Listed here are some of the frequencies from the 1920's to the mid 1940's that would have been covered by equipment depicted in the Canadian Marconi vacuum tube radio web page. The history of call sign evolution and broadcasting in Canada is a topic all on its own, however, the intent of this document is to provide a few snapshots of that evolution.

In the Beginning

The first Radio Conference was the London Conference of 1912 often called the London Radio Convention. The only decision relative to Experimenters and Amateur Radio made at that conference was to ban such activity to 200 meters and below. Therefore, anything above 1500 kilohertz in today's terminology was wide open. They felt those frequencies were of no value  but it was amateur radio that proved them wrong. Between 1912 and 1927 there were a few international conventions, like the Madrid Convention but nothing that affected experimental or amateur radio.

The 1927 International Radiotelegraph Conference was held in Washington DC . Both the ARRL and the IARU were present at this conference. At this conference, three key recommendations were agreed to in regard to Amateur Radio.

1. A formal definition and recognition of Amateur Radio. 2. Allocation of specific harmonically related bands below 200 meters – 160, 80, 40, 20, 10, etc. 3. Agreement on country call sign prefixes.

The First Amateur Radio Call Signs in Canada

The first amateur radio operators used whatever came to mind as a call sign. For over 50 years, telegraph operators had often used their initials as a call sign or "call code" of a station. They had also assigned a few two letter codes as special calls. One, "CQ", meant "Calling All Stations". This same system of call signs became popular with our first amateur operators.

According to the book “From Spark to Space” published in 1968 by the Saskatoon Amateur Radio Club, VE5AA, The Wireless Association of Ontario was formed in 1912 to provide some form of regulation to the amateur radio community. This association assigned call signs with the letter X as the prefix, and then the first letter of the holder's surname, and then a letter in alphabetical order. For example we will break down call sign XHC. X is the prefix, then the H is the first letter of the holder’s surname, D. Hall, then C indicates it is the third call sign assigned someone with the letter H as the prefix of their surname. A list of the 1912 rules of The Wireless Association of Ontario, the members, call sign, address and brief description of their transmitter
can be found on page 7 of “from Spark to Space”.

Soon after this, the government of Canada saw the need of having all amateur radio activity under its jurisdiction and drew up a set of regulations.  These came into force in 1913-1914. These regulations had over thirty items and item 25 is as follows:

25. A distinctive call signal will be allotted to each station commencing with the letter “X”, e.g., XAA, XAB, which signal must be sent not less than three times at  the termination of every transmission.” However, it is puzzling as to why Frank Vaughn, as the first amateur,  was assigned XAO per the 1911-1912 official government list: There were no  examinations for amateur radio licences until around 1922.


XAI Donald Lawson Yarmouth NS
XAJ Carl O. Elderkin Weymouth NS
XAK Charles J. O’Hanley Yarmouth NS
XAN Militia & Defense Charlottetown PEI
XAO  Frank P. Vaughn Saint John NB
XAR K. S. Rogers  Charlottetown PEI
XAB: Georges Désilets, Nicolet, PQ
XAC: A. St-Aubin , Quebec
XAM: W. D. Fowler, Quebec
XAP: J. G. Teel, Quebec

To see the amateur radio operators holding Xxx callsigns in Ontario during the peiod 1912 to 1913, please select this link. This list was was compiled by the Wireless Association of Ontario. ( Provided by Lewis Bodkin)

XAB Shack. (Photo courtesy Les Archives du Séminaire de Nicolet (QC)
Marconi himself held an "X" Canadian licence as XWA in 1919 (and probably back in 1918) which he used for his first broadcasting experiments and that later became CFCF in Montreal. In 1919 the various provinces and territories of Canada were divided up and the province of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were assigned the digit one as the prefix of their amateur radio call sign. This is the numerical prefix of the Canadian Amateur Radio Call Signs when they were first assigned a numerical prefix:

 1 Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
 2 Quebec
 3 Ontario
 4 Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
 5 British Columbia, North West Territories and Yukon Territory
 6 Training Schools
 7 and 8 were apparently reserved as spares for future use.
 9 Experimental
 10 Amateur Broadcasting

By the time the list of amateur radio stations for the fiscal year 1926-1927 was recorded, there were 42 stations in area '1'. The call signs were assigned from 1AB to 1EI in alphabetical order. There were many calls that had not been assigned of course. The fiscal year was from April 1st until March 31st.


