BACK IN TIME: Our GRAND OPENING at the Nurses' Residence site.

The HISTORY of our Club

The Preamble to our History for New Members:

Whether you previously were licensed, or have become licensed after taking the course here, it is time to get further involved in Ham Radio ... and what better way than to partake of everything that the Seniors' Club has to offer - and what better place than the clubrooms of VE4WSC.

Each weekday, Monday to Friday, a duty officer is on hand from 9 a.m. until approximately 3:00 p.m. Also, many of the club members are also in attendance, some working on club affairs, but many just 'chewing the fat', drinking coffee, reading the great amount of literature available, looking over the equipment and getting instruction on its use, or actually 'getting on the air' with another ham somewhere in this great ham-populated world!

This is YOUR club now - you are most welcome to make use of all its facilities, and we would love to see you here. Come and join us in many daily activities.

Most especially, we urge you to attend all the regular forum meetings. You are also welcome at Board meetings, to sit in and listen.

If you have any suggestions for making the club a more exciting and useful place, your input is encouraged.

The club has evolved into what it is now by hard work and thoughtful consideration of many members, both past and present; YOU, as a member, now have the opportunity of making it even better. Don't be bashful - get involved - we're all friends in this radio hobby.

Again, thanks for being a part of our club -- may you enjoy many, many years of pleasure being a member.

You may be wondering just how the club got to be. For this reason, we are preparing this short story of its history for you to read.


            Read also: The very earliest thought-process and first moves towards forming 'VE4WSC'.

                                Archival info

In 1982, a group of radio amateurs met for a discussion meeting in Grant Park School, with the view to forming a senior citizens' amateur radio group, to be located at a site which would include a complete 'ham' operating station. The idea behind this was that many hams now operating out of their homes would eventually move to an apartment or other senior citizens' housing, and not be able to set up their stations at their new place of residence; but they could keep active in amateur radio by using the club's fully up-to-date equipment whenever they chose. Also, in later years, many could not afford to maintain a station, and again, would have the availability of the club station for their use. Also, this would make for close contact with each other to continue friendships made over the years.

The 16 amateurs who became the founding members decided to go ahead with this project, and ratified a Constitution for the club. The Board then applied to the administrators of the New Horizons program of the Federal Department of Health and Welfare for a grant.

[New Horizons is an unique program developed in 1972 for the benefit of older and retired Canadians. Designed to give retired people an opportunity to share their interests, skills and talents in developing and carrying out projects of their own choosing, the program encourages the development of creative leisure-time activities, self-determination and democratic decision making.]

In order to meet the criteria required by the New Horizons program, the purpose of the VE4WSC Club was decided to be:

To establish, operate and maintain an Amateur Radio Station, in accordance with the regulations of the federal licensing body (then Department of Communications, now Industry Canada), in order to:

(a) Provide an opportunity for older and retired persons to become involved in some, or all, of the aspects of amateur radio, including instruction in Morse code sending and receiving, radio theory and federal regulations; for qualification as Amateurs under these regulations to operate amateur radio equipment and to encourage the development of leisure-time activities;

(b) Provide a service to handicapped persons by providing instruction, equipment and assistance in qualifying for this rewarding activity which is so well suited to handicapped persons;

(c) Provide communication services to the community in emergencies through organizations such as the Red Cross, the Emergency Management Organization, or to recognized non-profit organizations whose activities benefit the community, such as the Girl Guides, Scouts Canada, Manitoba Marathon, etc.

(d) Loan equipment temporarily to senior shut-ins who are licensed amateur radio operators;

(e) Provide a 'phone patch' service for senior shut-ins.

A start-up grant of $26,000, to be used to obtain equipment and supplies for a club station, was received in June, 1983.

After negotiations with the City of Winnipeg, accommodations were found in the vacated Nurses' Home of the Municipal Hospital complex on Morley Ave. Although 'vacant', there were some rooms still in use for storage and maintenance, and fortunately, heat, water and electricity were available. The City agreed on a "dollar per year lease", provided the club obtained adequate insurance for liability, etc. After some years, the club was notified that the Nurses' Residence was to be demolished and we would have to move. After considerable searching for new quarters, Sam Schneider, VE4KS, through Councilor Bob Rose, recommended the location where the club is now located - the second floor of the fire hall at 598 St. Mary's Rd. Negotiations with the City of Winnipeg resulted in a 5-year lease.

[The City of Winnipeg Ambulance Services are still located on the ground floor.]

An appeal to the Province of Manitoba for surplus furniture resulted in a donation of chairs, tables, desks, etc. After a considerable amount of cleaning and painting, installation of window shades and air conditioners, we had a comfortable clubroom facility.

Although most of the original 'founders' were licensed amateurs with their own equipment, it now became possible for new members to join a club where mutual interests could be shared, and, in terms of the New Horizons mandate and the Constitution, it would be possible to meet with others with similar skills and interests. With amateur radio equipment installed in the Club rooms, and with the antenna systems installed on the on the tower and roof of the five-storey building, this gives the Club the capability of short and long range transmissions.

