The following Canadian National Parks on the Air (CNPOTA) update was provided by Sheldon Hartling, VE1GPY. 
May 15, 2019 – Freezing temperatures and snowy conditions have not deterred avid Radio Amateurs from activating Canadian national parks and historic sites as part of the year-long CNPOTA event. To date, there have been 101 successful activations of Parks Canada sites. Each of these activations required Radio Amateurs to travel to one of Canada’s 48 national parks or 172 national historic sites and set up portable radio equipment to make contacts with Radio Amateur Chasers who were following their adventures. 
A typical CNPOTA activation takes a few hours and involves either a solo operator or teams of operators representing a club or radio group. Band conditions have made this more challenging and activators will typically attempt multiple bands and multiple modes to increase their point totals. All Amateur bands except 60m and 4m are allowed and there are three accepted modes: CW, phone and digital. FT8 has been a popular digital mode.
Here are some highlights of the activations so far:
Most activity was on the east coast with confirmed activations in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. There have been recent activation attempts in British Columbia and Alberta, but so far these have not been confirmed.  As of May 15, no activations have been attempted in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. We’re hoping the “rest-of-Canada” will come join in the fun!
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The husband and wife team of Rob Noakes, VE3PCP and Alicia Noakes, VA3KGZ, along with their son Justin Noakes, VA3AQZ, operating as VE3IHR, Inverhuron Ham Radio Club, continued their activations of the Point Clark Lighthouse National Historic Site (ON37) and have now completed 20 activations of the lighthouse! They also completed an activation of Bruce Peninsula National Park (ON01) and Woodside National Historic Site (ON47). The activations have been done mostly with mobile antennas and 100 Watts of power with their classic Kenwood TS850 running strictly on dedicated battery power separate from the vehicle power system and no generator. They have run both SSB and FT8 digital modes at all locations on many bands from 80m through 10m.

Pierre Jolin, VE2GT, visited eight Parks Canada sites in the Montreal, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City and Ottawa areas and completed 11 activations.  Pierre says “people are often surprised when I tell them that I’m a Radio Amateur and can talk to Europe from my car”.

Al Penney, VO1NO and Scot Austin, VA1WTF, operating under the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club VA1AVR call sign, visited nine different Parks Canada sites in the Annapolis Valley area of Nova Scotia and completed a total of 15 activations. Unlike many activators, Al and Scot have decided not to rely on mobile antennas and operating in the comfort (and warmth!) of a vehicle’s interior.  Instead, they set up half-wave dipoles outside on telescoping poles and operate underneath the tailgate of Al’s Xterra.  With propagation conditions as bad as they are, they try to take advantage of the benefits of full-size antennas.  They also regard this as excellent practice for emergencies, and they can set up a complete HF station in minutes.  Of course, winter in Nova Scotia can be unpleasant at times and, as veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, they have been overheard using the expression “embrace the suck” on occasion!

