This Week in Western Canadian History
March 19 - March 25
March
22
1803

Book by John JewittIn September 1802, the American fur-trading ship the Boston left on a voyage to the Northwest Coast of North America. On March 12, 1803, the ship anchored in Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island, where the crew began trading with the Nootka. For the first few days all seemed well, but on March 22 the captain insulted one of the local chiefs. In retaliation, the Nootka attacked and killed all but two crewmembers. The two survivors were taken as slaves and remained with the Nootka until July 1805, when they were rescued by a trading vessel. On his return to Boston, John Jewitt, one of the survivors, published the journal he had secretly kept during his captivity. It remains one of the few accounts of the Nootka based on observations from a time before there was extensive contact.

March
21
1821

For over 40 years, the North West Company challenged the Hudson's Bay Company for control of the lucrative fur trade in Canada's Northwest. The name North West Company was first used in 1776 by a group of Montreal fur traders who banded together to defy the virtual monopoly of the older and larger Hudson's Bay Company. By 1790, the North West Company was managed primarily by Highland Scots who encouraged exploration until the Company's territory expanded as far as today's northern Alberta. The rivalry between the two companies often erupted violently, and both companies lost men and goods in the conflict. By 1820, the North West Company was losing ground in the struggle. The British government encouraged both companies to work towards a peaceful settlement. The rivalry ended on March 21, 1821, when the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company merged under the name of the Hudson's Bay Company.

March
19
1885

In an act that constituted open rebellion, the Metis (under Louis Riel), established a provisional government at Batoche and declared their independence from Canada. An armed force was raised under the command of Gabriel Dumont and several prisoners were taken.

March
22
1893

Hull's Opera HouseCalgary's cultural elite was in full attendance when Hull's Opera House -- the first theatre in the community and the grandest on the prairies -- officially opened its doors. The new theatre could accommodate almost 1000 people, and boasted three tiers of elegantly upholstered seating for true patrons of the arts. The rest of the audience sat on hard wooden chairs -- without the cushions. The theatre attracted touring companies and local talent, and remained Calgary's cultural centre for many years.

March
23
1914

According to the local executive of the Loyal Orange Lodge, more than 20 Irish-Calgarians returned to their homes in Ireland prepared to fight a civil war. Only a few men returned at any one time, fearing that a large contingent of men would be prevented from landing in Ireland. The Irish and British governments were discussing Home Rule for Ireland, and as hostilities continued, some of the more militant members of the Irish community suggested that "if war breaks out in Ireland it will be the beginning of one of the greatest religious wars since the bloody days of Cromwell." Others thought the war might spread to Canada, and encouraged Orangemen to remain to fight in this country.

March
21
1923

According to the testimony of Dr. D.G. Revell, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Alberta, chiropractors had no medical benefit, and were a danger to the public. He added that their followers were nothing more than a cult. Revell was testifying at the legislative hearings into the practice of chiropractic. He noted that a local chiropractor had suggested that a case of smallpox in the town wasn't caused a germ, but by a devitalized body that could be cured with the proper chiropractic techniques. In response, the doctor proposed that both he and the chiropractor live with the smallpox victim for a time. If the chiropractor fell ill as he anticipated, chiropractic would clearly be revealed as a failure. The chiropractor declined the offer.

March
24
1928

Officials of the provincial automobile association recommended that motorists develop a sense of humour when driving. As the number of vehicles on the roads increased, more cases of aggression among drivers were reported. The association suggested that, instead of retaliating against the bad habits of other motorists, drivers slow down, smile pleasantly at the offenders, and permit them to go on their way without challenge.

March
20
1932

Cover of the Book  Long LanceIn 1928, Long Lance, the autobiography of Buffalo Child Long Lance, was hailed for its insight into the lives of the Blackfoot in their last days of freedom on the northern plains. Unfortunately, the book was completely fictitious. Although he claimed to be Blackfoot, Long Lance was actually Sylvester Long, born in North Carolina in 1890 of mixed native, white and black ancestry. After serving with the Canadian Army during the First World War, he settled in Calgary where he worked on a local newspaper under his new name of Buffalo Child Long Lance.

Sketch of Bomb IncidentIn March of 1922, he was reporting on the City Hall beat, but seemed to be tiring of it. On the morning of March 29, Long Lance walked into City Hall carrying a paper bag which contained a mask, matches and a fuse. In the men's washroom, he constructed what looked like a crude bomb but it was little more than a fuse. He walked to the Mayor's office, ignited the fuse and dropped the bag. The Mayor ran from the room, colliding with his secretary in the doorway. One of the commissioners in the room curled up under the table, the other smashed through the window and plunged 10 feet to the ground, landing safely. After the smoke cleared, Long Lance made his apologies to the Mayor and to the city commissioners. While they forgave him for the prank, his editor did not, and Long Lance was fired. He traveled to Vancouver and Winnipeg where he worked on newspapers before returning to the United States where he enjoyed a brief movie career. On March 20, 1932, apparently depressed because rumors about his true background were circulating, he committed suicide.

March
19
1934

Thousands of people in central Alberta were startled by a huge ball of fire that streaked across the night sky and then exploded “like a star-bomb”. The shock-waves were felt by people in a number of communities and many of them rushed out of their homes, thinking they were under attack or that there had been a natural gas explosion. Within days, people reported finding small fragments of the meteor that had been scattered across a large area in the central part of the province.

March
23
1943

Banff Springs HotelBoth the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways announced that their mountain resort hotels and lodges would not open in the summer. The Banff Springs Hotel, the Chateau Lake Louise, and Jasper Park Lodge were among the hotels affected. There were a number of reasons for the decision, including the decrease in tourist travel as a result of the war, the effects of food and gasoline rationing, and the shortage of young people available for work in the hotels.

March
19
1946

Returning veterans from the Second World War found housing in Calgary in critically short supply. Weeks after the Homes for Veterans campaign began in the city, hundreds of ex-soldiers were still seeking accommodation for themselves and, in some cases, for their new British wives. It was possible to find boarding facilities for single men, but some of the married men were still separated from their families.

March
19
1958

A Calgary psychiatrist ensured a full house for his speech when he advertised that he would be speaking on the topics of sex and how to make a million dollars without working. In fact, his talk was on the psychology of war but, as he told the audience, people didn’t attend discussions on such serious issues.

March
22
1968

A dozen armed police surrounded a Vancouver home amidst reports of gunfire and ordered the homeowner to come out with his hands up. The crisis was averted when it turned out that the man was the official pigeon exterminator and that he had a permit from the police chief to shoot pigeons, crows and other bird pests anywhere in the city.

March
21
1985

British Columbia wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen left Vancouver on his Man in Motion tour to raise awareness and support for the physically challenged. Hansen wheeled through 34 countries in 792 days and raised over $20 million for research and rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries.



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