Club History

History of the Almonte Amateur Radio Club (Continued)

last updated May 22, 2010

Bill Barrie VE3AAS

Neil Carleton VE3NCE

Year – By – Year

from the archives of the Almonte Radio Repeater League (1984-2004)

and the Almonte Amateur Radio Club (2005-2009)

- Neil Carleton VE3NCE -

Continued From Club History 1958-2001



November – Alpha – 1 – Sierra – Sierra, this is R. Tait

Mckenzie Public School calling

History was made on Friday, November 23rd, when students at R. Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte made radio contact with the Commander of the International Space Station as the crew passed high overhead in orbit.  R. Tait McKenzie was the second school in Canada to have students speak directly with an astronaut on the ISS.  This unique activity was part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contact program.

This exciting educational project, using amateur radio at school to connect students with an astronaut in space, took place at 5:46 a.m., before most students and parents were usually out of bed.  By 5:30 a.m. every chair in the gym was filled, and there was standing room only along the sides and at the back.  As an audience of over 400 students, families, invited guests, and community visitors watched and listened, one student from each grade level (kindergarten to grade 8) took a turn stepping up to the microphone and speaking directly by amateur radio with Frank L. Culbertson, Commander of Expedition 3 in orbit on the space station.  The answers, transmitted directly from the ISS, were heard throughout the gym as we all followed the position of the station on a world map that was projected on the wall of the gym.

When the last answer to the student questions was received from orbit, we still had almost 3 minutes of contact time before the space station disappeared over the eastern horizon.  This was unexpected, and I had to think quickly, so that’s how I got to ask Commander Culbertson a question too.  Before the ISS was out of radio range, the cheering, clapping, and whistling let him know this was a community event that would be remembered for many years to come.

An 8 page souvenir newsletter, which included the names of the many community volunteers who supported the project, was sent home in December with every child at R. Tait McKenzie.  A transcript of the contact was posted by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on its web site.  Each student also submitted an essay at the invitation of Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau that was posted at the CSA web site.

Our successful event was possible because of the dedicated volunteers of the Almonte Radio Repeater League.  With their help and expertise, our school prepared and submitted an outstanding ARISS application.  With their

encouragement, I studied for, wrote and passed my amateur radio exam to support my school’s application.  Following the November 1st telephone call from NASA, announcing that our contact had been scheduled, this enthusiastic team

of community volunteers worked very hard in so many ways for the students of R. Tait McKenzie Public School.

They made it happen, and they did it with such class.  It looked, sounded, and performed like a polished studio presentation. Our community is still in awe of their power to communicate with the heavens.

To watch a video of our remarkable contact, go to the web site of the Almonte Amateur Radio Club, at <>, and click on the link for ARISS/EVEREST.

ARISS Planning Team of the ARRL

This team prepared our successful ARISS application and created a plan so students at R. Tait McKenzie would be able to speak directly, by amateur radio, with an astronaut on the ISS.

Neil Carleton VE3NCE, ARISS Coordinating Teacher;  Bob Clermont VE3AKV, Radio Contact Coordinator;  Fred Chamberlain VE3CFZ;  Dale Hennigar VE3XZT;  Sandy Last VA3AFW;  Mark Ritchie VE3DIX;  Phil St. Germain VE3CIQ;  Andrew Webb VE3UIY

ARISS Radio Team of the ARRL

With materials and equipment they loaned, borrowed, or constructed, this team made it possible to make our amateur radio contact with the ISS, and to be heard around the world on the internet, and through amateur radio repeaters in many countries.

Bob Clermont VE3AKV, Radio Contact Coordinator;  Travis Clermont (VE3AKV junior);  Fred Chamberlain VE3CFZ;  Dale Hennigar VE3XZT;  Phil St. Germain VE3CIQ;  Andrew Webb VE3UIY

Other ARISS Volunteers of the ARRL

Art Scott VA3LEY and Don Scott VE3QLQ welded the main antenna base.  Chuck Lawrence VE3FEJ was our acting astronaut across town at his apartment, helping the students practice their questions on air from room 22 at R. Tait McKenzie Public School.



