Tuesday, January 14, 2014


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1955--

The Clipper Custom Constellation, by Packard, hardtop sells for $4,220. Only 577 units of the luxury marque are registered during the 1955 model year.

January 1: Domestic network television is only three years old but the CBC reports that two out of three homes across the country can receive the public broadcaster’s signal.

January 1: The Pinetree Line—a series of radar defense stations built across Canada to defend North America from Soviet nuclear attack—is handed over to the Royal Canadian Air Force. Previously the command had been a joint US-Canada effort.

January 4: In Hamilton, Ontario, Studebaker workers gear up for the 1955 model year. This year’s Studebakers feature Ultra-view wraparound windshields. Production will hold steady at sixty units a day until adjusted to forty per day in April.

January 27: As of today, it is illegal for natives in the Northwest Territories to possess liquor of any kind.

February 23: Cape Breton fiddler and composer Jerry Holland is born in Boston of Canadian parents. The kid will be good enough to appear on Don Messer’s Jubilee when he is ten. The Down East legend will release ten albums and be best known for Brenda Stubberts Reel and My Cape Breton Home.

March 11: Leslie Cliff is born in Vancouver. She will grow up to become a swimmer, winning three gold and two silver medals at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. She will win silver at the 1972 Olympics and two more gold medals at the 1974 Commonwealth games. 

March 17: Hockey legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard is suspended from a game at the Forum. Some 10,000 angry fans riot for seven hours, destroying a five-kilometre stretch of St. Catherine Street in Montreal. Richard goes on the radio to beg the fans to go home. Police arrest 100 and the incident is promptly dubbed ‘The Richard Riot.’

1955 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan
March 17: The 105-day strike against Ford is over as workers return to their jobs in Windsor, Etobicoke and Oakville.

March 22: A spectacular fire rips through the Malton, Ontario airport causing $5 million worth of damage.

March 27: The CBC airs a special report on Elmer the Safety Elephant who has been teaching kids to ‘safen up’ since 1947.  Millions of school-aged children know the five rules for safety from coast to coast to coast. Elmer’s flag flies under the Union Jack at schools that have been accident free for 30 days or more.

April 2: Consumers finally get to see the new Chevrolet and GMC Second Series of light duty trucks that were announced on March 20.

April 2: Folks in Halifax and Dartmouth can get acquainted more quickly as the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge is inaugurated. The toll is 40 cents for the car and driver. Passengers or pedestrians can buy 25 tickets for $1. Spanning Halifax Harbour, it is the second longest suspension bridge in the country. Only the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver is longer.

April 6: Her parents name her Catherine Frederica Theresa Jones when she is born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The funny kid will grow up to be a comedian and TV star. Cathy Jones will earn ten Gemini Awards for her offbeat sense of humour on CODCO and This Hour has 22 Minutes.

April 7: Ford announces that it will spend $8.6 million for a new head office building in Toronto. The company has been building cars in this country since 1904.

April 12: Ottawa announces that it will make the Salk vaccine available to Canadians. This miracle drug prevents polio, a debilitating disease that attacks children, leaving them handicapped.

April 14: Going right down to the wire, the Detroit Red Wings stomp the Montreal Canadians in the seventh game to claim the Stanley Cup. The team will not win another Stanley Cup until 1997.

April 24: Canadian National inaugurates its new passenger train service. The Super Continental will run between Montreal and Vancouver. The CPR introduces its new trans-continental service the same day—its stainless steel streamliner features dome cars and is christened The Canadian.

May 5: Tabled in the House of Commons today is an bill to create a Distant Early Warning System of radar stations in the Arctic. The DEW Line will give advance knowledge of attacks by the Soviet Union but it will also mean 1,000 US troops will be stationed in Canada.

May 10: World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Tommy Burns is dead at the age of 73 in Vancouver. Born in Chesley, Ontario, the 170-centimetre tall fighter won the championship in 1906 and lost it in 1908. He dies unknown, un-remembered, in absolute poverty. Only four people attend his funeral.

May 17:  The 1,260-metre long Canso Causeway opens to train traffic. The engineering wonder connects Cape Breton Island to the mainland of Nova Scotia.

Passengers will log 288 million kilometres with Canadian Pacific this year.
June 3: Canadian Pacific Airlines begins direct flights from Vancouver to Amsterdam. Passengers will fly over the North Pole en route to the European destination.

