This Week in Western Canadian History
February 27 - March 4
March
4
1870

On March 3, 1870, in the Red River colony, Thomas Scott, a "violent and boisterous" Irishman from Ontario, was tried and convicted of taking up arms against Louis Riel's provisional government. On March 4, he was executed by a Metis firing squad. Ontario Orangemen hailed Scott as a political martyr and the execution became a principal cause for the dispatch of the Wolseley Expedition to regain control of the colony.

March
4
1906

H.W. White of Calgary drove into the city at 7 p.m. after successfully completing the first automobile trip from Edmonton to Calgary. White's 29-horsepower Ford left Edmonton early Saturday morning. The first section of the journey was particularly rough since the trail was snow-covered for long stretches. Later, however, the party reached speeds of almost 40 miles per hour and made up some time. The group spent the night in Red Deer (approximately the half-way point) and drove into Calgary on Sunday evening, having completed the trip after 12 hours of driving with no damage to the vehicle or passengers.

March
1
1917

Police with seized liquor Late in 1916, the Royal North West Mounted Police informed Alberta's provincial government that they would no longer provide police services to the province. On March 1, 1917, the Alberta Provincial Police was created. Originally there were four divisions, with headquarters in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer. Later, two more divisions were added in northern Alberta. Although authorised to hire up to 150 men, fewer than 100 were in place on March 1 (suitable candidates were difficult to find because of the First World War). Starting salaries ranged from $3 a day for a constable, and up to $4,000 a year for the superintendent. The police patrolled public buildings, including theatres, restaurants and pool halls, helped fight forest fires, inspected mines, enforced school attendance, collected hospital fees and, most unpopular of all, enforced prohibition regulations. The Alberta Provincial Police was disbanded in 1932, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police resumed policing services within the province.

February
28
1929

Eaton's Store in Calgary Lady Eaton, daughter-in-law of the late Timothy Eaton, officially opened the brand-new Eaton's store in downtown Calgary. The new store was one of the largest in the Eaton chain, with over 150,000 square feet of floor space spread over four floors and a basement. The display window arcade of over 6,000 square feet was fully lit at night, a new attraction that was already proving popular with pedestrians. The new store also featured an escalator, or revolving staircase (the first to be seen in Calgary), and a unique cash tube system to speed customer payments to the accounting department.

March
2
1945

Emily Carr, one of Canada's most respected artists, died in Victoria, British Columbia, on March 2, 1945. Carr was born in Victoria in 1871. In 1891, she went to San Francisco to study. She returned home and set up a studio, teaching art to children. In 1910, unable to make a living from painting or teaching, she travelled to France and returned with a colourful, strong, Postimpressionist style. She developed her studies of aboriginal themes, such as her paintings of the vanishing totem poles and villages of the Pacific Northwest and a series of pottery pieces incorporating aboriginal designs. In 1927, she met several members of the Group of Seven who encouraged her to continue developing her own style. Although she never achieved financial independence from her art, she enjoyed professional and critical success. Following a severe heart attack in 1937, she began her writing career, and in 1941 she received the Governor General's Award for Klee Wyck. Her journals were published posthumously.

March
2
1946

Local newspapers reflected the controversy over the renaming of Castle Mountain (in Banff National Park) as Mount Eisenhower. The mountain was originally named in 1857 by James Hector (a member of the Palliser Expedition) because of its resemblance to a fortress. The name was changed in 1946 to honour General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. While many Calgarians agreed that Eisenhower should be recognised, most regretted the choice of Castle Mountain for the honour. The decision was always controversial and the name was officially changed back in 1979. The east peak of the mountain still bears the name Eisenhower Peak.

March
1
1954

The last working organ used for background music and sound effects for silent films left the Palace Theatre in downtown Calgary for a new home in a Lethbridge church. The organ had 500 pipes, ranging from small ones the size of a lead pencil to large ones more than eight feet tall. A dozen volunteers took the organ apart, pasting numbered pieces of tape to each part so it could be reassembled in its new location.

March
2
1959

The secretary of the Calgary Labour Council suggested that the 30-hour work week was an economic necessity for the times. Increasing automation in the manufacturing sector had seen many jobs reduced from 48 to 40 hours while production actually increased. So long as workers continued to receive a reasonable wage they were able to use their increased leisure time to shop for more goods, which led to increased sales, greater demand for goods and a healthier economy that benefited everyone.

March
2
1959

A local minister commended Cecil B. De Mille for using the Bible as a source for his movies, but cautioned his parishioners that Mr. De Mille was a Hollywood film-maker, not a religious educator. Popular movies, such as “The Ten Commandments”, were entertaining and many offered a vivid picture of life in Biblical times but they could not replace the Sunday-school teacher in providing accurate interpretations of the lessons of the Bible.

March
4
1968

A panel of educators agreed that Alberta’s departmental examination system inhibited students’ initiative and natural desire to learn by forcing them to memorise a set of facts so that they could pass the standard tests. One teacher complained that the province had sacrificed the intent of education – to give young people the thinking and reasoning skills they would need to succeed – in the interests of teaching conformity.

March
2
1973

Women's Basketball Team For the quarter-century prior to the Second World War, the Edmonton Grads basketball team was proclaimed by Dr. James Naismith (the inventor of basketball) as "the finest basketball team that ever stepped on a floor." The Commercial Graduates Basketball Club began in 1915 as a high-school girls team at McDougall Commercial High School in Edmonton, Alberta. Between 1915 and 1940, the girls won 93 percent of their games, and 49 Canadian titles. The team won several European championships and the Underwood International Championship 23 times. They also participated in the Olympic Games. Percy Page, their coach and a teacher at the school, emphasized discipline and teamwork on the court and in the girls' school and personal lives. When Page retired in 1940, the team disbanded. Percy Page was Alberta's Lieutenant-Governor from 1959 until 1965. He died in Edmonton on March 2, 1973.

March
3
1975

Mackenzie Valley Pipeline InquiryIn 1970, Canada's federal government proposed the construction of a pipeline to transport oil and natural gas from the Arctic Ocean to Alberta. Several alternatives were put forward, all involving the Mackenzie Valley transportation corridor. While the concept of a pipeline was approved in principle, a royal commission was appointed to consider the proposals and their social and economic impact on the people of the north. On March 3, 1975, Justice Thomas Berger began formal hearings. Significantly, Justice Berger insisted that the sessions be held in various communities in the Northwest Territories and that the proceedings be translated into the local languages so everyone would be able to participate in the hearings. The commission recommended a ten-year moratorium on development to allow further study of the environmental and social implications.

February
28
1988

k.d.lang performed at the closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary on February 28, 1988. Canada won five medals, including silver medals for Elizabeth Manley and Brian Orser in figure skating, two bronze medals for Karen Percy in alpine skiing, and a bronze for Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall in ice dancing.



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