At the League’s meeting of December 14, 2002, in Almonte’s Old Town Hall, the following positions were voted on and approved.

President    Tim Ray VE3XV

Vice President    Bob Clermont VE3AKV

Secretary    Andrew Webb VE3UIY temporary until his job situation is resolved

Treasurer    Neil Carleton VE3NCE

Repeater Committee    Fred Chamberlain VE3CFZ Committee Head, Al Ross VE3DMR

ARES Committee    Art Scott VE3LEY Committee Head and Assistant ARES Coordinator, Don Scott VE3QLQ

Net Manager    Les McCready VA3BZQ, Andy Webb VE3UIY backup controller

IRLP Committee    Dale Hennigar VE3XZT Committee Head, Andrew Webb VE3UIY, Bob Clermont VE3AKV


A draft constitution for the League was proposed for member comments.


Art Brown, Fire Chief, invited League members to hold future meetings at the new fire hall, to be completed in January.


ARRL Vice President Bob Clermont VE3AKV obtained the use of a UHF repeater to be installed at a commercial site once crystals and filters had been acquired.



A donation of $25 was made on May 25th by the ARRL for the RAC Defense of Amateur Radio Fund with the money Doug Leach VE3XK won in the League’s May 14th 50/50 draw.  Doug generously donated his win for the DARF.

On August 14th the ARRL donated $100 to the RAC Youth Education Program challenging each amateur radio club across Canada to match the donation.  Our contribution resulted in the donation of thousands of dollars for the YEP from radio amateurs and clubs across Canada.



At breakfast gatherings, and during the weekly Wednesday night nets on VA3AAR, ARRL members discussed the possibility of linking the League’s repeater in 2004 with VE3KJG at Lavant.  Operated by the Lanark County ARES group in Perth, VE3KJG was linked with VE3RNU at Tweed, and VA3TEL at Westport.

There was general support for the idea.  Some of it was conditional that the link NOT be full-time (i.e. user commandable).  The question of replacement work for VA3AAR was also an issue for consideration.  It was decided not to pursue the idea further until the replacement or relocation of VA3AAR had been resolved.


It was another active year for the grades 4 to 7 students at R. Tait McKenzie Public School in my after school Shortwave Listening and Amateur Radio Club. 

On March 30th and April 1st, for example, the students had their polar questions answered by a research team at US Palmer Station, about 12,350 km away on the Antarctic Peninsula.  As a founding member and participating teacher of the Youth Education Program (YEP) of Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), I used amateur radio at school each week to reach out and bring the world into my classroom.

This special project at school used the classroom UHF amateur radio station in combination with the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP), a Canadian invention.  The IRLP uses Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) custom software and hardware to link VHF and UHF amateur radio stations around the world.

The student voices were transmitted from room 22 at school to the UHF amateur radio repeater and IRLP node of the ARRL on the other side of the Mississippi River.  Our signals were then routed through the internet to Palmer Station.

This unique technology allowed the students and scientists to talk with each other by amateur radio for about 40 minutes on each day of our two scheduled contacts.  Many thanks to Jeff Kietzmann KD7OXT at Palmer Station for his help in arranging these special contacts.

The students were surprised to learn that Almonte had colder temperatures that winter than Palmer station in Antarctica.  Due to global climate change, they discovered, Palmer Station was one of the most rapidly warming up places on the planet.  The students also learned what a penguin sounds like, and why Antarctica looks blue.  Hooray for amateur radio!

Details about our project were published in the article “Amateur Radio Connects Almonte Students With Antarctic Scientists”, in the August 2004 issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine, page 52.



Breakfast gatherings of the ARRL were held in 2005 at the Apollo’s Garden restaurant in Almonte, on Ottawa Street.  At the League’s gathering of April 9th, the following positions were filled by (i) election, or (ii) re-election, or (ii) being forced into the job by everyone in attendance, or (iv) volunteering.

