Pachena DF/Radio in the 1930's. DF antennas outlined in black. Bowerman Photo
This station was one of the original
five stations and was operational in February of 1908
fitted with, as all the stations were, the Shoemaker
equipment, instead of Marconi.. Location selected by
Cecil Doutre during his 1906
inspection trip. The station was commissioned in
1908 but was shut down in October 1920 due to it
being redundant. The station operators were sent
to Estevan Point, it being deemed the more
important station. Station equipment was left on
In 1923 the station was re-established as a radio direction finding station. Two large loop antennas and a specialized D.F. receiver was installed. Pachena could now offer radio bearings from Pachena to a vessel at sea requesting such information. Pachena had a published range of 400 miles. A vessel could get bearing from two or three different direction finding stations and thus find its location at the point where the bearing lines intersect. Coast station services were curtailed--no ship-shore message handling.
At that time there were two types of direction finding systems, both used similar receiving equipment and the only difference being in the antennae used. The Bellini-Tosi system used a loop system for the receiving antenna while the Adcock system was in the form of a square, with a vertical antenna in each corner. The antennas Pachena used the Bellini-Tosi type, consisting of two 500 foot diameter loops of wire at right angles to each other. One loop was oriented east-west while the second was aligned north-south. Whether the alignment was True or Magnetic is presently unknown. The second system used four vertical antenna masts in the form of a square.
Operator Friker, who was at Pachena for two and a half years after the D.F. was installed remembers that they had absolute confidence in their ability to provide a bearing to within 1/4 of a degree. Friker reports that he could receive ships right across the Pacific and give accurate bearings to vessels two to three days out.
In the banner photo, the DF receiver shack is in the small operations building at the photo's center. The receiver loops have been emphasized for clarity. I'd assume the DF shack would be occupied by an operator only when an occasional vessel requested a bearing.
The station had pretty good reach, as this May 1910 clip from the Daily Colonist shows: "The Makura is the only steamer of the Canadian-Australian line equipped with wireless telegraphic apparatus and enroute to Australia operator M.A. Mulrony did some excellent work. He kept in touch with land until arrival, communicating with Pachena station at a distance of 2,276 miles, a record for this part of the world."
If you have Google Earth on your computer, click here to see Pachena Point.
Some Pachena photos in chronological order are here.
1906 Site selection by Doutre.
1907 Construction and
installation of the station. Main equipment was a
Fairbanks-Morse 3 Horse Power gasoline engine, driving
a 1,000 Watt alternating current generator. The
transmitter was the Shoemaker type, with the open core
transformer, tubular glass condensers, fixed spark gap
with a helix inductance coil for resonating. A crystal
detector radio receiver rounded out the installation.
(A. Lawton notes station was on the air testing
Newspaper reports the original five stations will be open for commercial traffic on December 15th. Unfortunately the Colonist paper reports for the past month (Dec 07) Pachena is unable to communicate with Gonzales (Victoria) but never-the-less can work vessels off California. By December 29 the lads had the bugs out and Pachena was now working Victoria.
1908 In February the station
is commissioned with L. H. Bradbury as Officer in
Charge. Colonist mentions Bradbury on station in
November. In April a prefab house is shipped in along
with a party of carpenters to erect the building.
Bradbury moves over to the Estevan Station and Pachena
closes down due to a shortage of operators. Call sign
Interestingly, the lighthouse was not yet established. In April the glass lantern assembly was delivered by the 'Quadra', along with material for a five room house for the wireless operators.
1909 Duplex house is constructed. August newspaper report 2 kWatt transmitter being installed soon.
1910 Station is reopened in January. A. Buchanan is OIC at $85 per month. Colin Kennedy is the other wireless operator.
1911 Census of 1911 has Colin Kennedy as Officer in Charge. He leaves for California later in the year. Twenty four hour coverage is now provided by three operators.
1913 Call sign changed to VAD
from KPD in accordance with the Berlin Conference.
HMS New Zealand was making a tour of all the Dominions at this time and a copy of a message, taken from the Colonist paper, is available here.
1916 Cpl. A. Walker is in
charge of the 50th Gordon Highlander guard stationed
at Pachena during World War 1.
Radio Beacon installed.
1920 November Colonist reports station "has been closed." The closure was brought about by the station becoming redundant as Estevan and Gonzales/Victoria overlapped Pachena's coverage area. Station buildings and equipment were mothballed and left on station.
1921 In July the lightkeeper's residence burns down. He moves his family into the unused wireless station house.
1923 Station is reopened in September as a Direction Finding Station providing bearings on an 800 meter (375 kHz) wavelength. Average of 300 bearings a month are being made, according to Eddie Haughton, the B.C. Superintendent. News item in April mentions the DF station at Tatoosh (N.W. tip of Washington State) is operational but is having difficulty finding trained staff.
1924 H.M.C.S. Armentieres spent two weeks in September between Carmanah and Cape Beale working up the efficiency of the station's direction finder staff.
1927 Hector Corriveau arrives from Bull Harbor as the new officer in charge. Hector brought with him his experience operating at the Cape Race and Canso DF stations in Nova Scotia.
1929-30 Annual Report A
type G-3 D.F. receiver was installed and station was
recalibrated. The battery room was enlarged and the
interior of the old D.F. building lined with V joint.
New stays were placed on the mast and two jury masts
Station is equipped with two transmitters, two receivers, a radio telephone, a landline telephone to Bamfield and a telegraph line. Station has four operators and is operational 24 hours a day. (E. Haughton 1929/11/07)
1930 Operator Corriveau passes away in Vancouver from injuries sustained from a fall in the Pachena area.
1933 Syd Jones transfers in as the station's Officer In Charge.
1936 Radiophone frequency in
Modulated CW frequencies on 375, 390, 500 kHz
1946 O.I.C. M.J. King with operators J.H. Macdonald, C. Blacklock and B. Stuart.
1958 Wireless station closes. Coverage in the area is easily provided by the Tofino or Victoria stations. Most of the staff transfers to the newly relocated Estevan radio station at the Tofino airport.