This Week in Western Canadian History
August 1 - August 7
August
2
1858

In 1806, Simon Fraser, a fur trader for the North West Company, travelled into the interior of British Columbia. Reminded of his mother's descriptions of the Scottish Highlands, he called the area New Caledonia, or New Scotland. In 1858, legislation was introduced to make the area a crown colony under British law. Since the French already had a colony in the South Pacific of that name, New Caledonia's name was changed to British Columbia on August 2, 1858.

August
1
1882

The thirteen months between August 1, 1882 and September 1, 1883 were designated International Polar Year. In a major international cooperative enterprise, eleven countries, including Canada, sponsored fifteen expeditions to study marine meteorology, geophysics and the earth sciences by collecting hard data in the Arctic and Antarctic. In 1982 Canada's Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development created the Centenary Medal to mark the 100th anniversary of this unique scientific endeavour and Canada's participation in it. The medal is awarded annually to an individual who has made significant scientific contributions to Canada's north.

August
6
1884

Ordinance No. 5 of 1884, passed by the Legislative Assembly of the North-West Territories on August 6 1884, provided for the organization of public schools in the Territories. The legislation specified the creation of a Board of Education for the Territories to consist of 12 people, six of whom were to be Protestant and six Catholic. It also forbade religious instruction, such as bible reading, reciting prayers, or asking questions from any catechism between the hours of 9 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. At 3 o'clock, children of a different religious faith were permitted to leave so that religious instruction in the faith of the majority could occur.

August
5
1896

A young American climber became the first fatality in Canada’s national parks when Phillip Abbot fell to his death on Mount Lefroy in Banff National Park. Abbot and his party (all members of Philadelphia’s highly respected Appalachian Mountain Club) were attempting a first ascent on Mt. Lefroy. The climb was long and difficult, and it appears that late in the day Abbot decided to take a more dangerous vertical route rather than a longer safer one. He apparently slipped on the rock and was killed by the fall. The pass where he died is now called Abbot Pass.

August
4
1914

Calgary went wild with excitement as the deadline that Britain had imposed on Germany to withdraw from Belgium passed. Outdoor bulletin boards posted special editions that carried the news that Britain had officially declared war. Crowds blocked traffic as they poured into downtown Calgary to stand before the newspaper buildings, waiting for the latest reports. Outbursts of cheering greeted each new announcement, and a brass band led Calgarians in patriotic songs. "It will be terrible, but it needs to be done" seemed to be the general assessment of the situation.

August
5
1914

Some prominent Albertans stranded in Germany when war was declared were reported safe in London. All had difficulty securing transportation out of Germany, since train service was erratic and steamers were overcrowded as people tried to return to their homes. As well, several individuals were in temporary financial difficulties as the banks were closed and were unable to cash their credit notes.

August
7
1917

Despite cold and windy weather, almost 2,000 people attended the opening events of the first chautauqua in Canada, held in Lethbridge, Alberta. Chautauquas, which had originated in upper New York state, featured several days of musical performances, dramatic productions, lectures, magic and puppet shows designed to entertain and instruct the audience. The shows, held in tents on community fairgrounds, followed a regular circuit and proved to be especially popular during the Depression when they entertained thousands of people at a reasonable cost.

August
7
1919

EC Hoy in his Curtiss biplane Captain Ernest Hoy dined in Calgary after making the first successful flight over -- or more accurately, since his Curtiss Jenny biplane could only reach altitudes of 7,000 feet, through -- the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Captain Hoy left Vancouver and flew via Vernon, Grand Forks, Cranbrook and Lethbridge, arriving to a hero's welcome in Calgary less than seventeen hours later. On his return trip via another route, Hoy swerved to avoid people on the runway at Golden, British Columbia, and crashed. Captain Hoy, and his Jenny, returned to Vancouver by train.

