Lions give $9,500 to radio club

Manitoulin Amateur Radio Club president Allan Boyd, holding cheque on right, met with the Little Current Lions Club to receive their donation with members of his club.

LITTLE CURRENT – The Little Current Lions Club made a substantial donation to the Manitoulin Amateur Radio Club (MARC) last week before its popular Catch the Ace weekly draw event.

MARC President Allan Boyd told The Expositor that his club approached the Lions about potentially donating to a new antenna for its repeater system which would allow for radio communications across Manitoulin in case of an emergency. Mr. Boyd said he was taken aback when he learned that the Lions would be donating the entire asking price—$9,500.

As a history lesson, MARC was formed in 1988 with just four members, Mr. Boyd the youngest among them.

“Sadly, I’m the last original member” he told The Expositor. “Everyone else has passed away now.”

Over the years, besides being ham radio enthusiasts, the club’s main push has been its role with Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).

Industry Canada, Mr. Boyd explained, is the regulatory body for amateur radio operators, and grants them the use of certain radio channels for free, but with one caveat: they must give back by providing emergency communications free of charge when called upon. 

Should “terrestrial communications” break down, such as cellphone, internet or landlines, MARC can rush in, set up their equipment and begin the important process of relaying information via the repeater system located on the CBC tower on McLean’s Mountain.

On Manitoulin, many municipalities include amateur radio as part of their emergency plans. “Every emergency operations centre has a ham radio connected to that repeater on Green Bush Road,” he said. 

“Back in 1998 we placed a repeater on the CBC tower,” Mr. Boyd said. Over the years, the system began to degrade. The most recent antenna was installed in 1993. “Ice, rain, snow sleet eventually took its toll. Nothing lasts forever.”

“As president of the radio club, thank you to all the members of the Little Current Lions Club,” Mr. Boyd said. “The only money we make comes from our very small dues. We serve the community for emergency purposes and community functions,” Mr. Boyd added, noting its work with the Haweater Weekend parade, Terry Fox Run and last Haweater Weekend’s visit by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Golden Helmets precision motorcycle team.

MARC is hoping to have the new antenna up and running by this summer.

“We’re pleased to support this initiative and know it’s important to the entire Island community,” said Lion President Bruce Burnett. “It’s thanks to Manitoulin’s support of Catch the Ace that we’re able to make substantial donations like this one that benefit us all.”