This Week in Western Canadian History
October 24 - October 30
October
26
1876

Pierre Falcon, popularly known as Pierriche or Pierre the Rhymer, was a Metis songwriter and performer in the Manitoba Metis communities of Red River and White Swan Plains. As a young man, Falcon worked as a clerk for the North West Company and for the Hudson's Bay Company. He recorded the daily life and the major events of the Metis in poetry and song. His best known work, "La Chanson de la Grenouillere," tells the story of the Bois-brule (literally, charred wood, a reference to the darker skin of many Metis) warriors at the battle at Seven Oaks. Falcon died on October 26, 1876, at the age of 83, but his rousing songs inspired Metis voyageurs and warriors for many years after.

October
24
1886

Home of Charles Ora CardIn 1886, as Mormons in Utah were under attack for their practice of polygamy, Charles Ora Card, a prominent Mormon leader, was sent to Canada to find a place of "peace and asylum." Card first travelled to British Columbia, where he found that much of the best land had already been taken. He then journeyed to the Fort Macleod district in southern Alberta where, on October 24, 1886, he selected a site between the Belly and St. Mary Rivers and dedicated it to the Lord for future Mormon settlement.

October
28
1914

Banff internment campIn a special meeting on October 28, 1914, the Canadian Cabinet adopted a measure requiring registration of all "alien enemies," specifically Germans and Austrians. The plan also provided for the establishment of "concentration camps," where internees and their families could be housed and fed in exchange for useful work, such as clearing bush and cutting lumber in the national parks.

October
25
1918

In one of the West Coast's worst marine disasters, the Princess Sophia, a Canadian Pacific steamship, ran aground on Vanderbilt Reef (near Juneau, Alaska) on a voyage from Skagway, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia. A small fleet of rescue vessels circled the ship all day, waiting to take off the passengers and crew, but the storm prevented them from making a rescue attempt. In the evening, the storm worsened and the small boats headed for shelter. When they returned in the morning only a 20-foot section of the Princess Sophia's mast remained above the water. More than 350 people aboard the ship perished.

October
25
1923

Doctors in Calgary joined their colleagues across Canada in congratulating Doctors Frederick G. Banting and J.J.R. Macleod on their Nobel Prize in the field of medicine. The two received the award for their discovery of insulin, which made the treatment and control of diabetes possible. Prior to their discovery, a diagnosis of diabetes was a virtual death sentence. Banting, born in Ontario, was the first Canadian to win a Nobel prize.

October
29
1923

Grain elevatorThe Alberta Wheat Pool, an agricultural cooperative and the first grain pool in North America, began operations on October 29, 1923, with 16 elevator lines cooperating. The cost of wheat had plummeted in 1920, and, in 1921 and 1922, farmers were forced to sell their crops for less than the cost of production. It was hoped that a cooperative marketing system would stabilise prices. When it began, the Alberta Wheat Pool had a membership of 25,719 with more than 2.5 million acres under contract.

October
29
1929

Calgary stock exchangeThe stock market crash on Wall Street heralded the beginning of the Great Depression across Canada and the United States. By the time the market closed on "Black Tuesday," more than 23 million shares had been sold at ever-lower prices. The Calgary Stock Exchange halted trading for a few hours while its members considered closing; it was decided, however, that since other exchanges were operating, the closure would have little effect on the situation. Local traders were optimistic that the slump was temporary.

October
28
1942

Calgary's mayor and police chief questioned the need to hire a police woman despite the request of social service officials to consider it. Because so many servicemen were frequenting local dance halls and hotels, it was suggested the city hire a female police officer to aid in their supervision and to assist young women who might require help. The police chief objected, noting that a female officer could only be asked to work until 5 p.m. while the problems with the dance halls developed later in the evening. The police chief also noted that, in his experience, young women turned to a man for protection rather than to another woman.

October
26
1943

Two children in Lethbridge, Alberta, were expelled from school because they refused to salute the Union Jack during patriotic exercises. The children’s parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses who believed that homage should be paid only to God and not to any material object. The children stood at attention during the salute but this was not sufficient to satisfy the school board and the children were expelled. The parents offered to withdraw the children from school assemblies but that proposal was rejected. Officials from the Department of Education agreed to investigate.

October
26
1950

Skypilot No. 10 Comic Book A specialist in child speech defects suggested that comic books were a major cause of the growing number of speech and reading difficulties. In her research she had discovered that more and more parents were sitting a child down with a comic book instead of spending time with the child and reading them nursery rhymes. She claimed that such children were denied the opportunity to develop a sense of rhyme and rhythm and took longer to learn to read and talk.

October
24
1962

As the American fleet moved to intercept Soviet ships carrying nuclear missiles bound for Cuba, the director of Alberta's Emergency Measure Organization (EMO) described the situation as the gravest the world had faced since the Second World War. The provincial EMO was placed on alert in anticipation of an attack by manned bombers -- although it was admitted that a nuclear attack was a real possibility. Businesses were encouraged to provide radios for their employees and everyone was encouraged to listen for further instructions should the sirens sound. Fortunately, no Russian ships ventured into the "quarantined" zone, and after a week of intense negotiations the Soviets agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.

October
24
1970

Dr. Benjamin Spock, well-known pediatrician, author and vocal opponent of the American presence in Vietnam, spoke to a Calgary audience of the need for social dissent to protest injustice. Spoke was adamantly opposed to violence but favoured other means of protest, such as picketing, sit-ins and, if necessary, civil disobedience. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, Calgary members of Parliament demanded to know why the controversial doctor had even been allowed into the country to speak to Canadians.

October
28
1980

The National Energy Program (NEP) was introduced under a new federal budget brought down on October 28, 1980. The program was intended to provide a security of supply and independence from the world oil market (oil self-sufficiency) and greater Canadian ownership of the industry. To reach these goals, several measures were adopted, including grants to encourage drilling in remote areas, new taxes on the oil industry, and an expanded role for Petro-Canada, a Crown Corporation. The NEP was extremely unpopular in Alberta and created a distrust of the federal government which took years to overcome.



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