June 25: We are a nation on the move. Ontario has paved 513 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway. It has another 1,758 kilometres to complete and pave before it is complete.

June 30:  Truck assembly at the Hamilton plant has been suspended after 256 units were built. Studebaker will import trucks from the United States.

Mt. Temple is 3,544 metres tall.
July 11: An avalanche on Mount Temple in Alberta kills eleven teenaged hikers. It will be the worst climbing accident in history.

July 17:  Jubilant officials at Chrysler Canada announce that workers have completed its 100,000th 1956 model car. It is the first time the company has built so many automobiles in a single model year.

July 31: There are 11,704 employees on the Chrysler Canada payroll and the company boasts 1,150 dealers throughout the Dominion.

August 5: Isaak Walton Killam is dead at the age of seventy. The richest man in the country, Killam started out as a paperboy in his home town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Influential in establishing the Isaak Killam Children’s Hospital in Halifax and the Montreal Neurological Institute, his inheritance tax will be used by Ottawa-at his request-to found the Canada Council of the Arts.

August 17: Molson, the nation’s oldest suds maker, opens a brewery in Toronto. The 300,000-barrel capacity operation will produce Crown Anchor Lager for the thirsty folks in Upper Canada.

August 18: The Eighth World Scout Jamboree is held at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Some 11,000 Scouts from seventy-one countries descend on the bucolic town. It is the first International Jamboree to be held outside of Europe.

The Dodge Mayfair is built in Windsor, Ontario by workers at Chrysler Canada.
September 3: The Canadian Football League kicks off the season in grand style as folks from St. John’s to Victoria tune in to the CBC on their television sets for the fifth season.  Chrysler Canada is the sponsor.

September 6: Folks in St. John’s warm up their Electrohomes to watch CJON take to the airwaves. The CBC affiliate will jump ship to CTV in 1964 and move to Global in 2003. Famous for its five-hour primetime schedule and the quirky habit of running music videos instead of commercials, Canada’s Superstation will be carried by many cable companies across the nation in the 21st Century.

September 8:  The CGE Show is not only heard on the Dominion Network of the CBC, now it can now be seen on CBC television. Folks can watch the Leslie Bell Singers and the Howard Cable Orchestra perform right in their living rooms. The popular variety programme will be renamed Showtime and run until 1959.

September 12: Workers at Ford’s engine plant complete the 2,000,000th V-8 engine to roll off the Windsor assembly line. The factory will build one out of every four V-8 engines in the world.

September 28: Stephane Dion is born in Quebec City. After a teaching stint at the Universite de Moncton he will stand for Parliament, become a cabinet minister and Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 two-door sedan is General Motors' mid-price offering.
September 23: GM workers walk off the job. The strike will be long and bitter, lasting 144 days.

October 11: Millions of hockey fans see Hewett Foster say “Hello Canada!” as Hockey Night in Canada is aired on CBC Television for the first time. The voice of hockey will die of throat cancer in 1985.

October 12: Jane Siberry is born in Toronto. When she grows up she will become a smouldering singer known for such songs as Mimi on the Beach, When I was a Boy and the immortal duet with K.D. Lang, Calling All Angels.

October 12: The Trades and Labour of Canada and the Canadian Congress of Labour vote to merge. The new union will be called the Canadian Labour Congress. It will be independent of Tommy Douglas and the CCF party.

October 23: The Grits mark twenty years of unbroken rule in the House of Commons. No other political party has held Ottawa—and the country--in its grasp for so long.

1955 Hayes Clipper
October 31: Hays, the Vancouver-based truck manufacturer, announces that it has had sales of $2,297,239.88 in the past twelve months. That is a 14 percent increase over the previous year. It builds heavy-duty and extra-heavy duty trucks for highway hauling, the oil industry, logging, mining and construction operations.

November 26: Nash Motors of Canada, Limited has provided the cars for the Grey Cup parade. The Grey Cup goes home with the Edmonton Eskimos, having whipped the Montreal Alouettes 24 to 19. Held at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver, this marks the first time that the classic football event has ever taken place outside of Ontario.

1955 Pontiac Laurentian four-door sedan
December 31: The Top Ten makes, in order of domestic production, are Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, Buick, Meteor, Oldsmobile, Mercury and Studebaker.

  The imported Willys Bermuda hardtop retailed for $2,556 before taxes in 1955. Only a handful was sold before the company withdrew its passenger car lines from the domestic market in June.

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