From Small Beginnings

A Brief History of the Guelph,
Kitchener-Waterloo and 
South Waterloo Amateur Radio Clubs.

Produced by the Kitchener-Waterloo Amateur Radio Club.


1885 - 1889. Professor Heinrich Hertz, in Germany, coupled Leyden Jars (capacitors) together, charged them up, connected them in series and discharged them across a spark gap.

On the other side of the room he set up a small spark gap and connected a short antenna. When he produced a spark across the main gap, he noticed a small spark across the gap of what we would call the receiver. He had produced an electric wave which crossed the room and energized the receiver.

Developmental work followed quickly. Signore Gugliemo Marconi of Italy, a wealthy man, became interested. His work produced a system for passing messages over a distance of one mile. This was in 1895 approximately. By 1901 increased sending power became available.

On December 19, 1901 Marconi successfully transmitted three dots from Poldha, Cornwall, England to a receiver on Signal Hill, St.John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Long distance transmission was now a fact. Development again proceeded at a fast rate.

Ships became interested. Many were outfitted with spark equipment. Reaction from old time ship skippers was poor. However the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 caused a great commotion and legal steps were taken to require large ships to have wireless equipment on board.

Persons interested in wireless obtained data for the construction of simple transmitters and receivers and amateur wireless became a reality. By 1914 there were about 70 amateurs in Toronto with many others spread throughout the Province of Ontario.

All amateurs in Canada were closed down from 1914 to 1919 by the Federal government. However in 1919 the amateurs started operating again. In the meantime the vacuum tubes were appearing in Canada and many amateurs were experimenting with them.

This resulted in vacuum tube transmitters and the spark transmitters were outlawed. Hastening this process was the advent of AM broadcasting. Spark transmitters created a great deal of interference which was difficult for the regulatory people to control. Spark transmitters are now museum pieces.

The radio amateurs pioneered in many major developments such as short wave, AC vacuum tubes, AC power systems, highly sensitive receivers and improved antennas. As word of the hobby spread, more persons studied for the examinations. In Kitchener - Waterloo and district there were about a dozen radio amateurs.

In Toronto the Wireless Association of Ontario was formed. These amateurs in Guelph, Kitchener - Waterloo, Galt, Preston and Hespeler thought they should propose a club which was called the Radio Club of Galt. This was in 1933 and subsequently in late 1935 or early 1936 the name was changed to The Progressive Radio Club. Its purpose was for mutual interest, training and keeping up with developments in the art.

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