President    Tim Ray VE3XV

Vice President    Bob Clermont VE3AKV

Secretary    Celia Bartello VE3CRJ

Treasurer    Neil Carleton VE3NCE

Dues Enforcer    Don Scott VE3QLQ

Public Relations    Bill Barrie VE3AAS

Membership    Don Scott VE3QLQ

Web Master    Andrew Webb VE3UIY / VE6EN

Saturday Breakfasts Organizers    Don Scott VE3QLQ, Al Ross VE3DMR

Sunday Breakfasts Organizer    Ed Pugh VA3PU

Repeater Manager    Fred Chamberlain VE3CFZ, Al Ross VE3DMR Deputy

Packet Manager    Al Ross VE3DMR

Net Manager    Les McCready VA3BZQ

IRLP Manager    Dale Hennigar VE3XZT

Echolink Manager    Phil Lytle VE3HOA

Engineering  Phil St.   Germain VE3CIQ

Amateur Radio Emergency Service    Don Scott VE3QLQ EC, Al Ross VE3DMR Deputy, Bill Barrie VE3AAS Deputy, Art Scott VA3LEY Advisor


Volunteers of the Almonte Radio Repeater League made it possible for students at schools across Canada to connect with the Kanatek Expedition at Mount Everest base camp on Octber 11th.  It was a first in Canada to have students from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast talk by amateur radio with a Mount Everest expedition.

Six schools across Canada took part in this unique experiment at Halifax, Nova Scotia; Grand Manan, New Brunswick; Almonte, Ontario; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Chestermere, Alberta, and Duncan, British Columbia.  The elementary and high school students had their mountain climbing questions answered by Almonte resident Professor Sean Egan, of the University of Ottawa, as he stood outside his tent in the early morning light at Mount Everest base camp.

Dr. Egan was a friend with a passion and a zest for life.  With his energy and enthusiasm, he used every opportunity with students to promote the lifelong benefits of fitness.  When I asked him about connecting with students by amateur radio when he returned to Mount Everest, Sean thought it was a great idea.

What started as a local event at R. Tait McKenzie Public School, in Almonte, soon developed as a national project.  With the approval of Industry Canada, and the support of participating schools in the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) Youth Education Program (YEP), a unique opportunity was created for students from coast to coast to speak with Dr. Egan by amateur radio on Mount Everest.

To make it possible, the expedition at Mount Everest base camp called the Kanatek office in office in Canada by satellite phone.  The audio was directed into the company’s telephone conference bridge. The Halifax team connected to the Kanatek teleconference and routed the audio through the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) reflector in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Participating schools across the country connected to the Saskatoon reflector by amateur radio through their local IRLP nodes.

The net control in Almonte, Bob Clermont VE3AKV, coordinated all the school traffic from province to province.  The event coordinator in Halifax, Bob Burns VE1VCK, enabled the switching needed to steer the conversation back and forth between the expedition on Mount Everest and schools taking part.

Contact time was scheduled for 8:15 p.m. in Ontario on Monday night April 11th. This was 6:00 a.m. in Nepal on Tuesday morning April 12th.   More than 250 people whispered and stirred in our school gym as the TV crew set up and contact time approached.  Then, before we knew it, there was Professor Egan’s voice from the other side of the world as the sky slowly lightened at base camp. 

One at a time, 10 students at R. Tait, from kindergarten to grade 8, took a turn asking Dr. Egan a question about his climbing adventure.  After our school’s contact, it was exciting to follow the conversations at the other schools from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts.  Through the wonders of amateur radio we were linked with Mount Everest on the other side of the world.  Wow!

Special thanks to ARRL volunteers Bob Clermont VE3AKV, Phil St. Germain VE3CIQ, and Dale Hennigar VE3XZT for their efforts and expertise to make this national event such a success.

To hear the audio from our remarkable Mount Everest contact, go to the web site of the Almonte Amateur Radio Club, at <>, and click on the link for ARISS/EVEREST.  Details about the project were published in the September-October 2005 issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine, pages 24-25, “Amateur Radio Linked Canadian Students With Mount Everest Expedition”.



In the course of the past year the name of the organization was changed from the Almonte Radio Repeater League (ARRL) to the Almonte Amateur Radio Club (AARC).  The new name was deemed to be a better reflection of the general purpose of a club for the greater Almonte area.


