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"Come Quick, Danger: A History of Marine Radio in Canada" by Stephan Dubreuil

Reviewed by Harold Sellers, 73737.3453@compuserve.com This review first appeared in the March 1999 ed. of "DX Ontario," the bulletin of the Ontario DX Association, and is reprinted with the writer's permission.

"Come Quick, Danger: A History of Marine Radio in Canada," was researched and written by Stephan Dubreuil and published by the Canadian Coast Guard. This book looks at the history of Canadian marine radio communications from the advent of wireless communication in the 1890s to November 19, 1996, when the Canadian Coast Guard at Ketch Harbour in Nova Scotia sent out its last Morse code message.

"Come Quick, Danger" was written as an historical document that would serve as a useful reference tool, as well as a general interest book for those interested in the history of marine communications and radio operating. It starts with Marconi, and documents why and how Canada played an important role in Marconi's development of radio. Radio's first major impact was for communications at sea, and with Canada's long coastlines and proximity to the major shipping channels, this country was well placed to play a very significant role in radio's development.

Some of the major radio communications events covered in this book are: the first commercial marine radio station in North America at Fame Point, Quebec; radio's role in the Titantic disaster; and the development of radio during World War II. The book looks at radio's history from a regional perspective, chronicling its development in Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the Great Lakes, the Arctic and finally the Pacific Coast. It describes the early shift from communications on longwave to shortwave. Numerous photographs illustrate the history.

There are lots of interesting stories and anecdotes in "Come Quick, Danger." There are numerous descriptions of shipwrecks and maritime disasters. However, there are some humerous stories as well. Early radio operators often led very isolated lives, and some were quite eccentric characters. During the very early days, there were few or no laws and jurisdiction over radio. A common term sent by an angry Morse operator was GTH, "Go To Hell." Another way to show displeasure with another operator was to crank the power up to maximum and hold down the key, creating as much interference as possible. During prohibition during the early 1920s, rum running was very common on our east coast. Even this aided in the growth of radio.

"Come Quick, Danger" is a very enjoyable read throughout its 136 pages. Unfortunately, the book was not well constructed physically; by the time I had finished reading it, the cover was separating from the book and pages were falling out. So handle your copy with care!

(Canadian Government Publishing, Catalog No. T31-107/1998E, ISBN 0-660-17490-1; $21.95 plus shipping & handling and GST; call 1-800-635-7943; mail orders to Canadian Government Publishing, Public Works & Government Services Canada, 350 Albert St., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0S9. See http://publications.pwgsc.gc.ca)