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Donald J. Courcy

Webmaster and History Guardian

Webmestre et gardien de l'histoire


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The word " radioman " is the common denominator for most of what I did in my life. I have spent most of my life in the wonderful world of wireless and radio communications, also known as the airwaves or the electromagnetic spectrum.


I began as a Radioman in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1965, at the age of 17, and served as a radio technologist and radio operator onboard ships, onboard submarines and at naval radio stations. In addition to serving at Naval Radio Stations NRS Newport Corner, NRS Mill Cove and NRS East Chezzetcook, I also served onboard naval destroyer HMCS GATINEAU.


But most of my naval service from 1965 to 1973 was spent as a radio ''sparker'' onboard submarines HMCS ONONDAGA, HMCS OKANAGAN and HMCS OJIBWA of the First Canadian Submarine Squadron (CANCOMSUBRON ONE).


In addition to qualifying for submarine service, I also trained as a scuba diver at Naval Diving Facility HMCS GRANBY. Scuba diving was my secondary trade (radioman being my primary trade). My main responsibilities as a scuba diver was to search and detect mines under ships, assist in rescues at sea, perform numerous tasks underwater and participate in special underwater operations.


I left the Navy in 1973 to join the Federal Department of Communications (DOC) as a Radio Inspector in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I transfered to the St-Lambert de Lévis DOC Monitoring Station in 1974, and then moved to northern Quebec in 1975 after winning a competition to take over as Inspector-in-charge of the Senneterre DOC Monitoring station. The main activity there was the monitoring and measuring of shortwave broadcast stations around the world for the International Frequency Registration Board (IFRB), a branch of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). I returned to the Sydney District Office of the DOC in 1976 and served the next 4 years as a Radio Inspector on Cape Breton Island.


I transferred to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 1980 as the Associate Director for the Atlantic provinces, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 


I left the CRTC in 1982 and went on to the private sector to work as a Broadcast and Cable Television Consultant. I was successful in obtaining cable television licences and LPTV over-the-air licences for 35 communities throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, mostly for local Acadian applicants. I also obtained my own LPTV licence and created Codiac Vision to serve the Memramcook Valley near Moncton, New Brunswick. In addition to running Courcy Communications and Codiac Vision, I also worked as the Atlantic representative for Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CANCOM) and worked with cable operators to replace the Chamcook microwave delivery system with a new satellite delivery system to cable head-ends in the Maritimes and Newfoundland. I also assisted Acadian groups in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in the planning of local FM community stations.


I joined Telesat Canada in 1985 as an Account Executive in Satellite Broadcast Services, based in Ottawa.  My first task was to get involved in the launch of Single Channel per Carrier (SCPC) satellite audio services. Shortly thereafter, I took the leading role in the establishment of the Montreal Teleport, a multi-million dollar satellite uplink facility and video production complex located at René-Lévesque and Papineau downtown Montreal which opened in 1987. Upon completion of the facility, I moved to Montreal in 1987 and opened a sales office in the new Teleport. I was successful in negotiating satellite uplink  services and space segment television channels on Anik B and the Anik Cs for Super Ecran, TVJQ, Le Canal Famille, Radio-Québec, TV5, Musique Plus, Réseau des Sports (RDS), Télévision Quatre-Saisons (TQS) et Météomédia. Following negotiations with General Instrument in San Diego, I was involved in 1987 in the introduction of VideoCipher II Plus satellite television scrambling services in Canada and launching the AnikVision analog DTH service in 1988. Some concerns were raised about Telesat Canada (a carrier) being involved in DTH, so I purchased the AnikVision DTH service from Telesat Canada in 1990 and created Satelbec Inc. to continue the development of analog direct-to-home satellite television services.


The end of analog DTH came in 1995 when ExpressVu launched its new digital services, so I moved on to new challenges in 1996 and I worked for a short period in airport security communications systems.


I returned to the Federal Government in 1997 as a Radio Inspector and Spectrum Management Officer for the Federal Department of Industry (Industry Canada) in Toronto. In 2004, after 7 years in Toronto, I transferred to Industry Canada's regional office in Moncton, New Brunswick where I served for the next 3 years as a Spectrum Manager in charge of monitoring services and emergency telecommunications services for the Atlantic Region. In 2007, I transferred to Industry Canada's regional office in Montreal where I worked as a Spectrum Program Manager. My portfolio included Automated Work Methods and Spectrum Monitoring. I was also a member of the team which developed PIRATES, a time-synchronized multi-site high speed DF wideband scanning system in support of spectrum management activities.


