The IRG celebrated it's 40th Anniversary in 2014. Members at the April meeting of the IRG heard stories of the formation of the International Repeater Group from some of the original members. We presented our first President, Claude Bailey VE1HU, with a new life membership card. Many members of the IRG and friends of Claude's gathered in July to celebrate Claude's 100th birthday, and mark his many years as an amateur.Cutting the cake at the 40th Anniversary celebration at the annual meeting.
Shown above (l to r): Aubrey Urquhart, VE1OL, founding member; Claude Bailey, VE1HU, First IRG President; Al Thurber, VE1RG, Past President; and Yvon Hachey, VE1VON, President of the IRG.
From all officers and members of the IRG, best wishes for a great 2015! The past year 2014 was a good year for the IRG, here are some highlights:
Work continued on fine-tuning the newly revamped repeater system. The new digital microwave system installed by the province of New Brunswick provides a good platform for the IRG, and we will continue to work towards making our linking system one of the best in Canada. We are most grateful of the support provided by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and Department of Public Safety in maintaining and upgrading our repeater network.
In March, we were successful in lobbying to have favourable amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. Previous amendments to ban the use of cell phones and other hand-held devices meant that amateurs could only use their radios during emergencies or hands-free while mobile. After much lobbying, and recognition that amateurs provide a valuable public service, Bill 41 was passed in March to remove the restrictions against amateurs from using their radios while mobile. Royal Assent was given on May 21, 2014. We went from having some of the most restrictive rules to having some of the most amateur-friendly rules in Canada.
In June, the IRG sponsored a special event station on Miscou Island, commemorating the 1939 forced landing of a Russian plane en route to the New York world's fair. Several members of the IRG participated using the special event call sign, VE9MOSKVA. Over 1500 contacts were made with stations all over the world.
In October, we tested the readiness of our system to help out in the hospitals. Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with the IRG and the two hospital corporations and the Department of Health to work together towards providing back-up communications. All hospital facilities and the department of Health now have 2-meter radio capability to help in times of emergency. Over 40 amateurs took part in the exercise, and another will take place at a future date.
As we look forward to 2015, we need to give ourselves a pat on the back. The IRG only exists through support of its members, and membership support is the only way we have to prove to government that we are active and ready to help, so they will help us. We encourage everyone who enjoys the system to join or renew your membership in the IRG.