In 1922, the regulations were amended to permit the amateur radio operator a choice of examination either on spark or CW transmitters or on both. The first CW examination was held at  Chatham, Ontario on May 15, 1922 and resulted in the issuance of certificate number 67. While a number of
exams continued to be given on spark equipment, more were selecting both the spark and CW option and, by late 1923, selection of CW-only became the most popular option.

The last pure spark examination was held at Brandon, Manitoba on March 21, 1924 resulting in the issuing of certificate number 402. The last combination a spark/CW exam was held in Calgary, Alberta on September 29, 1925, and resulted in issuing of certificate number  572. Thus, spark disappeared from both the Amateur and experimental operator examinations, but did
continue for a few more years on the commercial operator exam syllabus.

Commercial operators received a spark-only licence until 1928. In that year, all commercial operators with spark licences had to go back and be re-examined for a CW licence. CW-only was then phased in and the spark certification became history.

The C Prefix

These first stations started to reach across international borders shortly after the assignment of
the '1' prefix. When this took place Canadian stations added the prefix C and the American
stations the prefix U.

Everyone was in on broadcasting. As an example, Canadian National Railways were assigned calls from Morocco's block with the CN prefix; CNRA, CNRB, etc. When the Canadian Broadcast Corporation was created , it was assigned calls from Chile's block with the CB prefix. CBO, Ottawa, CBT, Toronto, etc. A little 40-watt transmitter at Teslin, Yukon, had call sign CBDK.

After the C prefix, Canada was assigned the NC prefix on January 1st, 1927 and this lasted until October 1928 when the Canadian amateur call sign changed to the VE prefix. The calls remained as VE1AA, etc., from the 1919 list until the new list created in 1946.

In the early days of radio, wavelength rather than frequency was associated with transmitters and receivers. Select this link to view a wavelength to frequency conversion chart, courtesy Radio Station Treasury. The following tables provide some sample frequency list for the three decades after the birth of radio.

In 1967, Canada celebrated its Centennial year.  As part of the  celebrations, amateur radio stations could use alternate call sign prefixes.
As of 1967, Canada still held the 3BA-3FZ block of call signs as assigned  by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at that time. The VO station could replace theirs with 3B and the VE stations  across Canada could replace theirs with 3C. Canada gave up this block of call signs in 1969 and the ITU reassigned the block to several nations immediately.

The Use Of The 'DE' Call Separator

Today when amateur stations use CW to communicate, the letters DE are used to separate the station call letters ( ie VA3ZZX DE KL7XXX) . This was not always the case.

Spud Roscoe elaborates. "The January, 1921, issue of QST stated that there was considerable confusion between Canadian and U.S. call signs now that they were starting to hear each other. The ARRL came out with the following scheme that was to be adopted immediately:

U.S. stations were to continue to use DE as the separation signal between calls.
A U.S. station calling a Canadian station was to use AA as the separation signal.
A Canadian station calling a Canadian station was to use V as the separation signal.
A Canadian station calling a U.S station was to use FM as the separation signal.

In other words if 1DD in Halifax called 1BQ in Halifax it would be: 1BQ V 1DD
If 2NJ in New York called 8BB in New York it would be: 8BB DE 2NJ
If 8BB in New York called 3AB in Toronto it would be: 3AB AA 8BB
If 3AB in Toronto called 8BB in New York it would be: 8BB FM 3AB

This was changed again in two years in 1923 when amateur stations started to reach across the Atlantic Ocean".

John Alcorn, VK2JWA, elaborates further. "None of my manuals or written references prior to 1905 mention any specific symbol used for the purpose of separating call signs. The normal practice seems to have been the called station three times if needed with a space followed by the caller with K and wait for a reply. It was repeated if necessary.

The Germans introduced the use of V in their 1905 regulations while the British first list DE in the 1908 Handbook for Wireless Telegraph Operators. DE is derived from the French word meaning 'of'. A 'V' separator  was used in commercial service. The DE was/is used in Government  and Armed Services practice, with of course some overlapping".


CQD was one of the first Morse code distress signals adopted for radio use. The Marconi Marine Communication Company began using it in 1904. Although used worldwide by Marconi operators, CQD was never adopted as an international standard since it could be mistaken for a general call "CQ" if the reception was poor. By 1908, CQD had largely been supplanted by SOS, a simpler code. In 1912, RMS Titanic radio operator Jack Phillips initially sent "CQD," which was still commonly used by British ships. Harold Bride, the junior radio operator, jokingly suggested using the new code, "SOS." Thinking it might be the only time he would get to use it, Phillips began to alternate between the two.

Contrary to popular belief, CQD does not stand for "Come Quick, Danger" or "Come Quickly: Distress." Rather, it combines the call "CQ"—a general call to all stations stemming from the French word sécurité-with "D" for "distress."


