Monday, March 17, 2014


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1939--

January 3: Bobby Hull is born in Belleville, Ontario. He will grow up to become one of hockey’s greatest players. He will retire in 1980 and be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.

January 4: There’s plenty of hoopla in Port Arthur, Ontario as hundreds of citizens come out to skate on the world’s first skating rink made of—milk.

January 10: Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir and Newfoundland Governor Sir Humphrey Walwyn speak on the telephone to mark the first long-distance call ever placed between Canada and Newfoundland.

January 11: Anne Heggtveit is born in Ottawa. She will grow up to become one of Canada’s greatest Alpine skiers. She will make us all proud in 1960 when she wins gold at the Olympics for the first-ever skiing medal.

March 13: Newfoundlanders now have a public broadcaster as VOFN becomes part of the Broadcast Corporation of Newfoundland. Using the call letters VONG, it will air programmes on shortwave throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The station will have its call letters changed to CBN when it becomes part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1949.

January 20:  The Home-Millarville oil well in Alberta’s Turner Valley produces 3,500 barrels a day in tests. It’s the biggest well to be drilled so far. The petroleum industry has invested $75 million in Alberta to date.

February 4:  A crowd of 10,000 gathers at Toronto’s Union Station to welcome home soldiers from the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion who served in the Spanish Civil War. Half of the 1,300 Canadians who fought against Franco’s fascists laid down their lives on foreign soil.

March 20: Addressing the House of Commons, Prime Minister Mackenzie King deplores Adolf Hitler’s forcible takeover of Czechoslovakia. The PM vows Canada will stand by Britain’s side in the event of war.

March 20: Martin Brian Mulroney is born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. He will grow up to become a successful businessman, join the Progressive Conservative Party and lead the Tories to political victory. He will be the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 1984 to 1993.

March 28: In Quebec City the National Assembly is swarmed by students who vandalize the building. They demand a meeting with the Premier. They want him to know they are opposed to conscription in the event of a war.

In July 1950, Trans-Canada Airlines  will welcome its 3-millionth passenger: Mr. F.W. Crickard, of Vancouver will head to New York City. Mr. Crickard is on board TCA's first trans-Canadian flight in 1939.
April 1: Trans-Canada Air Lines begins regular trans-continental flights from Montreal to Vancouver.  The national air carrier boasts three airplanes in its fleet and will operate as a division of Canadian National Railways. The Crown corporation will become Air Canada in 1965.

Francisco Franco will rule Spain until his death in 1975.
April 4: Ottawa officially recognizes the government of Spain. The three-year long bloody civil war is over and General Franco and his Nationalist Party are at the helm.

The temperature inside an igloo averages 15C.
April 5: The Supreme Court rules the Inuit people are a federal government responsibility. Ottawa has claimed they are not Indians--therefore not native--and that the northernmost inhabitants of the country fall under provincial jurisdiction.

April 16:  The Boston Bruins take home the Stanley Cup after whipping the Toronto Maple Leafs four games to one.

April 27: Jerry Mercer is born in Newfoundland. He will try farming and working for IBM before he discovers his true calling as a rock musician with April Wine, best known for his fabulous drum solos.

April 30: The World’s Fair opens in New York City.  The Art Deco Canada Pavilion features a reflecting pool. There are exhibitions by the National Parks Tourist Bureau, Canadian National Railways, Canadian Pacific Railway and the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.

May – There’s enough oil in Alberta to warrant commercial production. The British American Oil Company Limited opens a refinery in Calgary. The facility will produce 5,000 barrels of oil every day for the rest of the year.

May – The $12 million, seventeen-storey Hotel Vancouver opens in time for King George and Queen Elizabeth’s visit. The opulent chateau-style building with its 556 rooms and its copper roof will dominate the city’s skyline for years to come.

May 2:  Ottawa announces the creation of the National Film Board. It will introduce a new kind of movie to the world—the documentary. Canada Carries On and Canada at War will become two of its most famous and long-running series, seen weekly by millions of theatre-goers.

