To own or operate a radio transmitter on the Amateur bands, you must be in possession of a Amateur Radio Operators Certificate.  Certificates are issued by Industry Canada for life.  With the Certificate comes a Call Sign.  All Canadian callsigns begin with either VE,VA,VO or VY followed by a number, Saskatchewan's being 5.  This is followed by a personal suffix of two or three letters.  A typical Saskatchewan call sign would be VE5AA (issued to the Saskatoon Amateur Radio Club).

Station certificates are only issued to those who have proven their competence to operate a transmitter, and this is by examinations at various levels.  In recent years these examinations have become less onerous, and it is now possible to operate on some frequencies without a knowledge of Morse Code.

The starting point is the Basic Operators' certificate.   The examination for this covers elementary electrical and radio theory and regulations.  The possession of this certificate allows operation on all bands above 30Mhz in any mode.  Most new hams start with a hand-held 2 metre transceiver.  But it is permissible to work with Amateur Television, various forms of Teletype, Satellite and Packet Radio through a computer.

In order to operate on lower frequencies one still must either pass a 5 words per minute Morse code test or achieve more than 80% on the written exam.  The 5 words per minute speed is not difficult to achieve and grants full privileges to work any of the Ham Bands.

The Advanced level certificate is theory only.  This permits one to build transmitters, establish a Club station and operate a repeater.

Some people study at home and take the examination at the local Industry Canada office.  In Saskatoon test sessions are once a month and a small fee is charged.  Most study through courses organised by local Amateur radio clubs. The Saskatoon Amateur Radio Club sponsors a course every year.

It should be noted that Canadian regulations and examinations differ greatly from those of the United States, and studying from American books is not a good idea.

The standard text is The Canadian Amateur Study Guide published by Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), the national organisation.  There is also a Question Bank which is available from Industry Canada: Industry Canada's Basic question bank.

For more information about the SARC sponsored courses, please contact SARC at

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