Friday, December 29, 2017


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1915-

January 4: The first Canadian soldiers arrive on the front lines in Europe. They are part of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

January 20: Engineers at Ford of Canada have invented a motorized ambulance. Shipped to the Western Front to transport wounded soldiers from the battlefield. Soldiers jokingly call them “bouncing bedsteads” because the Model Ts don’t have shock absorbers.

The Canadian Northern Railway station in Vancouver
January 23:  The Canadian Northern Railway line to Vancouver from Edmonton is now complete. The last spike is driven into a railroad tie at Basque, BC by Sir William Mackenzie.

January 26: The Germans have taken all the food in Belgium to feed soldiers. Starving children are about to receive nearly $500,000 worth of food gathered by Canadians. A fourth ship left Halifax today bound for Rotterdam. 

A Roundel fighter plane used by the Royal Flying Corps.
February 4: Lieutenant W.F. Sharpe is the first Canadian airman to die in the war.

February 12:  Lorne Hyman Greene is born in Ottawa. He will grow up to be the first national newsreader for the CBC. Later he will become an actor known for his roles on TV shows Bonanza and Battlestar Galactica. The recipient of the Order of Canada will die of pneumonia in 1987.

The Northwest Mounted Police will become the Royal Canadian  Mounted Police in 1920.

February 17: Lawrence Herchmer is dead in Vancouver at the age of 74. He was the Chief Commissary of the Boundary Commission for the prairies and was appointed to be the fifth Commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police. Under his direction, the mounted police are transformed from a freewheeling frontier force to a polished law-and-order organization. His reforms included introduction of the now trademark wide-brimmed hats that Mounties wear and the breathtaking Musical Ride.

February 21: Popular speaker, author and women’s right activist, Nellie McClung, presents a petition to the Alberta legislature. Politicians are shocked. The petition demands that women be given the right to vote.

February 22: The new $325,000 Ford Branch building opens in Toronto. A weeklong gala includes live entertainment and motion pictures produced by Ford Canada’s moving picture department. In 1960 the automobile factory will be transformed into Shopper's World, the planet's first indoor mall.

February 27: A Toronto court room is packed as the jury returns a not guilty verdict on behalf of servant Carrie Davis who is charged with the murder of her employer, Charles Massey. The jury took only 30 minutes to render a verdict of innocence. The accused murderess is freed,

February 28: Canadian troops launch the first trench raid in the war, taking the Germans by surprise.

March 5: Nearly 1,000 people who belong to the Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Press, attempt to sway Ontario Premier William Hearst to ban the sale of alcohol. The premier is doubtful that prohibition would make Ontario a better place to live.

The ruins of Neuve Chapelle after the Germans are defeated.
March 10: The Battle of Neuve Chapelle begins on the Western Front and Canadians are thrown into the breach. Two days later there will be more than 11,000 British casualties—many Canadians among the wounded and dead. 

March 16: The boots issued to soldiers are so poorly made they actually come apart in ordinary marching. The shoddy shoes will have to be dealt with by the House of Commons if we are going to win a war. 

March 26: the Vancouver Millionaires whip the Ottawa Senators three games to zip and take home the Stanley Cup.

March 28: In Montreal 72 Jewish groups gather to form a national organization that will represent 
Jewish interests throughout the Dominion.

April 3: Some 200 soldiers stationed in Belleville, Ontario flee for their lives from the army base when they learn one of their fellow soldiers has died of spinal meningitis. 

An LCBO store in 2017.

April 6: MPPs at Queen's Park vote passage pf the Liquor Licence Act. This calls for the creation of a Board of Commissioners that will make the Province of Ontario the only  seller of  liquor throughout the province--the foundation of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario a.k.a. the LCBO.

April 16: Workers at the Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited become the highest paid workers in the British Empire. They now earn 50c an hour or $4 a day. Further, the workday is now reduced from ten hours a day to only eight. 

April 17: The Alberta Legislature gives women the right to vote in local elections. 