Listed below were the registered land and ship stations in Canada in 1920. Click to enlarge. Extracts from "The Year Book of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony 1920" provided by Chuck McGregor N7RHU. 
canada_abbreviations_as.jpg Abbreviations used in the listings of the Canadian Land Stations
canada_land1_s.jpg Canadian Land Stations. Listing 1 of 3
canada_land2_s.jpg Canadian Land Stations. Listing 2 of 3
canada_land3_s.jpg Canadian Land Stations. Listing 3 of 3
canada_ships_1s.jpg Canadian Ship Stations. Listing 1 of 2
canada_ships_2s.jpg Canadian Ship Stations. Listing 2 of 2
Beginning in 1922 and for several decades, Canadian radio (and later, TV stations) were assigned call signs beginning with "CF", "CH, "CJ", "CK" or "10", followed by two letters which would be exclusive to one station.
The Phantom Stations

A "Phantom Radio Station" was one which did not own or operate a radio transmitter and was licensed to broadcast only over an existing physical station. The phantom's licensee's assigned station call was used only during the period of time where the facilities of the physical station were leased.

The physical station ostensibly "signed off" and the call letters of the phantom station were announced and possibly used throughout the period. At the conclusion of the leased time, the phantom "signed off" and the physical station "signed on" again.

The one entity that used phantom stations extensively was the Canadian National Railway which provided live Canadian programs over its intercity telegraph lines, and also did some live local programming. The CNR owned only three stations - CNRA Moncton, CNRO Ottawa and CNRV Vancouver. The Phantom stations disappeared in the early 1930s.

Canadian broadcast band stations circa September 1923. (Courtesy Radio Station Treasury).


With the end of World War I the world awakened to many new technologies, including commercial radio broadcasts, a mysterious and exciting entertainment that quickly captured everyone's imagination and interest!  In the United States, an advertising gimmick became a national craze, and for a brief period collecting RADIO VERIFICATION STAMPS rivaled postage stamp collecting!

The EKKO Company of Chicago, IL developed the advertising concept of radio verification stamps as a means of exploiting this new technology that had captured the interest and passion of America.  Their idea was to sell to the emerging radio broadcasting industry a marketing tool to help promote public interest in specific radio stations.  The EKKO Company contracted with THE AMERICAN BANK NOTE COMPANY to design, and produce to order, stamps of the same high quality as current postage printings, to be used by commercial broadcasters in promoting their stations and radio shows to the listening public.  The genius of this concept, intentional or not, was the combining of a popular hobby, stamp collecting, with the new and exciting pastime of listening to radio broadcasts from far away!

Unsubstantiated rumor has it that the American Bank Note Company quickly redesigned a stamp that had been submitted to, and rejected by, the United Stated Postal Services and that the EKKO Company accepted the design but insisted on the use of numerous colors for their customers.  The stamps, framing the American Bald Eagle with two radio towers in the background and a station bar where the broadcast station call letters could be imprinted, measured in frame height 35 mm and in frame width 22 mm.  With perforation (12) and plate cuts, the finished stamps measured approximately 40 mm in height and 25 mm in width, familiar dimensions to American postage stamp collectors.

ekko_stamp_cfcf1.jpg ekko_stamp_cfcf2.jpg /ekko_cfrb.jpg
EKKO stamps for CFCF Montreal and CFRB Toronto.
These stamps, often referred to as "Cinderella's" by today's collectors, would be purchased by the radio stations from the EKKO Company and then, when their respective listeners provided written information identifying the details and proving that they had indeed tuned in and listened to a particular broadcast, the station would send the listener a VERIFIED RECEPTION STAMP (VRS) with the station's call letters.

The listener was suppose to provide the date and time they had listened to the broadcast as well as details as to what they had heard, and then send the information along with 10 cents to the radio station.  The radio station would check it's broadcast log and confirm, or verify that the information was correct, and if so, then in return send the listener a VRS stamp.

What came as a complete surprise to the EKKO Company was that collecting these stamps became almost as great of a sensation as listening to the radio broadcasts, and the demand for Verified Reception Stamps increased dramatically as this new hobby swept the nation!

