Our travels in Canada this summer exceeded our expectations.
If you’ve been following my Canada POTA activations and field reports, you’ll get an idea where we traveled and a small sampling of the many amazing parks Canada has to offer.
We started off our trip in Ottawa where we spent four days.
Only moments after arriving at our hotel that first day, Vince (VE6LK) made time in his schedule to administer my Canadian Basic exam remotely. That evening–despite being a bit bleary eyed after a fairly long day of driving–I passed my Basic with Honours. (I’m still chuffed about that!)
By the next morning, I already had the callsign I requested: VY2SW. My mailing address in Canada is in Prince Edward Island hence the VY2 call. Since essentially every new call in Canada is a vanity call, I chose the suffix SW to reflect my US call. PEI is one of the few provinces where as a Basic license holder you can request a 2×2 call.
My first activation in Canada was at Hog’s Back Conservation Reserve. I had the good fortune of meeting up with Andrew, one of my subscribers, at the park. It was great getting to know him–what a nice fellow–and to start off a series of activations in Canada on the right foot.
After leaving Ottawa, we made our way to Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Québec where we’d reserved a condo/townhome for 6 weeks. That served as our home base as we traveled around Québec City, Saguenay, the Charlevoix region, and the North Shore of the St-Lawrence.
I noted in many field reports how surprised I was to discover that a number of popular parks were still ATNOs (All-Time New Ones) in the POTA network. Then again, POTA hasn’t been in Canada as long as other similar programs like WWFF and SOTA.
Many of the POTA activations I made in Canada were in urban parks–especially the ones in/around Québec City. These activations took me outside of my comfort zone; I’m used to activating state and national parks back home that are expansive and largely in rural areas.
I kept my activations a little lower-profile so as not to disturb other park guests. That said, many people approached me to ask about the Morse Code they were hearing and my radio gear. Very few people interrupted my activations–most approached me as I packed up.
I had hoped to fit in two SOTA activations during our travels, but it simply didn’t work out. Both summits were a short distance from our condo, but the hike up/back would take a very large chunk out of the day. I gave priority to activities my family wanted to do together and, fortunately, many of those were at national and provincial parks.
Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (VE-0012)
On Saturday, July 30, 2022–the day before we left Québec–we spent the afternoon at our favorite local park: Cap Tourmente.
Cap Tourmente was the only park I activated twice during our travels since I made it a personal goal to activate new-to-me POTA sites each time.
My first Cap Tourmente activation was incredibly fun. I set up in the marsh lands outside the main park grounds near a wildlife viewing area.
For this second activation, we paid the entry fee for our family to explore the main grounds.
Some of our favorite hikes are on the main grounds. It’s a stunning site especially if you enjoy the biodiversity of marshes.
We spent the afternoon hiking our favorite paths and soaking up the perfect weather.
This being a protected Natural Wildlife Area, I didn’t want to set up my station in a spot where other people would be walking by or where I felt like I’d need permission from a park employee (especially since I couldn’t find a park employee on site!).
Of course, I could have deployed my trusty low-profile, low-impact, AX1 antenna, but I’d just used that antenna at The Plains of Abraham activation.
Instead, we opted to set up in the large parking area near the entrance of Cap Tourmente.
We placed our picnic blanket on the ground and I fired up the Thermacell mosquito repeller (a necessity in marsh lands!). My wife and daughters decided to explore the nearby hiking paths and observation decks as I set up and performed the activation.
This was going to be a relatively short activation because we were approaching park closing time.
I used my arborist throw line to easily snag a tree branch hanging over the picnic blanket. I then deployed my Tufteln random wire antenna as a vertical (using a 31′ radiator and 17′ counterpoise).
Instead of sitting on the ground (which makes it difficult to film the activation), I sat in my folding camp chair.
- Elecraft KX2 and KXPD2 Paddles
- tufteIn EFRW QRP Antenna Long Wire
(with 31′ radiator and 17′ counterpoise)
- Moleskine Cahier Journal (affiliate link)
- Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil (affiliate link)
- N0RNM’s homemade knee board
- ALDI folding portable chair
- Thermacell mosquito repeller
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera (affiliate link)
Deploying the antenna and station took all of 5 minutes. Sites like this present absolutely no challenge (I welcome this from time to time!).
On The Air
As I set up the KX2 on my knee board and opened my log book, I discovered that some of my pages were stuck together with what was obviously the remains of a plant.
