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John’s Believe It Or Not… February 24th

* 1905 – Members of the Ottawa Silver Seven boot the Stanley Cup into the Rideau Canal. * 1917 Zimmermann Note presented to U.S. ambassador * 1988 Supreme Court defends right to satirize public figures * 1991 Gulf War ground offensive begins * 1786 Wilhelm Grimm is born

Harvey Pulford of the Ottawa Silver Sevens

It’s Saturday! Did You Know…

* 1905 – Members of the Ottawa Silver Seven boot the Stanley Cup into the Rideau Canal.

On a lighter note today:

If you know anything about the early history of the Stanley Cup, you’ve probably heard this story: The Cup, hockey’s most famous championship trophy, was once kicked into the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. The tale has been passed down for generations — but it probably isn’t true.

Lore has it that in 1905 (unless, maybe, it was 1906), some members of the Ottawa Silver Seven, forerunners of the modern Senators, left a celebratory banquet together and decided it would be fun to see (or made a bet to determine) if the Stanley Cup could be kicked across the canal. The future Hall of Famer Harvey Pulford [see today’s featured image at the top] is sometimes singled out as the kicker.

The Stanley Cup, which the Silver Seven held from 1903 to 1906, was a lot smaller then, not much larger than the bowl that sits atop the trophy today, roughly the size of a ball for rugby, a sport that Pulford and several of his teammates also played.

And the battle for the championship was a lot shorter, ending in winter when the canal was most likely frozen. So while early versions of the legend held that the trophy sank, later accounts have had it sitting safely on the ice (perhaps overnight; maybe as long as a few days) until it was rescued.

Any good tale is bound to change over the years. So the fact that there are many variations is not reason enough to doubt it. Still, plenty of clues suggest that the kick into the canal never happened.

The Ottawa Silver Seven, forerunners of the Senators, with the Stanley Cup in 1905, around the time that one of them is said to have kicked the trophy into the Rideau Canal.
The Ottawa Silver Seven, forerunners of the Senators, with the Stanley Cup in 1905, around the time that one of them is said to have kicked the trophy into the Rideau Canal.

* 1917 Zimmermann Note presented to U.S. ambassador

During World War I, British authorities give Walter H. Page, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, a copy of the “Zimmermann Note,” a coded message from Arthur Zimmermann, the German foreign secretary, to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence in late January, Zimmermann stated that in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany promised to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

After receiving the telegram, Page promptly sent a copy to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who in early March allowed the U.S. State Department to publish the note. The press initially treated the telegram as a hoax, but Arthur Zimmermann himself confirmed its authenticity. The Zimmermann Note helped turn U.S. public opinion, already severely strained by repeated German attacks on U.S. ships, firmly against Germany. On April 2, President Wilson, who had initially sought a peaceful resolution to end World War I, urged the immediate U.S. entrance into the war. Four days later, Congress formally declared war on Germany.

The Zimmermann Telegram
The Zimmermann Telegram (Hackaday)

* 1988 Supreme Court defends right to satirize public figures

The U.S. Supreme Court votes 8-0 to overturn the $200,000 settlement awarded to the Reverend Jerry Falwell for his emotional distress at being parodied in Hustler, a pornographic magazine.

In 1983, Hustler ran a piece parodying Falwell’s first sexual experience as a drunken, incestuous, childhood encounter with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell, an important religious conservative and founder of the Moral Majority political advocacy group, sued Hustler and its publisher, Larry Flynt, for libel. Falwell won the case, but Flynt appealed, leading to the Supreme Court’s hearing the case because of its constitutional implications. In February 1988, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the lower court’s decision, ruling that, although in poor taste, Hustler‘s parody fell within the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech and the press.

A portion of the mock Campari ad depicting televangelist Jerry Falwell opening up about his first sexual encounter.
A portion of the mock Campari ad depicting televangelist Jerry Falwell opening up about his first sexual encounter. (Front Page Confidential)

* 1991 Gulf War ground offensive begins

After six weeks of intensive bombing against Iraq and its armed forces, U.S.-led coalition forces launch a ground invasion of Kuwait and Iraq.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, its tiny oil-rich neighbor, and within hours had occupied most strategic positions in the country. One week later, Operation Shield, the American defense of Saudi Arabia, began as U.S. forces massed in the Persian Gulf. Three months later, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq if it failed to withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991.