While remaining more of a curiosity than anything else for over 50 years, beginning most noticeably in the 1980's, collector interest began to re-awaken concerning these beautiful and interesting stamps, and collecting radio verification stamps has seen a steady increase in popularity.  Stamp values have increased from literally nothing to prices for the rarer examples that now reach into the hundreds of dollars!  As EKKO stamps are still readily available for the most part, this niche collectible provides the specialized collector with the opportunity to complete the collection for a relatively modest investment, and while EKKO stamps dominate the specialty, non-EKKO verification stamps sell for significant premiums and will most likely enjoy the greatest appreciation in value in the coming years.  EKKO stamps for Canada and Cuba are especially sought after.

Canadian HF broadcast and amateur broadcast stations circa 1931. Note Canadian Marconi's involvement with HF broadcasting. Of special interest is VE9GW, the station belonging to Gooderham and Worts, the distilling company! In this era, 9 calls were assigned to anyone who wanted to experiment. There is one nagging discrepancy here. The 10 calls disappeared after 1928 so what are they doing in a 1931 listing?  (Courtesy Radio Station Treasury).

Of note are the Canadian call signs in the 10th district. The "10" stations (eg 10AB) were not licensed to broadcast commercials, but were reserved for what were termed "Amateur Radio Stations" transmitting on the regular broadcast band. These were mostly operated by community groups or experimenters.  The 10 licence started to disappear around 1928 when the VE prefix was assigned to Canada, one of the resolutions of the 1927 conference. Ultimately, nearly all 10-prefix stations had obtained commercial licenses and by 1935 all the "10" call signs had disappeared from the spectrum.

After that, the VE9 prefix was issued for any experimental activity. The VE9 call sign prefix remained for experimental use until the 1990's when it was reclassified and assigned to the province of New Brunswick.

Stan Ewert, VE5SC, expands on the 10 prefix  in this short piece he wrote  titled "the Roots of Broadcasting". It appeared in the March/April 2008 issue of The Canadian Amateur Magazine.

"We all know of hams who have worked in the broadcast industry. Having initially had a ham radio licence probably directed many of them toward a career in broadcasting, but historically there is a much closer tie between hams and broadcasters in Canada and it is one that few people may beware of.

In 1922, the Canadian regulatory authorities began issuing licences for a new and unique class of licence. It was called the Amateur Radio Experimental Broadcast Licence and allowed small stations to experimentally broadcast on the AM broadcast band. For a $10 licence fee, a ham club, community group or person could experimentally transmit programs to their community. The only restriction was that the programming had to be non-commercial. Many opted for this licence because a commercial licence cost $50. Stations were assigned a unique call sign beginning with the number 10 followed by two letters. I have been able to document 13 of these stations although there were probably more.

It is not clear what qualifications were required to operate a station such as this, but certainly most of them were run by licensed Amateurs. The first group to be given a licence was the Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Club which was issued the call sign 10AB in 1922 and transmitted with a signal of 10 watts; this was increased to 50 watts the next year. The club found that they couldn't afford to run the station and turned it over to the Kiwanis Club, which turned it back to the club a year later. MJARC operated the station on 1200 kHz with 50 watts of power from studios in various locations including the Fire Hall, the YMCA building and Bellamy's Furniture store until 1933 when financial considerations caused the club to shut down the station. It was purchased by commercial interests and returned to the air as CHAB. In any case, the station's life would have been limited because in 1934 the government forced all experimental stations to either obtain a commercial licence or go off the air.

A station licensed to the Kelowna Amateur Radio Club operated a station 10AY, which later became CJOV. 10AT was founded by the Trail Amateur Radio Club in British Columbia before finally becoming CJAT. On the East Coast, in 1924 Col. Keith Rogers set up station 10AS operating on 250 metres. It was set up in his living room and he operated it there until he applied for a commercial licence in 1925, when it became CFCY, the station where Don Messer and the Islanders got their start. This station is still on the air.

An Amateur group held a licence for station 10BI in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. It is listed as starting in 1925. It operated on a frequency 250 metres with 50 watts. In 1931, it became a commercial station and was assigned the call sign of CKBI. Other Saskatchewan stations known to be on the air included 10AA Saskatoon, which became CFQC, and the Saskatoon Amateur Radio Club retained the call VE4AA and later VE5AA which they still hold. Marvin Thorstad of Buchanan, Saskatchewan was issued 10AC, later becoming VE4AC and then VE5AC after the war.

Four Ontario broadcast stations started out with Amateur licences. In Stratford, Ontario Station 10AK later evolved into CJCS, and in Wingham, Ontario Doc Cruickshank built a tiny 5 watt transmitter from plans in Popular Mechanics and was granted the call sign 10BP. This later evolved into CKNX which is still on the air today. Queens University operated a broadcast facility with the call sign 10BT, which later became CFRC, and three hams got together in Brantford, Ontario to set up station 10BQ which went on to become CKPC.

