I got started on the radio in the spring of 1975, probably May. The ONTARS Net was suggested to me and that is where I did most of my listening, and eventually some talking. As you would guess, the latter gained momentum as time went on. The spelling of some of these names may not be correct and I have nothing here to refer to. I often talked to Ted Duff, VE3 CTU. I was interested when I heard that he was on Carthew Bay as that was near my motherís old home. My aunt was still on the home farm and he used to put a phone patch through for me. Duffy, as he was known on the radio, was there when ONTARS started. He told me that at first Bruce often filled in some of the time himself. Duffy he said that he would offer to monitor the frequency but he was not willing to take a regular spot. I would say that the white caners helped a great deal with doing net control.
I am not sure when the program started at CNIB but it was well known and quite active in 1975. Bill Choat VE3 CO was in charge and could often be heard operating VE3 NIB. He would send out material and of course could be contacted by anyone interested in helping a blind person get on the radio. At that time, a ham would help this person with the theory and as sponsors would help with the radio and the antenna. I know Harold VE3 HK was certainly in touch with Bill Choat and Harold really only knew that I was a blind person in town. Harold was a great promoter of ham radio and I think felt it would be a good hobby for me. I was going to name some hams & their calls, and will do this if you want some of those. I do know 4 or 5 of the spots were filled everyday through the week by white caners and then on the weekend people who were working would be there to fill in. Probably these were people who had more time at home and for the most part, you felt on an equal basis. A lot of these people are no longer with us and without the active program, there are not as many blind people getting on the radio.
ONTARS has always been a great gathering place where we have had a lot of fun, some good conversations, and caring friends if there should be a time of trouble. Harry, and I can only tell you that he had a two letter call, was at Turkey Point and I think in rather a lonely spot. He was having a heart attack and several of the fellows talked to him and stayed on the radio with him until the paramedics arrived. Elmer VE3 LJX was in Brantford & a well-known ham. Elmer had lost his sight and one leg in WW2. One Sunday morning I asked him if he was feeling alright and I learned later that someone else followed up on it and had someone in Brantford check on him. Elmer had had a stroke and I think from then on he was at the Veteranís Hospital in London. Bill Birchall VE3 FQV from London was the manager when I started doing net control. I started filling in for Bill VE3 MMZ who was in hospital from time to time. When he was not able to do it anymore, Bill VE3 FQV asked if I would like the SUN morning 8:00 spot and I guess the rest is history ? Dave VE3 SUT would often say we have made a lot of good friends through ham radio. We have met quite a few of these people, and when you talk with people often, you feel you have met them. I do remember Bruce VE3 BC (Boston Charlie) well and he did have a great idea when he started the ONTARS Net. We used to keep a count and Bruce was often there at 6:00 to pick up the count and of course the birthday Net was always special. It was a great place to meet people and maybe move off for a chat. Also if you were just starting out in radio, a good place for a timid check-in.
This 8th January 2021 may be 49 years and what better time to pay a tribute to Bruce, and the number of people who have served as manager over the years. They, as well as many others, have helped the net along in many ways and provided a great service.
Our thanks to you Barry for going above and beyond what is expected. I think you got us back on track at a time when it was needed.
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