Ham radio and Television in Ocean Falls

There was only one radio station to listen to in Ocean Falls during the daytime. A small 50 watt repeater transmitter was beaming the Canadian Broadcast Corporation signal across town. This did have  it's advantage since it was never necessary to move the radio dial  to search for other stations. However, the town had regular telephone service so outside communication was not a problem. "B.C. Telephone" had a full time employee in town servicing it's customers. The telephone signal from Ocean Falls was beamed towards Calvert Island where the B.C Telephone had a strong repeater station. There were four very active radio amateurs in town, I was one of them. We were all close friends and spent a lot of time together. There was Bert Barley, a Sulfite mill foreman, Doug Carson, an instrument mechanic and Ken Smith, a papermaker. Radio reception and the transmission of signals in Ocean Falls was not very good due to the many mountains adjacent to the town. To offset this limitation we spent more time using telegraphy than using microphones since the telegraphy signal (cw signal) would get out much more readable. As a result, we were all fast and competent telegraphy operators. Ken had been a telegraphist in the Canadian Navy and his telegraphy was as precise as machine telegraphy. Being able to communicate with the outside world did help to offset some of the isolation of living in Ocean Falls.

When I arrived in Ocean Falls in 1963 there was no television signal and subsequently no television sets. It must have been around 1965 when it was decided to get a TV signal into Ocean Falls. For some reason I ended up assisting with the first trials to establish TV signal reception in town. The television signal was transmitted from the town of Terrace north of Ocean Falls and then transmitted by repeater stations to Ocean Falls. I can still remember sitting on the top of Goat Mountain with a parabolic receiving antenna and a signal strength meter. We got to the top of the mountain by using a Bell helicopter. Never before or later in life have I been exposed to so many mosquitoes as I was on Goat Mountain. I am sure that the TV signal strength must have suffered from the density of the mosquitoes between the transmitting  and receiving antennas. 

Now suddenly Ocean Falls had a TV signal and everybody proceeded  to buy television sets. A considerable amount of these television sets were purchased from the local Hudson's Bay store. However, there was one problem to overcome. To my knowledge at that time, here were not anybody in town who could repair televisions. I decided, it would be good for me to get some more electronic troubleshooting experience by repairing television. I approached the manager of the Hudson's Bay company and told him, that if he would purchase the necessary test equipment, I would repair the televisions his company had sold. However, I told him that I would not do any house calls and that all televisions would have to be brought to my home for repair. We agreed on this arrangement. I received the necessary test equipment and soon my basement was filling up with television sets. This partly because I could only work in the evenings and weekends.  It was a very steep learning curve since I had to cover the repairs of whatever make and type of TV people had purchased. Even worse, the TV signal strength was very poor even  in the best signal reception areas of town. Subsequently, the horizontal oscillator would not lock-in properly with the result that the television pictures would be rolling and folding. It was not easy to explain to people that it was nearly impossible to get their brand new television working properly. Many of these sets were of the older type where all other entertainment components were built into one unit. In other words, it was a total disaster for the people having such units. I must admit I often felt that the owners of these non functioning TV sets blamed the repair man for their dilemma. Not a good feeling  if you are the repair man.