On these pages are names and photos of the west coast wireless staff. The lists include not only the operators themselves, but station staff such as the mechanics, lighthouse keepers and neigbours. Some names have been matched with faces. It appears that the operators may have spent only months at some stations, as different sources conflict--an operator may show up at two different stations in the same year.
Dots and Dashes
Sparks, a key master was I
Dots and dashes from times gone by
Somewhere in space they still fly.
Ted Severud, retired west coast brass pounder.
West coast wireless operators wages in 1926 varied between $1500 to $2500 per year. Click on the images to the right and view the 1926 pay sheet for many of our lads. ($1.00 in 1926 had the purchasing power of $14.85 in 2020. Bank of Canada inflation calculator.)
Acton, Charlie A 1923 British Columbia Directory lists Charlie at Bull Harbor. This photo is from a list of Radio Regulations Branch old timers.
Ainslie, R. (Bob) Ainslie joined the wireless service in April 1912 after discharge from the Royal Navy. Second operator at Lazo in 1916 @ $75/month. His rank on January 1918 was RNCVR (Special) W/T operator. He helped with the installation at Bull Harbour and was appointed OIC when the station opened in 1921. In January 1924 he ships out of Bull Harbor to be the station manager at Point Grey, replacing Bowerman. He was also an early operator at Pachena, but just when is presently unknown. Married. 1926 net wages were $1966.50. In 1927 he was appointed to Calgary as Inspector of Radios for the Province of Alberta.
Aitkens, Francis Charles Aitkens' daughter writes (June 2007): "He was born (Francis Charles Aitkens - called Chas or Charlie) in Sept 1904. His family farmed in Gordon Head. He completed school in Victoria (Vic High) to Grade 9. He was larking about and cutting classes the next year and his father enrolled him at Sprott-Shaw in a radio course (?). That would be about 1921. By 1923 - age 19 - he had graduated. I don't know the exact sequence, but possibly Point Grey, then Bull Harbor, then Pachena (1927) where he boarded with "Mrs Mac" (?). He also mentioned being based at Gonzales Hill to me, but I don't know when. Some time before 1930 he was posted to Estevan. In 1931, my mother Gene came from Edmonton to Estevan to visit her brother Clarence (Tommy) Thomas, who was also a radio operator, and may have been there on relief duty (?). I think Tommy was also at Alert Bay at some time. My parents were married in 1932 and left Estevan in about 1936-37. From then until 1939 he was leading crews to install radio beacon stations throughout British Columbia. In 1939 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Special Forces, doing much the same work. In 1947 he signed onto RCAF regular forces and retired in 1957. He then went overseas with International Civil Aeronautics Organization to Syria, Nepal and Afghanistan and retired again in 1967. My dad died in March 1996 and my mother Gene is still alive at 99. (Sadly Gene passed away in August of 2007--FWS)
In Larry Reid's book operator Aitkens is shown on strength in November 1923. Chas appears in Bull Harbor Wireless in time for the 1920 edition of the BC Directory, but by 1923 the Directory lists him at Estevan Point Wireless. His name appears on the 1933 station Christmas card. His time at Estevan is recorded from then on until 1937.
Allan, J.T. 1921 operator at the Vancouver Merchant's Exchange radio station. This station handled the commercial messages from vessels, relieving the Point Grey station of the work. See furthur information under the Stations tab.
Arnold DSO, Horwood James (Jim) b. 1890. He immigrated from the UK in 1911, most likely trained in the British Post Office. He was, along with Greer, the first operator on Triangle Island (1911 Census). He was there when Bowerman arrived in the summer of 1912 but left after a short time, being relieved by Harold Tee. While at Triangle he shinnied up the 200 foot mast to restring an antenna. He also had a stint at Gonzales (1910/11) and Cape Lazo.
He was at the chief operator at Ikeda Wireless on the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1914 when the war broke out. He received permission to resign, fired up the Evinrude in his 16 foot boat, and made his way down to Alert Bay, and from there to England and joined the Royal Naval Air Service. He had a special interest installing wireless in aircraft. As a matter of fact, he earned his DSO as a wireless operator in an aeroplane providing shell spotting off the east coast of Africa (1915 sinking of the SMS Konigsberg, Battle of the Rufigi Delta). His machine was eventually shot down in the engagement, he and the pilot surviving the cartwheeling crash on water. Unfortunately he died in June 1918 while performing a flying stunt in England.
There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots. A poster often seen in aeradio offices.
Aitken, John Telegraph operator at Victoria.
Allan, Harry V. Allan was a married radio operator at Estevan 1931 when Aitkens arrived. First on the station in 1923. Allen left the station in July 1933. His replacement was Cecil Gray.
Amie (?), Alec 1949 to 1955 Alert Bay operator. Eventually took a job at Kitimat.
