This Week in Western Canadian History
October 5 - October 11
October
6
1818

In 1813, after a confrontation with local Indians, the traders of Fort Astoria, the Astor Fur Company's post on the Columbia River, were left isolated and with no way to bring in necessary supplies. The inhabitants of the fort were starving when they were rescued by a party of traders from Canada's Nor'West Company. The Americans agreed to sell the fort to the Canadians in exchange for food and, as the United States and Britain were at war, protection from attacks from British forces. In December, a British naval ship appeared in the waters around the post. The English captain was greatly disappointed to find the Union Jack already flying over Fort Astoria. To confirm his authority, he ordered the flag hauled down and then ceremonially raised again. When the War of 1812 ended, it was agreed that all territory taken by military action would be returned. The British claimed Fort Astoria was theirs through legal purchase; the Americans, however, were successful in their claim that the fort had been formally taken through the military action of the British captain. On October 6, 1818, Fort Astoria was returned to the United States, and Britain, and Canada, ultimately lost the territories of the Pacific Northwest.

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
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
6
1884

Sheep on the RangeThe battle between cattle and sheep ranchers in the West has been long, and often bitterly fought. Cattlemen claim that sheep eat the grass more closely to the ground than cattle, leaving nothing for other livestock. Sheep ranchers concede that the sheep do graze more of the grass, but dispute the claim that the land is contaminated. In the Northwest, the issue was hotly contested in agricultural society meetings, and pressure brought to bear on elected representatives. Cattlemen won the first skirmish when sheep were prohibited in southwestern Alberta from the border north to the Bow River. The battle continued in the newspapers, however, with sheep ranchers claiming government prejudice in favour of the cattlemen. As well, the land was opening up to homesteaders who also challenged the large lease holdings of the cattle ranches. On October 6, 1884, the federal government attempted a compromise by enacting legislation that permitted sheep grazing over a larger area. It was a compromise that satisfied no-one.

October
7
1913

Dingman No.1For many years, geologists had known that it was probable that there were vast deposits of oil and natural gas hidden under Alberta's prairies and foothills. In 1911, William Stewart Herron, a local entrepreneur and horse wrangler, noticed gas bubbling out of an old mine shaft near Okotoks, Alberta. He collected samples which clearly indicated the presence of petroleum, and formed a company which drilled at the site. On October 7, 1913, the drillers struck crude petroleum, at what became known as the Dingman Discovery, after one of the backers of the project. The great Alberta oil boom was underway.

October
6
1924

Dr. W.J. Mayo, founder of the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., paid tribute to the work of some Canadian physicians during a brief stop in western Canada. It was due to the pioneering work of doctors such as Frederick Banting (the co-discoverer of insulin that provided an effective treatment of diabetes), he said, that virtually all diseases known to man could be cured. The one exception, noted Dr. Mayo, was cancer, which was often too far progressed before diagnosis to permit effective treatment.

October
10
1924

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
7
1933

Farmers in the Claresholm district of southern Alberta, fearing a return of the plague of grasshoppers that had decimated their crops, posted "No Hunting" signs over their lands in an effort to keep game hunters away and protect the bird population. Many hunters ignored the signs and some farmers attempted to keep them off by force. Police had to be called to resolve the resulting altercations.

October
6
1942

In 1882, Cora Hind, a young woman from Ontario, arrived in Winnipeg hoping to secure a position as a journalist with the Manitoba Free Press. The paper was not yet ready for female reporters, and rejected her. Typewriters had just been introduced, and Hind rented one, taught herself to type, and obtained a job as a legal secretary. In her spare time she read everything she could about agriculture and set up a marketing service for the province's dairy industries. She became so respected that, in 1893, the Free Press began publishing her columns and, in 1901, hired her as Canada's first female agricultural reporter and editor. Hind retired in 1935, after a long and productive career. She died in Winnipeg, on October 6, 1942.

October
8
1982

In August 1982, the Canadian Mount Everest Expedition arrived in Nepal to conquer Mount Everest. The expedition set up camp at the base of the mountain on August 15, and established Camp 2, at 6545 m, by the end of the month. The expedition was halted temporarily, however, when three Sherpas and a cameraman were killed in two separate accidents. On September 22, Camp 2 was re-established and, on October 4, Camp 4, at 7980 m, was set up. On October 5, climber Laurie Skreslet, of Calgary, and two Sherpas left camp at 4 a.m.; by 9:15 a.m. they were standing on the summit of the world's highest mountain.



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