TCN History Highlights


VA7TA20170402

History of the TransCanadaNet


The TransCanadaNet (TCN) has been in operation for almost three generations. This document has been created to try and piece together what is known about the history of TCN and to give credit to those that have contributed to it in the past. This brief summary is based on the limited information available at the time of this writing much of which was provided by Dave Snydal, VE4XN (RAC Hall of Fame inductee) who was involved with the TCN in the early years. There are gaps in the information for later periods and it is hoped that information to fill these voids will be provided by others as time passes. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the net manager. We apologize in advance to anyone that was involved with the net that hasn't received mention here. This is a work-in-progress!

George Sargenia (SK), VE6AO of Calgary is credited with the founding of the net around 1960. Around 1965 Dave Snydal, VE4XN of Brandon and Peter Hof (SK), VE6ADX of Bamff became co-founders.

Dave, VE4XN became the Net Manager in 1967 and during his tenure of 5 years the concept of having three
designated net controllers strategically located in Western, Central and Eastern Canada was introduced. The triple net controller approach significantly filled in the normal 20 metre band propagation coverage gaps (known as skip zones).  During normal radio signal propagation conditions this concept provides radio amateurs located anywhere in Canada the ability to check into the net via at least one of the controllers.

In 1972 John Polmark (SK), VE3FLG of Agincourt became Net Manager and looked after the Net until his retirement in the mid 80s
at which time he moved to Portage la Prairie and obtained the callsign VE4HL. It is thought that at that time the reins were then handed over to Pierre Guinness (SK), VE7LO of Vancouver. Pierre managed the Net for many years up until his passing in 2008.

With Pierre's passing a committee was formed to re-start the Net and in the Fall of 2008 Tom Alldread, VA7TA of Courtenay agreed to become the Net Manager. Also in 2008 Grant Delaney, V
A4GD, Central NCS created a database for keeping a record of the stations that have checked into the TCN. This database formed the foundation for the current TCN database which at the beginning of 2017 had grown to over 15,000 records. In 2015 Barry Lisoweski, VE3ISX became the Webmaster for TCN and created the supporting web site at:

www.transcanadanet.com


In the early years the TransCanadaNet was designated as an emergency and traffic net. Much of the traffic was informal in the form of phone patches provided by amateurs for military service personnel stationed in the far North. At the time there wasn’t any commercial telephone facilities available up north for service personnel to utilize for staying in touch with family back home. A Vancouver radio amateur by the name of Shorty Mac (SK), VE7AZ became well known for providing a telephony service for those isolated in the far northern regions. Many other operators across Canada also supported this cause. The TransCanadaNet was a key rendezvous forum for coordinating this much desired service.


Ever since inception the TCN has been run on Sundays and most national holidays at 18:00 UTC on 14.140 MHz. For several decades there was also a Saturday version. It is not known exactly when the Saturday version was first started up but it is thought in the 1970s. For roughly the last decade of operation the Saturday version was managed by Vic Forde(SK), VE3HPD. The Saturday version ceased operation in the mid to late 1990s due to lack of participation.


As mentioned above the TCN has always operated on the 20 metre band frequency of 14.140 MHz. With the founding of TCN the frequency of 14.140 MHz was declared the Canadian national calling frequency. This frequency was monitored by many and intended to be only used by operators for making initial contact. Once contact was established operators immediately changed to another frequency leaving the calling frequency quietly available for use by others for making initial contact. This provided operators across the country a quiet channel to monitor whilst on standby waiting for a possible call. The proper use of the calling frequency was policed by the amateur radio community. Anyone abusing 14.140 MHz by using it for carrying on communications would be politely reminded (or sometimes not so politely) to change to an operating frequency. To this day 14.140 MHz is considered the unofficial calling frequency for the Canadian amateur radio service.


Over the years the calling frequency has occasionally been used for emergency situations. In one case in the mid 90s during a Saturday TCN session a radio amateur operating mobile in the BC interior noticed a tree get hit by lightning and burst into flames. The information was relayed and passed to the forest fire reporting centre who dispatched fire fighters to the scene. In 2000 the calling frequency was used for a week long period for relaying air search and rescue messages from airplanes involved in a search for a downed aircraft in the Yukon. The search area was in high elevation rough terrain near Alaska. The proximity was beyond VHF air-to-ground communication range and at the time was blocked by HF propagation skip zones to the White Horse search and rescue command centre. Hourly status update messages from aircraft were relayed by Vancouver Island radio amateurs to the command centre in White Horse.


During the near 60 years of operation there have been many net control station (NCS) operators that supported the TransCanadaNet (TCN). Below is an alphabetical listing of all the past contributing TCN NCS operators that we have knowledge of. It should be understood that all of these operators contributed over 100 hours, most over 1000 hours and a few even over a man year of time supporting the Net operation! The past NCS list is sorted by callsign. Photos that we have managed to acquire for past NCS operators can be viewed in the history gallery. The gallery can be accessed by clicking the link below the list. The photos are also sorted in alphabetical order by callsign.



Currently Identified Past TCN NCS Operators


Cliff Fairbank, VA3CAF
Joe
Creces , VA3UJ(SK)
Chuck Palmer, VE3AZA(SK)
Frank Gue, VE3LWD
Johnnie , VE3FLG(SK)
Vic Forde, VE3HPD
(SK)
Les
Tobicoe , VE3EGT(SK)
Ted Romeyn, VE3ISK(SK)
Jack Winterbourne, VE3ITO
Wayne Staat, VE3LWD
Len Cutress, VE3TC(SK)
Jim Ross, VE4AJR
(SK)
Roy MacGuire, VE4EN
IAN (Mac) McSporren, VE4
IN(SK)
Joe Knowles, VE4JK(SK)
Bill Crooks, VE4JR
(SK)
Clarke Burnett, VE4MB
Dave Snydal, VE4XN
Bruce Donovan, VE5ND
George Sargenia, VE6AO(SK)
Peter Hof, VE6ADX(SK)
Bill Parent, VE7GWP
Bill Stewart, VE7JY
Pierre Guinness, VE7LO(SK)
Syd Lashley, VE7NI(SK)
Ron Philip, VE7NS



TCN History Photo Gallery