[CQ-Contest] ARRL Contests: A highly caustic view from Canada

Dave VO1AU VO1AU at rac.ca
Fri Apr 8 23:57:48 EDT 2005

Let's keep one thing in mind as we shudder through this sterile debate.  It 
started with one Yank whingeing that another Yank beat him in a contest by 
leaving the country, as hundreds do for each and every major contest.

Another thing to keep in mind is that all the hand-wringing we're doing here 
isn't going to change a bloody thing, save to get a few people over-wrought.

So, in the spirit of getting a few people over-wrought, here is some really 
biased history:
In Australia, the WIA was founded in 1910.  It is the oldest national 
Amateur Radio organisation on the planet.  Bonzer!

In 1914, a middle-aged man and a teenaged boy (no, nothing to do with 
Michael Jackson) founded an organisation with a similar mission in the USA. 
By virtue of population and wealth, ARRL quickly became a colossus in this 
hobby, strongly supporting and influencing its world-wide development.

In 1920, some arse-licking, Yank-loving, disloyal, Upper Canada (that's the 
old name for Ontario) quivering toadies were so lacking in imagination and 
self-confidence that they claimed that Canadian Amateurs could not organise 
its own national organisation.  Having never even tried, these Quislings 
petitioned the ARRL to create a so-called "Canadian Division."

(Yeah, just like the Chinese were invited into Tibet.)

And so they did.  Along the way, they normalised this freindly invasion by 
seducing many new Canadian Amateurs into becoming unwitting fifth 
columnists, padding the ARRL's balance sheets by 10% while poorly 
representing our interests to Canadian regulatory authorities who were 
patriotic enough to spurn advice from a foreign organisation pretending to 
represent our own citizens.  But it was good for the bottom line.

Those cretinous servile flatterers were oblivious to the excellent example 
set by the Australians, who inhabit a similarly-large, but even more 
lightly-populated landmass.  They should be burned in effigy, but it is 
better that they have been quietly forgotten.

That colonisation left scars that bedevil organised Amateur Radio in Canada 
some 85 years later, and cause us problems 13 years after we binned the 
ARRL/CRRL.  The experience left us will more liabilities than assets, and 
certain grotesque peculiarities that Dr Frankenstein might have appreciated.

I am strongly reminded of the "Sam Slick" short stories by Thomas Chandler 
Haliburton.  You can have your bloody clocks!

End of twisted history lesson

Canada's position in ARRL contests is an artifact of the period 1920-1992.

In the ARRL DX Contests, Canadians work DX.  If we were on the other side in 
that contest, we would only be working Yanks, and Canada would be one 
multiplier, not 14.  While killer scores would be possible, that could seem 
pretty boring when the bands are filled with interesting DX. 
Notwithstanding the optics, a lot of fun would go out of the contest if 
Canadians were on the other side of the rules.  Therefore, there's no 
impetus for change.

Those Canadians who now enjoy ARRL SS would be cut out entirely if that 
event became an internal US affair.  Therefore, there's no impetus for 

Another bit of history
Until 1959, there was one other country included in SS.  Then Castro took 

We never had a Castro.  And that's a very good thing.

But having the ARRL was a mixed blessing.  One positive thing is that some 
Canadian hams really enjoy the ARRL DX Contests and the SS.

There are no high-minded principles in this situation, just many years of 
practice. These contests are the Americans' party and they make space for 
us.  That's kind of nice, really, even if the symbolism of it all grates a 
patriotic nerve.  Apart from one Yank's jealousy of another, what's the 

BUT when will ARRL contests finally get the Canadian mulitipliers right? 
They can split hairs about which islands belong to North Cooks and South 
Cooks (see http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2005/04/02/1/ ), but they 
haven't quite figured out that Newfoundland and Labrador has been a single 
unit (whether colony, dominion or province) since 1800 (that's a year, not a 


Dave VO1AU - who plays around a bit in ARRL contests, but actually 
negotiates entire weekends to work CQ Magazine's events. 

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