Saturday, December 30, 2017


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1914-

January—A new Ford factory opens in Saint John, New Brunswick. Served by the Inter-Colonial Railway, the plant will supply Ford motorcars throughout the Maritimes, including Prince Edward 
Island where the ban on automobiles was recently partially lifted.

The 1914 Russell is a popular automobile.

January 1: New Brunswick starts the year with 824 automobiles registered. There are 511 motor vehicles in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Islanders operate 26 cars. 

January 14: Swift Current, Saskatchewan is incorporated as a city.  The first European settlers arrived in 1883. 

January 14:  The First Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal is dead. Better known as Donald Smith, the former railway magnate, past Member of Parliament and current High Commissioner to the UK was a major believer in the Canadian Pacific Railway and backed the gigantic undertaking with his own money.

January 15: Times are hard as Canadians experience the worst economic downturn in recent memory.  In Toronto alone, some 15,000 desperate men are looking for work. 

January 28: The Walker Theatre in Winnipeg presents the play, Mock Parliament. The story line depicts women running the Manitoba legislature and has the actresses hearing petitions and pleas from men who dream of having the right to vote. One of the unforgettable lines is, “Man is made for something higher and nobler than voting.”

January 30: John Benjamin Ireland is born in Vancouver. He will become a Hollywood actor, starring in more than 200 movies—including Spartacus and All the King’s Men before he dies in 1992.

The Model T Ford is built in Ford, Ontario.

February-- The Royal North-West Mounted Police spend $30,000 on automobiles. Ford and McLaughlin are the vehicles of choice.

Februrary 2: Eric Kierans is born in Montreal. He will grow up to be a noted economist and politician, believing in state intervention of the economy to keep it healthy. He will die in 2004 at the age of 90.

March 19: In front of a hometown crowd of adoring fans, the Toronto Blueshirts trounce the Victoria Aristocrats three games to zip to take home the Stanley Cup.

The epic novel Who has Seen the Wind will be published in 1947.

March 13: William Ormond Mitchell is born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He will grow up to teach school and write some of the most powerful books ever penned including Who Has Seen the Wind? an account of growing up on the Prairies. He will write Jake and the Kid, the popular children’s programme heard on the CBC from 1950 to 1956 and be fiction editor of Maclean’s. The Order of Canada recipient will die in 1998. 

March 19: The Royal Ontario Museum officially opens as His Royal Highness, The Duke of Connaught—a.k.a. the Governor General of Canada--cuts the ribbon on the Dominion’s largest museum. The ROM will be administered by the University of Toronto until 1955. In 2007 it will grow to be the fifth largest museum in North America with more than six million items catalogued.

March 22: Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson sets out by sledge from Martin Point, Alaska to negotiate the Northwest Passage by travelling from west to east. Born in Gimli, Manitoba, he will be head of Polar Studies at Dartmouth College. 

The SS Newfoundland.

March 31: The SS Newfoundland is jammed in the ice but seals have been spotted by the nearby SS Stephano, so the captain orders the Newfoundland’s hunters to trek after the seals. A storm begins and the ship’s captain, believing that the men are safely aboard the Stephano, heads to port.  Of the 132 hunters, 78 are dead and many of those who survive the storm, suffer injuries. Another ship in the sealing party, the SS Southern Cross, sinks in the two-day blizzard. The total dead in the Sealing Disaster is 252.

Named for Queen Victoria, Queen's Park in Toronto has been home to the Ontario legislature since 1860.

April 1: No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke—Queen’s Park passes the Workman’s Compensation Act. This groundbreaking legislation will actually pay men who are injured or killed on the job.

April 1: In a bid to stimulate sagging sales, the price of the posh Russell Model 28 is slashed to $2,975.

April 3:  The SS Southern Cross is declared officially lost at sea with all 173 hands on board. The Newfoundland sealing ship was last sighted on March 31. It is believed that high winds and heavy snow squalls experienced in this blizzard caused the cargo of 17,000 seals to shift. This marine tragedy is the greatest loss of life in Newfoundland’s history and will be remembered in ballad.

This is the first train to arrive in Prince Rupert, BC.
April 7:  With the pounding of the last spike in Fort Fraser, BC, The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway is now open from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert, BC. The iron road has been nine years in the making. It will not be profitable and will be absorbed into Canadian National Railways in the 1920s.

April 11: Norman McLaren is born in Scotland. He will come to Canada in 1941 and become one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, winning an Oscar for his 1952 movie Neighbours. He will die in 1987.

April 11: Robert Lorne Stanfield is born in Truro, Nova Scotia into the family of underwear fame. He will grow up to be Premier of Nova Scotia, and Progressive Conservative leader of the Queen’s Loyal Opposition. Though he will never be Prime Minister, he will be granted the title of ‘Right Honourable.’ Stanfield will die in 2003 and the airport in Halifax will be named for this native son in 2007. 

April 26: Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway is on hand to officially open the CPR’s new dam and canal system near Bassano, Alberta. The CPR has built the irrigation system to encourage settlers to farm the lands near to its railway lines.

Hank Snow will start his career at CHNS in Halifax.
May 9: Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow is born in Brooklyn, Queens County, Nova Scotia. He will order his first guitar from the Eaton’s Catalogue when he is a teen and record for RCA Victor in Montreal when he is 22.  He will be a CBC radio star before moving on to the Grand ‘Ole Opry in Nashville.  The Singing Ranger will record 150 albums and have seven Number One hits on the charts before his death in December 1999.

Oil will make Alberta wealthy.