My multiple transfers as a Radio Inspector and as a Spectrum Management Officer for the Department of Communications (DOC) and Industry Canada during my career means that I transferred three times to the Atlantic Region, twice to the Quebec Region and once to the Ontario Region. My only regret is that I never transferred to the Prairie and Northern Region or to the Pacific Region although I had the pleasure of spending 4 weeks at the Prince George, BC Industry Canada District Office in 1997.


The 29th of April 2011 was my 46th anniversary as a " Radioman ". I finally retired from Industry Canada three months later, on the 29th of July 2011. My "retired" status was suspended in May 2012 when I went back to work on a temporary basis at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Quebec. This temporary assignment ended in October 2013 when I pulled the plug and returned to my ''retired'' status.


In addition to being a "Radioman" at work, I am also a "Radioman" at home. I have been a certified Ham Radio operator since 1968. I first operated onboard naval destroyer HMCS Gatineau under call sign VEØNB. My first personal call sign was VE1AKM.


My busiest time in ham radio was on Cape Breton Island from 1976 to 1980 under call sign VE1RI. During that period, I took an active role in the Sydney Amateur Radio Club and became the editor and publisher of The Cape Breton Amateur. I was also involved in many ham radio events, such as the 1977 International Girl Guide Camp and the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the first west to east radio transmission across the Atlantic by Guglielmo Marconi from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. I was also involved in the early promotion for the establishment of a Marconi Museum which exists today in Glace Bay. During the 1980 NSARA convention ''Ham Ceilidh 80'' in Sydney, I was elected Vice-President of the Nova Scotia Amateur Radio Association. My term was short since I was transferred out of Nova Scotia a few months later.


I was also quite active in ham radio from 2004 to 2007 in Moncton, New Brunswick under call sign VE1CY. One of my main involvement was in the coordination and provision of emergency communications training and exercises for ham radio operators. In addition, I served as the President of the Tri-County Amateur Radio Club in 2005 and 2006.


Being a former naval CW operator, I never lost the love of morse code. I also enjoy long distance communications via the ionosphere using a minimum of power. This is why one of my favourite activities is QRP CW (communicating with countries around the world using morse code and less than 5 watts of power fed into an inverted V wire antenna or a ground mounted vertical).


I have lived and worked in five Canadian provinces, and I have operated under many call signs in the past, including VEØNB, VEØNS, VEØND, VE1AKM, VE1WP, VE2FC, VE1RI, VE1CF, VE2CF, VE3PFD, VE2SAT, VE2BHA, VE2KO, VE1DJC, VE2BHA, VA2FQ, VE3XZ, VE3TV, VE1CY, VE9CY, VE2DM, VE2GG, VE3ECW, VE2CW, VE3PU, VE1CG and VE1SS. My present call signs are VE2CNX and VE2GW.



Donald Courcy Retires

Donald Courcy prend sa retraite

Forty eight years ago, at the age of 15, our friend and colleague Donald Courcy started his journey in communication working for the CKJL-AM radio station, located in the basement of Hotel Lapointe in St-Jérôme, under the supervision of Jean Lalonde, father of a renowned 1960 French Canadian singer.


Il y a de cela 48 ans, à l’âge de 15 ans, notre confrère Donald Courcy amorçait son périple en communication à CKJL-AM, au sous-sol de l’Hôtel Lapointe à St-Jérôme, où il a travaillé pour Jean Lalonde, père de Pierre Lalonde (chanteur populaire des années 60).

In the mid sixties, at 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a radio operator where he eventually served as a submariner on OKANAGAN, OJIBWA AND ONONDAGA. During the cold war, these submarines were appointed to the surveillance of our East Coast waters. One of those submarines, the ONONDAGA, ended up in Pointe-au-Père as part of the Maritime Historic Site.

C’est à 17 ans qu’il débute une carrière en radiocommunication au sein de la Marine Royale du Canada. Plusieurs d’entre nous connaissent l’épique histoire de l’ONONDAGA à bord duquel Donald fut sous-marinier ainsi qu'à bord des sous-marins OKANAGAN et OJIBWA. Ces sous-marins furent appelés à surveiller notre Côte Atlantique du temps de la guerre froide, et l'ONONDAGA a terminé son parcours à Pointe-au-Père, après un long projet de rapatriement et restauration auquel Donald a participé.


