Sunday, February 25, 2018


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1902-

January 14: The Manhattan sails from Halifax harbour carrying the Canadian Mounted Rifles to the battlefront in South Africa. In the hold are 22 bulls and 125 sheep. They will be slaughtered to feed the soldiers.

February 12: Former Governor General Lord Dufferin is dead at the age of 75. During his reign as Vice-Regal, Prince Edward Island joined Confederation, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Royal Military College were established. Perfectly bilingual, His Excellency loved meeting the people and was the first Governor General to visit all seven provinces.

March 12: Some 3,000 angry Newfoundland sealers end their strike in St. John’s and finally set sail for this year’s hunt. They have won the right not to pay a $3 berth fee for their ships.

March 17: The home crowd is disappointed as the Montréal AAA skates past the Winnipeg Victorias to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.

April 2: Spirited Manitoba voters reject Prohibition in a referendum by a wide margin. The vote is 16,600 for alcohol and 10,600 against. 

April 30:  The steamer Bulgaria docks in Halifax. The ship carries the single largest number of immigrants ever to arrive at one time. Aboard are 2,692 people, mostly Ukrainian and German. They are headed for a new life in the Northwest Territories.

May 12: The sod is turned for a new railway to run from North Bay to Cochrane. The 409-kilometre venture will open up Ontario’s northland.

The red portion of the map indicates Canada's Northwest Territories in 1902.

May 21: The fifth and last general election is held in the Northwest Territories as we know it today. In 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan will be carved from the jurisdiction and join Confederation as provinces.

May 21: Flames shoot more than 300 metres into the air as an explosion—caused by an earth tremour--at the Number Two Mine of the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company’s colliery on Coal Creek, near Fernie, BC. The tragedy takes the lives of 128 miners, including 13-year old Will Robinson. 

May 24: Victoria Day is observed for the first time ever. Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, has been dead for 16 months. Prime Minister Laurier says the new public holiday will honour her memory. In 1952 the date will be changed to fall on the first Monday before the 25th of May.

May 31: The Boer War is over and the Union of South Africa is firmly united under the British flag. Canada sent 8,300 soldiers of whom 135 gave their lives for King and Empire.

June 15: It’s early to bed and earlier to rise for folks living in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The three Maritime provinces and much of Labrador shift from Eastern Time to the Atlantic Time zone.

June 19: Gaetano Alberto (Guy) Lombardo is born in London, Ontario. He will grow up to be become a musician, form a big band called the Royal Canadians. The boys will play the sweetest music this side of Heaven and sell more than 300 million recordings. They will welcome in the New Year for millions on radio and TV until Guy’s death in 1977.

A typical summer streetcar, circa 1900.
June 24: The Toronto Street Railway strike is over. The three-day work stoppage was a violent one; workers destroyed every streetcar sent out by management. The premier sent 1,400 soldiers to intervene.

July --: The first American automobile enters Canada at Windsor, Ontario. Puzzled Canada Customs  & Excise officials have no idea how to classify the vehicle, so they levy a hefty $5—a month’s wages—in import fees and log in the horseless carriage in their book as a farm machine.

July 1: Millionaire cowboy Ray Knight coins the word “stampede” and organizes the Raymond Stampede in his hometown of Raymond (Alberta) in the Northwest Territories. The Raymond Stampede aka the Calgary Stampede, is still the oldest stampede event in the country.

July 15: Donald Creighton is born in Toronto. He will grow up to become a leading historian, famous for saying, “People who forget their past are doomed not to have a future.” The fierce nationalist will write a dozen highly acclaimed books and teach at the University of Toronto until he dies of cancer in 1979.

August 6: Norwegian explorer  Captain Otto Svendrup’s ships have set sail from Ellesmere Island after a four-year exploration of the eastern Arctic. Canada will need to establish sovereignty over its northern coast, or risk losing it.

August 9: Succeeding his mother, Victoria, to the throne, Edward VII is crowned King of the United Kingdom, the British Dominions--including Canada—and Emperor of India. He will reign o’er us until his death in 1910.

August 10: It’s a girl for Andrew and Edith Shearer of Westmount, Quebec. Edith Norma will drop the Edith when she grows up and will become be one of the most famous actresses Hollywood has ever seen, winning an Oscar in 1930. Norma will marry MGM executive Irving Thalberg and appear in many movies before retiring in 1942. The Queen of MGM will be stricken with Alzheimers and die of pneumonia on June 12, 1983. Canada Post will honour this pioneer actress with a stamp in 2008.

August 22: Maryon Elspeth Moody is born in Winnipeg. She will grow up to become the wife of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Quick witted, she will tell the press, “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” She will die in 1991.

Woodward's is known for its elaborate Christmas window displays.
September 12: Woodward’s Department Stores Ltd. is incorporated. Soon an imposing structure will be built on the corner of Hastings and Abbot streets in Vancouver. The company will spread throughout BC and Alberta and serve consumers for a hundred years before being purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

September 17: American Admiral Robert Peary and his ships dock in Halifax after spending four years exploring the high Arctic. He was unsuccessful in his bid to reach the North Pole.

September 26: Halifax police take on a gang of rowdy drunken soldiers celebrating after returning home to Canada after seeing action in the Boer War in the Union of South Africa. The street brawl gets ugly and troops are sent in to handle the situation.

October 2: An Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway train arrives at the Edmonton station at four o’clock. The first train to ever chug into the Alberta’s capital city is made up of a Canadian Northern Mogul #26, a flatcar, a boxcar and a day coach.

October 18:  Premier Sir Robert Bond has successfully concluded a free trade deal between the Dominion of Newfoundland and the United States of America. This will be a boon for the Newfoundland economy as saltfish exported to the US will now be free of duty.

October 31: The Pacific Cable, aka the All Red Line, is complete between Canada and New Zealand. The first message—one of congratulations--is sent from New Zealand to Ottawa. Now there is constant, uninterrupted communication throughout the British Empire, connecting nearly a quarter of the world's population.

November 21: Foster William Hewitt is born in Toronto. He will grow up to call the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts for General Motors of Canada in 1931. The pioneer radio broadcaster will be welcomed into millions of homes every Saturday night for 40 years, signing on with “Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland (until Newfoundland joins Confederation in 1949). Foster Hewitt will coin the phrase, “He shoots, he scores!” The legendary sports broadcaster will be laid to rest in 1985.

November 28: The Québec Symphony Orchestra performs for the public for the first time at Tara Hall in Québec City. The nation’s first symphony orchestra will promote Canadian composers and music from the very beginning. The symphony will mark its centennial in 2002.

A 1902 Redpath with engine showing. 
December – The Redpath Motor Vehicle Company is incorporated in Kitchener, Ontario. A handful of Redpath and Redpath Messenger cars will be built in Kitchener and Toronto before a fire forces the company out of business in 1907.

December 4: Ontario voters have spoken.  The results of the Prohibition Referendum are in and to teatotalers’ dismay, alcohol will continue to be sold and served throughout the province.

December 15: The first trans-Atlantic radio news press report is sent to Europe from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

December 20: Francophone newspaper subscribers in Montréal have something to chuckle about. The first French-Canadian comic strip, Pour un diner de Noel appears in La Presse.


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