BC Tel- Mobile Radio Shop- Page 1

Terrace, British Columbia, Canada

I Dedicate my Mobile Radio Section to my mentor:
Ken Rowe
We were in competition with GE Radio, in town at the time, in late 60’s, and early 70’s. Ken Rowe worked for them, before hiring on with BC Tel. He later quit and went working for Department of Highways, Radio Department, in Smithers, until his retirement. He now lives on Vancouver Island, near Courtenay BC. Ken and his wife Corrie (now deceased), fed me meals when I broke my wrist in a truck accident on the Nass Rd. Ken took the time to teach me how to do my job in the Mobile Shop. I thank him for his patience!
Ken immigrated from Kenya, working for the Kenya Police at that time. I can still hear him singing Operas in the Stewart Radio room. He knew all the words, and was a very good singer.
I was lucky enough to attend his retirement party at the Terrace Legion, after which he was heading to Belize. They didn't stay there too long from what I understand, returning to southern BC.

In the 60’s,70’s and 80’s, a big portion of the job was installing mobile VHF radios in taxi’s, logging trucks, cars and pickups. As well as numerous base stations in the District. We installed the old gray tube GE sets, some were trunk mounted with a small headset under the dash.

If we had an appointment in Town, or visitors, or some other personal reason, then we would volunteer to stay in town, and work in the Mobile Radio Shop, which had to be open Monday to Friday for installs or repairs. Installs were scheduled, but repairs could come in anytime. Working in the shop was one of our few “In Town” jobs. Otherwise we were out for 4 days at one of the Microwave sites, listed on the index on the left, in this site. Sometimes we were kept busy, other days nothing. On the days with nothing, we spent our time ordering materials from Burnaby stores, to replenish what we needed at the Radio Sites or in the Mobile Shop. There was always paper work to be done. Of Course the shop had to be kept clean and tidy as well.

All Mobile Radio Antennas had to be installed in the center of the roof of all vehicles, back in the day. It wasn’t until the late 70’s that the L- shaped stainless steel bracket came out of our CT&S shops, and the fender mount antenna became the standard. This meant less damage to the customers vehicle when removed, and a quicker install for us. We switched the GE radio’s to Motorola Dispatcher radios, in the early 70’s. These units were half tube and half transistor, no remote handset unit, just a mike on a spiral cord. These were later changed out in the late 70’s, to the VTR10-12 unit, all transistorized. Later on there was Autotel, TAD etc. Now everybody uses a cell phone.

Terrace, Smithers, Pr. Rupert, Juskatla, and other areas, had Mobile Radio Shops, in the Terrace District.

The original Terrace Shop was in the rear of the old CO, Terrace Phone Mart building, at 3236 Kalum st., where the repair/storage room was. It had one large garage door with a passage door to the right. The Phone Mart was closed Sept 2002, so this building, and its history, will be changed when sold. Salvation Army now owns and operates the building. (2017) At one time this was the Telephone Commercial Office, Central Office, Sales Offices, Administration Offices, Service Center, and Radio Shop, all in one.

When the Service Center in Terrace, next door to the old Radio Shop, required more room, the Radio Crew was bounced out, and up the hill, into the old Army Drill Hall (“the BARN”) on top of Birch Hill. We had an ATCO trailer moved in, to the right of the main doors, just inside the building. We did our radio installs in front of that trailer.

The Barn burnt to the ground, in a spectacular fire on May 8, 1975, at 9:30 AM. This fire was caused by a New Terrace City International Garbage truck, having a hydraulic fitting fail, and igniting on the exhaust pipe. The truck was backed into the doorway at the time. The propane line to our trailer ran directly overhead. In only minutes, over a million dollars of damage was done, all caused by a mismatch of threads on a male and female hydraulic fitting, used just days earlier. The Company sued City of Terrace, They sued International Trucks in Terrace, International sued their mechanic, and he sued the Company that made the fittings, as apparently they had put the wrong one, in the wrong box! The hydraulic fitting company’s insurance company was stuck with the bill in the end.

