Thursday, 9 December 2010

Newmarket "Wireless" Talks to Scotland

This was one of the headlines on page 1 of the Toronto Star on December 12th, 1921, in an Associated Press Despatch about Edward Rogers Senior (father of the late Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications) who was the first Canadian to successfully communicate across the Atlantic as amateur radio station 3BP from Newmarket, Ontario on December 9th, 1921, exactly 99 years ago. While several US stations also succeeded in the ARRL event to communicate to Europe, Rogers' accomplishment was notable because his station was much farther inland than the others. Rogers was using a spark-gap transmitter, 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.

While Rogers' family were living in Rosedale at the time (near Bayview and Rosedale Road), Edward Sr. had moved into Pickering College on Bayview Avenue in Newmarket. The Rogers family is credited with founding Newmarket in the early 19th century, and building the main building, "Rogers House", at the college's Bayview St. location.

Pickering College in the 1920s
"Pcold". Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia
At the time the Pickering College was not operating as it was still shut down after World War I when it was used as a hospital. By 1927 is was operating as a boys-only school.

January 1922 QST (page 7) reports Rogers' achievement under the headline "Transatlantic Tests Successful". 26 Amateurs had were heard by Europe, Rogers being the only Canadian. Out of the 26, Rogers used one of the 6 spark transmitters to make the connection. According to the article, these were not 2-way communications, but scheduled transmissions from this side of the Atlantic that were heard by a specially set up station in Scotland.

Edward Rogers Senior went on to invent and commercialize many new radio technologies and founded radio station CFRB (among others), which had its transmitter site in Aurora, very close to In December 2021, the York Region Amateur Radio Club will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this important milestone in Amateur Radio that occurred right in our back yards.