Cross-town Communication

No longer are telephones, satellites and power stations functioning for communication across or outside the city. Wind-up radios and shortwave radios are the best source of information to gather from stations powered independently, and some solar laptops and computer can access internet with select servers also independently powered. For the purposes of in-town non-computerized communication, the guidelines below will aid in establishing a reliable system.


In the past few years, each neighbourhood in Toronto has established a communication center, consisting of a large notice board sheltered from wind and the elements, and functioning as a station for one or more messengers. They are housed in storefronts, community centers, schools, libraries and various families’ homes. Messages are sent from the community center of one neighbourhood to that of another, but to individual addresses in case of emergency. These centers act as post office boxes and can also set up a system of mailboxes for families or households.

Ideally there should be 3 messengers per center to handle various distances: a foot messenger to walk messages within 2 kilometers; a running or wheeled messenger (inline skates, skateboard, etc) for up to 5 kilometers and for short emergency runs; and a cycling messenger for greater distances and longer emergency runs. If weather or snow impede cycling, foot messengers can take their task to a stable where a rider should be trained as horse messenger for this purpose.

Depending on the urgency of messages relayed, and how busy the station is, it might be preferable to relay long-distance messages using several neighbourhoods between the points of the deliverer and receiver, to share the task of delivering the messages.


The art of raising and training homing pigeons to carry messages has been unused for nearly half a century, though now is a good time to try to revive it. Homing pigeons (not carrier pigeons, which can’t fly well), are a particular breed from the rock dove family that looks a lot like the kind found in Toronto. They are a slate blue colour, their necks having iridescent shades of yellow, purple and green. Most homing pigeons have a dark gray blue line across their tails, and two dark bars over their wings. They also have grayish pink bills. They can also be recognized for the way they bob their heads when they walk. This variety of bird has been know to fly almost 3000 kilometers at a rate of 50 kph or more.

To raise homing pigeons, a "loft" or house must be built for them. It should have an indoor area as well as an outdoor area. The outdoor area must be caged in with wire so the pigeons can't fly away, and at least partially covered for shade and protection from the elements. A wired enclosure also protects the pigeons from predators such as raccoons, opossums, hawks and cats. Lofts can range in size depending on how many pigeons need accommodating. Pigeons are birds that "roost" or sleep on something high off the ground so roosts need to be provided inside the loft. Water must be provided at all times for drinking and bathing. Small tubs work well for bathing pans and self waterers work great for the pigeons to drink from. This will keep them cool during warm weather. Pigeons should be fed 2 times daily a mixture of grains and grubs.

The basis of training homing pigeons is that they have the innate ability to return to their home nest or mate. Training must begin at an early age, usually 2 months. They are released a short distance from the loft to begin with, then as the pigeon learns to return home, it is released at ever increasing distances.

Read the next section, Signage...

No comments: