This Week in Western Canadian History
June 27 - July 3
July
1
1870

To secure British Columbia's entry into Confederation, the Government of Canada conceded to British Columbia's demand for a railway that would link the west-coast colony to the rest of the country. On July 1, the government passed an Order-in-Council that committed the federal government to begin construction of a trans-Canada railway within two years. Construction did not actually begin until May of 1881.On July 4, 1886, 16 years after the Order- in-Council, the first transcontinental passenger train arrived at Port Moody, B.C., the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

June
28
1886

CPR Dining CarIn Montreal, on the evening of June 28, 1886, a crowd of well-wishers cheered as the Pacific Express, the Canadian Pacific Railway's first transcontinental train, left Montreal for Port Moody, B.C. In Calgary, the arrival of the train on Dominion Day (July 1) was celebrated with a huge fireworks display. It took almost six days for that first train to complete the 2,900 mile journey across Canada.

July
3
1901

W.E. Billy CochraneW.F. (Billy) Cochrane introduced the automobile to Calgary on July 3, 1901. The car was a steam-powered Locomobile, steered by a tiller rather than a wheel, and was fully equipped with a wicker basket for umbrellas in case of inclement weather. It would be another five years before the government acknowledged that the automobile was here to stay by requiring that vehicles be registered.

July
1
1909

Although Great Britain gave Canada the right to the islands of the Arctic regions, Canada showed little, if any, interest in exercising her claims to the region. However in the late 1880s, American and Norwegian whalers, and mining companies from the United States tried to convince their governments to pursue territorial claims. Finally, as one Canadian government official noted, "to prevent the United States from claiming them and not from their likelihood of proving of any value to Canada," the federal government accepted the transfer of the Arctic Islands, and the need to establish a Canadian presence. Joseph-Elzear Bernier, captain of the government steamship Arctic, led a number of expeditions to the north, and on July 1, 1909, claimed sovereignty over the entire Arctic archipelago for Canada.

June
30
1912

Regina TornadoOn the afternoon of Sunday, June 30, 1912, as Regina residents hung flags and bunting for Dominion Day festivities the next day, a devastating tornado swept through the downtown core. Three churches, the new Carnegie Library, commercial buildings and homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Twenty-eight people died, and 2,500 others were left homeless. Mayor Peter McAra cancelled the Dominion Day celebrations and closed the bars so the men of the city could volunteer for clean-up operations. The militia arrived to help search for victims and to prevent looting. The Boy Scouts volunteered to act as messengers to replace the damaged telephone system. As word of the disaster spread, donations of money came into the Relief Fund from across Canada. Andrew Carnegie, who provided the money for construction of the public library, provided the funds to rebuild it.

June
28
1922

A man who had claimed to be an investigator for the Saskatchewan Liquor Commission was tarred and feathered by an angry mob in Prince Albert, Sask. Several residents of the community had been charged with various liquor offences on information provided to the police by this individual. After the incident, it turned out that he was simply a member of the community using this means to retaliate against people with whom he had a dispute.

June
28
1928

The Catholic Women's League of Canada voted overwhelmingly against joining any other women's organisation at their annual meeting in Calgary. It was suggested that women would have a stronger voice if they were united, but the delegates pointed to the issue of divorce as one on which all women were not united. Catholics remained unalterably opposed to divorce and were concerned that their opinions would be diluted in a larger organisation.

July
3
1934

Several local cowboys who had travelled to London, England to participate in a rodeo there reported that the event was a total failure and a financial disaster for both the promoters and the cowboys themselves. The British Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was opposed to most of the events; several, including calf roping and steer decorating, had to be cancelled outright while others were severely limited. The cowboys were especially concerned because they needed to be in Calgary by July 11 to register for the Calgary Stampede and some were left with not even enough money to make the trip home by boat.

June
29
1942

Calgarians were encouraged to begin the observance of Army Week by inviting a serviceman to dinner. Several hundred enlisted men, some whose families were thousands of miles away, were welcomed into local homes where they enjoyed home cooking in a family atmosphere.

June
27
1950

The Commons committee on radio broadcasting instructed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to extend radio service to all parts of Canada (including Newfoundland) that didn't currently receive it, improve its international short-wave service, and develop a proposal for a national television service while rejecting the request of the CBC for increased funding. The Corporation was already running a regular annual deficit, but the committee advised that it was Parliament's responsibility to find additional funds for the national service.

June
27
1950

In his speech to the members of the Calgary Bar Association, the president of the Dominion Bar Association blamed television and movies for the negative perception of lawyers in the popular media. Most people, he said, held individual lawyers in high personal regard, but had a low opinion of lawyers as a class.

July
1
1962

Canada's national health insurance system (medicare) is admired and reviled by Canadians and non-Canadians alike. The system originated in Saskatchewan, which passed a Health Insurance Act as early as 1944. Although there was a change in government and the act never came into use, a number of other proposals were explored. In 1959, Saskatchewan Premier T.C. Douglas tabled his plan to introduce a province-wide medical care programme. In October of 1961, despite the violent objections of the province's medical profession, the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act was passed. When it came into effect on July 1, 1962, 90 percent of the province's doctors closed their offices in protest. For a month, until a compromise was reached, the province operated under emergency health services. Despite this difficult beginning, the concept of a national health insurance plan gained wide support across Canada. Today, some version of it exists in every province.

June
28
1968

On June 28, 1968, Alberta Premier Ernest Manning officially opened Calgary's Husky Tower. The Tower reaches 182 metres (626 feet) into the air, and weighs 10,884 tonnes. It takes 63 seconds for the elevators to reach the top, and much longer to get there by climbing the staircase of 811 steps. In 1970, Marathon Realty acquired sole ownership of the Tower and the Husky name disappeared.

June
27
1980

For many years after the fall of New France, the British anthem "God Save the King" was played on occasions requiring a national anthem. As Canada gained control over her own political affairs, a number of patriotic songs appeared: in English Canada, "The Maple Leaf For Ever," and in French Canada, "O Canada, mon pays, mes amours." In 1880, "O Canada," with music by Calixa Lavallee and French verses by Judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier, was performed in Quebec City. The song gained popularity in French Canada, and in 1908 Robert Stanley Weir wrote the English verses which are essentially those used today. In 1967, a House of Commons Committee recommended that "God Save the King" be designated as Canada's official royal anthem, and that "O Canada" be designated Canada's official national anthem. On June 27, 1980, Parliament officially adopted the National Anthem Act that confirmed "O Canada" as our country's national anthem.



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