April 22: The Battle of Ypres begins. The Germans open by emitting clouds of poisonous chlorine gas. Our soldiers don't have gas masks but stand their ground by making masks of handkerchiefs soaked in urine. Already 5,000 Canadian soldiers have been killed, injured or captured in the war.

This painting by Richard Jack depicts the gas warfare in battle of Ypres.
May 3: Reports from the front lines say that 6,000 Canadians have died in the Battle of Ypres. Brave soldiers stood their ground against the Germans who attacked from three sides. Canadians fiercely stood their ground and routed the enemy. 

May 3: Dr. John McCrea, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army, writes the In Flanders Field. The powerful poem will become part of our culture and lore and even be printed on the back of the $10 bill.
The RMS Lusitania sank in eighteen minutes.
May 7: A German submarine sinks the British liner RMS Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Nearly 1,200 passengers go down with the ship but 764 are rescued. Many Canadians are on board. 

May 8: Ottawa creates a War Purchasing Board to last for the duration of the conflict. It will be in charge of buying provisions for our armed forces.

May 8: In Victoria, BC a mob estimated at 500 people attack properties thought to be German owned,, including the Blanshard Hotel. The fire department is ordered to turn hoses on the crowd in a bid to have them disperse but the fire fighters refuse. 

May 28: Frank Pickersgill is born in Winnipeg. He will grow up to be a World War Two super spy, eventually be captured by the Germans and tortured to death in 1944 at the Buchenwald concentration  camp. He will receive many posthumous honours. His brother Jack will become a Cabinet minister in the Pearson government.

People who live in the red-coloured countries are all part of the  British Empire and fighting together.

June 1: There are 106,000 Canadians in uniform, fighting for King and Empire.

June 10: Saul Bellow is born in Lachine, Québec. He will grow up to become a world-famous novelist, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976 as well as the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the same year. The literary legend will die on June 5, 2005.

June 27: George F. Johnson of Dawson City, Yukon takes delivery of a 1915 Cadillac. The eight-cylinder, seven-passenger touring car " the finest automobile ever brought to the Yukon and ranks among the top-notchers to be found anywhere in the world," according to the Dawson Daily News.

June 28: The Saskatchewan River has flooded leaving 2,000 people homeless in Edmonton. A baby drowned because its mother dropped it while trying to walk on a floating sidewalk. 

July 1: No longer will citizens of Saskatchewan be able to buy booze in bars and clubs. A new government-controlled liquor commission--with stores located throughout the province--are the only places where folks can buy alcohol.

July 5: The Hotel Macdonald opens in Edmonton. The inspiring château-style luxury hotel is designed by the firm of Ross and Macdonald, whose clients include Eaton’s, the Government of Canada, The Royal Bank and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Named for Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, Edmontonians affectionately call it 'The Mac'.

July 6: Leonard Joseph Birchall is born in St. Catherines, Ontario. He will grow up to be a solder captured by the Japanese in World War Two in Ceylon. He will lead the resistance against the Japanese and chronicle the mistreatment of war prisoners by the Japanese. The war hero will be hideously tortured for his defiance and will testify at their trials after the war. The “Saviour of Ceylon” will die in 2004.

July 12: With so many men in uniform farmers despair of getting food out of the fields and onto the nation’s tables. Soldiers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force who are in boot camp are sent on “harvest furloughs” to reap the crops.

July 14: A Curtiss JN-3 takes a test flight in Toronto. It is the first airplane to be built in the country.

This chart shows the duration of prohibition across  the Dominion of Canada and in the Dominion of Newfoundland.
July 21: Citizens of Alberta vote for a dry province. Not a drop of liquor will be produced or sold anywhere in Wild Rose Country. The law will take effect on July 1, 1916.

Canada Post will honour Sir Sanford Fleming with this 1977 stamp. 

July 22: Sir Sandford Fleming is dead in Ottawa at the age of 88. He founded the Royal Canadian Institute in 1849, designed the first Canadian stamp in 1851 but the railroad engineer will be best remembered as the man who created the worldwide time zone system we use today.

