This station was one of the original five stations and was operational in December 1907.  Gonzales Hill is located in an eastern suburb of Victoria, British Columbia, overlooking the Straight of Juan De Fuca.  In the early days the site was referred to as Shotbolt's Hill instead. Shotbolt was a Victoria pharmacist and had his house on the north west slope of the hill.
   The original location was to be on Clover Point in Victoria, a small thumb of land sticking out into the ocean below Beacon Hill. Conventional wisdom at the time figured radio waves somewhat like light waves, the higher the better and thus the selection of Shotbolt's Hill.
   This wireless station was by no means the first established in the Victoria area. The USA based Pacific Wireless Company had erected three stations. One in Mt. Douglas (although I've heard it was on Smith's Hill) just north east of Victoria, another at Port Townsend, Washington State, and the third at Friday Harbour, Washington State. This Victoria station was shuttered within a year or two of Gonzales being commissioned.

Google Earth location
Some photos of Victoria/Gonzales in a bit of a chronological order are available here.

   Station is centered on this fragment of a 1936 Victoria map. The larger black square is an observatory and over the years has served as both astronomical and meteorological functions.
1906    Cecil Doutre, Dominion Superintendent of Wireless Stations for the Department ofMarine and Fisheries, and Eddie Hughes, Project Engineer, sail on the Marine & Fisheries Vessel 'Quadra'. They make site selections for the new chain of wireless stations along the British Columbia west coast. Gonzales Hill in Victoria was one of the selected sites as it overlooked Georgia Strait and also was line of sight to Tatoosh Island, a United States wireless station at the mouth of the Juan de Fuca Strait (line of site thinking).  Concern was expressed that it may be impossible to work Pachena due to the lack of a line of sight.

   Some Victoria/Gonzales station chronological photos are on this page.

1907    July 27 edition of the Daily Colonist reports: "John Taylor has a similar contract for the building of the station on Shotbolt's hill in this city.  " $2,000 was paid for lot 14, an acre of land on Shotbolt's Hill. Construction and installation of the station began almost immediately. 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 the inductance coil helix. A crystal detector radio receiver rounded out the installation. 150 foot wooden mast supported the antenna. The single floor building consisted of three rooms, far end held the 6 HP gasoline 110 volt generating plant, the middle room held the actual wireless transmitter, while the operations area occupied the remaining room."

   The station opens with Eddie Haugton as station manager.  Call sign VSD. Newspaper notes station is exchanging test messages with Point Grey on November 20, 1907. The November 24 Colonist paper reports the five original stations will be open for business on December 15,1907. Station doing further tests in November and December of 1907.  On the night of December 8/9 Gonzales worked the S.S. President off Point Arena,some 600 miles to the south.  British Columbia Telephone bill was $6.00 monthly.
1908    Station is fully operational in January.  Haughton and Hughes are the operators.
1909  Marconi 2 kWatt spark transmitter installation, replacing the earlier Shoemaker equipment, started on October 7th.  It was hoped this power increase would improve communication to Pachena as Tatoosh (USA station) was refusing to relay commercial traffic from Pachena or Estevan. The experiment included a larger antenna and was successful. Included in the station upgrade was the addition of a receiver tuner, allowing the operator to tune out an interfering station, such as the United Wireless station a couple of miles to the north.  In August land is being cleared for the erection of a stand alone seven roomed operator's dwelling.  It was found having the transmitters and engines in the same building as the operator's residence just wasn't to anyone's benefit. Commercial power was not available on Sundays.
1910  Walter Howard is assistant operator.

1911 January Colonist newspaper reports a more powerful transmitter will be installed soon.  Two more acres purchased to provide extra antenna space. New mast sections hauled up the hill by ten Clydesdale horses (Jan 17/11).  Built in three sections, the bottom section about 80 feet high and 2 feet square weigning 8 tones.  When assembled the mast will be 200 feet high, some 20 feet higher than the original.  The two masts are about 400 feet apart, with the antenna wire strung between them.   Total station area now three acres.
   Operator Whiteside arrives. With the staffing increased to three operators, 24 hour coverage is now avaialbe at this important station.
1912 October newspaper reports the new Marconi 2kW apparatus is working well.  By this year all stations had a second transmitter as back up plus three operators providing 24 hour coverage.  Victoria operators are puzzled over the fact they can work Ikeda, some 400 miles north, and San Diego, some 1000 miles to the south, but working Pachena, 70 miles to the west can be difficult at times.
1913 Call sign changed from VSD to VAK in accordance with the Berlin Conference. Newspaper reports three land-lines connected to the station: G.N.W., C.P.R. and Dominion Government lines. Dominion Government accounts show this station is almost self supporting as the revenue it receives from message handling almost equalling the cost of running the place..
1915   Whiteside, H.Tee, Jackson & Barber man the station. Image shows the Gonzales station's antennas up on the hill. 
Typical huge antenna system was repeated at all the stations
. (Victoria Heritage Foundation image.)
1921   In June Point Grey and Victoria wireless stations were in communication with the High River air station in Alberta.  This was the first time any Canadian station had put a signal over the mountains.  In October the SS Makura sailed from Victoria bound for Sydney Australia. Gonzales was in contact with her until some 1100 miles south of Honolulu (about 3600 miles distant), a record for the station.