I thought (incorrectly) that it was a flower and that one of my daughters used the log book to press it.
Post-activation, my wife investigated further and discovered it was a raspberry that somehow got stuck in the pages. Most likely, this happened during the previous activation when we discovered a load of raspberry bushes in the Plains of Abraham park! I obviously dropped one in the log book somehow. It’s still a bit of a mystery…
Now where was I–? Oh yes…
I started this activation on 20 meters and almost immediately logged six stations: W9AV, VA1ANC/P, W8NWG, KG8YT, K9IS, and N4VUG.
After a few more CQ POTAs unanswered (keeping in mind I was on the clock) I QSYed to the 30 meter band.
I then worked K1HE, W9AV (again, thanks!), WA3IGU, K9IS, and N3VO all in the span of seven minutes.
At this point I had already validated the activation (only ten contacts needed in POTA). I decided to keep moving up the band so QSYed to 17 meters.
I then logged KD4AN, EC5CSW (proper DX!), and N3VO in about four minutes.
Next, and mainly for kicks, I moved up to the 15M band where I was very pleased to log KF3B.
Even though 40 meters had been a wash-out recently, I thought I might cast my call there for a few minutes but as I tuned up, I noticed my wife and daughters returning to the site. I decided to call QRT and rejoin them.
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, there are no ads and I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time:
Click here to view on YouTube.
Going to miss this place
Post-activation I still had enough time to fit in a nice walk and enjoy a nearby wildlife observation deck.
We also walked around the old farm buildings at the entrance of the park.
Knowing this would likely be my last activation in Québec for the year, it was a bit bittersweet, I’ll admit.
That said, I’ve already written up a long list of parks and summits I hope to hit the next time we spend the summer in La Belle Province.
Back to Ottawa!
The following day, we packed the car and made our way back to Ottawa for another four day stint.
Once again, we had an amazing time.
On our first day, the wife surprised me with a late birthday gift: a ticket to fly on a WWII era biplane over Parliament. What an amazing gift–I was over the moon! Turned out that there was room for two passengers, so one of my daughters joined me (the other had a different adventure planned for us back in the States!).
We also spent a couple hours exploring the amazing Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. I got to finally see their Lancaster (one of my favorite WWII heavies) up close and personal. What a beautiful aircraft!
We spent the bulk of that same afternoon downtown enjoying an international busking festival.
The following day, we fit in a little canoeing on the Rideau Canal, some more exploring, and I even managed another activation of Hog’s Back.
I decided not to film the final Hog’s Back activation, but I did record the audio directly from the radio. I might put that in a field report later for those interested.
Canada never fails to leave us with the most positive impression possible. I’m quite proud to now hold a Canadian call sign and plan to give it heavy use in the years to come!
Thank you for joining me on this and all of my activations in Canada!
Of course, I’ve so many more activation in store State-side including catching up on some SOTA!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund.
While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
In fact–no kidding–your support is what has made this extended family road trip to Canada possible. I apply any funds above and beyond the costs of running the website, producing the videos, and purchasing review equipment, to our family travel fund.
This not only gives me an opportunity to play radio well outside my home area, but my family also gets to benefit from all of the work I put into producing activation videos and content on QRPer.com.
Thank you so very much!
Here’s wishing everyone a little radio activity this week!
Cheers & 72,
Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)
8 thoughts on “Biplanes, Canoes, Callsigns, and POTA: Looking back on our summer in Canada and final field report from Québec”
Thanks for sharing your adventures in Canada. What a beautiful country. One I will never see
Thanks for sharing your summer adventures, always nice to read your blogs and watch the activations.
I’m curious why you got your Canadian call when your US license works in Canada under the reciprocal agreement. I’ve actually thought about getting my Canadian license as well as I’m in Canada a lot, I just haven’t done it yet.
Great wrap up of your summer adventures in Canada. I always enjoy reading reports or watching videos of people giving their foreigners perspectives on my own country, a place I all too often take for granted. Come back again! Au revoir! À la prochaine (hopefully on the air)!
Thanks for taking us all along.
Thanks for the synopsis Thomas. Sounds like ya’ll had a great vacation and made lots of memories. Plus some great activations. You can’t ask for a better summer.
Thanks. Your adventures were a great way to spend an afternoon.
It’s always interesting reading your travel logs and sounds as if you had a great time.
Also interested that Aldi is over in the US!
Lastly I like the Canadian badge on the back pack!
Forgot to ask what was the Biplane?