May 16: Drillers strike oil in Alberta’s Turner Valley, 48 kilometres southwest of Calgary.  Spokesman A. W. Dingman tells the press, “The character of the oil is high grade and it appears to be coming into the well at a fairly steady rate.”  

May 23: The steamer Komagata Maru arrives in Vancouver with 376 passengers on board. The 20 returning residents and the ship’s doctor and his family are allowed off the ship but, none of the others—all British subjects--are allowed to disembark because they are of Asian origin.

May 29: The RMS Empress of Ireland and the SS Storstad collide early this morning in the St. Lawrence River near Point-au-Père, Quebec, not far from Rimouski. Pea soup fog is the culprit. The mighty ocean liner sinks in only fourteen minutes, taking 1,012 passengers and crew to their deaths. Only 465 survivors are found.

June 12: The Canadian General Council of the Boy Scout Association is registered officially by an act of Parliament. It will be an independent branch of the international Boy Scout Association.

June 19: The final death toll will be 189 men killed when the dust settles in Hillcrest, Alberta. The Hillcrest Coal Mine disaster leaves 130 widows and 400 fatherless children to grieve. To date, this is the nation’s worst coalmine disaster. 

Attitudes toward immigration will change in the next hundred years. Above is Jagmeet Singh, who will be elected as leader of the New Democratic Party in 2017.

July 3: The Japanese steamer Komagata Maru leaves Vancouver’s harbour with a load of 354 Sikh immigrants on board. The ship arrived two months ago but the government wouldn’t allow the passengers to disembark because they were non-white.  The captain refused to leave until the naval cruiser HMCS Rainbow was called in.

The first renderings of Clark Kent and Superman in 1938

July 10:  Joe Shuster is born in Toronto.  He will grow up to create the character Superman, The comic books and cartoon strips will become an immediate success. Late in life, he will tell the press that Metropolis is based on his home town of Toronto. The world-famous artist will die in 1992.

The SS Storstad suffered only minor damage to its bow.

July 12: The commission that investigated the sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland submits its report. The findings are that the Norwegian collier SS Storstad is responsible for the loss of the Trans-Atlantic luxury liner.

John Macalister will be only thirty years old when the spy executed by the Germans.
July 19: John Kenneth Macalister is born in Guelph, Ontario. He will grow up to be a spy in World War Two, executed by the Nazis at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in 1944. 

Honest Ed's: 1948-2016. RIP.

July 25: Edward, “Honest Ed” Mirvish is born in Virginia. He will move to Canada when he is nine. When he grows up he will open “Honest Ed’s”, the world’s largest discount department store and be known for revitalizing old theatres. 

July 28: Ottawa announces new iceberg patrols in the North Atlantic. In addition, radio towers will be built at Cape Race, Newfoundland to transmit information to  ocean liners as to the size, location and speed of icebergs. It is hoped that these measures will prevent another disaster like the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

July 31: Stock in The Russell Motor Car Company Limited has dropped from $100 a share to $10 a share. The luxury auto manufacturer finished the fiscal year $356,223 in the red.

Super star Céline Dion holds her Felix.
August 2: Félix Leclerc is born in La Tuque, Québec. When he grows up he will write radio dramas, plays and books. He will be discovered as a songwriter and singer in the 1950s. The Felix Awards—earned by the cream of Francophone singers—will be named for him. The chansonier will die in his sleep in 1988.

August 3: The federal government takes the country off the gold standard. Bank notes can no longer be redeemed for gold.

August 4: In London, Parliament declares war on Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a colony of Britain, Canada finds itself plunged into a European war.

August 4: The Province of British Columbia spends more than $1 million to purchase two submarines. The legislature intends for the subs to protect the province’s considerable coastline. 

August 5: Ottawa orders the immediate enlistment of 21,000 troops for the war in Europe. It is a tall order, there are only 3,110 soldiers in the army.

August 12: For King and Empire! More than 100,000 men have volunteered for the war effort. By far, the largest number of men signing up are from western Canada. Pay for a new recruit is $1 a day. 

August 14: Parliament passes the War Measures Act, suspending civil liberties until the threat of war is over.

September 9:  The Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade is created. It is the first fully motorized unit in the Imperial British Army.  Under the command of Brigadier-General Rayond Bruitenel, the armoured car brigade will be instrumental in stopping the German offensive in March 1918.

September 9: The Manitoba Ministry of Motor Vehicles lists 5,627 automobiles, of which 2,057 are Fords.

September 14: Henri Bourassa, MNA and Editor of Le Devoir, questions Canada’s need to participate in the war. His position in Québec is an explosive one. He is painted as a hero by some and a traitor by others.

A statue of Sir James will be erected on the grounds of Queen's Park.

September 25: Sir James Whitney, Premier of Ontario for the past nine years, dies in office.  The Conservative leader is 70 years old.

October 3: They are the largest force to ever cross the Atlantic as 33,000 soldiers leave Canada for Britain, today. 

October 5: In a bid to make the war palatable--if not popular--Lieutenant-Colonel Gaudet is named commander of the 22nd Battalion, a special French-Canadian unit in the army.

December 5: The Toronto Argonauts whip the University of Toronto 14-2 to win the Grey Cup.

December 30: The Bell Telephone Company of Canada Limited serves 237,000 customers.

Ford factory in 1914 at Ford, Ontario.
December 31: Ford of Canada has 1,405 employees on payroll.

December 31: The City of Toronto records the number of automobile fatalities for the first time—18 people have been killed in or by motor cars within city limits during the calendar year.