Following the ARRL’s February 22 meeting at the conference room of the Almonte fire hall, a donation of $25 was made to RAC’s Defense of Amateur Radio Fund in memory of the late Art Scott, VA3LEY.


Members confirmed through their discussions that they’d like to keep the ARES group as a sub-set of the AARC.  All members of the ARES Group would be AARC members first.  RAC would provide insurance coverage for ARES activities if those participating were RAC members.


Since our remarkable school contact with the International Space Station in November 2001, volunteers of the Almonte Radio Repeater League helped each year to make amateur radio such a success at R. Tait McKenzie Public School.  Their contributions included valuable advice, equipment, inspiration, volunteer time at school, and on-air experience for the students.

Thanks to the support of ARRL members, I was able to develop a variety of amateur radio initiatives in 2006 with Brian Jackson VE6JBJ, in Airdrie, Alberta, that made connections across the curriculum.  These included the exchange of data by radio between our classes from our weekly math surveys, and the popular on-air audio book reviews.

The help of ARRL volunteers also made it possible for me to operate an after school Shortwave Listening and Amateur Radio Club.  The grades 4 to 8 students who lined up outside my classroom door twice a week were always excited to get started at Club time. 

None of these rich learning experiences would have been possible without the generous support of AARC volunteers.



John Kirkwood VE3CN was an original member of the ARRL when it was established in 1992.


Planning proceeded in December by AARC volunteers to establish an amateur radio station at the Almonte fire hall which could be used to support ARES needs in the area.


The amateur radio stations in my classrooms were usually on all day.  When we needed a weather forecast, we’d also tune to a local FM station on the classroom boom box.  For international news, we’d turn on a shortwave receiver.  My students thought it was normal to hear radio voices during the day from close to home or around the world.

Until December 2006, my students in room 22 likely took radio for granted.  They all assumed it had been around forever.  This changed when they learned in class that Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian, made the first voice transmission in 1900, and the first radio broadcast on Christmas Eve 1906.

To celebrate the centennial year of voice broadcasting, we brainstormed and came up with the fun idea of talking with 100 radio amateurs.  We’d take on the challenge of exchanging voice signals in 2007 with 100 radio amateurs near and far.  Each day at recess time, some of the grades 4/5 students in my class would volunteer to stay in and take turns making contacts on the class VHF or UHF stations.  This included local contacts here in eastern Ontario, as well as IRLP and EchoLink connections with amateur radio stations in distant locations.

We also invited Brian Jackson VE6JBJ, and his grade 6 class at Ralph McCall School, in Airdrie, Alberta, to join in.  Contact 100 for both classes was with Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, VA3OOG, in Houston, Texas.  We met on the Discovery Reflector where the students at R. Tait McKenie and Ralph McCall took turns asking Colonel Hadfield questions by amateur radio about his space experiences.

Celebrating the centennial of radio broadcasting with amateur radio was a remarkable learning experience.

You can hear our 30 minute contact with Colonel Hadfield at the web site of the Discovery Reflector.  Visit <>, click on “Audio Library”, then, under the saved audio recordings for 2007, click on the link for “Chris Hadfield”.


On October 20th, my students and I launched our Eco-Pals project with Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ, and his class two time zones away at Chestermere Middle School, in Alberta.  The launch took place with a principal-to-principal amateur radio contact.  R. Tait McKenzie Principal Joanne Clayton was a natural at the microphone


During the October 23rd open house in VE3NCE’s classroom, for the after school Shortwave Listening and Amateur Radio Club at R. Tait McKenzie Public School, ARRL members had a chance to meet RAC President Bill Gillis VE1WG (right), from Moncton, New Brunswick, and YEP Chairman Bj Madsen VE5FX, from Tisdale, Saskatchewan.


