This Week in Western Canadian History
January 9 - January 15
January
13
1905

The Rescue Home operated by the Calgary branch of the Salvation Army opened its doors on January 13, 1905. In his speech, Army Commissioner Coombs deplored the social conditions that made such a facility necessary. He noted that the city provided a hospital and medical care for the man or woman who fell and broke a limb, but nothing for the man or woman who fell and broke their character. The first case accepted by the Rescue Home was a local woman who died of acute alcohol poisoning after being turned away from two city hospitals that did not accept drunks.

January
10
1912

As Edmonton suffered through a prolonged cold spell with overnight temperatures falling as low as -45°F, the North Saskatchewan River was blocked by ice, causing a break in the city’s water system. The streetcar system, which used water for the boilers, was running on partial service, and all around the city, people in homes and businesses that used steam heating were bundling up in overcoats and blankets. In order to stay open, some restaurants were hauling water in casks directly from the river. Fire authorities were on alert, hoping that no fires would break out during the water shortage.

January
12
1913

Fire department steamer A million-dollar blaze destroyed Pat Burns' Calgary meat packing plant on January 12, 1913. Firemen had to contend with -35 C temperatures and a critical lack of water pressure as they battled unsuccessfully to save the cold storage plant and warehouses of the largest meatpacking business in western Canada. Over 4,000 carcasses of beef and several thousand carcasses of mutton and pork were destroyed in the fire, leading to fears of food shortages across Southern Alberta. But Burns guaranteed that supplies would be maintained through the assistance of branch plants in Edmonton and Vancouver.

January
14
1913

Calgary audiences were thrilled by the performance of famous French star Sarah Bernhardt (the "Divine Sarah") in her engagement at the Sherman Grand Theatre. Almost 70, and nearing the end of her long career, Miss Bernhardt enthralled theatre-goers with her interpretation of the tragedy of Lucretia Borgia which, since it was presented entirely in French, was unintelligible to the vast majority of her audience. But the reviews noted that Miss Bernhardt's portrayal of the deepest emotions more than made up for the inability to understand the words.

January
11
1914

Survivor's tent Late in 1913, the flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, the Karluk, became trapped in the ice of the Beaufort Sea, 300 km short of Herschel Island. While the ship's captain Vilhjalmur Stefansson was away hunting seals, the ship broke free and drifted for four months until, on January 11, 1914, it was crushed by the ice. The survivors of the wreck spent their time hunting for food and making winter clothing. When it became evident that they couldn't expect a rescue, the group sent out four scouts who disappeared. The remaining group spent six weeks walking over 100 km to Wrangel Island where they waited until September for rescue. During that time, more men died -- some by starvation and one by gunshot. The tragedy provoked considerable debate about Stefansson's ability to lead an expedition.

January
12
1922

The president of Calgary’s Board of Trade recommended that southern Alberta farmers diversify their crops. Too many farmers planted only grain and were vulnerable to unexpected frosts or, as in the present situation, falling grain prices that could wipe out an entire year’s investment.

January
14
1922

After an outcry from citizens, Calgary’s legislative committee rescinded its earlier decision not to enforce smoking regulations on the city’s streetcars. Transportation officials had generally turned a blind eye to the problem of smoking within the cars, especially on routes used mostly by men on their way to work. There had been an increasing number of complaints, however, and the conflict was exacerbated when several violators refused the request of the drivers to either put out their cigars or to leave the car. Although city officials had originally considered the problem not serious enough to pursue, so many people complained that they soon reversed their decision.

January
14
1933

Publishers of some of Alberta's weekly newspapers reported that revenue from local advertisers was significantly reduced because local businesses failed or were forced to cut back. In some cases, the newspaper didn't take in as much as it cost to produce, and the publishers themselves were forced to subsidise the cost of the issue. As well, with the acute cash shortage in the province, subscriptions were difficult to collect. One publisher accepted a chicken, a duck, several pounds of butter, a round of beef, some buckwheat, and 10 pounds of sauerkraut in lieu of a year's subscription. Another agreed to a weekly supply of angel cake.

January
15
1942

Wartime regulations controlling the sale of rubber tires caused an outbreak of tire theft across the country. In Calgary, a gang of juveniles was charged after several automobile owners discovered their vehicles hoisted on jacks and the tires removed. Charges were also laid against the mechanics who purchased the stolen tires. It was rumoured that one car owner had allowed his vehicle to be destroyed by fire while he quickly removed and saved the precious tires.

January
9
1949

One of Canada's most successful competitive runners was Tom Longboat, an Iroquois from Ontario's Six Nations Reserve, who specialised in the marathon. Longboat came to public attention in 1906, when he took time off from his farm job on the reserve to compete in, and win, the 20-mile Around-the-Bay Race sponsored by the Hamilton (Ont.) Herald. In 1907, he won the Boston Marathon in record-breaking time. In 1908, Longboat competed in the marathon at the Olympic Games in London, England. The event was held on one of the hottest days ever experienced in England. Longboat came out strong, but at the 20-mile mark he collapsed from the heat. Controversy erupted, with widespread rumours that Longboat was drugged and had collapsed from an overdose. Although Longboat turned professional and resumed his racing career, he was dogged by the controversy and by ongoing conflict with his manager. He became his own trainer and manager, but his victories were no longer assured and his appearances became fewer. After serving in Canada's Army during the First World War he drifted from one job to another. In 1946, Longboat was diagnosed with diabetes. He returned to the Six Nations Reserve where, on January 9, 1949, he died and was buried following a traditional Onondaga ceremony.

January
9
1954

While most reported that their husband “hated” them, more and more women confessed to wearing slacks around the house as figures from retailers confirmed a dramatic increase in sales of women’s trousers. Fashion writers predicted that as more styles and fabrics became available, slacks would soon become a permanent part of every woman’s wardrobe.

January
11
1975

Eric Harvie, 1930 Eric Harvie, Calgary lawyer, oilman and founder of the Glenbow Museum, died on January 11, 1975. Harvie was born in Orillia, Ontario, and after coming west in 1911 he studied law at the University of Alberta. He served with the 103rd Calgary Rifles and the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War and then returned to Calgary to practice law, becoming an expert in corporate and business matters. He also became increasingly involved in the oil business. In 1944, he acquired the land and mineral rights to a section which was part of the Leduc oil field discovery in 1947. Harvie became immensely wealthy almost overnight. His wealth allowed him to pursue his passion of collecting, and in 1954, he established the Glenbow Foundation which later became the Glenbow Museum, Art Gallery, Library and Archives.

January
14
1976

The head office of the T. Eaton Company announced that it would no longer publish a mail-order catalogue. The first Eaton's catalogue appeared in 1884 and was an immediate success. Orders poured into the Toronto store and several people had to be hired to accept and fill the requests. Eaton Catalogue No.5

Many people, across the prairies especially, used the catalogue to keep up with current styles in clothing and home furnishings. The catalogue soon became a part of life in ways that could never have been anticipated. Many new settlers used the illustrated catalogues to learn English, thumbing through each book matching the descriptions of the items with the pictures. Young boys used the books as goalie pads during hockey games on frozen ponds and girls cut out the figures and played with them as paper dolls. Outhouses were frequently decorated with pages from old catalogues, and the sheets were sometimes put to an even more practical purpose. Little wonder, then, that the catalogue became affectionately known as the "wish book" or even as the "prairie bible".



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