August
7
1921

Charles Hatfeild, RainmakerWith the prairies suffering through a prolonged dry spell, Medicine Hat farmers decided to experiment with artificial rain-making. They made a deal with Charles M. Hatfield of Los Angeles who, for the sum of $8,000, agreed to produce four inches of rain between May 1 and August 1, 1921. Hatfield arrived in Medicine Hat in April and set up his equipment. Fences were erected, and visitors and reporters forbidden. No-one could get close enough to see the actual working procedure of the towers, tanks and iron trays filled with chemicals. There were light showers at the beginning of May, but by the end of the month, so much rain had fallen that telegrams were arriving from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan asking Hatfield to hold off on the moisture for a little. In June, the rains stopped and, as temperatures climbed above 100 F, the drought returned. The executive of the farmers' association demanded that Hatfield produce the promised rain. Nothing happened. At the beginning of August, the rainmaker received an offer from some American farmers offering $3,000 for each inch of rain he could produce. Hatfield took down his towers and his tanks and on August 7, 1921, promising to return the next year with improved equipment, left Medicine Hat for the United States. He never returned.

August
1
1926

Fourteen circus elephants went on a rampage through a residential neighbourhood in Edmonton when they were startled by a barking fox terrier as they were being unloaded from the train. Although six were soon captured, eight others roamed the streets for several hours, knocking garages off their foundations, tearing down fences and trees and trampling gardens. Fortunately there were no serious injuries to either the animals or to those who tried to control them, and the damage to property was relatively minor.

August
3
1926

A Czechoslovakian immigrant, who failed in his attempt to cut his own throat, received a stern lecture and a jail sentence from an Edmonton judge who declared that there were entirely too many people trying to commit suicide. The man, who was convinced that people were "after him", tried to cut his throat with a pocket knife. He received medical treatment for his injuries and was then sentenced to a year in jail with a recommendation that he be returned to Czechoslovakia after his release.

August
1
1932

Delegates at the conference of labour political parties in Calgary formed a new party, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, on August 1, 1932. At a time when the country was still in the grips of the Depression, the leadership of the new party avowed its intention to transform the competitive capitalist economic system that had plunged the country into economic crisis into a "cooperative commonwealth" based on socialist principles. The CCF advocated socialization of health services, the financial system, utilities and natural resources and promised equal economic opportunity despite sex, nationality or faith. The party elected seven members to the House of Commons in the 1935 federal election. During the Cold War, many people associated the CCF with communism, and its popularity declined. At the party's convention in 1961 members voted to become the New Democratic Party.

August
2
1932

The first Icelander came to Canada in approximately 985 AD when a member of Eric the Red's settlement in Greenland sighted land that has been identified as either Baffin Island, Newfoundland, or Labrador. The major influx of settlers from Iceland began in 1872, and continued throughout the last decades of the 19th century. In 1875, the settlement of New Iceland was formed with Gimli, Manitoba, as its centre. Although the colony became a part of Manitoba in 1881, many of the settlers maintained their Icelandic language and culture. Since 1932, the community of Gimli has hosted the annual Icelandic Festival (Islendingadagurinn) which celebrates Icelandic culture and honours its pioneers.

August
4
1944

The only Calgary-born winner of the Victoria Cross, R.A.F. Squadron Leader Ian Bazalgette, was shot down over France on August 4, 1944. Although his Lancaster bomber came under heavy fire during a mission, he continued to guide his squadron to their target. With the mission complete, he ordered his crew to parachute from the burning plane. Bazalgette remained at the controls and guided the plane away from a French village before it crashed, killing him and two comrades. A junior high school in Calgary is named in his honour.

August
3-11
1978

The first British Empire Games were held in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930. Since then, the Games have been held every four years, except for the war years, and, in 1978, were renamed the Commonwealth Games. From August 3 to August 11, 1978, the 11th Commonwealth Games, known as "The Friendly Games", were held in Edmonton, Alberta. There were events in eleven sports at the Games, including track and field, badminton, boxing, cycling and gymnastics, and Canada won a total of 109 medals (45 gold, 31 silver, 33 bronze).



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