1926 advert for Rogers radios.
May 6: Radio pioneer Edward S. Rogers dies suddenly in Toronto at the age of 38 as a result of complications from a haemmorrhage. He invented the modern vacuum tube and the batteryless radio receiver. The founder of radio station CFRB will be interred in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

May 7: Trolley cars make their final run in Windsor, Ontario. They are being replaced with Ford buses, made in town. Most of the trolley tracks will be torn up and used for armaments during the coming war.
Their Majesties ride in royal style in Quebec City in a specially built 1939 Chrysler Royal built by workers at Chrysler Canada in Windsor, Ontario.

May 17: The Empress of Australia docks in Quebec City. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth disembark for a month-long tour of the Dominion. A war veteran asks her Majesty if she is of Scottish or English ancestry. She replies, “Since I arrived in Quebec, I am Canadian.” Their Majesties are the first reigning monarchs to visit Canada. They will be chauffeured about in special limousines created for them by workers in GM and Chrysler plants. The CBC will follow them everywhere they go for the next six weeks as they visit Newfoundland, the Dominion of Canada and the United States of America.

May 18: King George VI. Queen Elizabeth and the royal party board a special train made up of five cars from the CPR, five from the CNR and two vice-regal cars. They depart Quebec City for Montreal. The train is finished in royal blue with aluminum trim. Royal crowns are affixed to both locomotives.

May 19: Their Royal Majesties are in the nation’s capital where King George VI addresses the joint houses of Parliament and the Senate. His Majesty is the first reigning sovereign to ever do so.

May 21: King George VI officially unveils the National War Memorial in Ottawa before an estimated crowd of 100,000 people.

May 24: It is Empire (Victoria) Day throughout much of the world. King George VI addresses his people from Cape Town to Cairo, from Halifax to Hong Kong and all points between at one o’clock Central Standard Time from gold-plated CBC microphones, set u
p for His Majesty at Government House in Winnipeg.

June 1: The CNR's 4-8-2 Mountain 6047 departs Jasper station. Today is a little different from usual; this is the royal train of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as they head to Edmonton.
Even grain elevators welcome the Royal Couple in Melville, Saskatchewan.

June 3:  The federal government passes the Prairie Farm Assistance Acts. It offers crop insurance to western farmers in the event of poor yields of low prices for grain.

June 5:  Charles Joseph Clark is born in High River, Alberta. He will grow up to be an ardent Progressive Conservative politician. He will be Canada’s sixteenth Prime Minister, serving for only nine months less a day before being defeated by a non-confidence motion in the House of Commons.
Queen Elizabeth and King George VI open the world’s most modern highway when their royal Lincoln limousine trips a light beam on the four-lane, limited access freeway at Henley Bridge, Ontario.

June 7: A new superhighway will stretch from Toronto to St. Catherines, Ontario and is called the Queen Elizabeth Way in honour of Her Majesty. The provincial Ministry of Highways has dedicated nearly 20 percent of its annual budget to finishing the QEW. There is no other highway like this in North America.

June 12: The term “World War Two” is used for the first time by Time magazine. It will become widely used far too soon.

June 8:  Ottawa refuses to allow the liner SS St. Louis to dock in Canada. On board are 936 Jewish refugees—many of them children—who have escaped certain death in Europe.  Denied entry into Cuba and the United States, the ill-fated ship will return to Europe where 227 of the passengers will disembark and die. Their story will be told in a 1976 movie, Voyage of the Damned.

June 15: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth depart Canada from Halifax harbour. They have travelled 13 840 kilometres in 29 days, visited all nine provinces and charmed 2.5 million Canadians in both French and English.

July 4: The overnight temperature in Fort Ross, NWT drops to -12.2C, making this one of the coldest summer days ever recorded in the Dominion.
It costs 30c to send an airmail letter from Montreal to London, England.

July 5: Airmail service to Britain is inaugurated. The 15-hour flight departs from Dieppe, New Brunswick, picks up mail in Newfoundland and touches down in Ireland on its way to the UK.

August 22: Paramount Pictures is in Windsor, Ontario to film a Christmas movie entitled Remember the Night. It stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. One scene calls for the couple to come through Canada Customs at Christmas in a 1937 Chrysler Coupe but it’s far too hot for snow. Four tonnes of local salt is used to film the scene, startling locals and visitors alike as they pull out of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel exit.
Prices are listed in US currency.

