James (Jim) Swail – VE3KF  QCWA # 8695   (SK)

Jim was born and grew up in Montreal. He became blind at the age of four as a result of a car accident.


Education / Employment History

1946 - He graduated from McGill University with the B Sc degree

1946 -1985 Jim worked at National Research Council as a Radio Engineer until retirement in 1985. He was involved with aids for the handicapped, frequency and time standards. Jim developed many instruments and devices for use by the sight-impaired. These include a sensor for detecting light sources, sound beacons to identify where objects are located, voice synthesizers for telephones and electric thermometers that can be heard or felt, a pocket-sized electronic calculator for the blind, and a synthetic speech output for blind computer users. He is probably best known as the developer of a better white cane - a four-section collapsible cane that could be easily folded and kept in a pocket or purse when not in use. He even developed an alternative to the cane in the form of an ultra-sonic obstacle detector that vibrated the handle when an obstacle was detected.

1981 - Jim was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree by McGill University.

1984 - Awarded the Order of Canada

1987 - Awarded the Order of Ontario

Jim was also a Technical Consultant to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Montreal Association for the Blind 


Amateur Radio History

1946 - First licensed as VE2TV in Montreal.

1946 - Operated as VE3BNR after his move to Ottawa.

1947 - Operated as VE2YV from Hull.

1948 - Assigned VE3KF on his return to Ottawa.

Jim was a very active operator from 75 to 10M SSB/CW, and on 2M FM.

He was holder of DXCC, WAC and a member of the Rag Chewers’ Club.

Jim won the ARRL DX Contest, and twice the CQ DX Contest for Ontario.

He was President of the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club in 1951-1952 and Technical Advisor 1954-1955.

Jim never allowed his lack of sight to get in the way of normal living. He was famous for regularly climbing his tower at night to work on his beam.

1974 - Jim was one of the twenty-one Charter Members of Chapter 70. 
1978/79 - He served as a Chapter 70 Director.

Jim passed away Sept 3, 2005 at age 81 years

Prepared by VE3XK with the assistance of VE3PU                                                                         Updated 2010-11-28