Due to quick thinking on the part of our Storesman at the time, Vic Filby, he went into the I&R Trailer, and rousted out anyone in there and they made their way to the back door (just installed a few months before to access the cable yard, not as a safety door ironically enough) As they made their way thru the gate out back, the whole end wall was blown out the rear of the building. Amazing no one died! The radio man at the time Owen Jamieson and Don Parr the Supervisor had just left to go have coffee uptown, and were lucky enough to be out of the building, otherwise it could have been a different ending to the story! I personally think Vic should have gotten a commendation for his heroic effort. It would have been easy for him to run and save his own life. Especially when one finds out, Vic was seriously burned in a Child Prank, lighting a fire with Gasoline. He had scars on his neck, chest and arms from that fire, and now he is in the position of warning others to get out! A True Hero in my books!

Terrace Storesman

I personally lost a new car I had just bought, and other employees lost cars, pickups etc as well, that were parked up against the outside wall of the building. Laverne Fredericks lost his “like new” 69 or 70 Chev. Pickup that he had just purchased, and the insurance company was only going to give him a few hundred dollars in damages for it. It and other personal items were added to the insurance claim and the lawsuit. Everyone got their money for the loss.

Following the Barn Fire a new home for the Terrace radio crew was rented from Doc’s Cartage on Keith. We were adjacent to the old Motz Plaza. We had a 2 bay garage and office in behind. We were there until the new Barn (Terrace Plant Center) was built. Stan Patterson was the Area General Manager at the time and this was his baby. It was built how he wanted it, not what was good for us. We had to install radios out in the open area, no heat, and poor lighting. To this day it is one of the worst designed buildings in the Company, no, sorry Smithers is worse, and it too was his handi work. Stan was a great Boss, in that he stood up for our area, but he had some funny quirks also. These buildings were one of them! The Smither’s building is 2 stories high and only 12 ft wide.

Today (2000) the radio crew is in the same room as the old SATT machine used to be in the Primary Center on Lazelle. They still have an area in the Keith building for radio work and storage. It is located at 5215 Keith Ave, in Terrace.

Chuck Lequereux
Hard at work tuning up a radio on the bench in the Mobile Radio Shop at 5215 Keith Ave.
This is the same work bench we had at Doc’s Cartage and then moved to the new barn.
I believe Murray Worobey made the test panel, with the meters etc visible in front of Chuck.
This picture was taken in the old Radio room in the new Plant Center on Keith

The Company Rented Various Mobiles Over the Years. Some of The Models Were:

  • GEF133N, GE Base unit (in Greenville and other sites)
  • Motorola Business Dispatcher (4 & 8 ch)
  • H23DCN (Handi-talkie)
  • VTR 71E & F
  • VTR 74
  • VTR 10-12
  • TAD
  • Autotel
  • and others I forget!

Kalum Cab Story

One Mobile story that comes to mind was a trouble report came in for the Kalum Cab, unit 3, (co-owned by Mrs. Ailsa Henderson at the time), and the report from the dispatcher, was it sounded like the driver was in a barrel. We tried everything, changed the set, the mike etc etc but every so often the same trouble would come in. It wasn’t each and every day though! So one day she phoned up and was really hopping mad, and demanded we fix the darn thing, or she would have them all removed. So I told her to send the car in, when it was having the problem, as I wanted to try it myself.

So one day this yellow cab pulls up behind the Kalum St. shop, and here was the driver and the car that was having the trouble, and it was doing it right now she claimed. So I climbed in the passenger seat and told the driver to call in so I could see what the heck it was doing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he reached over to the mike on the dash, about 2 feet from him and without picking up the mike, clicked the transmit button and said “Car 3 how do I sound” and the dispatcher said, “sounds like you're in a barrel”. I then grabbed the mike off the dash and said the same thing, loud and clear came the answer. The driver's eyes lit up, when the mike came off the dash, and all he said was “ I didn’t know that thing came off there!” Sounds like the old chain saw joke, what’s that noise?, but this really did happen!
I didn’t have the heart to tell Mrs Henderson what happened, it just miraculously started to work after that.

