fix tuned receiver speakers behind the operator's head.
23   Ernie Coe at Bull Harbor in the early 1950's.  He and Les Ticker became lifelong friends.
24   Dominion Government Radio Service R709 No. 1 receiver. This is a regenerative receiver covering in two bands: 150-400 Meters and 400-800 Meters (375 kHz to 2000 kHz). No information located on the Internet regarding this radio. I'd date it from the 1920-1935 period. Interior view is photo 52.
25   1933 Christmas card from Estevan Point wireless station listing the operators at the station.