Tidbits Of Canadian History

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Facts About Canada:

"A Sad Christmas for Old Quebec"

Samuel Champlain (1567-1635) "The Father of New France", died in his beloved Quebec City on Christmas Day - 1635

Evelyn Eaglespeaker by 1,000,000 votes and a big margin over 13 rivals, became Queen of the Calgary Stampede, the first Indian girl chosen to reign over the annual Wild West Whoopup - 1954

The First Highway To The Capitol

The Rideau Canal, finished in 1832, and running 125 miles from the Ottawa river to Kingston on Lake Ontario, was built by colonel John By of the royal Engineers as a supply route in case of another war with the United States. Colonol By's headquarters camp grew into the village of Bytown and eventually into the city of Ottawa.

Did You Know?

The world's farthest north golf course was esatblished in 1932 at Chesterfield Inlet (Lat. 67) on Hudson Bay.

A Slave in Canada:

John Jewitt, a blacksmith aboard a U.S. ship that entered Nootka Sound, BC in 1803 survived a massacre of the crew by Indians. His life was spared to becomed a slave of the chief who recognized the value of his trade in making weapons.

Passenger Pigeons were once so plentiful that huge flocks would hide the sun for an hour at a time. They are now extinct because they were ruthlessly slaughtered for food. The last known passenger pigeon died in 1914.

Traversing the Elusive Passage

From the earliest times explorers of Canada were obsesssed with the idea of finding a passage that would lead them to the Orient. Later they looked for what came to be known as the Northwest Passage, through the polar ice. This wasn't accomplished until 1906 when Roald Amundsen sailed through from east to west. In 1942, the RCMP patrol boat, St. Roch sailed from Esquimalt, B. C. to Sydney N.S. and returned in 1944 from Dartmouth N.S. to Vancouver B. C.

Did you know:


Making his first public appearance in 1954, Toronto Boxer Les Stork entered the ring, looked at his opponent and passed out.

Santa comes early for some kids:

When Dutch and Belgian children came to Canada, Santa Claus began making an extra and earlier trip each year. These kids look for St. Nicholas on the eve of Dec. 6. which is the feast day of the popular old man. Dutch girls and boys beleiving he makes his rounds astride a white horse, thoughtfully leave some hay for it. Belgian kids think Santa rides a donkey so they leave this animal a turnip, a carrot or a lump of sugar.

Did you know:

A Champion Wheat Grower:

Wm. Roderick (Ricky) Sharpe of Mumson Alberta, entered a sample of wheat he had grown on his father's farm at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in 1950, and won the title of World Champion Wheat Grower. Ricky was twelve years of age.

The Island of the Dead;

Grosse Ile, in the St. Lawrence river below Quebec City, was used by Great Britain, from the year 1832, as a place for screening immigrants for disease. Thousands fleeing pestilence and famine arrived from Europe suffering from Cholera or Typhus and their only piece of the new land became a grave on Grosse Isle.

Did You Know?

The first balloon ascent in Canada-1877, was made by Chas. Grimley and a reporter, to celebrate the 10th year of Confederation.

Lois Riel

Elected member of parliament for Provencher Manitoba in 1874 was being sought as an outlaw for leading the Red River rebellion in 1870 and under the carge of the murder of one Thomas Scott. Yet he traveled to Ottawa, where one day he slipped into the Parliament Buildings and signed the Members' Roll, then disappeared again before it was realized who he was.

Did You Know?

The world's most frequent Northern Ligts displays occur over the Hudson Bay area -- up to 240 displays a year.

An Ancient Curse;

On a moonless night in 1954, an elderly Micmac Indian was conjuring up the spirit of a long dead chief. The tribe wanted the chief's spirit to call off an ancient curse he had pronounced in life over 200 years ago, when his wife ran off with a British Naval officer. The chief had decreed that three times white men would bridge the waters between Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and three times his bridges would fall. Bridge no. 1 was swept away in a mysterious storm in 1891. Bridge no. 2 collapsed one quiet night in 1893 and while building bridge no. 3, five men met violent death in 1954.

Did you Know?

The skull of Father Jean de Brebeuf, martyred by the Iroquois Indians near Midland, Ont., is contained in a silver bust in his image, in Hotel Dieu, North America's oldest hospital, in Quebec City.

"The Heroine of Long Point"

Abigail Becker, in 1854, at great risk to her own life, repeatedly entered the gale lashed waters of Lake Erie to assist the entire crew of a wrecked schooner to reach safety at Long Point Ontario.

In her lifetime she rescued four other persons from death, but by an ironic twist of fate wasn't nearby when on separate occasions both her trapper husband and a son drowned in Lake Erie.

"Lower Fort Garry" is North America's only remaining stone trading post.

"The York Boat"

...was built in large numbers by the Hudson's Bay Company, to compete with the NorthWest Fur Company's huge birchbark freight canoes. Made of dressed lumber the length of the York boats varied from twenty-five to forty feet and the largest ones carried over "Four" tons of freight.

"Herons" usually capture aquatic creatures by standing motionless until the prey is within reach of their bills.

"The First Agricultural College"

When this solid stone building was being erected at Guelph, Ont., the owners had no idea it was destined to become the first building of the "First Agricultural College in Canada". This fine Canadian school, established in 1874, ranks high among institutions of higher learning.

"Eternal Fire"

Where once the town of Cadomin, Alberta, stood, is an old coal mine. Here in 1919 an underground fire broke out. It proved impossible to extinguish, and to this day it continues to burn. In mid-winter the grass overhead remains summer green.

"Distinctively Canadian Heroes"

From the early days of flying, in peace and war, emerged a hardy breed of men--Canada's Bush Pilots. Their fortitude and special kind of skill helped roll back the frontiers and open up all of our northland. Flying needed freight and supplies to logging, mining and prospecting camps; carrying the sick and injured to hospitals; rescuing the lost and aiding in times of disasters and fires, their "Pioneer Spirit" is still helping to build a greater Canada.

"Queen Victoria"

Strange as it may seem in these days of instant communications, it was more than a month after the death of William IV in 1837 before Canada learned its sovereign was no longer William, but Victoria.

The Hydra of Sinsiter Shrieks

In the 1790's, superstitious residents of Anse Pleuruse in the Gaspe' Peninsula were terrified by mournful sobs coming from the forest. Then, in 1814, a new priest determined to find the cause of the sobs. Deep in the forest he discovered two trees with entangled branches. Swaying in the wind the friction produced a lugubrious and weird lamentation.

...And his Soul Goes Marching On

John Brown, the American slavery abolitionist tried to overthrow the U.S.A. establishment with an abortive attempt to invade Virginia. He made his plans for this and a provisional U.S. Government at Chatham, Ont. in 1859. And in the same year, at Ingersoll, Ont., he issued his declaration that "The Negro Must Be Free".

The Staff of Life and Death

Brothers Peter and Sancho Byers on indictments for burglary and larceny, were found guilty at Charlottetown, P.E.I. in 1815. They were hanged on Gallows Hill, "without benefit of Clergy". Their crime: they had been hungry and had stolen some bread.

Another Fact:

As areas of populated settlement developed, certain men appeared. Carefully looking around the localities they searched for the source of the purest spring water. These men were brewers, and when they were satisfied they'd discovered the best pure water, they established breweries on the spot.

The Governor Saw A Ghost:

One day in 1785, Lt. George Wynard and Capt. John Sherbrooke (later Governor-in-Chief of Canada-1816) were in the officers' mess at Sydney, N.S. They saw a young civilian pass through the room and Wynard exclaimed it was his brother who was in England! But then, the two puzzled officers were unable to find the youn man anywhere on the premises. Later.. Sherbrooke received a letter from England.. ..asking him to tell Wynard that his brother had died - on the very day, at the very hour he had "appeared" in Sydney.

The biggest cats in Canada are the cougars(mountain lions). Found in British Columbia, they rarely attack humans but occasionally there is an exception to this rule. In 1949 a seven year old boy was killed by a cougar on Vancouver Island.

Another early visitor to Canada:

There are strong indications that Sinclair, Earl of Orkney explored along the Atlantic coast in 1398. That's about a hundred years before John Cabot arrived.

"She Couldn't Be Hung"

Mary Green was hanged in London, England in 1819 for using counterfeit banknotes, (it was an era of barbarous sentences for swindlers). After being declared dead, her body was given to her next of kin for burial. An alert relative detected a spark of life and a doctor Bedell was quickly called. In 20 minutes of resuscitation the doctor restored the executed woman to life, and everyone involved kept the affair secret. Mary Green took another name, emigrated to Canada and died a 'second' time in the year 1834, at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Did you know?

Among many people who visited the shores of British Columbia before the "official" discoverers arrived, Sir Francis Drake was the first Anglo-Saxon to do so -- in 1579.

"A Long Walk"

Colonel Russell Farnum walked from Missouri to the Russian capital in 1812-13. He traveled up the British Columbia coast and on to the frozen Bering Strait where he crossed to Siberia.


