Monday, August 14, 2017


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1918-
The 'Candlestick' phone is the latest style across the country. 

January 1:  Nova Scotia has 202 telephone companies of which 128 have been organized under the Rural Telephone Act. The latter boasts 8,694 kilometres of wires and 2,413 telephones hooked up to them.

January 3: The first of 500,000 men to be selected by the Military Service Act report for the army duty today in Montreal. Those who do appear not will be sentenced to five years’ hard labour in military prison.

January 4: The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health begins gathering data on patients who contract sexually transmitted diseases.

January 4: The war has brought changes in our eating habits. Oatmeal and cornmeal consumption is up and sales of white flour is down substantially. Beef consumption is down by 58.4 percent in comparison to November 1916.

January 17: Sparked by the mandatory conscription of soldiers, Members of the National Assembly in Quebec City debate a motion that the province should leave Confederation. 

Tarzan of the Apes is one of the most popular movies this year. Will it be banned in Manitoba?
January 22: The Manitoba Moving Picture Censor Board has banned from theatres comedies and frivolous movies that made audiences laugh. The board says that Canadian men are experiencing the horrors of war,  and that people at home should not be laughing themselves silly.

January 28: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrea is dead at the age of 33. The field surgeon succumbed to meningitis and pneumonia. He will be best remembered for his poem, In Flanders Fields.

February 11: With so many men at war there is almost no one to mine coal. There is so little coal available that factories and stores are forced to close in Toronto. They will stay closed for three days. 

Women are hired to pump gas at Imperial Oil service stations, as part of the war effort.
February 18: Spread over 400 hectares (990 acres), Imperial Oil Limited opens its newest refinery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. 

March 1: Harlan Carey Brewster, the 18th Premier of British Columbia unexpectedly dies in office at the age of 47.  His government was filled with reform accomplishments, including giving women the right to vote and introducing Prohibition. He will be interred in the Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria.

March 11: It is now illegal to manufacture or important alcoholic beverages containing more than 2.5 percent alcohol. The law says the ban will continue until the end of the war. 

Dodge Brothers opens an automobile factory in Windsor, Ontario in 1918. The five-passenger centre-door sedan is seen here.

March 18: Parliament announces a ten percent war tax on luxury items including gramophones, gramophone records, jewellery, player pianos and automobiles.

The Victoria Cross is the nation's  highest military honour. It is awarded for valour in duty.

March 30: Squadron C of Lord Strathcona’s Horse, a.k.a. the Royal Canadians charge the Germans at Moreuil Wood, The casualties are horrific but it stops the German advance dead it its tracks. Lieutenant Gordon Flowerdew will receive the Victoria Cross posthumously.

March 30: The Stanley Cup goes home with the Toronto Arenas, who beat the Vancouver Millionaires three games to two in front of a capacity audience in Montreal.

April 1: Riots break out in Quebec City and troops are called in to stop the violence. Citizens are opposed to military conscription. Five protesters are killed hundreds arrested.

Women were influential in the prohibition era.
April 1: Alberta becomes a dry province as a total prohibition of alcohol manufacture and sales takes effect.

April 4: Labour is scarce and food supplies are running short. The federal cabinet passes an order-in-council that requires every man between the ages of 16 and 60 be steadily employed.

April 15:  Yet another war measure: The bill to introduce Daylight Savings Time has passed the Senate and is signed into Royal decree by the Governor General.

April 20: Ottawa announces that all men between the ages of 20 and 22 will register for military duty.

April 21: Credited with 80 kills, German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron, is shot down out of the skies. The honour goes to Captain Roy Brown of Carleton Place, Ontario.

April 26: Women in Nova Scotia may now vote in elections.

 Workers in Oshawa, Ontario will build 13,843 Chevrolet passenger cars in 1918. 

May 8: The Canadian Automobile Association reports that we own and operate more than 200,000 vehicles. That is the third highest total in the world after the US and the UK.

May 15:  Ottawa has decided to conscript farmers, put them in uniform and send them overseas. Some 5,000 farmers demonstrate publicly against the decision.

May 15: Joseph Wiseman is born in Montreal. He will grow up to be an actor best known for playing Dr. No in the James Bond film. 

May 24: Canadian women of majority age may now vote in federal elections. Though Royal Assent has been given to the Canada Elections Act, there are many who feel strongly that giving women the vote is contrary to the laws of God and nature.  

The Dominion Bureau of Statistics gathers facts about us. It reports that 866 new washing machines are bought every week by families in Ontario.
May 24: The Dominion Bureau of Statistics is founded in Ottawa. The nation-wide information-gathering department will provide statistical snapshots of the nation. The bureau will be renamed Statistics Canada in 1971.

