This Week in Western Canadian History
January 23 - January 29
January
25
1876

Methodist Mission at MorleyPioneer missionary George McDougall was born in Kingston, Ontario, in September, 1821. As a young boy he moved with his family to the bush country of northern Ontario. He received little formal education, but soon learned how to hunt and trap, canoe and snowshoe -- skills necessary for survival in the undeveloped territory. Eventually he did attend school and college, becoming an ordained Methodist minister. He served at missions in northwestern Ontario until 1860 when he was called by the Methodist Mission Society to become the superintendent of the vast Hudson Bay Territory. In 1863, McDougall helped establish a new mission at Fort Victoria (now Pakan, Alta.), where he, his wife and eight children lived in a skin tipi until a house could be built.

In 1872, McDougall constructed the first Protestant church at Fort Edmonton. Later, his son John joined him, and at the request of the Stoney, the two established the mission at Morley, Alberta, in 1873. In December of 1875, supplies at the mission were running low, and the two left on a buffalo hunt. After a successful trip, John stayed behind to pack the meat while his father took a more direct route back to camp. When the rest of the party arrived at the camp, George McDougall was nowhere to be found. Finally, after a search that lasted several weeks in bitter cold and snow, on January 25, 1876, George McDougall's body was discovered frozen in the prairie snow, his arms folded across his chest.

January
28
1910

A letter from Anglican Bishop Isaac O. Stringer vividly described some of the hardships that faced early churchmen in Canada's north. During the summer of 1909, the bishop toured many of the isolated villages of his Yukon diocese. In September, the bishop's party began the trip home from Fort McPherson, N.W.T. to Dawson, Y.T. The group split up, and the Bishop and one companion began the canoe trip down the Bell River. The water was low and freezing quickly, so the pair decided to abandon their canoe and travel directly across the mountains back to Fort McPherson. They soon became lost in the deep snow and heavy fog. At first they were able to shoot a few grouse and ducks, but all too soon their ammunition ran out.

On October 17, according to Bishop Stringer's diary, the pair feasted on the toasted soles of his sealskin boots. A few days later they boiled the tops of the boots, but found they weren't as palatable as the soles. On October 21, after a journey of 51 days, the two finally walked into an Athapascan village. Although the outside world had long given them up for dead, the Bishop's wife never lost hope. "The newspaper said that both you and I had drowned," she wrote to her husband, "I knew that I had not, and so I hoped that you had not either."

January
27
1911

Patent medicine bottlesThe Winnipeg, Manitoba, coroner called for a rigid investigation into patent medicines following the death of a seven-year-old boy who swallowed tablets which contained strychnine. At the time, patent medicines containing opium, cocaine, heroin, strychnine and alcohol were readily available over the counter in most drug stores. Although the Opium Act of 1908 attempted to curb the use of narcotics, it was another 10 years before the public began to realise the dangers of these medicines.

January
28
1914

On January 27, 1914, members of the Political Equality League sent a delegation to Manitoba's provincial legislature to present several petitions and request that women be granted the right to vote. Premier Roblin rose in the legislature and, according to reports of the time, used every cliche to speak against the proposal. He spoke of the shocking and incendiary behaviour of England's suffragettes, of the breakdown in the family if women should receive the vote, and of how women of culture and accomplishment could only sully themselves with participation in politics. The next evening, an overflow crowd packed the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg to hear the women's response. In a series of skits, a woman's parliament was presented in a country where men had no vote. Petitions were introduced to govern men's clothing and to introduce labour-saving devices for men's work. The highlight of the evening came when Nellie McClung, in her role as Premier, was presented with a wheel-barrow full of petitions, begging for the vote for men. Amidst gales of laughter and storms of applause, McClung was regretfully forced to reject the application. Two years later, on January 28, 1916, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to allow women the right to vote and to hold provincial office.

January
25
1921

To the alarm of public health officials, a quarter of the milk cows in southern Alberta tested positive for tuberculosis. The original plan called for the infected animals to be slaughtered gradually, but in view of the widespread infection and its contagious nature, officials recommended that a more aggressive policy of elimination be adopted. Concerns were expressed that this would lead to a shortage of milk in the Calgary district but it was agreed that dairies couldn't continue to sell milk products from animals they knew or suspected were infected. When several farmers defied the order to surrender their animals, the Health Department warned them that they would be subject to immediate and vigorous prosecution.

January
25
1928

Electric IronsA review of power resources in Alberta lauded the benefits of electricity in the modern home. Light and heat were available at the touch of a button; the hard labour of washdayHair Dryers had been transformed by electric washers, dryers, and irons; the vacuum cleaner had made cleaning carpets a pleasure; and, best of all, meals practically cooked themselves in electric ovens, toasters, and coffee percolators. These modern devices eliminated much of the drudgery of running a household and apparently left the lady of the house free to enjoy social pursuits outside the home.

January
29
1937

Alexander Calhoun, head of Calgary's public library, confessed that he was bewildered by the popularity of Margaret Mitchell's novel, Gone With the Wind. The library had a waiting list of over 150 people who wished to read the book even though there were 15 copies in circulation. He thought it was a good book, but suspected that the excitement surrounding it was caused by effective advertising rather than the book itself.

January
28
1942

According to new sugar rationing controls, sugar bowls were to be removed from tables in all restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and institutions across the country. Sugar was to be served only by request and in reasonable quantities, generally understood to mean two lumps.

January
28
1943

A Calgary woman found herself under suspicion because of the letters she received from her fiancÚ. The young man, who was posted overseas, was in the habit of adding a cartoon drawing of Donald Duck to his letters. The drawing usually reflected the soldier's feelings -- smiling or frowning as his mood warranted. The censors, suspecting that the duck was actually an arranged code between spies, blacked the drawing out and advised that "Donald" should be retired immediately.

January
25
1952

Scots in the city of Calgary joined millions of their countrymen around the world in the annual celebration of the life of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. The haggis was piped in and the Address to the Haggis given before the assembled guests sat down to a traditional meal of sheep-head broth, haggis, tatties (potatoes), bluidy puddin' (blood pudding), and neeps (turnip). After-dinner entertainment included a selection of songs, poems, and traditional Scottish dancing.

January
27
1973

According to new sugar rationing controls, sugar bowls were to be removed from tables in all restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and institutions across the country. Sugar was to be served only by request and in reasonable quantities, generally understood to mean two lumps.

January
24
1978

Cosmos 954, a nuclear-powered Soviet satellite, fell out of orbit and entered the atmosphere over northern Canada, scattering debris over the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta. Within hours, the Canadian military launched Operation Morning Light to search for and retrieve radioactive fragments and to monitor radiation levels. The United States military assisted in the hunt, providing aircraft and sophisticated detection equipment to locate the remains of what was generally believed to be a Soviet spy satellite. Fortunately, since the debris fell in extremely remote areas, few people came into contact with it and there were no injuries.



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