This Week in Western Canadian History
September 12 - September 18
September
17
1868

Barkerville, BCIn 1862, Billy Barker, a Cornish sailor, discovered gold along Williams Creek in British Columbia's Cariboo district. By 1864, thousands of miners had poured into the area and established the gold-rush town of Barkerville. Although originally a tent-town of itinerant miners, by 1868 the town boasted permanent stores, churches and a theatre, as well as hundreds of houses and shacks. On the evening of September 17, 1868 a miner tried to kiss one of the dance girls in the saloon. As she pushed him away, their struggle dislodged a stovepipe and set the canvas ceiling of the bar on fire.The blaze spread quickly, and within two hours only a few shacks and warehouses were left standing.Barkerville, BC Many of the town's residents were forced to take refuge from the heat and the sparks in the creek. Rebuilding began the next day, although the price of lumber had jumped from $80 per board foot to $125 overnight. Although many houses and businesses were rebuilt within the year, the town never regained its former importance and eventually became a ghost town.

September
16
1891

The first train-load of settlers from the provinces of Galicia and Bukovyna in the Austro-Hungarian empire arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, on September 16, 1891. The small group of immigrants were forced to leave their homeland because of over-population and recurring crop failures. They were attracted to western Canada by the generous provisions of the Homestead Act which allowed each homesteader to acquire 160 acres for $10.00. The newspaper noted that Ukrainians were well-known as careful and industrious farmers, and speculated that this initial group was probably the first of many to come.

September
16
1893

Stephen Avenue With a population of almost 4,000 people, Calgary became Alberta's first city on September 16, 1893. In the decade following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883, Calgary's population had increased ten-fold. It could (and often did) boast of its position as the supply centre for the West's ranching industry, and of its growing importance as a manufacturing and retail centre. While lacking some of the amenities of more established centres, Calgary was also the only community between Winnipeg and the west coast of British Columbia that could claim a water work and sewer system.

September
14
1909

There was growing public outrage in Calgary over news that the city’s aldermen had voted themselves free passes for use on the municipal railway system. The aldermen defended their action, claiming that they needed to travel around “to keep better track of the welfare of the city” and that, since they were unpaid for their civic duties, they should not be required to pay for the tickets out of their own pockets. It was estimated that each alderman would receive 96 tickets which, at a nickel each, worked out to $4.80 for the duration of the political term. The consensus was that almost five dollars for an alderman was too much to pay.

September
17
1918

German and Ukrainian language newspapers became the latest victims of the First World War. The Great War Veterans’ Association petitioned Prime Minister Robert Borden to suspend “alien enemy language” newspapers for the duration of the war, or at least to deny them the facilities of the Canadian postal system. In response, the newspaper editors protested their loyalty through their unanimous support for the government’s Victory Loan campaign.

September
14
1919

Prince of Wales at the Bar U Ranch Thousands of people greeted Edward, Prince of Wales, at the train station when he arrived in Calgary on September 14, 1919. The Prince won the hearts of almost everyone with his "smiling, debonair and democratic friendliness", and set hundreds of maidenly hearts aflutter during the formal ball held at the Armouries in his honour. During his visit Edward toured George Lane's Bar U Ranch near High River. A few days later he purchased the nearby property that would become the EP Ranch.

September
14
1927

In an attempt to combat the spread of infantile paralysis (polio), Alberta’s provincial Board of Health passed an order forbidding children under 18 to leave their place of residence. Although the Board appreciated that municipalities across the province were attempting to control the epidemic within their communities, it noted that broader and stronger measures were required. The new order had the force of law and would be strictly enforced by Alberta’s Provincial Police.

September
12
1938

Barbers in Drumheller, Alta. demanded that the provincial government investigate “bootleg barbering”. The barbers claimed that too many people in the town possessed unlicensed clippers and that the amateurs were offering haircuts at ridiculously low prices, cheating the professionals out of a legitimate living.

September
12
1938

Advances in harvesting equipment were easing the farm-wife’s life as well as the farmer’s. Traditionally, combines had required crews of as many as eighteen men, and the farmer’s wife was usually up hours before the men to provide breakfast for them all. It was claimed that the new types of combine required only one man to operate them, and so the load of the farm-wife was significantly lightened.

September
14
1946

Local representatives of agricultural equipment manufacturers warned western farmers not to expect any new farm machinery until at least 1948. The shortage of labour and raw materials had restricted operations during the war years and the conversion of factories from war supplies to civilian products was taking much longer than had been anticipated.

September
15
1953

The Norway rat, introduced to North America by man in 1775, first appeared in Saskatchewan about 1920 and in Alberta in 1950. The rats are not only agricultural pests, eating and spoiling stores of grain, but can also transmit disease to humans. Alberta began an active rat-control programme in 1952 and, on September 15, 1953, a professional exterminator hired to rat-proof the province declared Alberta rat-free. Unfortunately, the announcement was premature as several more colonies were discovered along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Today Alberta's "Rat Patrol" continues to monitor the province. It is still illegal for anyone,except research institutions with appropriate permits, to import or possess live rats in Alberta.

September
18
1954

According to a Gallup Poll, consumers across Canada suggested that a family of four could live comfortably on $50.00 per week, a drop of more than $10.00 from the estimate of $60.56 in 1951. On the average, half of this amount was for food, including milk.

September
16
1964

The Columbia River Treaty, signed by Canada and the United States in January 1961, went into effect on September 16, 1964. Under the terms of the treaty, Canada agreed to construct three dams on the Canadian portion of the Columbia River in British Columbia, and to ensure the dams provided maximum flood control and power. In return, the United States agreed to pay almost $65 million and return to Canada half of the power that was produced. The agreement generated considerable controversy because of the environmental impact of the dams, and because it appeared that most of the benefits of hydro-electric power and irrigation went to the United States.

September
16
1974

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police accepted 32 women into its training programme, the first female recruits in the history of the force. The women ranged in age from 19 to 29, and came from all provinces except Prince Edward Island. The new recruits found the physical training extremely arduous although it did get easier once they were supplied with properly-fitting women’s boots instead of the much wider men’s styles that they were originally issued.



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