Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, describes the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication. (Wikipedia)

The term "amateur" is used to specify "a duly authorised person interested in radioelectric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest;"

Amateur Radio in Canada is regulated by a federal government department, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada). A step-by-step guide on becoming an Amateur can be found on their website at: /eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/h_07048.html#ic-subnav-2-

In Canada, radiocommunications are controlled and managed by the government (Spectrum Management and Telecommunications) through legislation and regulation. 

Any person wanting to use  or devices must be authorized. In some cases specific devices are certified to operate in certain frequencies and for use by anyone. In other cases either devices and/or 

devices are certified - example FRS/GMRS and WiFi.

What is Amateur Radio?

If you were to ask a dozen different amateurs what ham radio meant to them chances are you would get 12 different answers. Radio amateurs have discovered a richly rewarding high-tech hobby that has many different appeals to different people. Whether it is the ability to talk to local friends over the radio waves using a hand-held transceiver (HT), communicating digitally with packet radio to exchange personal messages or vital information in an emergency, talking to other hams anywhere in the world, or engaging in contests with other Radio Amateurs over the airwaves there is something for everyone. The section What Hams Do gets into more detail about these activities.

Amateurs or Hams?

Amateurs are often affectionately called hams or ham radio operators and frequently the public is more familiar with this term than with the legal term Radio Amateur. The source of the name ham is not known but it has been around almost from the beginning of amateur radio radio in the early 1900s. The name amateur has nothing to do with skill or knowledge but rather implies that ham radio cannot be used for commercial or revenue generating purposes. It is truly a hobby but often one that makes a difference especially in emergency or disaster situations.

Modes of Communication

Amateur radio operators generally use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with each other. As you will discover in these pages there are many forms of communication although voice (also known as phone) is still the most widely used. Some of the other forms of transmission are Radioteletype (Rtty), Morse code (CW), television, and digital modes such as Packet, Pactor, PSK-31 or VARA. A recent survey shows that phone (voice) is the most widely used with CW standing second.

Getting  Certified

In some countries other than Canada, the Amateur Radio is a license. In Canada, it is called an Amateur Radio Certificate. To become a radio amateur you will need to get a certificate. Certification requirements are different in every country with different rules, privileges, and classes of certificate. Basically different levels of certificates gives different privileges on the ham bands. The more challenging the license requirements the more privileges that are granted and the more interesting and enjoyable ham radio becomes.

About RAC

Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) is a not-for-profit membership association that represents the interests of Amateur Radio all across Canada. Speaking on behalf of Canadian Radio Amateurs, RAC provides liaison with government agencies and carries the Amateur voice about regulatory and spectrum issues to the discussion table with government and industry leaders, nationally and internationally. RAC is the Canadian voting member society of the International Amateur Radio Union, (IARU). 

Visit RAC at

The Northern Alberta Radio Club is a RAC [Affiliated Club] member.