In Honour of my Dad … Don Horne

In today’s world instant communication via computers/cell phones and social media is the norm but when my Dad was born in 1916 none of those technologies existed. The first radio stations didn’t start broadcasting until the early 1920’s. Prior to then only newspapers or telegraph provided news … often on a very delayed basis.

Not that surprising that my Dad was intrigued by radio … he attended Victoria High and as The Camosun notes below he was already interested in sound technology and electricity.

By his late teens or early twenties he was already building his on radio transmitters.

He is the plan for his first “radio” which, as it turned out, was actually illegal under Canadian laws and he had to dismantle after a Radio Inspector started asking questions!

In 1936 he received his certificates for both operating an amateur radio (which he did for the rest of his life) and his certificate in Radiotelegraphy (Morse code).

In 1936 he started “working” for CKMO in Victoria as a radio operator/announcer. Note that working didn’t really mean “getting paid to work” … compensation was very limited and often included a gift certificate from a station sponsor. But he did meet my Mother when she won a contest on a radio show!

In 1936 the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) was created and, in Vancouver, the took over CRCV and it was renamed CBR (which existed until 1951 when it was renamed again to CBU). My Dad must have felt he won the lottery when he was offered employment at the CBC … for the grand annual salary of $1,380.00.

He did have to move to Vancouver but as a result a life long career was begun.

The photos below chronicle some of his early CBR years.

In the photo below my Dad is the person adjusting the microphone.

I don’t know the year of the photo below he was also involved in arranging a chess game across the world using the amateur radio equipment in our basement at home.

As a radio operator my Dad had a room in our basement just for his radio equipment. The “radio room” was not a static, unchanging room … the equipment and layout continually was changed and upgraded. The photo below shows my brother Ken at the desk.

Note that most of the equipment my Dad built himself.

He also made many many cassette and reel tapes of music, radio stations and trains too … note that I still have the reel to reel tape deck below and it still works just like it was new.

Of course, being an amateur radio operator and wanting to listen to radio stations from around the World meant our house had many antennas over the years. On the house roof, on the garage roof, in the garden and all points in between. The photo below shows my Dad and brother Mark working on a new antenna on our house roof.

I much preferred staying on the ground!

Finally in 1974 my Dad retired after 35+ years at the CBC. He actually had planned to retire a little earlier but stayed to assist with the planning of the then new CBC building on Georgia in Vancouver. Prior to the move to the new building CBC Radio was located in the Hotel Vancouver.

My Dad passed away in 2005 and I often think he would be absolutely amazed by the technological progress in the last 14 years … in particular how easy it is today to contact someone anywhere in the world in multiple ways.

For me, I do wish that I could show him (and my Mum) how much photography has changed, how easy it is to edit and share photos, how easy it is to record video or music. To some extent when I am editing a video and adding music/titles/etc I feel I am carrying on my Dad’s love of creating music tapes and slide shows from on driving trips.

Ps. If he was still alive my Dad would have been 103 in 5 days.

2 thoughts

  1. I enjoyed reading about your father. My uncle was another Donovan Horne. He was a pharmacist in London and lived until he was 100.

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