Estevan Point Wireless about 1912. Spark transmitter controls on left and receiver apparatus sitting on desk.


This Site

   This site is dedicated to the early wireless pioneers scattered along the west coast of Canada from 1908 onwards. These primitive stations, some were very isolated, provided safety communications for vessels at the dawn of the radio/wireless age. By 1909 the Point Grey, Victoria, Pachena, Estevan and Cape Lazo stations were commissioned. Triangle, Ikeda, Prince Rupert, Dead Tree and Alert Bay began operations within a few years afterwards. If you have Google Earth click here to see the locations.

   Select an area from the menu above the banner photo.

   The history is given in the photos and narratives of the people who were there. Newspaper clippings help fill in some of the blanks. Resources used are:
   Victoria Colonist Newspaper archive,
   Victoria Library newspaper microfilms,
   British Columbia Government Online Archives,
   Larry Reid's book "An Early History of the West Coast Radio Service",
   Leona Taylor and Dorothy Mindenhall, “Index of Historical Victoria Newspapers, "Victoria's Victoria". It appears these two ladies have leafed through old newspapers and copied marine news relating to Vancouver Island's west coast.

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The Beginning

   At the end of the 19th Century the west coast of Canada was dangerous place for the movement of vessels.  There was little European settlement north of Victoria. Settlement consisted of isolated native villages and trading posts. The Royal Navy had charted some of the coast, but many dangerous rocks had yet to be discovered.  The main shipping route to the rest of the world was through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a bit tricky to find from seaward and often filled with contrary winds.  There were a couple of lighthouses in the Strait, nothing major north wards. Vessels would sail, only to vanish, and expected vessels failed to arrive in port. Often debris found on a coastal beach would be the only hint of another tragedy.  The shipping authorities and their passengers were becoming very concerned.

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