V-E-3-B-S-B at Murphys Point Provincial Park, this is V-E-3-N-C-E at R. Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte

With this first call on October 1st, my grade 5 students stirred with excitement at their desks as we launched our on-air connection with an archaeological site on the other side of Lanark County in eastern Ontario.  It was the start of two successful contacts where amateur radio linked students in the classroom with archaeologists in the field at the Hogg Bay excavation site, near the town of Perth.  This was a first in Canada – to have elementary students in the classroom connected by amateur radio with archaeologists at an excavation site.

As part of our grade 5 social studies program, my students and I visited Murphys Point Provincial Park to take part in a real archaeological dig.  The students and our parent volunteers said it was their best field trip ever.  Our two amateur radio contacts with the site archaeologists made it just that much better.

The day before our field trip, half the class had their questions about archaeology answered on-air by archaeologists at the Hogg Bay site.  As a follow-up to our visit, the other half of the class spoke on October 4th via amateur radio with an archaeologist at the site about their field trip observations and the things they learned.

Our two special VHF contacts were made with my classroom station through repeater station VE3KGJ at Lavant.  The answers of the archaeologists were transmitted from temporary stations set up at the excavation and examination sites by volunteers of the Lanark North Leeds Amateur Radio Emergency Service (LNLARES).  The student voices from room 22 at R. Tait McKenzie were also heard across eastern Ontario through three other repeater stations that were linked to the Lavant site at Christie Lake VA3TEL, Tweed VE3RNU, and Toledo VE3HTN.  The coverage of the four repeater stations extended from Stittsville in the east and south to Morrisburg on the St. Lawrence River, west to Picton in Prince Edward County, up to Havelock in the northwest, and over to Renfrew in the north.

The radio operators of the LNLARES who generously helped out at the archaeological site with our contacts were Barrie Crampton VE3BSB, Al Nittymaa VA3KAI, Tony Wilson VE3XNT, and George Ward VE3GXW.  Jeff Earl and Brenda Kennett were the adventurous archaeologists with a microphone in hand at the Hogg Bay site.

Thank you to everyone who helped.  Details of our project were published in the March / April 2008 issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine, page 31. Contact: Another First (On Earth)”, was also reprinted in the Fall 2008 issue of the American magazine CQ VHF, page 38-39.


My grade 5 class at R. Tait McKenzie Public School, in Almonte, made history on November 21st with the first ever mayor-to-mayor amateur radio contact in Canada.  Our partners for this unique Class-To-Class project were Brian Jackson VE6JBJ and his grade 6 students two time zones away at Ralph McCall School in Airdire, Alberta.

Al Lunney, Mayor of Misssissippi Mills, spoke with Linda Bruce, Mayor of Airdrie, Alberta, to officially launch the initiative.  Each class prepared a parcel that was later exchanged through the mail to explain the way of life in their classroom, school, and community.  During the year, the students also talked with each other from their classrooms by amateur radio about what they learned from the projects that arrived in the mail.



VE3NCE put out the call to AARC members and supporters on the Wednesday night nets, and by e-mail, that material was being solicited for the Club archives.  Newsletters, annual reports, photos, newspaper clipping, and other treasures from years gone by was needed for the archives of the Almonte Radio Repeater League (1992-2005) and the Almonte Amateur Radio Club (2005 name change).  Thanks to Bill Barrie VE3AAS, many early records from the formation of the ARRL had been saved.

Photos were requested from corn boils, breakfast gatherings and other social outings, along with newspaper clippings and magazine articles of club members participating in amateur radio events.


A membership drive was launched in April 2008 with the distribution of an e-mail notice to radio amateurs in the greater Almonte area.  This was followed by a letter campaign with a postage paid return reply.  For a small investment, the project resulted in 27 paid members for the ARRC.


At the AARC meeting of October 15th, the vote of attending members was unanimous to proceed with several ongoing projects, including:

(1)Move the VA3AAR VHF repeater to the tower at Union Hall owned by Lanark County and used by the public works department of Mississippi Mills.  The relocation of the Club’s repeater to the Union Hall site would provide greater geographical coverage in the event of an emergency.

(2)Install a UHF repeater at the Almonte fire hall.  The installation of the station for Club use would also support ARES needs in the area.

(3)Investigate what was necessary for a D-Star funding application.  Tom Bartello VE3ELM volunteered.

