The Foundations of DRTE
(F.T. Davies)

A Brief History of CRC
(Nelms, Hindson)

The Early Days
(John Keys)

CRC's Pioneers


Bits and Pieces


The Alouette Program
The ANIK B Projects
David Florida Laboratory
Defence Communications
Detection Systems
The DRTE Computer
Doppler Navigation
HF Radio Resarch
The ISIS Program
Janet - Meteor Burst Communications
Microwave Fuze
Mobile Radio Data Systems
Prince Albert Radar Lab.
Radar Research
Radio Propagation Studies
Radio Warfare
Search and Rescue Satellite
Solid State Devices
Sounding Rockets
Trail Radio


John Barry - Doppler Navigation
John Belrose - The Early Years
Bert Blevis - The Role of the Ionosphere and Satellite Communications in Canadian Development
Bert Blevis - The Implications of Satellite Technology for Television Broadcasting in Canada
Richard Cobbold - A Short Biography of Norman Moody
Peter Forsyth - the Janet Project
Del Hansen - The RPL Mobile Observatory
Del Hansen - The Prince Albert Radar Laboratory 1958-1963
LeRoy Nelms - DRTE and Canada's Leap into Space
Gerald Poaps' Scrapbook
Radio Research in the Early Years
John Wilson - RPL as I Recall It, 1951-1956



Annual Reports








A request from the Royal Canadian Navy results in the formation of the Radio Propagation Laboratory (RPL).


RPL becomes part of the Defence Research Board (DRB).


From August 1948 to August 1949, RPL operates a mobile train observatory between The Pas and Churchill, Manitoba to study the ionosphere and auroral disturbances.


The Microwave Fusing Group of DREL is formed and begin radar research.


RPL (renamed Radio Physics Laboratory) amalgamates with the Defence Research Electronics Laboratory (DREL), a small establishment working on communications equipment problems. The amalgamation results in the creation of the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE).


Work on the Janet Meteor Burst Communications System begins.


Janet system operates successfully in March.


Development of early prediction method for high frequency radio wave propagation.

1955 In March, the Defence Research Board announced Project Wood Duck, a study of the effects of birds on radar. Here is the Press Release, a photo from a local newspaper, and a 'medal' that was created by Art Adams and awarded to all participants.


The Microwave Fusing Group developed fuse technology to be used in Velvet Glove. Here are some photos:


DRTE participated in numerous activities relating to the International Geophysical Year (IGY) which took place from July 1957 to December 1958. Scientists and engineers from 66 nations were to make simultaneous studies of the earth's magnetic field, weather, cosmic radiation, solar magnetic field, weather, cosmic radiation, solar features, and many other phenomena. Most of the data was collected by ground-based equipment, and limited measurements would be made using instruments flown in rockets.


First flight of a Canadian Black Brant rocket, later used extensively to explore the upper atmosphere. The first Black Brant was fired on September 5 from Churchill, Manitoba.


First Canadian satellite communications experiment uses the moon as a reflector. Here is a sound clip (279 kb).


U.S. launches Echo 1, a reflective balloon 30 metres in diameter used in pioneering communications experiments. Experiments using the balloon are performed at the Prince Albert Radar Laboratory. Here is a sound clip (244 kb).


On September 29, Alouette makes Canada the third country in the world to have a satellite in space. It carries the Ionosopheric Topside Sounder, operating at frequencies from 1 to 12 MHz, a VLF receiver covering the band 400 Hz to 10 kHz, a cosmic noise receiver, and equipment to measure energetic particles. Alouette goes on to be one of the most successful satellites ever launched. It operates for ten years and sets several space records.


Alouette II is launched in California on November 29 as part of the Canadian-American program of space research.

1966 On January 5, 1966 Canada issues a five cent postage stamp to commemorate the successful launching of Alouette II. The stamp shows Alouette II orbiting the Earth.
1966 The new 9.1 metre satellite communications antenna is officially opened on June 1 by the Chairman of the Defence Research Board, A.H. Zimmerman. More...
1967 DRTE provides assistance to the Royal Canadian Air Force in their Centennial Project - an attempt to set a world altitude record for a jet aircraft. The American world record was not broken, but Wing Commander Bud White did set a Canadian record by reaching an altitude of 100,100 feet (30,510 m) in his CF-104 aircraft. More...


ISIS I is launched on January 30. ISIS is an acronym for International Satellites for Ionospheric Studies.


Influenced by the Chapman Report, the federal government creates the Department of Communications, as well as Telesat Canada. DRTE staff, buildings, resources and programs are transferred to the new Department, to become its research branch, under the name Communications Research Centre (CRC).


The Department of Communications and the Department of Northern Affairs sponsored a conference on Northern communications. The result of the conference is the Hermes experimental program.


Fibre optics research begins at CRC.


