Our club president Bernie Bonnar (VE1UT) became a silent key early in the morning of January 30. 2021 in the Yarmouth hospital. Our national organization Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) chooses a nominee to be their Amateur of the Year and members of the club's executive, along with Bernie's wife Veralyn (VE1VAR) composed an application nominating Bernie for that award. We intended to keep it a secret but when Bernie's health kept deteriorating, his daughter Bernadette read it to him in his hospital bed, so he died knowing how much he was respected by his ham radio friends. Here is the application. We don't yet know if he was chosen.
J. Bonnar – VE1UT
Bernie was born in
Tracy, NB 1n 1932 and at the age of 15 he developed an interest in Amateur
Radio and acquired a war surplus R1155 receiver, a code practice oscillator and
a hand key. He acquainted himself with
several established amateurs and listened to and practised Morse Code until he
felt comfortable enough to write the Amateur Examination
which he did in 1950
and was assigned the call sign VE1UT which he still holds 70 years later. After
the mandatory year on CW only, he passed the Advanced Amateur exam.
Bernie worked in
several different areas, always setting up a station wherever he went, his
final career was with the former CNCP Telecommunications which took him to
various locations in the Maritime Provinces and occasionally into Quebec. In 1970 he moved to Yarmouth and joined the
local amateur radio club where he held several offices and was an instructor
when the club conducted courses. He later
settled in Hebron, a village near Yarmouth.
Bernie was a pioneer in the use of the VHF and UHF bands in this area
and was instrumental in the setting up of our first VHF repeater, building or
supplying many items such as antennas, preamps etc. When IRLP came into use, he built and
installed 220 MHz Yagi antennas for a
link between the local REMO building where our club station is located and the
repeater site and supplied and installed the linking radios at both locations.
He was instrumental
in setting up a communications room at the Yarmouth REMO and another one at a
secondary site outside of town in case the first one becomes unusable. He arranged the acquisition and installation
of an HF transceiver at the secondary site that is remotely accessed via the
Internet, making the Yarmouth club the first one on the East Coast to have such
a facility. It’s available for club
members to use if their equipment is down or if they are unable to have an HF
antenna at home. One member used it
during an 8 week stay at a medical facility in Halifax and made daily 80 and 20
metre contacts with friends.
Bernie developed an
interest in EME operations and built a huge antenna array for that purpose and
made many contacts all over the world.
His property became known among local hams as Bonnar’s Aluminum
Farm. A big wind storm wrecked the
installation some years ago but he still keeps in touch with EME operators by
He was a leader in
supporting Field Day operations and often operated at our installations all
through the night. He organized and set
up a station at Cape Forchu Lighthouse at the mouth of Yarmouth harbour for two
separate Lighthouses and Lightships on the Air events, both of which were very
successful. He serves on the board of
the local EMO (now known as REMO) and participates in their exercises, both
table top and in the field.
When he learned that
a federal government department was disposing of a number of VHF mobile and
hand held radios he arranged for our club to receive many of them and then had
them programmed for local fire departments and the Ground Search Team. He was a member of and the communications
advisor for that team and received an award from the RCMP for 25 years of
volunteer service to the team.
Bernie served as
president of the Nova Scotia Amateur Radio Association and held regular
on-the-air meetings as well as composing a monthly newsletter which, in the
days before the Internet, was printed and mailed to the members.
At the age of 88,
Bernie is the respected Chairman of our local club and we hope to hear Victor Echo One
United Tango on the air for a long time to come. His wife Veralyn is also an
amateur with the call sign VE1VAR and his son Mitchell holds VE1BJE.
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