   Andy Gray's son remembers the 500 watt tube transmitters being installed to replace the 7.5 kW spark sets about this time (Andy was an early operator.)
   Commercial broadcast stations were becoming popular and the local listeners were up in arms over Gonzales' spark transmitter's Morse interfering with their listening pleasure. Thus the December 20th Daily Colonist reports Gonzales now does not transmit, except for emergency traffic, between the hours of 7 and 10 PM, the prime radio entertainment slot.

1924  At a meeting of the Victoria Radio Club, members inquired of Haughton why the local station occasionly used its noisy spark transmitter instead of the new vacuum tube set.  He replied to the effect that a great number of ships were still fitted with spark and can only receive that type of radio signal.  (Spark transmitters splatter a signal all over the radio dial.)

Dominion Government Annual Report: 1929-30 A successful break-in relay was developed and installed on the C.W. transmitter.   A mechanical remote control wave changing device was installed which enables the operator to change wavelength from his chair. A screen grid valve was incorporated in the type 707 receiver.
A new front verandah and front steps were built on the operating house and half the roof was re-shingled. A new hand rail and landing was built at the dwelling and roof re-shingled and trim painted.
(Before this point the station receiver was disabled during transmission. Now the receiver would be active during key up, allowing the far station to 'break-in" and get the transmitting station's attention--i.e. get an immediate repeat of a word.)

1932 A December winter gale brings the antenna wires down, putting the station off the air for a few hours.  Staff consists of five operators, two on duty during the day and a lone operators during the other shifts.

1933 In April George Gilbert is busy installing the 1600 Watt transmitter.

1936 Modulated CW frequencies 405 & 500 kHz

1939 A November news item reports early planning to move from Gonzales Hill, Victoria out to a 10 acre plot in Gordon Head, Saanich, some 15 km northward. Gonzales area was getting built up and man made interference was degrading reception. Gordon Head area was then a rural area with little interference.  A six room house is also included in the plans.
New CW transmitters include 2 kW and 1 kW. 200 Watt 3 channel crystal controlled CW/Phone short wave transmitter. Two steel self supporting towers are being erected.  Vancouver Sun paper for November has a request for tenders to "erect a new wireless station".

1940 New station is operational in August using Marconi equipment.  Five operators on staff.  Meiss is OIC.  Dismantling of the Gonzales Hill site is completed.

1952  Times item reports the Victoria station handles 60,000 words of paid traffic monthly.  This would be messages to and from international and local shipping.  Same article mentions the CW working frequency is 441 kHz, a bit of an odd number.   As of October all coast stations now continuously monitor the safety and calling frequency of 2182 kHz.

1965  Plans announced to move the station from Gordon Head.

1967 Station moves from Gordon Head to Sooke, approximately 40 km to the west. Moving was again necessitated by the expansion of Victoria's residential areas out into Gordon Head. Sooke's transmitter site was further west at Sheringham Point lightstation. 430kHz & 500kHz, VHF 16 & 26 1630/2182/2340 and a couple of 2mHz tug and fish boat frequencies. There was also a VHF lighthouse circuit.

1992  Station is closed at the end of March and operation is consolidated with the Marine Traffic and Communications Station at Patricia Bay (next to the Victoria Airport YYJ). During the move MF and HF frequencies are decommissioned.



1916  Station worked the SS Makura from Victoria to 1100 miles south of Honolulu.  Some 3600 miles distant.  This was a record for the Gonzales station.

1919  In the evening of May 14, Lieut. Robert Rideout took off from Willows Airdrome (about 5 kM north of the station) with a radio installed by Superintendent Haughton.  Over Elk Lake (about 5 kM N of the airdrome) he communicated with Gonzales, signals were excellent both ways.  This was the first air to ground two way communication on the Canadian west coast.  Flight lasted a half hour.

Victoria  (Gonzales Hill)