Celebrating 100 Years of Transatlantic Amateur Communications
Chris Sullivan, VE3NRT President of the York Region ARC
Beginning in mid-November 2021, the York Region Amateur Radio Club (YRARC) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first transatlantic Amateur Radio transmission by a Canadian Amateur. This took place on the evening of December 9, 1921 by Edward Rogers Senior using the call sign 3BP from the grounds of Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, in the heart of York Region.
At the time the Pickering College was still shut down following World War I when it was used as a hospital. By 1927 it was again operating as a boys-only school. Edward Rogers’ accomplishment was part of the first successful transatlantic test from North America, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
ARRL Executive member Paul Godley, 2ZE, and other members of the Radio Club of America received his transmission, along with those of several US Amateurs, in Ardrossan, Scotland on a 9-tube superheterodyne receiver on frequencies in the vicinity of 1300 kHz, now part of the AM broadcast band. Rogers used a spark-gap transmitter, a type which at the time was being phased out in favour of vacuum tube oscillators. While banned on land in 1927 due to radio interference, spark sets remained in marine operation as late as WWII. The January 1922 issue of QST noted in the article “Transatlantic Test Succeed!” that Rogers was the only “spark man” to be successful. He was also further inland than all but one of the US stations.
His accomplishment was recognized on the front page of the December 12, 1922 edition of the Toronto Star. He was again recognized on the front page of the Star on December 18, 1923, for relaying a message to the S.S. Bowdoin, which was captained by explorer Donald McMillan while sailing the Arctic Circle.
Rogers then went on to be a pioneer in radio design and broadcasting, inventing the first commercial AC powered radio receiver (“Rogers Batteryless”) and founding radio station CFRB (“Canada’s First Rogers Batteryless”) with antennas located in the Aurora Highlands just south of Newmarket. His Toronto factories produced vacuum tubes and receivers, at a time when broadcast radio was booming.
Edwards’ ancestry dated to the mid-17th century in North America, with his great-great-great grandfather Timothy arriving in Canada in 1800 and founding a Quaker settlement on Yonge Street in the area now known as Newmarket. In 1809 he started a second settlement in Pickering. At this time in North American history, leading up to the War of 1812, the government of John Graves Simcoe attracted migrants through land grants of 200 acres or more, and Timothy received what is now prime real-estate in return for a promise of development.
A Quaker meeting house from the period still stands at 17030 Yonge Street in Newmarket on two acres of Timothy Rogers’ land, not far from the York Region Administrative Centre. Quaker settlements in the area expanded over time including one in Sharon, Ontario which is not far north of Newmarket. Members of the Quakers from Sharon split to form the Children of Peace, establishing the Sharon Temple. The adjacent Temperance Hall hosted the York Region Amateur Radio Club’s monthly meetings for many years until we were forced to go virtual in early 2020.
Edward Rogers was born in Toronto on June 21, 1900. His father Samuel was responsible for the rebuilding of Pickering College in 1909, which Edward attended, 12 years prior to Edward’s historic radio transmission. In his late teens, Edward qualified with the Marconi company and spent several summers working as a radio operator on Great Lakes passenger ships, before going on to make Amateur Radio history and becoming a successful businessman in the electronics and broadcasting industries.
Rogers died suddenly at the age of 38, leaving behind his wife Velma and a young son, Edward Rogers Junior, who in 1960 founded Rogers Communications in with the acquisition of CHFI in Toronto. Rogers Communications is well known today in broadcast media, cable TV, mobile phones and data communications.
The York Region Amateur Radio club will recognize this historic anniversary with the special event station CF3BP from mid-November to mid-December. Club members will be scheduled to operate under this call sign from their home stations, giving us the opportunity to work with many modes and bands. We are also planning to activate some local parks using members’ portable stations and the club’s communications trailer.
We hope you will join us in celebrating this historic Canadian achievement.
Chris Sullivan, VE3NRT, is President of the York Region Amateur Radio Club. York Region comprises 13 communities adjacent to north Toronto including Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill,and Vaughn.
Founded in 1959, the York Region Amateur Radio Club is dedicated to the advancement of Amateur Radio through fraternal and technical means and providing public safety and emergency communications services to our community.
The club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm from September to June at the Sharon Temperance Hall in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. Anyone interested in Amateur Radio is welcome to attend. Currently all meetings are online due to social distancing requirements. For more information please visit: https://www.yrarc.org .
QRZ Webpage entry
Further information can be found at our QRZ Special Event Callsign webpage at https://www.qrz.com/db/CF3BP
CF3BP Special Event Station
York Region Amateur Radio Club will be running a Special Event to commemorate this Event.
If you wish to see who is operating at any given time during the day, then please take a look at https://www.yrarc.org/cf3bp-schedule
If a YRARC member wishes to sign up to use the CF3BP callsign during the event from 13th November to 12th December 2021, then please follow the sign up instructions below:
1. Please request sign up through CF3BP.firstname.lastname@example.org Use the email address that works best for you in Google, e.g. typically a gmail.com address, but as long as Google recognises it we will be good.
2. We will then give you access to a) the google spreadsheet that hosts all of the data for the schedule and b) give you access to the forum.