History of the Seaway Valley Amateur Radio Club
The SVARC has been in existence since it was formed at a “Constitutional Meeting” held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Croteau (SK VE3DPH) on June 18th 1960. In those early days, meetings were held at “Civil Defence Headquarters” on Fourth Street West. The Club had space for a Radio Room on the second floor and meeting space was also provided for the Club to put on Amateur Radio courses. In those days students were ‘encouraged’ to take a Civil Defence course such as Radiation Monitoring, as a way of supporting the Civil Defence organization. Civil Defence later become EMO and was moved from the 4th Street location to the basement of the Post Office (now Public Library) at Second and Sydney Streets.
In later years, the Club has met at various venues including, TCTI (now Nav Centre), Bob Turner Memorial Arena, St. Matthews Lutheran Church, the living rooms of Tim Smith (VE3HCB), Leonard Boileau (VE3OLB), and Norbert Lussier (VA3TL), the Cornwall Armoury, and most recently St. John Ambulance HQ where meetings are currently held.
Some of the people who have been President of the Club are as follows:
- Paul Croteau VE3DPH SK 1960-62
- Reese Powell VE3DJK SK
- Gord Horton VE3AXP SK
- Dr. Ralph Randlett VE3NVW SK
- Wayne Clark
- Dave Holford VE3HLU 1981-86
- Doug Mein VE3FQX (later VE2CQV, now VA3DM) 1987-88
- Jacques d’Avignon VE3VIA SK 1990-mid 93
- Doug Pearson VE3HTR Mid 93-1994
- Marc Tessier VE3TES 1994-95
- Tim Smith VE3HCB SK 1995-2009
- Earle DePass VE3IMP 2010-2015
- Ed Halliwell VE3EAH 2016-2019
- Larry Giguere VA3RSQ 2020-
The Club’s first repeater VE3SVC (Seaway Valley Cornwall?) was started in the 60’s. It has had many homes over the years, for a while at the home of Reese Powell in the Riverdale area of Cornwall, then to the home of Gib Henderson in St. Andrews West. When Gib sold his home and moved into Cornwall, the repeater was moved to Tagwi High School just west of Monkland. The repeater is now a Yaesu Fusion analog/digital unit located at the Cornwall Community Hospital along with VE3VSW an analog UHF repeater and VA3SDG, our two DStar repeaters. The Club also hosts two wide area repeaters on a tower north of Bonville, VE3PGC (formerly VE3MTA) is another Yaesu Fusion analog/digital UHF repeater and VA3EDG operates as a digital DMR repeater.
Over the years the Club has published a newsletter usually on a monthly basis. Some of the earliest from the 1960’s will be posted on this site at a later date. In those days, it was printed on a Gestetner copy machine. Remember those, they used alcohol and a special stencil that had to be typed. The printed copy was blue and usually faint. The Ham Bull, as it was known, became the SVARC Radio News in the early 90’s, then SVARC Gap, then Dummy Load, then The Gap in 2010.
At this point, the earliest known Editor of the newsletter was Dave Holford (VE3HLU) in the 1980’s. Robert McSween (VE3KCP) took a turn followed by Doug Pearson (VE3HTR) in the 1990’s. Tim Smith (VE3HCB) took on the role for a while and instituted the Club’s first website. Our most recent Editors have been James Richardson (VE3AFV) and Steve Harvey (VE3EZB). In the fall of 2020 Murray MacDonnell (VE3XLJ) took on the role as our current Newsletter Editor.
The Club has a long standing relationship with local emergency preparedness organizations dating back to the Club’s inception. As previously noted, the Club used the Provincial Civil Defense building to hold it’s meetings and put on courses. The radio room included a Hammarlund HF transmitter/receiver set, a HeathKit Sixer and Twoer vhf rigs and if I remember correctly an old Model 15 teletype. It was a good learning area. There were antennas for all bands in the backyard. In the 1980’s the Club had designated coordinators in the City of Cornwall, Green Valley, and Finch. Club members were involved in several major emergency exercises simulating an aircraft crash at Transport Canada Training Institute (now Nav Centre), loss of land based communications, and a school bus crash. Hams were assigned to various points to provide communications and on one occasion, Gord Horton (VE3AXP) was assigned to accompany the Mayor.
In 2005, Tim Smith (VE3HCB) then President, applied to the Province for a Trillium Grant to purchase HF and VHF radio gear to set up a series of emergency communications sites throughout the City. In later years this equipment has been taken out, leaving only the antenna and feed cables with the intent of being able to deploy the equipment over a wider area. At this time, Tim also set up a structure and organized training sessions for members to become ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) trained operators
In addition to ARES, the Club over the years has also provided communications services to a number of organizations in the Cornwall area. Since 2004, the Club has worked with the organizers of the Children’s Treatment Centre to provide Course Communications for the Bike-A-Thon Fundraiser. The Club also works closely with St. John Ambulance to provide communications for the Raisin River Canoe Race each spring and most recently with an Ottawa club and the MS Society for their Ottawa-Cornwall-Ottawa Bike Tour usually held in August.
Information for this page taken from The History of the Seaway Valley Amateur Radio Club by Earle DePass (VE3IMP) with information from Dave Holford (VE3HLU), Norbert Lussier (VA3TL), Joe Scott (VE3ADB), Doug Pearson (VE3HTR), Eric Meth (VE3EI) SK, and Jacques d’Avignon (VE3VIA) SK
More will be posted to this page so check back often.