Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Canadian Islands Award Program

Every summer for the past four years the ham radio group I belong to has activated several islands. Last summer was no different, we activated five of the Canadian Islands around the Kingston area over a two month period. According to what records we could find most of them had not been activated for several years, and a one had never been activated at all. This was done so we could take part in the Canadian Islands Award Program.

It was a lot of fun, the days were hot and sunny, but there always seemed to be a good breeze blowing of the St. Lawrence or Lake Ontario to keep us cool and the bugs down while we operated.  It's a great way to keep hone your portable operating skills.

What amazed us was the demand for these islands. On one remarkable Sunday afternoon we worked hundreds of stations calling us as we operated portable on Simcoe Island. In fact at one point we did 139 contacts in 58 minutes after some kind soul spotted us on the DX Cluster. It was a great afternoon.

This coming summer will be no different for us, we already have plans to activate three islands- Milton, Garden, and Iroquois Islands. Milton has never been activated before so we are expecting a good response to its activation.

The downside to all this is that the management of the Canadian Islands Award Program does not do a good job in promoting the activity. Last year we sent in five activation notices to the webmaster to be placed on their news page. Not one of our activation notices was ever dealt with, or posted on their website, and we have since heard from several fellow activators who have had a similar experience.

Now I did complain via email to the program manager and coordinator, and he kindly phoned me in return and we had a splendid chat about several issues. I understand that these guys are volunteers and that they do this in their spare time….Don't get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with this. But come on, if you’re going to run an award program at least keep your website up-to-date, and list upcoming activations so that the ham community can see what is going on.

It’s been nine months today since the website was last up-dated, and in fact one page, the “Activators & Chasers & Expeditions” hasn’t been up-dated since 25 April 2004!! It’s one hell of a way to run an award scheme, in fact it looks like the award scheme is actually dead from the way the website looks.

The Canadian Islands Award Program is something Canadian hams should be proud of, it showcases our outdoors in all its glory. 

The Americans have the US Islands Award Program as well. Here’s a link to their website...............quite a difference eh?


  1. Bill,

    Interesting you and your groups Island hopping activities.

    I operate frequently from Iroquois Island, that is if you are referring to same Iroquois Island that I am - the one where the locks are, at Iroquois Ontario.

    Except for January and February this year, I have been to the island at least once a month, usually more often, for the past year. It has just become one of my favourite portable operating sites. Last year I operated Field Day and made a few contacts in the North American Islands on the Air contest.

    I will likely visit and make a few contacts the same day as the Iroquois Hamfest (April 7 I think).

    You will have to make sure that you let me know when your group plans to operate from Iroquois Island.

    cheers, Graham ve3gtc

    1. Graham,

      Iroquois Island is on our calendar for July 8th this year.

      Bill VE3CLQ

  2. Morning Bill,

    Thanks for the that. I have July 8th circled on my calendar and will on helping out/tagging alone/whatever so long as there is room for another.

    There a couple more islands nearby Iroquois, east of Morrisburg actually, Ault Island and Morrison Island (Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary) that I have been scouting out suitable portable operating spots. So far no luck, lots of private property and I just haven't stumbled upon the right person to ask questions of.

    I see your blog posting has sparked a recent update of the CISA website. Not much of an update but at least it is something.

    Please keep me in the loop ( planophore at aei dot ca )

    cheers, Graham ve3gtc