“This is the first photo of the club, 1929, 1930…this is on the steps of the legislative buildings…”
Royal BC Museum Archivist Katy Hughes points to a historic photo, preserved in the Royal BC Museum archives, that represents Victoria’s first short-wave radio club.
“In the 1920`s” explains Hughes, “after all the Marconi experiments, people around the world got very interested in short-wave radio, and so in 1929 when he started the club in Victoria, there was a great deal of interest.”
The “he” that Hughes refers to is the club founder, John Lawrence.
“He had been invalided out of the war, he had terrible arthritis, and he was crippled, and he took up short-wave radio.”
So what was required to become a member?
“The short wave radio hams, as they were called, built and operated their own equipment, and they were licensed…
“They had to know morse code, they had to know something about electronics, and they actually took an exam, so they`re completely different from the amateur non-licensed people like CB radio people.”
Early records include the minutes mentioning a special vote held to allow women in the club.
“So that John Lawrence`s wife Paddy could join” admits Hughes with a smile.
And club members had a lot of fun, because this was “primarily a social club as well” says Hughes.
“They got together and had picnics, and excursions, they set up transmitters at Mount Doug…they built themselves a clubhouse…”
And there was romance over the airwaves too!
“A young lady from Victoria met up with a man from Yakima [Washington] over the radio, and they eventually got married.”
The memorabilia stretches across the decades. There are stickers and postcards from the early 1950’s.
Hughes points to a photograph proving that “in 1963 they got permission to have their call letters on their license plates.”
Remarkably, all of these records could have been lost in a devastating house fire in 1986.
“The Secretary-Treasurer, a man called David Scholes, saved all this material, and he also loaned it, or gave it, to a man named Robert Jewsbury, who was writing a history of the club.
“Shortly after, David Scholes’ house burned down, so if the records had not been loaned to Jewsbury for his book, the records wouldn`t exist anymore.”
Records that are now preserved at the Royal BC Museum and Archives, as part of BC’s history.