June 17: H.B. Thomson, chairman of the Canada Food Board, warns that there is a serious labour shortage and even though farmers have increased production there are no labourers to harvest the food and it will rot in the fields.

June 3: Quebec City, Montreal, New York City and Boston are now linked by air mail service.

Canada's first airmail stamp is issued today. 
June 24: Mail is delivered by air as Captain Brian Peck of the Royal Air Force carries 120 letters from Montreal to Toronto. The flight takes six hours because the plane needs to land periodically for refuelling.
At the age of 16, Katherine Stinson is the fourth woman in the world to earn her pilot's license. 
July 9: Katherine Stinson lands her Curtiss Special BiPlane in Edmonton. She has mail on board for delivery from Calgary. 

July 18: Nelson Mandella is born in the Union of South Africa. The revolutionary politician will spend 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid and become South Africa’s first black president. He will be made an honourary Canadian citizen in 2001.

August 2:  Some 700 mourners at the funeral of labour organizer Albert 'Ginger' Goodwin are attacked in Vancouver. Many of the protestors are army veterans. Goodwin was shot and killed by police for hiding in the woods to avoid conscription.

September 1: Some 400 school children and teachers in Victoriaville, Quebec contract the Spanish flu. It is believed they got it from soldiers returning from the war in Europe. Symptoms included tiredness and headaches. Many died in less than 48 hours.

September 16: After five years of exploring the Arctic, Manitoba native Vihjalmur Stefansson returns to Vancouver. The expedition was a great success: four new islands have been discovered and the Beaufort Sea has been mapped.

 This painting, by artist Kenneth Forbes, is entitled 'Canadian Artillery in Action, 1918'.
October 1: It took them 100 days but the 100,000 men of the Canadian Corps have broken through the Hindenburg Line. The battle began on September 27.  Our brave soldiers have captured more than 7,000 prisoners and taken 205 pieces of artillery.

October 9:  The Canadian Cavalry Brigade has advanced 12.9 kilometres today into enemy territory and taken more than 400 prisoners. The cost for our side is 168 men and 171 horses killed, wounded or missing in action.

Even children wore masks to ward off the Spanish flu. 

October 22: Vancouver is hit hard by the Spanish flu as 522 cases are now reported. Schools, churches and theatres are closed as precautionary measures. 

October 25: The 2,300-tonne Canadian Pacific Railway steamer Princess Sophia is driven off course by a wild snowstorm and sinks outside of Victoria, BC. All 346 passengers and crew went down with the ship. Many of those on board were civil servants and business leaders from the Yukon Territory. 

Painted by Colonel Louis Keene, 'Canadians Outside the Depot – Siberia, Russia'  depicts our soldiers in action.

October 27: Ottawa sends 4,000 troops to Russia to help put down the Bolshevik Revolution. They arrive in Vladivostok today.

Automotive pioneer Colonel R. Samuel Mclaughlin will be honoured by Canada Post in 2008.

November 7: Colonel Sam McLaughlin is named to the position of Vice President of General Motors in Detroit. His Oshawa, Ontario company builds Chevrolet and McLaughlin automobiles.

November 11: The end of the Great War is marked with two minutes of silence at the 11lth hour. More than 600,000 Canadians have served in uniform and nearly 60,000 have sacrificed their lives for King and Country.

Everyone is required to wear masks in Alberta as a precautionary measure against the Spanish flu.
November 11: In Edmonton 262 people are dead of the Spanish flu. The first case was reported in Alberta’s capital city only three weeks ago. 

November 19: The federal cabinet passes an Order in Council to amalgamate all government-owned railways under one banner. Starting next year the Canadian Government Railways will be known as Canadian National Railways. In the 21st Century, CN Rail will the the fifth largest railway in the world and employ 23,000 people. 

December:  The Grey Cup is cancelled for the third year in a row because of the war.

General Motors of Canada, Limited will build Chevrolet automobiles as well as the other brands in GM's stable.

December 19: General Motors of Detroit, Michigan purchases the McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited of Oshawa, Ontario for $550,000 and 49,000 shares of stock.  GM Canada is born.

December 23: Private Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment will receive the Victoria Cross for bravery in battle. The 17-year old soldier is the youngest man to ever receive the medal. 
Robert Laird Borden is Canada's eighth prime minister. He will step down from office in 1920.

December 31: Prime Minister Borden is in London for a meeting of the Imperial War Cabinet. He insists that each of the prime ministers in all of the British dominions have a right to take turns representing the empire at international gatherings.

Copyright to James C. Mays, 2017

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