Arnaud, Frank I. Daily Colonist January 01/49 did a spread on the Victoria station after its move to Gordon Head and Frank's photo is clipped from the article.
Bairstow, Douglas Whitley In 1916 he was the fourth operator at Estevan earning $2.25/day. A newspaper article on the sinking of the F.P.V.Galiano (Jim Hume--Time Colonist Sept 17, 2007) has Bairstow testifying at the inquiry that he was an employee at the Triangle Wireless Station on October 1918, the night the vessel foundered.
Baker, S.A. Wireless operator in the C.P.R. Steamship "Tees" according to the November 19, 1909 edition of the Victoria Times. The Tees was a freighter carrying goods to the communities and lighthouses along the British Columbia coast.
Balcombe, Harold K. Acting third operator at Point Grey in 1916 at 2.25/day.
Bannerman 1912 operator at Estevan.
Barber, C. Gonzales operator 1914-15.
Barnsely, J. 1915 freight clerk and wireless operator on the Union Steam Ship "Camosun". It was common in those days for the operator to have both duties.
Barnum A BC newspaper clipping from the 1930-40 period mentions Mr. Barnum as a radio inspector. Radio inspectors investigated interference complaints, collected radio fees, granted radio licenses for operators and stations, inspected stations and ensured the applicable regulations were adhered to.
Baugh-Allen, C. 1916 trainee (operator?) at Gonzales earning $45/month.
Barrie, W.R. Station manager (OIC) at Comox in the 1950-60 era.
Barsea, Keith 1951 Pachena operator.
Batt, Felix Appointed part time radio inspector at Prince Rupert in September 1929. He was a local radio enthusiast.
Baxter, H.W. Operator at Estevan in June 1942 when the station was shelled.
Beart, William Edward Ed appears in the Aitkens 1937 Estevan Point photos. He came to replace operator Stark. Beart is listed on the station in the 1937, 1938 and 1939. He was married.
In June 2012 a lady researching her maternal grandfather's brother Edward, verified this photo. (1896-1976)
Beatty, Dave A bachelor residing at Estevan during the Aitkens period. The 1937, 1938 and 1939 provincial directory lists him as a handyman about the station.
Begg, Jake Operator. No other information.
Bennett, Edwin Guy Guy joined the wireless service in the 1912 from England. On the "Galiano" as an operator in 1915/16 drawing $60/month. At Pachena in 1916 as acting officer in charge. $77.50/mo. plus OIC allowance of $7.50/mo. Bowerman lauds him, and Bill Clarke, for the early clearing of the land and creating the vegetable and flower gardens at that station. He went back east for First World War duties (RCNVR) and never returned to the west coast. During WW2 he was Assistant Director of Radio Censorship and organized a special radio interception service. For this work he received an Member of the British Empire in 1946. Photo is from his retirement.
Berry, Jack (John) J. Joined the wireless service in the 1911-12 period, most likely from the British Post Office. Berry arrived on Triangle Island wireless station on the SS Leebro with Bowerman in 1912. Berry had his wife and two little boys with him. Bowerman appreciated her fine cooking. He left Triangle in 1913 for a stint at Gonzales. Down to Victoria from Alert Bay in July 1913. He appears in a 1914 photograph taken by Lofty Harris in Alert Bay. He operated at Dead Tree Wireless on the Queen Charlotte Islands and stayed for a long time. At Dead Tree his wages were $75/mo. in 1916.
Bigmore, Harry He was listed as an operaor/telegrapher at Estevan Point during the 1927 to 1939 period.
Black Signed up with the Wireless Service in the 1911-12 period. (Probably from the British Post Office.)
Blacklock, Charlie Operator at Victoria/Gonzales in 1947 then spent 1948-51 at Pachena. (May have been on the CPR steamers in the 1930's.)f
Bodie, R.C. Radio Inspector in Prince Rupert--January 1924 Unknown if served at any station.
Bond, V.J. Larry Reid's book has him listed as an operator on November 05, 1923. Some years later there is a newspaper note of his retirement from the position of radio operator on the Fisheries Patrol Vessel "Malaspina".
Bowden, W.J. West coast wireless service office janitor in 1911. $15/month. Still there in 1916. From the look of the wages it must have been a part time job.
Boyd Boyd joined the wireless service in the 1911-12, probably from the British Post Office. He was relieved by Bowerman and Berry's arrival on Triangle Island in 1912.
Bowerman, W. John (Jack) Jack's photos albums and narrative are used throughout this site. See this time line. Officer in Charge at Triangle Island in 1912. Came down to Victoria in July 1913. 1916 he is the OIC at Digby making $90/mo. plus OIC allowance of $7.50/mo. His rank on January 1918 was RNCVR (Special) W/T operator. Larry Reid's book shows him at Point Grey Wireless on November 05, 1923. In January 1924 he moves to Estevan as the station manager. 1925 he is promoted from Estevan to the position of Radio Inspector in Vancouver. 1926 wages $2,080.50 In 1948 he received an M.B.E. (Member of the Order of the British Empire.) His amateur radio call sign was VE7XR. Passed away at 95 years of age in Victoria, B.C.