ISIS II is launched on March 31. CRC operates the ISIS satellites until March 13, 1984 and Japan continued collecting data until January 24, 1990. Despite the success of this scientific program, a third ISIS satellite is cancelled, as the government decides to focus on civilian communications technology.


U.S. Landsat 1, first environment-monitoring satellite, is launched; its first image is received at the ground station in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Thanks to the Quick-Look system developed in Canada, the Canadians are able to use the images before the Americans.


The David Florida Laboratory opens in Ottawa, first used to build the Communications Technology Satellite. The laboratory has become a world-class facility to build and test spacecraft. It became a part of the Canadian Space Agency, when it was created in 1989.


In October, CRC and RCA agree to build a field effect transistor amplifier that will fly on the Hermes satellite. The contract is completed for an American company ahead of the May 1975 deadline.


Research begins into a trail radio system, at the request of the Northern Quebec Inuit Association. Trials are held in 1976 and eventually lead to the RACE technology.


CPDL licensed CRC's HF predictions computer program, so that it can be exploited commercially.


Research into the RACE (radio-telephone with automatic channel evaluation) system began. Trials were held in 1978-79. The system was installed in Labrador from 1985-89.


Syncompex research begins at CRC. Although related to RACE, the two are first tested separately (April-June 1980 for Syncompex). Field trials are held, using the two technologies together.


The Communications Technology Satellite (CTS), later christened Hermes, is launched on January 17. Designed for a two-year life, it is used for extensive experiments until November 1979. Hermes is the first to operate in the Ku band. In 1987, the Department of Communications and NASA win an EMMY for their role in developing Ku band technology.


Anik B is launched by Telesat. CRC undertakes some experiments with the satellite.


In May, the world's first direct-to-home satellite television broadcast carries a Stanley Cup hockey game from Canada to a Canadian diplomat's home in Lima, Peru, via the Hermes satellite.


On August 15, CRC gives its first public demonstration of Telidon, the Canadian videotex/teletext system and Mme. Jeanne Sauve, Minister of Communications, announces the official commencement of the program.


In January, the mobile radio data system was officially turned over to the Vancouver police.


A Memorandum of Understanding marks the beginning of the search and rescue satellite-aided tracking system (SARSAT) program.

1979 A computer-based VHF/UHF propagation prediction program and accompanying topographic database is first released for use by Industry.


A Memorandum of Understanding between Canada, the United States and France is signed in addition to the Soviet Union, thus creating the COSPAS-SARSAT program, a search and rescue satellite system.


Only nine days after testing has begun, on September 9, the Ottawa ground station detects a distress signal relayed by a COSPAS satellite from an airplane crash in northern British Columbia. COSPAS-SARSAT enables searchers to find the airplane and rescue three injured survivors.


As a result of an agreement, work begins on a MSAT demonstration system. In 1983, the project is redirected towards commercial service application.


On October 11, the trimaran (boat) "Gonzo" capsizes during a storm 480 km east of Boston. The COSPAS satellite helps the U.S. Coast Guard patrol vessel determine the location and rescue three people.


Petrie Telecommunications develops MICROPREDIC, a computerized prediction program for high frequency radio waves, available for microcomputers.


Between 1984 and 1989: development of improved VHF/UHF program based on rigorous diffraction theory, made available to users by dial-up of a Personal Computer.


On March 31, the Telidon program officially comes to an end. Related technologies continue to be used for years after.


On September 17, the Stationary High Altitude Relay Platform (SHARP) makes history by flying for twenty minutes, using microwave power from a transmitting antenna. An official flight takes place on October 7, with the media and the Minister of Communications watching.


Alouette is designated one of the ten most outstanding achievements in the first 100 years of engineering in Canada. (Others are: Creation of thetranscontinental rail network; the St. Lawrence Seaway; the De Havilland Beaver aircraft; the Trans-Canada telephone towers; teh Bombardier snowmobile; the development of the Athabaska Oil Sands; the CANDU reactor; the Polymer plant at Sarnia, Ontario; and the Hydro-Quebec power transmission towers.


The Department of Communications and NASA win an EMMY award for their joint role in developing the Ku band satellite technology through the Hermes program.


In May, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) recognizes the Alouette-ISIS program as an International Milestone of Electrical Engineering. Here is a photo of the medallion.


CRC becomes part of Industry Canada.

CRC buildings were renamed to honour CRC pioneers Frank Davies and John Chapman


The Canadian organizations and key individuals involved in the SARSAT project win the Alouette Award. The COSPAS/SARSAT has contributed to the saving of more than 3,500 lives world-wide, since its operational inception in 1982.


MSAT's M2 (the American satellite) is launched on April 7. It is now called the AMSC-1 (American Mobile Satellite Consortium)


MSAT's M1 (the Canadian satellite) is launched on April 20.

Page prepared by Cynthia Boyko on July 30, 1997
Last updated on February 5, 2001 by Stu McCormick
Copyright © Friends of CRC, 1997