Having survived high sensations, Donald joined Spectrum Management as Radio Inspector at the Sydney District Office in 1973. I suspect that his need for adventure made him one or our most nomad agents. His career path is rich and diversified. The journey he followed to this day brought him from the Atlantic Region to the Quebec Region, to Telesat Canada and to the private sector, where he worked for over ten years, before starting all over in the Toronto area in 1997. In 2004, he moved to Atlantic Canada as a manager before transferring back in Quebec to lend us a hand.

 C’est après avoir vécu son lot de sensations « fortes » qu’en 1973, Donald réoriente sa carrière chez nous, à la Gestion du spectre, au bureau de district de Sydney en qualité d’Inspecteur Radio. Je ne sais pas si c’est son goût de l’aventure ou l’habitude d’accoster à différents ports qui en a fait un de nos agents les plus nomades, mais son parcours est riche et diversifié. Le périple qui l’a amené jusqu’à aujourd’hui l’aura fait passer de la région de l'Atlantique à la région du Québec puis à Télésat Canada et au secteur privé, où il a passé plus d’une dizaine d’années avant de recommencer au bas de l’échelle dans la Métropole ontarienne. Par la suite, il s’est dirigé vers l’Atlantique en tant que gestionnaire, pour finalement venir nous donner un fier coup de main dans la région du Québec. Vous remarquez qu’il n’a jamais été très loin d’un plan d’eau!!!


During his recent years with us, Donald quickly became our spectrum surveillance guru and a great ambassador for « PIRATES » (Programme intégré de radiogoniométrie et d’analyses techniques avec l’explorateur de spectre / Program Integrating Radiodirectionfinding and Analysis Techniques using the Spectrum Explorer) which got him the nickname « Captain Haddock ».


Lors de ces dernières années passées avec nous, Donald est très vite devenu notre guru de la surveillance du spectre et un grand ambassadeur de « PIRATES » (Programme intégré de radiogoniométrie et d’analyses techniques avec l’explorateur de spectre), ce qui lui a valu le surnom de « Capitaine Haddock ».

He did just about everything to share his knowledge and pass along his expertise and his passion for our field of work. Everyone who had the opportunity to cross his path will join me and thank him for his great generosity.


Il a tout fait pour transmettre sa passion, son expertise et sa vaste connaissance de notre travail à ses collègues. Tous ceux qui l’ont côtoyé se joindront à moi pour le remercier pour sa grande générosité.


Since all good things must come to an end, after 8 years in the Navy, 6 years at Telesat Canada, 10 years in the private sector and 22 years in the public service, Donald is leaving us on July 29th, 2011.

C’est donc en cette fin juillet 2011, le 29 pour être précis, que Donald nous quitte pour une retraite bien méritée après 8 ans dans la Marine, 6 ans chez Télésat Canada, 10 ans dans le secteur privé et  22 ans dans la fonction publique fédérale .


Lets all join to wish him all the best in is retirement.


Souhaitons-lui tous une merveilleuse retraite pleine d’aventures.


Alain Côté
Director, Spectrum Operations

Industry Canada - Montreal

July 8, 2011

Alain Côté
Directeur, Opérations du spectre

Industrie Canada - Montréal

8 juillet 2011


Links  -  Liens


1973 - My First Day as a Radio Inspector - Donald Courcy


1975/1976 - A Short Stay in Senneterre


1977 - A Conversation With King Hussein of Jordan


1979 - Donald Courcy Transfers to CRTC


October 1997 - Spectrum Management Training - Prince George, British Columbia


1997 - Christmas Eve on St. Clair Avenue


Toronto Visit of Pope John Paul II in 2002


2009 - An Olympian Effort by Donald Courcy


Photos of drive across Canada to deliver a monitoring van for the Vancouver Winter Olympics


SIA - A knowledge tool for Spectrum Management


P.I.R.A.T.E.S. - Time Synchronized High Speed Multi Site Wideband DF Scanning


Photos taken in 2010 in Ontario at the Regional Spectrum Services Centre - RSSC Acton


Static Kills Radio Reception


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