Denis Rule, VE3BF, activated seven Parks Canada sites in the Ottawa area operating under the Manotick Amateur Radio Group VE3AIR call sign and another two under his own call sign.
Sheldon Hartling, VE1GPY, visited seven Parks Canada sites and completed eight activations.  In addition to three local Halifax sites, Sheldon ventured out on roadtrips to the Fort Beauséjour National Historic Site (NB13) in New Brunswick, and to the Fort Edward (NS17), Fort Lawrence (NS18) and Fort Sainte Marie de Grace (NS20) National Historic Sites in Nova Scotia.  The activations have been done with mobile Hustler antennas and 100 Watts of power using an Icom IC-7300 running on dedicated  battery power using an SLA battery and solar panel. His last rove ended a little early when his Santa Fe broke a spring in some winter potholes in LaHave, Nova Scotia and had to be towed 120 kilometres back to Halifax.
The North Atlantic Amateur Radio Club / NARP Field Ops Team VO1NAR visited two Parks Canada sites in the St John’s area and completed eight activations. Operators were Ira Stacey, VO1IRA, Sheldon Tower, VO1TWR, Paul Price, VO1CRP, Paul Sherren, VO1ZAP, Matthew Webb, VO1WEB, Chris Hillier, VO1IDX and Brian Kidney, VO1CDR.  Being an island in the North Atlantic, Newfoundland can experience harsh weather conditions especially during the winter months. The team experienced frigid temperatures reaching windchills below –20C, and wind gusts over 70 km/h that caused their vertical antenna to bend and resemble more of an upside-down-U. With warmer months in their future they are planning to activate addition parks in Newfoundland.  Chris Hillier, a member of the group, is currently driving to Dayton OH and visited two sites along the way.  These additional VO1NAR activations should be confirmed once log files are uploaded.
John Bignell, VE1JMB, a new Radio Amateur, completed two activations in Halifax and another one in Quebec.  John has embraced the spirit of the event and says “whether I am sitting beside the Mersey River with tall trees and the sun trying to peak through, or digging a snow shelter to block the cold winter Québec snow, spending time in our beautiful Canadian National Parks while connecting with others from around the world allows me to pursue two passions as one.  I have been focusing on a simple portable QRP setup that fits in my knapsack and that I can bring everywhere my paddle, bike, or snowshoes take me.”
Dave Goodwin, VE9CB, activated two sites in New Brunswick: Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site (NB13) and Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site of Canada (NB12).
Several parks were activated by separate teams at the same time:
  • VE2GT and VE1JMB activated Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site (QC14)
  • VE2GT and VE3AIR activated Fort Wellington National Historic Site (ON25)
  • VE2GT and VE3AIR Laurier House National Historic Site of Canada (ON30)
There were two activations of the Saint-Ours Canal National Historic Site (QC36) with Pierre Jolin, VE2GT, as the operator using the RAC station call sign VA2RAC.
Several parks have been activated entirely with satellite QSOs:
  • Point Pelee National Park (ON03) by Ron Bondy, ADODX.  This included a park-to-park satellite contact with Mike Diehl, VE6LID at Fort Malden National Historic Site (ON22).
  • Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site (NB13) by Dave Goodwin, VE9CB.
Congratulations to Peter Kobak, K0BAK, of opening day fame, for confirming “Five Star Activator” status on the first day of CNPOTA! Peter is currently on a mid-May mega-rove to the Maritime provinces with hopes of activating up to 33 parks; most of these will be for the first time. As of May 14, he was about halfway complete, having activated 14 parks with 437 contacts in 10 countries!
Pete’s vehicle is a former “TV van” or ENG (Electronic News Gathering) truck. He is in the process of building it into a 20-band rover vehicle for HF and VHF contests and events. Pete has visited Canada many times with his family, including a cruise with stops in the Maritimes, but this is his first drive through the area. Having sampled the beauty and history of the area, he is looking forward to returning with his spouse for a more leisurely visit.
And finally, congratulations to the North Atlantic Amateur Radio Club / NARP Field Ops Team VO1NAR and to Sheldon Hartling, VE1GPY for also confirming “Five Star Activator” status! Five Star Activators engage in exceptional outreach during activations and must perform a minimum of five items on the Five Star Activator list and provide documentation upon request.
A big thank you to all of the CNPOTA activators. These activators are the stars of the event! Please listen for them on the air and watch for them on the spotting networks and in the CNPOTA Facebook group. Most importantly, if you make a CNPOTA contact, be sure to log on to the website and upload your log file. Activators only get credit for confirmed QSOs and they need five confirmed QSOs to confirm their activation. It means a lot to them.
The website is a one-stop clearing house for CNPOTA activity. It allows participants to:
  • upload log files in ADIF and Cabrillo formats.  (To date, over 1100 log files have been uploaded).
  • obtain information on Canadian national parks and historic sites
  • obtain information on CNPOTA rules, honour roll and available certificates
  • get answers to frequently asked questions
  • review progress on three leader boards and the honour roll
  • track confirmed contacts for any call sign
A recent addition to the website adds Chip Chapman, VA3KGB’s interactive map of the 220 CNPOTA sites. This map makes it easy to locate eligible CNPOTA sites.
The most important thing is participants are having fun! To date, 49 of the 220 Parks Canada sites have been activated. Hopefully, now as the country is starting to thaw, we’ll see even more activations – especially from the provinces that have yet to participate.
Don’t forget to follow CNPOTA Chasers and Activators via Twitter using #CNPOTA at:
If you have any questions or inquiries about the event please visit the Canadian National Parks on the Air website at and specifically the “Contact Us” at You can also find us on Facebook at: