Thursday, January 18, 2018


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1908-

The Comet is built in Montréal. The Prince of Wales will ride in one when visits Québec City this summer.

January 1: There are 155 automobiles registered in British Columbia, 55 in Alberta and another 55 in Saskatchewan.

January 2: Governor General Lord Grey strikes the first coin to be made at the new mint in Ottawa. The first hard currency is a gold sovereign, worth approximately $7.  Previously coinage had been minted in the UK and shipped here. 

January 19: The first Gurdwara Sahib (Temple) opens in Vancouver to serve the Sikh community. 

January 20: The grand Empress Hotel opens to much fanfare in Victoria, BC. The imposing landmark building is owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

January 21: The government of Japan agrees to limit the number of immigrant to Canada to 1,000 a year. People in British Columbia have been worried about their province turning “yellow.”

January 22: James Sinclair Ross is born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. He will grow up to be a banker and a noted author, best known for his classic Prairie novel, As For Me and My House. The Order of Canada recipient will die in 1996.

February 4: The public may now make use of the latest in technology as they send telegrams to the UK, courtesy of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. The price for this service is set at 15 cents a word.

February 7: Lela Brooks is born in Toronto. The speed skater will set 17 world records before her career ends in 1936.

February 25: Residents of Manitoba must register their automobiles and pay a $2 fee.  Vehicle operators must make their own license plates. A total of 418 motor cars are registered by year’s end.

March 7: By an act of the legislature in Victoria, the University of British Columbia is founded.

March 14:  The Montreal Wanderers whip the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup. The final score is 6 to 4. 

March 26: Members of the legislature in Charlottetown vote unanimously to ban automobiles from Prince Edward Island. Fast and dangerous, horseless carriages are a threat to the Islanders’ bucolic way of life because they frighten horses, women and children. There are nine motor vehicles in the entire province.

March 31: Fed up with poor telephone service, the government of Alberta purchases the Bell for $675,000. The new provincial Crown corporation will be renamed Alberta Government Telephone and promises to serve rural communities where the Bell had refused to go. In 2017 the company will be called Telus.

April 7: Percy Faith is born in Toronto. He will grow up to be a musician. After his hands are burnt in a fire, he will turn to conducting and become a world-renowned orchestra leader. He will win a Grammy for Theme from a Summer Place in 1961. Faith will die of cancer in 1976.

April 13: Clarence Robert Nobles is born in Winnipeg. He will grow up, change his name to Bob Nolan and become a country singer. He will be one of the founders, along with Roy Rogers, of the popular cowboy singing group, Sons of the Pioneers. The group’s 1941 recording of “Cool Water” will earn them a Grammy. Bob will appear in 88 Hollywood flicks before he dies in 1980.

April 18: Boxer Tommy Burns KOs Jewey Smith in the fifth round to retain his World Heavyweight title. The Hanover County, Ontario pugilist will successfully defend his title eleven times. He will die of a heart attack in Vancouver on May 10, 1955.

April 24: The Minister of the Interior meets with a delegation of men from the Six Nations Reserve. They want an elected council instead of one composed of hereditary chiefs. 

April 28: Ethel Catherwood is born in Haldiman County, Ontario.   She will grow up in Saskatoon and represent Canada at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. It is the first time that women are allowed to compete and Ethel will make us all proud by jumping 1.59 metres and bring home the gold medal. She will die in 1987.

April 30: Fredericton’s citizens have had their say in a referendum. By a margin of 178 votes, the capital of New Brunswick remains “dry” despite the hopes of brewers, distillers and Herring Chockers who imbibe spirits and ales.

May 18: The CCM automobile factory in Toronto Junction covers four hectares. Ithe facility is valued at half a million dollars and employs 600 men.

May 19:  Percy Alfred Williams is born in Vancouver. He will represent Canada at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam and bring home two gold medals for the 100- and 200-metre sprints.

June 11: Imperial Tobacco Limited sets up shop in Montreal. It manufactures Sweet Caporal,  the most popular cigarette brand. It holds 50% of the market. It also makes the highly popular Player's Navy Cut smokes. According to the Dominion Bureau of Statistics some 60 million cigarettes are produced in Canada each year. 

June 12: Saskatchewan Government Telephones is established, inheriting communications responsibilities from the provincial Department of Railways, Telegraphs and Telephones. The Crown corporation will purchase Bell operations next year.  It will change its name to SaskTel in 1986. By 2017 the company will be worth $1.2 billion.

June 23: A fire rages through Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. Half the city is burnt to ashes, leaving more than 1,000 homeless. Damage is estimated at $2 million.

This painting depicts Iroquois Indians greeting Captain Champlain. A replica of the Don de Dieu  has been built this year as part of tercenterial festivities.
July 19: Québec City marks the 300th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival from France.

July 31: The Prince of Wales and the Vice President of the United States have been in town to help Québec City mark its 300th birthday.The battle on the Plains of Abraham has been re-enacted. There have been parades and concerts. The festivities end today. 

August 1: A fire in Fernie, British Columbia, destroys the entire town in 90 minutes. Damage is pegged at a staggering $5 million.  

August 2: Eileen Vollick is born in Wiarton, Ontario. When she is 19 years old she will take a flying course offered by the Department of National Defense and when she passes the test in the Curtiss “Jenny,” she will be the first woman pilot in Canada.

September:  Classes begin today for the first time at the University of Alberta. 45 students are enroled in the fledgling institution. They study in temporary structures while permanent buildings are being built. 

This Locomobile Racer was built for three years--from 1906 to 1908.
September 26: A crowd of 10,000 Montrealers are gathered in Deslormier Park to cheer on the drivers of the city’s first automobile race.

October 1: Ford’s Model T makes it debut. The ‘Tin Lizzie’ will be loved by millions and change the transportation world. 

October 26: The dust has settled on the federal election and Sir Wilfred Laurier and his Grits have trounced the Tories to return to Ottawa for a fourth consecutive term with yet another majority government.

October 31: Muriel Helena Ball is born in Austin, Québec. She will grow up to become a devout peace advocate, marry Jack Duckworth and have three children. Muriel will be a founding member of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women (VOW) and be involved in other peace movements. She will receive the Order of Canada in 1983 and the Pearson Peace Medal in 1991. Muriel Duckworth will die in Magog, Québec on August 22, 2009 at the age of 100. 

November 3: Fed up with poor treatment from merchants, William Coaker creates the Fishermen’s Protective Union in Herring Neck, Newfoundland. This historic event will set in motion plans for a cooperative, a newspaper and even candidates to stand for the House of Assembly in St. John’s.

December 14: Sir Wilfred Laurier, the first Prime Minister to own an automobile, will have to buy a new set of wheels. The Toronto Globe reports that the PM’s luxurious $8,000 Russell was destroyed in a fire. 

December 23: Yousef Karsh is born in eastern Turkey. At the age of 16 he will be sent to live with a photographer uncle in Sherbrooke, Québec. The talented young man will set up his own studio in Ottawa. Most famous for his 1941 image of Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Karsh will photograph many famous people during his lifetime. The recipient of the Companion of the Order of Canada will die in 2002.

December 25: One of the nicest Christmas presents a girl can receive this Yuletide season is the new book, Anne of Green Gables, published earlier this year. The story revolves around a mischievous red-haired orphan girl who is accidentally sent to live with an elderly couple in Prince Edward Island. 

December 31: The McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited of Oshawa, Ontario has completed its first year of operations.  A total of 154 McLaughlins have been built. The cars are powered by engines imported from the Buick Division of General Motors in the United States.

© James C. Mays 2011. All rights reserved.

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