August 25: The Toronto Star and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA Victor) team up to mesmerize fairgoers at the CNE with the nation’s first television broadcast. Broadcaster Gordon Sinclair interviews blond singing bombshell Jessica Dragonette. The historic event lasts for seven minutes. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will introduce television to the nation in 1952.

August 26: Prime Minister Mackenzie King addresses the nation. He tells Canadians that the country is now being governed on a wartime basis, justified because of the “current state of emergency” in Europe.

August 31: Dennis Lee is born in Toronto. The author will be most famous for his kids’ books Alligator Pie and The Difficulty of Living on Other Planets. He will be Toronto’s first Poet Laureate in 2001.
King George's address to the Empire will be recreated in the 2010 movie, The King's Speech. The film shows His Majesty struggling to overcome his stutter. The movie will win seven British Academy Film Awards and four Oscars.
September 4:  Britain declares war on Germany and asks member countries of the British Empire to join.
249,662 men and women will wear the RCAF uniform. 17,100 will give their lives in sacrifice for King and Empire.

September 9:  Parliamentary vote plunges Canada and its 11 million people into war at Britain’s side. The vote is taken at exactly six o’clock because Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s psychic advisor has told him his decisions are strongest when the hands of the clock are opposite each other. Before the month is out more than 58,300 men will join the Royal Canadian Army to fight for King and Empire.
King Cole has been manufactured in Saint John, New Brunswick since 1910. The company's coffee and tea are sold only in the Maritime Provinces.
September 12: MPs vote to boost income taxes to 20 percent in order to finance the war effort. Coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco and soft drinks will carry an additional tax—it won’t be long before they are all rationed.

September 28: It is established that Canada will be home to air training facilities for all Empire countries. More than 160,000 students will pass through the programme before victory comes in 1945.

September 30: Len Cariou is born in St. Boniface, Manitoba. He will grow up to become an actor on stage, screen and TV. He will win a Tony for his portrayal of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

October—It is too late to cancel the 1940 Auto Show held in the new Automotive Building on the fairgrounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The new vehicles are described as “streamlined—Art Deco with the corners knocked off.”

October 5:  General Andrew McNaughten is appointed commander of the first Canadian Infantry Division. Canada will fight as an independent nation unlike in the Great War when Canadian solders were under the command of British military leaders.

October 8: Today is a national day of prayer. Canadians are to ask God to intercede on behalf of the war undertaken by Canada and her allies. Folks are asked to pray especially for a “favourable peace that shall be founded on understanding and not hatred, to the end that peace shall endure.”
The Handmade's Tale will be made into a science fiction thriller in 1990.

November 18: Margaret Atwood is born in Ottawa. She will grow up to write many classic novels including The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin.

December 2: Research reveals that most women cannot make a decent living on their own. Those with university degrees are hired mostly as teachers and earn an average of $1,500 a year. There are exceptions: some women business owners reported earnings of more then $3,000 a year.

December 9:  It's -5C and the field is covered with snow but 11,718 diehard fans are at Landsdowne Park in Ottawa to watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat Ottawa’s Rough Riders 8 to 7. The Bombers take home the 29th Grey Cup.

December 10:  the first naval convoy leaves Halifax—referred to in news bulletins as an ‘unidentified eastern Canadian seaport—for a beleaguered Britain. The flotilla includes 7,400 troops on board the RMS Aquitania, the SS Duchess of Bedford, Canadian Pacific’s luxury liner the Empress of Britain and the SS Monarch of Bermuda. They are escorted by the battle cruiser HMS Repulse, the cruiser HMS Emerald, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious and six destroyers.
1939 Chrysler

December 11: Chrysler Canada finally calls 2,000 men back to work at the factory in Windsor, Ontario. They are building weapons of war but the plants have been idled because of parts shortages.

December 17: The first Canadian troops arrive on British soil.

December 21: War or not, turkeys have arrived at A&P stores. Grade A gobblers are 25 cents a pound. Aylmer’s pumpkin for pies is 8 cents a tin. Ocean Spray cranberry sauce is 19 cents and stuffing sells for 15 cents a box.

December 31: A total of 21,408 immigrants are granted citizenship, making us a nation 11 million strong.  

December 31:  A total of 108,369 passenger cars are built and shipped, adding $72 million to the Gross Domestic Product. Manufacturers build an additional 47,057 trucks for a wholesale value of $28 million.

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