Left- Supv. Don Parr in Radio Atco Trailer, in old Barn on Birch Ave, Terrace
The VTR 10-12 radios sitting on the shelves, ready to be swapped out. Don sadly passed away Jan 2016 at Lac la Hache BC

Bill Rush installing a VTR 10-12 with the Mechanic, Art Kerr, watching closely!
(notice old windows of Army Hangar in background)
These pictures were taken in the building that burnt to the ground, May 8, 1975
These photos were taken not many days before that fire.
Bill Rush passed away in May 2012

We had to work in some nice places, and some terrible places, doing radio installs. I enjoyed doing installs in our own garages, but hated going to the customers place, since it meant hauling all the tools etc. When we did, I didn’t mind going to the Old Kenworth shop in Thornhill, off of Queensway Dr. It was at least clean, and the Kenworth trucks weren’t too bad to work on.

Next came the Hayes truck shop on River Dr. The shop was great, but those old Hayes trucks were made out of steel armor plate. You would go thru 2 or 3 drill bits to drill 1 hole! They were built to last!

I worked in Skoglund’s old shop, site of Canadian Tire now, and it wasn’t bad.

Worst, bar none, was the old shop, down on Keith, with the 400 year old Mac trucks. Beavers Logging! The shop was bad, and the trucks worse! Old Mac Trucks decades old. Grease and dirt from one end to the other. Gear shifts everywhere, and no place to install a radio, where the operator could reach the controls. 2017 a metal recycling business is in that lot.

We also had to install radios and radio whistle receivers in yarders, and off highway logging rigs, at all sorts of choice places. I think some of the guys would find the biggest mud hole to park in for us to work on the truck. We had steady customers, Skeena Salvage wouldn’t pay his bill in the fall, we would take the radio out, in the Spring he would pay his bill, and we would put it back in, this went on for years. We got smart after a few years and left everything in place, except the set, so it took 1 minute to install the radio in the Spring!

We worked on radios for Crown Zellerbach and can say I hated everyone of them! Working in the sticks, you of course had to pack the portable generator to run the drill. Plus extension cords etc. You would have a truck full of tools, for a simple job!

I remember working on some pretty fancy salesmen cars, and drilling holes in the dash, floor, roof etc. You shuddered when you were drilling a hole in the rug, and suddenly a thread would run for a foot away from the hole! Opps, more careful next time!

I heard rumours before me, that one guy drilled through the floor of a new Thunderbird Car, then trough the transmission housing, thinking he had hit a brace only. I believe this cost the company a few dollars in repair bills! I wonder if Ken Rowe remembers anything about who did this?

We had logging Contractors like: John Jackson, Delbert R. Holtom, Haugland Logging, McGillis and Gibbs, Bell Pole, Bill Marsh Contracting, Skoglund Logging, Crown Zellerback, Columbia Cellulose, Beavers Logging, Skeena Saw Mill, Middleton Trucking, LH&K Logging, Elsworth Bros. (Kitwanga), Mac and Blo (Charlottes), Jasak Logging, Bonley Logging(Stewart), and many others, using our mobile radios.

Other businesses like: Kalum Cabs, Terrace Taxi, Skeena Salvage, Hardin Drilling, Native Band Offices in the area, and others had our radios.

Ailsa Henderson, nee Gillespie owned Kalum Kabs until 1992 with her husband Thomas Eaton Henderson
Ailsa Henderson
b- Dec 12, 1921 Royal Columbian Hospital
d- Dec 11, 2008 she retired to Maple Ridge area, Whonnock Lake
Thomas Eaton Henderson
d- May 8, 2003 at Ridge Meadows Hospital

Continue on Mobile Shop Page 2


  • Last modified: 2019/10/25 18:17
  • by dlgent