Another interesting station was 10AT, which was located in the small town of Unity, Saskatchewan. Horace Stovin constructed a 10 watt station in the back room of his pharmacy in 1923, but felt it should pay for itself so, with the help of some volunteers, he built an 82-foot wooden tower, got a commercial licence and it became CHSC. Stovin operated the station until 1929 when he closed it down and moved to Regina to begin a long and distinguished career in broadcasting. The 10AT call sign was later reassigned to a group in Trail, British Columbia.

Not all earlier experimenters had "10" call signs. Ted Rogers, VE3BP, had a licence for VE9RB which later became CFRB. Many AM stations that also transmitted on shortwave had VE9 calls for their SW transmitters. CJCA in Edmonton broadcast to northern Alberta on their station VE9AI until the 1950s.  The majority of the documentation came from the Canadian Broadcast Histo

In Newfoundland, hams did not get the VO prefix until 1927 and the range was VO8AA - VO8ZZ. All their hams (the few they had) were in the range 8AA and 8Ax before the conversion.

Amateur radio frequency assignments in 1938. Source: 1938 ARRL Handbook. (Image courtesy ARRL)
When WWII broke out on 1, September 1939, a directive was issued by C.P. Edwards on behalf of the Minister or Transport., That directive, issued on September 5,  indicated that all activities in the Amateur Experimental Service were to cease immediately and all station equipment was to be rendered to an inoperative state. After the war, the ban on amateur radio operations was lifted in November, 1945

Listed below is the radio spectrum allocation for North America which was in force in the early 1940's. Note that the practical upper limit of the radio spectrum in 1942 was around 400 MHz. This limit changed to 22 GHz in 1959 and revised to 300 GHz in 1992.

10 - 103 Fixed, government
103 - 141 Coastal telegraph; government.
143 - 193 Maritime calling; ship telegraph; fixed and coastal telegraph (190 kHz 
exclusive for police).
194 - 391 Government; fixed; airport; aircraft (375 kHz for direction finding).
392 - 548 Coastal telegraph; government; ship telegraph; intership phone 
(500 kHz for marine calling and distress).
550 - 1600 Commercial broadcasting.
1600 - 1712 Geophysical; relay; police; government; marine; experimental; fire;
aviation; motion pictures. 
1750 - 2050 Amateur radio.
2004 - 2500 Experimental visual and relay broadcast; police; government; ship harbour; fixed; misc.
2504 - 3497 Coastal harbour; government; aviation; fixed.
3500 - 4000 Amateur radio. (Suspended during WWII) 
4005 - 6000 Government; aviation; fixed.
6020 - 6190 International broadcasting; government.
6200 - 6990 Coastal telegraph and phone; government; fixed and miscellaneous.
7000 - 7300 Amateur radio. (Suspended during WWII) 
7305 - 9490 Government; fixed; aviation; ship telegraph; coastal telegraph;
9510 - 9690 International broadcast.
9710 - 11000 Government; fixed aviation.
11010 - 11685 Ship telegraph; maritime calling; government; coastal telegraph
11710 - 11890 International broadcast; government.
11910 - 13990 Aviation; fixed; government; ship telegraph; coastal telegraph; misc.
14000 - 14400 Amateur radio. (Suspended during WWII) 
14410 - 15085 Fixed.
15110 - 15330 International broadcast; government.
15355 - 17740  Fixed; government; aviation; ship and coastal telegraph.
17660 - 17840 International broadcast.
17860 - 21440 Fixed, government; aviation.
21460 - 21650 International broadcast; government.
21650 - 23175 Coastal telegraph; government; ship telegraph.
23200 - 25000 Aviation; government; miscellaneous.
25025 - 26975 Broadcast; government.
27000 - 27975 Government; general communication.
28000 - 30000 Amateur radio.
30000 - 42000 Police; government; relay broadcast; coastal and ship harbour.
42000 - 50000 Broadcast and educational - FM.
50000 - 56000 Television.
56000 - 60000 Amateur radio. (Suspended during WWII) 
60000 - 112000 Television; government.
112000 - 116000 Amateur radio. (Suspended during WWII) 
116110 - 139960 Broadcast; government; aviation; police; misc.
140100 - 143880 Aviation.
144000 - 400000 Government; television ; amateur radio; fixed.
Above 400000 Experimental 
Source: 1942 Amateur Radio Handbook