July 31: War contracts have helped to reduce the deficit at The Russell Motor Car Company Limited. The red ink has been reduced to $140,388 and management believes the worst is over. 

August 4: Teachers in the Separate School Board in Ottawa refuse to follow government orders to teach students in English only. Parents demand their children schooled in French and the board will respect the parents' wishes.

August 11: Some 14,200 Albertans have signed up to fight in the war effort. That is almost four percent of the province’s entire population.

August 24: The Matthers Commission clears former Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin of defrauding the provincial coffers of $800,000 in the building of the legislature building.

September 13: The Second Canadian Division arrives in Europe. The Canadian Corps is created.

September 19:  Sam McLaughlin, builder of the McLaughlin automobile, inks a deal with William (Billy) Durant to manufacture the Chevrolet automobile at the McLaughlin factory in Oshawa, Ontario 

September 21: Fairgoers to the Provincial Exhibition in Fredericton, New Brunswick watch more than 100 Fords go by in a parade on Ford Day. City fathers arranged for street sprinklers to work overnight so “the procession drove through practically all the streets of the city without being inconvenienced by dust.”

September 30: Students attend classes at the University of British Columbia for the first time. Previously the institution of higher learning was the west coast campus of McGill University in Montreal.

Dame Nellie Melba was born in Australia.

October 4: World-renowned opera diva Nellie Melba sings in Toronto to help raise money for the war effort. $9,000 is collected on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross.

October 7: Charles Templeton is born in Toronto. He will grow up to be a charismatic evangelist working with crusader Billy Graham, reject religion, turn agnostic, become a writer and broadcaster and a best-selling novelist before he dies in 2001. 

Charles Tupper was an MD. His tenure as Prime Minister  is the shortest--he only served for ten weeks.

October 30: Sir Charles Tupper, Canada’s sixth Prime Minister and the last Father of Confederation, dies in Britain at the age of 94. His remains will be returned to Canada on the HMS Blenheim, painted black for the funeral journey to Halifax.
November 1:  Ford is the best selling car in the Dominion. Of the 22,072 automobiles sold in the past twelve months 17,570 are Fords. Montreal has 3,917 cars registered, Toronto has 8,815 registered passenger cars, Victoria boasts 2,363 and Regina has a total of 1, 123 automobiles on its streets.

November 4: The McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited in Oshawa, sells its buggy business to Jim Tudhope in Orillia, Ontario. McLaughlin will concentrate on building automobiles.

Johnny Wayne and Sylvia Lennick in a 1971 comedy sketch seen on the CBC's Wayne & Shuster special.

November 14: Sylvia Lennik is born in Toronto. She will grow up to be a star of stage radio and television, best remembered for her roles as a supporting cast member of the Wayne & Shuster show on the CBC and as the mother-in-law on CTV’s sitcom The Trouble with Tracy. She will die of pneumonia at the age of 93.

November 27: Yves Theriault is born in Québec City. He will become an author famed for his 1958 best selling book, Agaguk, the dramatic story outlining the struggle between Inuit and white men. The book will be made into a movie in the 1990s. The Order of Canada recipient will die in 1983.

December – The first domestically built Chevrolets roll off the assembly line in Oshawa, Ontario. The McLaughlin concern has signed a deal to build bowties in the Dominion. The low-priced car competes against Ford.

December 7: Soldiers finally get decent footwear. The Department of the Militia ships Larrigan brand boots to the Western Front. These rugged waterproof boots are designed for lumberjacks. Now soldiers are complaining about their inferior Ross rifles.

December 18: The Russell Motor Car Company Limited is a thing of the past as stockholders vote to sell the factory and its assets to John North Willys who will assemble his Overland and Willys automobiles in Toronto for the Canadian and Empire markets.

December 21: The Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited is recapitalized to the tune of $10 million.

December 31: If all the Fords sold to date were parked bumper to bumper they would form a line 1,730 miles long, stretching from Calgary to Toronto.

© James C. Mays 2011  all rights reserved

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