Members can also use specialized equipment for such modes as 'packet radio', 'amateur television', 'satellite', etc.

The club is unique in that it is the only amateur radio club in Canada that is manned and in operation each weekday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Members are encouraged to drop in for a social visit (and a good cup of coffee for two-bits), or to operate the available equipment.

Club members and their spouses also enjoy annual events such as the picnic and the Christmas party.

Community Involvement

A close relationship exists between the club and various agencies involved with emergencies. These agencies (The Red Cross is one) are aware that the club is on a standby basis with resources capable of responding to communication needs, with emergency power supplies on standby, and frequencies being monitored at times of national and international disasters. Several disasters where the club has been able to react with assistance include the Edmonton Tornado, where the club was able to pass approximately 300 Health & Welfare messages for the Red Cross, the Mexico City and Los Angeles earthquakes; and most recently, the 'Flood of the Century' here in Manitoba.

Special Emergency Agreement with the Canadian Red Cross

An historic signing took place on February 22, 1995 ... that of the first agreement in Canada between a provincial arm of the Canadian Red Cross Society and an Amateur Radio Club (click to read).

Channel 12 TV was on hand to tape a portion of the proceedings, which was aired on the evening newscasts. An audio interview was conducted by Radio Station CKSB-AM with Ms. Janzen, Commissioner, Manitoba Division of the Red Cross. Also, a clip was made of an operator at the operating desk who said a few words about the emergency preparedness of VE4WSC and its members.

Further to the above, in 2002 a new agreement was prepared. this being a PARTNERSHIP. This 2-page Partnership agreement (click here to read full document) details that, as in the first agreement, should there be an emergency or disaster where the Red Cross would be involved, they would have VE4WSC activated by the club to ensure continuous and coordinated communications to anywhere in the world, and the Seniors' Club agrees to the establishment of, and maintenance of, fixed, mobile and portable stations where required, if feasible. VE4WSC has also agreed to give 24-hour communications service if necessary. 

The club is also licensed to monitor the Canadian Armed Forces Affiliate Radio System (CFARS), and to operate on their assigned frequencies to provide telephone phone patch service for overseas units, as well as military ships at sea, connecting them to their families in the Winnipeg area; or to aid the military in times of civil or military emergencies.

Many of our members also take an active part in the operations of the Winnipeg and Manitoba A.R.E.S. groups.

In addition to providing amateur radio assistance in emergency situations, the Club provides instruction and assistance to handicapped persons. Members also supply communications for the Manitoba Marathon, the Bike Marathon; as well as putting on in-house demonstrations of Ham Radio to special interest groups.

Classes for new members and handicapped persons were started at an early date in the life of the club, and have continued to the present time. Over the past 17 years, over 150 seniors and handicapped have received operating licences through club instruction.

The membership (as of July, 2004) stands at 189 - with about 40% being active in the club. Activities centre around the modern radio and computer equipment installed in the operating rooms, and the classroom areas where instructional classes are run throughout the year. Membership is open to senior ladies and gentlemen who have reached the age of 55, are retired, are licensed Radio Amateurs or who are interested in communications and willing to qualify for a Basic operating licence issued by Industry Canada.

The clubrooms are open each weekday from 0900 to 1500 hrs.

VISITORS ARE WELCOME so bring a friend or relative 

The Club is a registered charity organization, and is able to receive donations and issue tax receipts.

Monthly Breakfasts

All members and their friends are invited to attend the monthly breakfasts held every 2nd Thursday, except in September (Fall Picnic) and December (Christmas Party).

These breakfasts are now held at the GARDEN CITY INN on McPhillips Street at Jefferson Ave.
Breakfasts start at 9 a.m. For further info, phone the Club at 233-3122 during club operation hours. After hours, the telephone is answered by a TAS machine, and your call will be returned a.s.a.p.

Having read the foregoing, you now know just what your club is all about, and we hope you have found some part of it that you would like to be involved in.

If you would like to join one of the committees, just speak to the chairperson, or the President.

If you would like to be one of the duty officers, there is a sign-up sheet for application.

If you think you can help in any area, let a member of the Executive know (just leave a note in the pigeon-hole for that specific member).

Whatever, your membership will be enhanced by your active participation in activities of the club.

Try it - if you find it a little hard, ask for help. If you feel it is beyond you, then just say 'no' to the responsibility; but you won't know unless you try!

And finally, CLUB NAME BADGES are available. An application form can be found on the desk in Room 2. 2 styles (horizontal or vertical) and 2 types (clip or magnetic) are available - cost is $6.50 each for the clip type and $9.50 each for the magnetic type. (taxes and shipping from Calgary are included).

Every club member is urged to purchase a badge, and WEAR IT to every club function and also on visits to the club - so others may quickly get to know who you are.

This document has been prepared by Gil Frederick, VE4AG, Past President 2003