"Letter from W. J. Bowerman, Dept. of Naval Service Radiotelegraph Branch, Digby Island BC dated Dec 3rd 1916 acknowledging the receipt of 14 NID 151 forms."
Victoria Daily Colonist December 6, 1938 "Mr. Bowerman was born at Bognor Regis, England, and came to Canada first in 1910. He joined the Government radio service in 1911 as wireless operator, commencing duty at the Gonzales Hill station. Later he did a round of duty in connection with other stations on the British Columbia coast, among other places isolated Triangle Island (1912), where the operators and lighthouse attendants were fortunate to get mails and supplies several times a year. During the latter part of the Great War, Mr. Bowerman was transferred to Atlantic Coast radio stations for duty, and also served as wireless operator on British transport vessels. Transferred back to British Columbia after the war was over, he was officer in charge at Point Grey and Estevan stations in turn. Appointed radio inspector for Vancouver and the British Columbia Interior in 1925, he continued in the capacity until promoted recently to succeed E.J. Haughton, retiring superintendent."
Boyd, J. Operator at Point Grey in the 1914-15 era.
Bradbury, Charlie H. Charlie was a telegrapher from either the commercial or railroad systems in the UK. (b.1871) He was the first operator and Officer in Charge at Cape Lazo Wireless Station in the fall of 1908. In 1910 he received a $85/month salary at that station. He was married to Dorothy.
(The British Columbia on-line archives have a couple of Bamfield Cable Station photos dated 1903 taken by a Charles Bradbury. 1901 Census lists a Charles A. Bradbury working as stevedore in Chemainus, was born in 1874.)
Bradbury, Louis H. Brother of Charlie Bradbury. He was the Officer in Charge of Pachena Wireless Station when it was commissioned in February 1908, and is mentioned in a September 1909 Colonist article as still being there. May 1910 has him as the OIC at Estevan. Wages in 1910 was $75/month. An October 1927 news item says he is a telegrapher "returning from Powell River".
Browne, G. Operator at Comox in the 1950-60's era.
Brunton, Emma Mary Brunton arrived on Triangle Island in late 1916 as a housekeeper for the radio operators. Larry Reid's book reports she had the dwelling ship shape in no time and the cooking was excellent. The down side was that she insisted on the operators dressing up, right down to the polished shoes, for meals.
She left the station on October 30th 1918 around 5 PM on the FPV "Galiano". The vessel then steamed north to tend to other navigation aids and intending to drop Emma off in Prince Rupert so she could return Victoria. Around 3 AM that night the vessel foundered in a gale near the south end of the Queen Charlotte Islands. All the crew and Emma perished.
Curiously the Colonist newspaper reports the Galiano dropped an unnamed replacement housekeeper off at Triangle when she picked up Brunton. Nothing is known of this replacement.
A year later her affairs are wound up.
Buchanan, J.A. In January of 1910, Buchanan was the first operator back at Pachena after it was closed due to a lack of qualified operators. (L.H.Bradbury had been moved to Estevan as it was the more important station.) As station OIC he received $85/month in 1910. Relay duties between Estevan and Gonzales (Victoria) were being handled by Tatoosh on the American side, thus no need for Pachena at the time. He was a telegrapher from either the commercial or railway systems.
Bull, N.J. Operator at Estevan when the station was shelled in June 1942.
Burford, W.T. Burford was at Point Grey with Bowerman during the 1920-24 period. He helped, as secretary, with the operators petitioning Ottawa for better working conditions. He eventually left the service and worked for a large labour organization in eastern Canada. 1926 net wages $1,740.00
August 21, 1924 The planet Mars was closer to Earth than it had been for many years. That lent exciting credence to the Province's Page One story: "Mysterious signals picked up at Point Grey wireless station during the past few weeks culminated this morning in a recognized group of sounds which lead the operators to believe that Mars has succeeded in establishing communication with the earth. Four distinct groups of four dashes came in over the ether at 7:12 a.m., when Mr. W. T. Burford was on duty. These dashes were not in any known code but started on a low note, gradually ascending and concluding with a "zipp.' The signals were not sent by spark nor continuous wave and the theory that Mars has at last managed to "get through' is gaining support." (From Chuck Davis' www.vancouverhistory.ca)
Burgess, J. Hartley Government Telegraph (landline) operator at Alert Bay in 1928. He handled the landline telegraphic communications.
Burns Operator at Estevan in early 1958, shortly before the station relocated to Tofino Airport.
Busswood, W.J. Busswood is listed in the 1925 Marine & Fisheries Dominion Accounts for 1925. His occupation wasn't listed.
Wireless Operators by Surname: A Through B