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K.C. (Lofty) Harris

Started in 1912 - Retired in 1960

 
 

1960 - Edmonton Radio Veteran Retires

 

"Lofty" Harris, veteran radio technician of Edmonton regional, is seen, centre, receiving a slide projector from H. J. Williamson, regional director of air services, right, and a projection screen from D. J. Dewar, left.

 

 A veteran radio operator and technician with the department, K. C. Harris of Edmonton, retired on May 9 after 49 years' service.

 

"Lofty", as he was known to his host of friends, was a native of Nova Scotia but spent the greater part of his life in the West. In February, 1912, he joined the old Department of Marine and Fisheries as an operator and served at various marine stations along the British Columbia coast. He often recalls with a smile the "good old days" when spark gap transmitters were still "new-fangled" inventions for communication with ships at sea.

 

After serving at almost every coastal station, he became a radio inspector in Vancouver region. In 1943 he was promoted to radio technician and he served under "Buzz" Butler constructing and maintaining radio stations throughout British Columbia. In 1953 he moved to Edmonton region, where he was employed until his retirement.

 

Recalling some of fate's strange ways, "Lofty" tells how, during World War I, all radio operators were enlisted in the Naval Reserve and transferred to the Department of Naval Services. "Lofty" was enlisted, trained and given his uniform. Then he was sent back to his old post on the coastal stations!

During his tour of duty as radio technician, "Lofty" constructed aeradio stations for the department at Comox, Port Hardy, Dog Creek and Quesnel. He is known the length and breadth of the Cariboo region and up the Northwest Staging Route from Edmonton to Whitehorse, Snag and Aishihik. He was always a welcome guest of radio operators in those regions, for during his travels he never failed to find time to make friends with the children and help them with such problems as fixing toys or making a rink.

 

He will be missed by the operating staff, who never tired of hearing his colorful description of the penalties he would impose on any who failed in maintaining their station equipment properly.

 

On the occasion of his retirement he was honored at regional headquarters when the staff presented him with a slide projector, screen and slide magazines. In the evening, a stag party was held in his honor at the RCAF reserve mess.

 

 

Frank Statham recalls - Jan 30, 2010

 

Lofty was born in Nova Scotia in 1893. He started his career at Victoria Wireless in February 1912. He was at Dead Tree from March 1912 to May 1913. In June of 1913 Harris moved across to Digby Island and in February 1914 he shifted up to Alert Bay. His posting there was short as in March 1914 he was posted to Triangle Island in March 1914. In August 1915 he shipped down south to Point Grey where he stayed for two years. In October 1917 he moved up to Estevan until at least February of the following year. His next posting was up in Ikeda from at least June 1918 through to August 1919. [I got these dates from his early photo album notes.

 

A commercial business directory shows Lofty working as an operator at Bull Harbour in 1923 through to 1930, but these dates may be a year out due to printing delays. Sometime before 1943 he became a Radio Inspector. In 1943 he transferred to a radio technician and constructed and maintained marine and airport radio stations in British Columbia. He finished his career in the Aviation Radio branch of the Federal Government in Alberta, retiring in May 1960. He spent the last of his retirement years in the Coombs area of Vancouver Island, west of Parksville, on Vancouver Island.

 

 

Milton Watts recalls - Feb 15, 2010

 

I first met Lofty when I was OIC Norman Wells. He and Austin Smith were installing our new station in the new ATB. I was assisting when ever and were ever I could. The terminal was a two storey flat roof building. Lofty and I were installing the VHF antennaes. I was lying on the roof holding the antennaes while Lofty, standing on a long extension ladder, was bolting them into place. The ladder slipped, down one rung pinning Lofty's toes between two rungs. That was when I learned of Lofty's colorful english. Later I was to learn that his mastery of the language could and did set unsuspecting RO's to cower in their chairs. Installing a new Winnipeg desk into one station, he could not get it through the door. Grabbing a nearby fire axe, he chopped the leg off, replacing it with a nailed on two by four.

 

He taut me the Lofty method of tuning up LF transmitting antennae without any test equipment. The "Hot Spark" method. The hotter the spark the better the tuning.

 

While Lofty gave the appearance of a violent man at times, he was a real softy at heart. He used to visit our house, some times for supper. It was amazing to see how our children took to him immediately. They would crawl over him and he really enjoyed it. He was person that I am please to say I knew.

 

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