cdn_bcb_stations_1946s.jpg This listing shows Canadian broadcast band stations from 1946. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy Radio Station Treasury)
Here is a  broadcasting anecdote from a book written by Alan McPhee.  Max Ferguson was a CBC radio personality who had his own show on station CBH whose studios were located, and still are, at Sackville St in Halifax.  Back in the early radio days, the transmitter was located right in the radio studio. Like clockwork the transmitter would shut off for 20 seconds at 6:58PM every day and come back on right before Max's show started. After the show, it would shut off again for 20 seconds and come back on. It took the technicians weeks to figure out what was going on. Max always got Fish and Chips before his show and didn't want them to get cold, so he would open the transmitter door and the set the food inside where it was warm. After the show he would go pick it up. Opening and closing the door dropped the transmitter power as it was interlocked, a safety feature of the transmitter. There are still interlocks in transmitters, but transmitters are no longer  located in the studio.
The Radio Amateur Call Book , Flying Horse series,  has been providing listings of amateur radio call signs since 1922, however modern technology has driven it out of business. Here is some background information from an ARRL article.

NEWINGTON, CT, Feb 4, 2003--The famous flying horse logo of the Radio Amateur Callbook will rise from the proverbial ashes to soar again. A German firm, ITfM--Informations-Technologie für Menschen or Information Technology for People--has purchased the rights to the Radio Amateur Callbook from its former owners, who grounded the flying horse last summer due to flagging sales. The sale includes rights to the flying horse logo and the Callbook archive. ITfM inked the deal January 15.

The 1932 edition of the Call Book. (Image courtesy ARRL) 
At ARRL Headquarters, Gudehus and Kamper hold a winter 1932 edition of the Callbook, which cost $1 at the time. Their new CD-ROM Callbook product for summer 2003 is expected to become available in April. "Our company is operated by radio amateurs for radio amateurs," say Heinz Kamper, DK4EI, and Thomas Gudehus, DB3ZX, who conceded that it took a while to clinch the sale in the face of some other competition. Kamper and Gudehus told ARRL they hope to have its spring 2003 edition of the Callbook CD-ROM out in time for Dayton Hamvention, which takes place May 16-18. The pair, longtime friends, also will have a booth at Dayton.

Radio Amateur Callbook dates back to 1920, and a desire to continue that venerable tradition was a factor in the decision by Kamper and Gudehus to take over the publication and keep it going. "It would be a pity if it ended," said Gudehus, who contracted with Watson-Guptill Publications in 1996 to produce the Callbook CD-ROM product and will continue to do so under the new ITfM regime.

In 1997, Watson-Guptill phased out its long-familiar telephone-book-size paper North American and international Callbook with its 75th edition, citing "rising costs and increasing demand for electronic publishing." Kamper and Gudehus left some 280 hard-copy editions of the Radio Amateur Callbook--11 boxes in all--at ARRL Headquarters to replace worn and damaged copies in the ARRL's Callbook archive and to fill some gaps.

Kamper and Gudehus say their Radio Amateur Callbook CD-ROM for summer 2003 will be a new and improved product, although they will stick with twice-yearly revisions. They're promising "the most complete and most accurate" Amateur Radio call sign database that will include not only North American and overseas listings--more than 1.6 million in all--but information about DXCC entities, DX station QSL managers and even details on recent DXpeditions. The new product will work just as the previous one did, they said.

A closer look at the original flying horse design, which depicted the mythical beast leaping a multi-wire "cage" antenna suspended above the globe.

"Our main focus is to improve the CD-ROM database and bring amateurs the best source of information," Gudehus said. Their company already has produced CD-ROM products for the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and for the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) in Germany, so they're familiar with the process. They've also put out a German logging program called ARMap that includes detailed map information.

Kamper, a ham since 1969, was general manager for 22 years of DARC Verlag, the DARC's publishing arm. Gudehus is an electrical engineer and programmer. He was licensed in 1986 at age 16. ITfM has contracted with InfoTech Internet Services (WC4H) in Miami, Florida, to be their distributor in the Americas. Under an arrangement with the former owner, they're also planning to make available by month's end a limited number of the winter 2003 Callbook CD-ROM.

As for the flying horse logo, it doesn't look quite the same on the new products as it did in the 1920s and 1930s but it remains readily recognizable. "It's not quite a retro design," Gudehus said, "but it may contain some elements of a retro design." Both men are optimistic that their new flying horse Callbook product will take off, so to speak. "We certainly see a bright future for it," said Gudehus.

John Gilbert , a historical radio researcher, donated a number of call books to the Canada Science and Technology Museum Technology  in Ottawa.

