This Week in Western Canadian History
June 6 - June 12
June
12
1690

Henry Kelsey, a trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, left York Factory (at the mouth of the Nelson River on Hudson Bay) on an expedition to the Canadian plains on June 12, 1690. His instructions were to travel inland to make contact with the remote peoples of the Northwest and to persuade them to trade with the Company. He took trade good samples with him, including guns, powder and shot, tobacco, beads and a lace coat. The Company also wished to diversify, and Kelsey was instructed to search for potentially valuable plants and minerals. Although his exact route is uncertain, Kelsey probably made it as far west as the Red Deer River on his two-year expedition. He became the first white man to record descriptions of the buffalo and the grizzly bear.

June
11
1847

In 1859, Francis Leopold McClintock discovered two brief written notes that confirmed that Sir John Franklin had died on June 11, 1847. Because the fate of the expedition was unknown until 1854, the officers were retained on the British navy list until that year; Franklin himself was promoted to Rear-Admiral on October 26, 1852, more than five years after his death.

June
11
1894

In 1858, as gold seekers flooded to the Fraser River district of British Columbia, it became apparent that some measure of civil control was required. Although there were regulations in place, the government in Victoria had no authority to enforce them on the mainland. In November, Matthew Baillie Begbie arrived from England and was sworn in as Judge for the infant colony. In February of 1859, to become familiar with the scattered population of his district, Begbie walked approximately 350 miles along the Fraser River from the capital of New Westminster to Lillooet and back. Later, as trails were developed and horses were available, Begbie developed a circuit and held court in virtually every settlement of his district. In 1865 alone he rode over 3,500 miles, sleeping in a tent and eating what he could shoot or fish. Begbie's primary responsibility was to enforce British law in a largely lawless land, and he gained the respect of both the miners and the aboriginal peoples as he did so. In 1870, Begbie became Chief Justice of the united colony of British Columbia. He died in Victoria, B.C. on June 11, 1894.

June
8
1907

A Calgary doctor was most unpopular with his neighbours after he erected tents on several vacant lots he owned and rented them to his tubercular patients. The tent community was in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, but it had no sewage or water facilities. The district was home to many young children who were used to playing on the empty lots and who couldn't understand why it was now forbidden. The city's health officer (even though he deplored the situation) claimed he had no authority to order his professional colleague to relocate the tents in a less populated area.

June
6
1913

Vilhjalmur Stefansson (a noted Arctic explorer) passed through Calgary on his way to Vancouver where he was preparing for a four-year expedition to the Arctic. When asked about the difficulties of such a journey, Stefansson noted, "Hardships are largely overrated. A good synonym for hardship is incompetence. That's what causes most of the hardships of men who go into uncivilized regions; they are incompetent to look after themselves." On a previous expedition, Stefansson lived off the land for more than four years, hunting seals, fishing, and shooting game with the Inuit people with whom he lived.

June
8
1915

As news from the European front worsened, relations between ethnic groups in Canada deteriorated. At the coal mines in Fernie, British Columbia, British-born miners, concerned about the risk of sabotage, refused to work until all German and Austrian miners were prevented from working underground. The company refused to accede to the demand, noting that it was the responsibility of government, and not the company, to identify and remove potential saboteurs.

June
7
1917

In Alberta's provincial election on June 7, 1917, Louise McKinney became the first woman in Canada elected to a provincial legislature when she won the seat for Claresholm.

June
10
1925

Services in Calgary and across the country honoured the work of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches, and celebrated their new union as the United Church of Canada. Most local ministers believed there was more to be gained than lost in the merger, and that it heralded a greater sense of community in the world at large. A few congregations refused to accept the change. Some of them maintain their individual identities to this day.

June
7
1927

The Ku Klux Klan reached the height of its influence in Saskatchewan during the 1920s, claiming it had tens of thousands of members and over 125 chapters. A rally of Klan supporters in Moose Jaw on June 7, 1927, was the largest Klan rally ever held in Canada. In 1929, the Klan sided with the province's Conservative Party in the provincial election on the issues of French- language education and immigration. (The Conservative Party defeated the reigning Liberal government in the election.) In the 1930s, membership in the Klan declined significantly, and it lost its power in the province.

June
6
1933

An animated model of Alberta's Turner Valley oil fields was one of the main attractions at the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago. The exhibit featured a ten-foot diorama demonstrating working wells which was animated by burning gas flares and the sound of the roaring flames. The exhibit was especially popular with professional geologists and young boys.

June
8
1933

A young Calgary woman was horrified to discover that she was a bigamist when the Supreme Court of Alberta refused to recognise the validity of her divorce. The young woman was first married in Seattle, Washington. When her marriage came to an end, she sought and obtained a divorce in a Washington court. After the divorce she returned to Calgary where she met a young man and married him. In his ruling, the judge refused to recognise that the American divorce was legal in Canada, but dissolved the first marriage. If she wished to remain married to her new husband, the young lady was required to wait three months before participating in a second marriage ceremony.

June
7
1938

Bank of MontrealSeveral of Canada's major banks announced that branches in some of Alberta's smaller communities would close. Bank officials claimed that the expense of maintaining country banks was too burdensome in a political climate that was detrimental to their continued profitable operation. William Aberhart, Alberta's premier, stated that his Social Credit government would not be blackmailed into changing provincial legislation designed to control bank profits.

June
12
1944

The Challenge of the MountainsIn 1899, as part of its ongoing campaign to popularize the Canadian Rockies, in 1899 the Canadian Pacific Railway hired two professional mountain guides from Switzerland to make the mountains safer and more attractive to potential clients. The experiment was so successful that more guides were brought over the next year, and a huge advertising campaign was launched to promote the A Canadian Pacific Rockies. Eventually more than 20 Swiss mountain guides came to the Rockies. The CPR even built a small village, which they called Edelweiss, near Golden, British Columbia, to house the guides. On June 12, 1944, Edouard Feuz Sr., one of original two Swiss guides, died at his home in Switzerland.

June
6
1946

As soldiers returned home, accommodation was so scarce in Calgary that the city announced plans to house Stampede visitors in vacant army huts at the barracks. Visitors were assigned to separate dormitories for men, and for women and children, and each person was supplied with bedding. Hotels were fully booked months in advance, and a campaign to encourage Calgarians to rent rooms by the night met with little success.

June
12
1951

Indian WomanDespite widespread opposition, legislation to change Canada's Indian Act was given approval in the House of Commons. It allowed an estimated 16,000 native women to apply for reinstatement of their band membership. The issue was highly controversial, so to compromise the legislation permitted individual Indian bands to determine whether to reinstate membership to women who had lost their status on marriage to non-Indians. Band membership bestows rights to reserve housing, education, and resources.

June
6
1956

In May, 1956, Canada's Liberal government introduced a bill to authorize construction of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Alberta to central Canada and to approve a syndicate to finance it. The bill was challenged by the Progressive Conservative opposition, who charged a sell-out to the predominantly American syndicate, and by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation members because they preferred public ownership. On June 6, 1956, after a month of spirited debate and amid cries of government dictatorship, the government forced closure to the great Pipeline Debate. Construction began within weeks.



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