All our commercial and game fish depend directly or indirectly on plankton, the minute plant and animal forms which are found in productive waters. It is the main food of small fish, which in turn are food for large fish. So small are these organisms that they number in the tens of thousands per quart of water.

"Itinerant Shoemakers"

--travelled from house to house before settlements were developed in Upper Canada (Ontario). Carrying the tools of their trade they boarded with a family until all its shoes were repaired or new ones made, and then moved on to the next house for a repeat performance.

"A Northern Pike" (fish) was gaffed by Jim Turner of Winnipeg, on Manitoba's Brereton Lake, as it choked to death of an orange he'd accidentally dropped out of his boat.

"Red Power"

Indian Teepees on the grounds of the Calgary Stampede are an updated display of Indian spiritual power. A few years ago, Stampede officials decided that Indians participating in this western classic had to pay a fee for pitching their teepees on the site. In protesting, the Indians used the only recourse open to them. They held rain dances, and the Stampede was rained out that year. Since then the Indians have been granted free use of the Stampede grounds.

"Quill pens" were used before the invention of the steel nib. They were kept sharp with a small knife' the original "Pen Knife".

"The Big Train", Lionel Conacher

In 1921 Canacher started in sports with the Toronto Argonauts "Football" team, and was called the best football player ever developed in Canada.

He won the Canadian light-heavy-weight "Boxing" title, and also played "Baseball" with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Later, in "Hockey", he starred with the Chicago Black Hawks and then Montreal Maroons when they won world championships in 1934 & 1935.

He was also a standout performer in "Lacrosse", "Wrestling", "Sculling", "Swimming", and "Track".

Because of all this he was acclaimed Canada's outstanding athlete of the half-century 1900-1950.

Canadians are growing bigger:

For over 150 years there has been a marked increase in the stature of people in Canada. Tangible evidence of this is shown in chairs --circa 1815.

The seats of these are 5 inches closer to the floor than those made today.

Did You Know?

The Calgary Stampede of 1919 was the scene of a spectacular air to ground crash. Capt. Fred McCall took off from the infield of the Exhibition grounds with 2 passengers. While gaining altitude his plane's motor stopped. McCall had a choice of landing on the race track where cars were speeding around, or the crowded midway. He chose the midway, and with split second timing he stalled the plane so that it dropped dead center on top of a merry-go-round with no injury to pilot, passengers or persons on the midway.

A little tidbit of history about Alexander Graham Bell:


Educationist and inventor, born in Edinburgh, the son of Alexander Melville Bell. He studied at Edinburgh and London, and worked as assistant to his father in teaching elocution (1868--70). In 1870 he went to Canada, and in 1871 moved to the USA and became professor of vocal physiology at Boston (1873), devoting himself to the teaching of deaf-mutes and to spreading his father's system of "visible speech'. After experimenting with various acoustical devices he produced the first intelligible telephonic transmission with a message to his assistant on 5 June 1875, and patented the telephone in 1876. He defended the patent against Elisha Gray, and formed the Bell Telephone Company in 1877. In 1880 he established the Volta Laboratory, and invented the photophone (1880) and the graphophone (1887). After 1897 his principal interest was in aeronautics.

A Temple that was built for Music:

Sharon Temple:

Near Holland Landing, Ontario, was built in 1825 by the "Children of Peace", a breakaway group from the Quakers. They left the Quaker Brethren because they liked music with their religious services. In theis edifice, where every line is symbolic, great concerts for that era were held.

Oldest Recorded Age:

Pierre Joubert (1701-1814) A Quebec Cobbler, lived to the OLDEST authenticated age of any human (to 1973) 113 years, 4 months.

The brave men who went to meet "Certain Death"

On the calamitous day in 1917 when Halifax, Nova Scotia was ripped asunder by the explosion that followed a collision between a munitions ship and a freighter , the munitions ship's cowardly crew abandoned her when she caught fire. Realizing a dangerous situation existed, a party of sailors from a nearby British warship boarded the death-trap in a valiant effort to extinguish the fire. Sadly, as history recounts, their courage was in vain.


B.C. Motorists drove on the left side of the road until 1922. They moved to the right on Jan 1 that year.

A Recording Artist:

Paul Kane, in his great journey through the old Canadian Northwest Territories, which included what is now the prairie provinces, in the middle of the 19th centruy, he travelled thousands of miles by canoe, horseback, shanks mare and canoe. He made over 500 drawings and paintings that give us a keener insight and deeper understanding of the old west.



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