This Week in Western Canadian History
October 10 - October 16
October
14
1754

In October of 1754, Anthony Henday, a trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, finally encountered a band of Blackfoot. His employers had sent him west in hopes that Henday would persuade the Blackfoot to trade directly with the Company and avoid the middlemen who were compromising the Company's profits. On October 14, 1754, Henday was invited to share a pipe and a meal with the band's chief. Henday proposed that the young men of the tribe travel to York Factory (on Hudson Bay, near the present Manitoba-Ontario border) to trade their beaver and wolf skins for guns, shot, cloth and beads. The chief refused, claiming that his young men could not leave their horses, and because they had no experience with boats and paddles. Henday felt these problems could be overcome, but the chief ended the discussion by saying that everything his people wanted, they got from the buffalo, and that there was little point in travelling such a distance for goods that the Blackfoot did not want and could not use.

October
11
1869

In the autumn of 1869, as Canada was preparing to purchase the Northwest Territories from the Hudson's Bay Company, survey crews were sent to the Red River to map out the country. On October 11, one of the crews appeared on the land of Andre Nault, a cousin of Louis Riel. Nault tried to stop the surveyors, but was waved away. He rode for help, and returned with his cousin and 15 Metis. Riel stepped forward, placed one foot on the surveyor's chain, and told the crew "You go no further". The first step to rebellion had been taken.

October
16
1869

As word of Louis Riel's confrontation with the survey party spread throughout the Red River Settlement, the Metis formed the Comité National des Métis (National Council of the Metis) to represent them in discussions with the federal government. Louis Riel was elected secretary.

October
14
1874

View of Fort Macleod, Alberta In preparation for the coming winter, the men of the North West Mounted Police began building their first post in today's Alberta. On a level piece of land within the curve of the Old Man River, cottonwood logs were placed upright and plastered with clay. Crossbeams were placed on top and covered with sod as a roof. The floor was bare ground, soon to be trodden down. Stones gathered from the river served for fireplaces and chimneys. Several buildings were constructed, including stables, a hospital and a blacksmith's shop. In keeping with the unanimous wishes of the officers and men, the post was christened Fort Macleod in honour of James F. Macleod the assistant commissioner.

October
11
1875

During the 1860s, the people of Iceland suffered through several years of particularly severe winters and an epidemic that killed over 200,000 of their sheep. Beginning in 1863, small groups of Icelanders left their country in search of a new home. On October 11, 1875, a party of almost 300 Icelanders landed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, heading for the colony of New Iceland on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg. Local newspapers welcomed the new arrivals, describing them as intelligent and hardworking, a most valuable acquisition to the population.

October
16
1911

Streetlights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were lit up using electric power from the city’s new power station. Wary spectators stood a careful distance back when the electricity was turned on, but the lights burned brightly and steadily and hopes were high that the expensive new technology would some day prove its usefulness.

October
12
1923

Calgary Mayor George Webster launched an investigation into city finances following the discovery of the purchase of a $20 canary. The City Engineer’s department had conducted an investigation into the safety of a particular gas appliance. Since canaries are particularly sensitive to gas fumes, a stenographer was sent to purchase a bird. Unaware of its purpose, the secretary chose an especially attractive bird with a fine singing voice for the exorbitant price of $20. The canary was placed in a room with the gas appliance but, sadly, was discovered upside down in his cage the next morning. The tragedy was concealed and a private burial held. The appliance was removed and the investigation concluded that the money had been well spent.

October
10
1924

Dainty attractive frocks Travellers returning from Paris, the fashion capital of the world, reported that the style of extremely short skirts had returned. Skirts had soared from the customary ankle length until they barely covered the knee. Local women deplored this trend to the bizarre and suggested that North American women would do well to reject the poor taste of such extremes.

October
12
1926

Charlotte Whitton, Executive Secretary of the Canadian Council of Child Welfare and Canadian representative to the Child Welfare Commission of the League of Nations in Geneva, spoke to a large audience at the Calgary Labour Temple. According to Miss Whitton, many children in Canada suffered from ignorance and neglect because their parents left school at an early age. Lacking education and training, they were unable to provide adequately for their families. The children were then forced to leave school in order to contribute to the family finances, but this only perpetuated the cycle. The Council passed a number of resolutions to attempt to alleviate this situation, such as ensuring that no child under 18 worked more than 44 hours per week, that one day of rest each week be made mandatory, and that minimum wage standards be applied to children.

October
14
1926

Calgary police encouraged city merchants and shop-owners to be more aware of security due to several reported break-ins. During night patrols in September, police found the doors of 74 stores and three banks unlocked.

October
16
1936

Calgary aldermen were sharply criticised for voting themselves a 100 percent raise during the worst days of the Depression. The aldermen, who previously received up to $250 if they attended every council meeting, unanimously agreed to pay themselves an annual stipend of $500. Members of the Local Council of Women were especially critical, condemning the action as entirely inappropriate at a time when hundreds of Calgary children would be unable to attend school in the winter because they were without adequate shoes or clothing.

October
12
1943

Thousands of Alberta students were happy to return to classes after being released for six weeks to assist with the harvest. Calgary parents and school officials had opposed the measure; in fact, very few children actually spent any of their vacation on farms. The school year was extended into July to make up the time and health officials were concerned that this meant that children would be confined in classrooms during the hottest part of the year.

October
16
1950

The head of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture called on farm families across the country to stop buying margarine. He noted that the big margarine interests were making much larger profits on the manufacture and sale of margarine that those making and selling butter. He suggested that farm families set an example by purchasing only butter in order to protect Canada’s dairy industry.

October
14
1959

Shocked by the revelations of the inquiry into the civic "cement scandal," a record turnout of almost 71,000 voters elected Harry Hays to replace incumbent Don Mackay as Calgary's new mayor. In 1956, Mackay borrowed 35 bags of city cement for a personal project at his home. By the fall of 1958, the bags had not been returned and City Council demanded a full-scale inquiry into the civic administration. The report detailed plane trips and gifts made to the administration and concluded that Mayor Mackay had indeed made improper use of his position. The issue became the centre of the election and led to Mackay's ultimate defeat after 10 years as Calgary's mayor.



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