“Amateur Radio Call Book”, published by Radio Directory and Publishing Company of New York, Vol 1, Number 3, December 1922, is perhaps, a predecessor of the Flying Horse series. It contains a Canadian listing, and some Canadian advertising along with a list of telephone Broadcast stations of Canada.

Publications in the The “Flying Horse” series comprising the following:

Spring, 1932        US and Foreign Listings ;
Fall, 1946             US and Foreign Listings ;
Summer, 1948      US and Foreign Listings;
Spring, 1949         US and Foreign Listings;
Winter, 1949-50    US and Foreign Listings;
Winter 1950-51    US and Foreign Listings;
Fall, 1951             US and Foreign Listings;
Spring, 1954        US and Foreign Listings;
1977                    Foreign Listings (including Canada). 55th Anniversary Edition.

To search on these titles, go to this search engine
To look up names and addresses, you will have to contact the Science and Tecjnology Museum.
A version of the Flying Horse Call Book history which appeared in The Canadian Amateur Magazine, can be found here.

Many young people would find it strange to have to pay a licence fee to listen  to their radios, Yet, from 1922 to 1952, this was the norm for the residents of Canada and here is why. By 1923 Canadian broadcasting stations were frequently closing down because they could not collect payment for the services they were providing. In May 1923 a recommendation was made that broadcasting licences be amended to permit the Minister to give written authorization for broadcasting stations to collect fees for their services. A regulation was made whereby a portion of the fees collected for receiving station licences could be paid to broadcasting stations.

In January 1922, a new category of licence for "receiving only: was created in Canada. Henceforth, those interested only in broadcast reception could simply purchase a licence for $1. It was no longer necessary to prove one's competence in Morse Code or to be a British subject or to swear an oath of secrecy in order to receive commercial radio programs. By the end of June 1922, there were 2,588 Canadians with radios licenced for reception only. By the March 31, 1923, this number grew to 9,954.

In 1932, the cost of a licence was $2 per annum, rising to $2.50 in 1938, and finally $3 in 1952 when radio receiver licensing was terminated in Canada. At some point in time, car radios also required the owner to procure a receiving licence if that was the only radio in their possession. The face of the 1947 licence sample (provided below the article) contains the following wording:

" ______________ is hereby licenced, subject to the conditions set forth on the back hereof , to establish a private receiving station and/or operate one or more radio receiving sets installed in the said station and intended solely for and capable of receiving broadcasting.
Verbal evidence indicates that a licence was required for each receiver but this is unconfirmed at this time. It certainly was not the case in 1946-47.

At some point, perhaps in the 1930’s, crystal sets became exempt as well as receivers used by the blind and morale receivers used by the Armed Forces.  Television came to Canada in September 1952 but the regulations said nothing about licensing of television sets - they were exempt. In 1953, a television license fee, much higher than that for radio, was proposed but not implemented since this was also an election year.

In 1952 the Radio Act was amended to exempt broadcast-only receivers from licensing effective April 1, 1953.  In addition, the Department of Transport  (DOT) [1] at the time was given authority to exempt other receiver types from licensing as it saw fit. DOT decided to exempt all "home-type" receivers capable of receiving any radio communications other than "public correspondence" - a term defined as "radio transmissions not intended to be received by just anyone but rather by a member of the public who has paid for the message" - in other words, ship-to-shore radiotelephones calls or car-phone transmissions. Thus, after 1952, licenses were required in Canada only for general coverage shortwave receivers with single-sideband capability, and VHF/UHF scanners which could tune to the maritime or land mobile radiotelephone bands. These license requirements were ignored as burdensome and useless by the public and government alike.

In 1982, responding to a Canadian court's finding that all unscrambled radio signals are public as a matter of physical fact even if the communicator did not intend to make their content readily accessible to anyone within range, the Department decided to require receiver licensing only in cases where it was necessary to ensure technical compatibility with the transmitter.

Subsequently, regulation SOR-89-253 (published in the 4 February 1989 issue of the Canada Gazette, pages 498-502) eliminated license requirements for all radio and TV receivers, eliminating the possibility that licensing could be reinstated at the regulators' whim.