(4) Establishment of Rob Webb VE3UIX as head of the AARC ARES Group and the Club’s ARES Liaison.


Although I was on a medical leave and not able to be in my classroom, volunteers of the AARC made it possible for the grade 5 students in room 24 at R. Tait McKenzie Public School to talk by amateur radio with Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk, VA2CSA.  This 35 minute event was the first school contact for the newly operational IRLP node located at the Canadian Space Agency  in St. Hubert, Quebec.

Dr. Thirsk visited R. Tait McKenzie on October 1, 2002, and made presentations in the gym to students of all three elementary school in Almonte.  He also gave the school an autographed collection of photographs and his mission patch to display in the school hall.

When he offered to make an amateur radio contact with the students in room 24, volunteers of the AARC made it happen.  Each student asked a prepare question, and Dr. Thirsk, VA3CSA, answered with vivid descriptions of events and living conditions in space.

Thank you AARC members for your support with this special event.

Helping in the classroom and operating the VHF amateur radio station were AARC volunteers Celia Bartello VE3CRJ, Tom Bartello VE3ELM, Don Stewart VE3PDF, Allan Ross VE3DMR.  Tom’s article about the event, “First School Contact With New Canadian Space Agency IRLP Node”, was published in the July & August 2008 issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine, page 45. See the VA3CSA March Contact Page for more info.



The routine of AARC breakfast gatherings was well established at JRs’ Restaurant on Ottawa Street, in Almonte, when the calendar page turned over for the new year.  At the January 10th gathering, a record 18 members and supporters attended.

Louise Ainsworth VE3LJA

Terry Ainsworth VE3TLC

Celia Bartello VE3CRJ

Tom Bartello VE3ELM

Neil Carleton VE3NCE

Darlene Hammond

Garry Hammond VE3GHP

Bernie Madore VA3BMZ

Stan Madore VA3SMM

Les McCready VA3BZQ

Murray Pierce VE3IFP

Gary Pollock VA3GMP

Bill Renaud VA3WAR

Al Ross VE3DMR

Bob Sadler VE3IDD

Ilene Sadler

Don Scott VE3QLQ

Rob Webb VE3UIX

Breakfast gatherings were well attended during the year.  On November 21st, club members took advantage of the fine hospitality at the Almonte branch of the Royal Canadian Legion to support the community fund-raising breakfast.  Visible in this photo, left-to-right, are Don VE3PDF, Rob VE3UIX, John VE3IAO, Bill VE3AAS, Bernie VA3BMZ, Terry VE3TLC, Celia VA3CRJ, Louise VE3LJA, Stan VA3SMM, Tom VE3ELM, Les VA3BZQ, Al VE3DMR, and Bob VE3AKV.


Ross Ritchie VE3DIX was an early radio amateur in the Almonte area.  Starting in the 1960s, he worked at the monitoring station of the federal Department of Communications, on Highway 29 not far from town between Almonte and Carleton Place.


Meetings of the AARC were held quarterly in 2009, and the ARES sub-group of the club met monthly.  Arrangements were made by Bill VE3AAS to use the conference room of the Almonte fire hall for these sessions.


On Wednesday evening, May 9th, volunteers of the AARC moved the UHF repeater to the Almonte fire hall from the home of Fred VE3CFZ and Lory KD5ZOT Chamberlain.  VA3UW had been running on test for several months at

their place.  Many hands made light work of carrying equipment into the fire hall.


On February 10th, AARC member Bill Barrie VE3AAS was presented with a plaque by the Quarter Century Wireless Association, National Capital Chapter 70 in Ottawa, on the occasion of his 75th anniversary as a radio amateur.  It was also noted that he held the VE3AAS call sign the entire way! 
To acknowledge his 75th anniversary as a radio amateur, AARC member Bill Barrie  was presented with a plaque by Doug Leach VE3XK at the February 10th meeting of the Quarter Century Wireless Association, National Capital Chapter 70 in Ottawa. 

Bill was given a standing ovation at the AARC’s meeting of February 18th for this remarkable achievement in his amateur radio career.