receiving_license_s.jpg This is a printable (PDF) of a blank, Private Receiving Station Licence from 1946-47. On the left side, the original is rubber stamped "Port Moody B.C.  Aug 13, 1946".  Click on image to enlarge. (Provided by  Bruce MacMillan) 
ni/receiving_licence_1951_1952s.jpg This receiving licence was from the 1951-1952 period , the last year such a licence was required. Click on thumbnail to enlarge. By 1952, the annual cost of a licence had risen to $3 which would be equivalent to nearly $29 in 2019. 
/receiving_license_special_s.jpg The first of the post-war licences, dated 1947-48,  is a “Special Private Receiving Station Licence”. Still under the provisions of 1938, it cost $2.00 and was “…to establish a private receiving station and/or to operate one or more battery operated radio receiving sets installed in the said station”. This licence was subject to the condition that it was “….not valid for radio receiving sets located in areas served by an electric distribution system or installed in automobiles”

radio _licence_overdue.jpg
This ad which appeared in "The Shawinigan" on October 22,1952 says it all. (Courtesy
This is an actual warning message printed on the back of a Philips BC/SW receiver manufactured around 1950. "WARNING - Any person installing or operating this receiving  set without first having obtained a license from the Minister of Transport of Canada is liable on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars, and said receiving set may be forfeited to His Majesty by order of the Minister, for such disposition as the Minister may direct".

So how did the Department of Transport make sure that listeners complied in obtaining a receiving licence? It was simple. Patrolling for receivers that were in use was done by listening to the local oscillator leakage. The monitoring receiver would be tuned to the local station frequency plus 455 khz or whatever  IF was being used by the specific receiver. Looking outside for some kind of wire antennae was also an indication of the presence of a receiver..

More details on broadcast reception licemces can be found in this article titled "Notes on the Bill Beaton Collection of Radio Licences" and written by John Gilbert.

While having to pay for a receiving licence  might  have been a nuisance for some Canadians,, that was nothing compared to the punishment that a German citizen could face for illegal reception during the Nazi regime,

In Nazi Germany,  the authorities prevented  its citizens from listening to foreign broadcasts by transmitting the sound of bells on the same wavelength as the foreign station.  This was one such technique. Then, if the German listener attempted to tune in the banned program,   the sound of the bells could be heard  by  neighbors who would report to the infarction to the authorities. Violators could face prison terms from 2 to 6 years. Foreign broadcast were mainly those originating in Russia, USA, Canada  or the UK. They were either jammed outright or interfered with.

In the Nazi era, Russia, Germany and Italy were  making incredible use of radio to control public opinion and gradually bring the public around to believe what the leaders wanted them to believe.  The local interchange of radio programs with the United States, Great Britain and Canada offered the finest fare in the world and also the truth. The  Nazi's didn't want their citizens to hear the truth. In every case, truth is the first victim when war breaks out.

This was the tag that accompanied new radios during the Nazi era. The provided translation is:

" Think About it. If you listen to the foreign stations, it is a crime against our national security and our people. Under command of the Fuhrer, you will receive the highest punishment of imprisonment." 
(Enemy stations were stations of the Allies  which broadcast news and  propaganda in German).


[1] The branch of the Government which regulates radio spectrum affairs has been known by many names over the years: Department of Marine (up to 1935), Department of Transport - Radio Division (1935 to 1969) , Department of Communications (1969 to 1996) and finally, Industry Canada (1995 to present).

Although DOT regulated frequency management and allocation of radio call signs, it was still using British regulations in the early 1950s.  Those operators in the Supplemental Radio System who trained at Gloucester  Ontario in 1951 will recall using the British Postmaster General's Handbook during their radio course.

Contributors and Credits:

1) Radio Station Treasury 1900-1946 by Tom Kneitel. 1986. CRB Research, Commack NY.
2) 1942 Amateur Radio Handbook.
3) Spud Roscoe <spudroscoe(at)>
4) Extracts from The Year Book of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony. The Wireless Press, London 1920
5) Chuck McGregor N7RHU  <cbmcg(at)>
6) 1938 ARRL Handbook. ARRL, Newington Conn.
7) Extracts from E-bay Treasures
8) Le Musée Québecois de la Radio - Jacques Hamel, VE2DJQ
9) Canadian Broadcasting History
10) Stan Ewert, VE5SC, White City Saskatchewan
11) ARRL article on the call book.
12) Rob Ewert <ewertr(at)>
13) Listening In - The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting 1922- 1932 by Mary Vipond
14) Deane McIntyre VE6BPO <dmcintyr(at)>
16) Bruce MacMillan <bruce_macmillan(at)>
18) John Alcorn <vk2jwa(at)>
20) Development of Radio Regulations for the Radio Amateur Services of Canada by Larry L Reid, VE7LR (SK)
21) Cecil Foster (SK)
22) John Gilbert <jgilbert(at)>
24) Article from Radio Trade Builder: Queer Broadcasting is War Propaganda Outgrowth
25)  German translation on tag  James Sampson [samwes44(at)]

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Jan 27/20