At 4:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm, a massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, began as the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire in television footage transmitted live via satellite from Baghdad and elsewhere.

Operation Desert Storm was conducted by an international coalition under the command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in a massive air war against Iraq’s military and civil infrastructure, encountering little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force. Iraqi ground forces were also helpless during this stage of the war, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel, and thus other Arab nations, to enter the conflict; however, at the request of the United States, Israel remained out of the war.

On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq’s outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. By the end of the day, the Iraqi army had effectively folded, 10,000 of its troops were held as prisoners, and a U.S. air base had been established deep inside Iraq. After less than four days, Kuwait was liberated, and a majority of Iraq’s armed forces had either been destroyed or had surrendered or retreated to Iraq. On February 28, U.S. President George Bush declared a cease-fire, and Iraq pledged to honor future coalition and U.N. peace terms. One hundred and twenty-five American soldiers were killed in the Persian Gulf War, with another 21 regarded as missing in action.

Gulf War. US troops with burning Kuwaiti oil wells in the back.
Gulf War. US troops with burning Kuwaiti oil wells in the back. (LookLex)

* 1786 Wilhelm Grimm is born

On this day in 1786, Wilhelm Karl Grimm, the younger of the two Brothers Grimm, is born in Hanau, Germany.

As young men, the two brothers assisted friends in compiling an important collection of folk lyrics. One of the authors, impressed by the brothers’ work, suggested they publish some of the oral folktales they’d collected. The collection appeared as Children’s and Household Tales, later known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, in several volumes between 1812 and 1822.

Tales in the Grimm collection include “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rapunzel,” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” The brothers developed the tales by listening to storytellers and attempting to reproduce their words and techniques as faithfully as possible. Their methods helped establish the scientific approach to the documentation of folklore. The collection became a worldwide classic.

Wilhelm continued his study of German folklore and published a new edition of ancient written tales. In 1829, Jacob and Wilhelm became librarians and professors at the University of Gottingen, and Jacob published another important work, German Mythologies, exploring the beliefs of pre-Christian Germans. In 1840, King Frederick William IV of Prussia invited the brothers to Berlin, where they became members of the Royal Academy of Science. They began work on an enormous dictionary, but Wilhelm died in 1859 before entries for the letter D were completed. Jacob followed four years later, having only gotten as far as F. Subsequent researchers finished the dictionary many years later.

Drawings: The Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm (HISTORY Canada)

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* New York Times                                                     

* This Day In History – What Happened Today                                            

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

10 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 24th”

  1. Oh, the story of the Stanley Cup. I have heard that so many times. Decades ago, I could tell that a child in my class would do well in hockey (girl, by the way). I approached the parents. Wouldn’t you know that her great grandfather’s team won the first Stanley Cup. They were so proud to show me the photo. Oh, the Brothers Grimm. Thank you for that piece. I have my mother’s book of Grimm’s fairy tales from long before 1920. I could write a blog post on Cinderella, nothing like we know today. Little Red Riding Hood was called Little Red Cap. Granny was not so nice, and there are two different endings. Thank you for the memories and a great day in history, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I never heard of the Zimmermann Note. As for the Supreme Court’s decision about satirizing, I have mixed feelings. I agree with and support the right, but it is how this right is utilized that troubles me. Too often it seems destruction is the objective of political satire and not enlightenment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly agree with you in the Reverend Falwell case against Hustler magazine. That ad was disgusting. However, true satire will exaggerate a point of view about an actual event to embarrass the subject, and that’s fair game. I’m not sure that the purpose of satire is to educate; I see it in the same way as a Letter to the Editor – to express a point of view. Thanks, Gwen.


    1. I’m with you on that one, Opher! Some political cartoons are worth their weight in gold! However, that hoax ad about Falwell was in the poorest taste.
      I think most wars are a waste of human blood – but the merchants of death and bankers always profit. Today wars are cowardly affairs – the leaders who declare war sit safely behind the lines while they send countless souls to their deaths. Once upon a time, rulers would actually lead their armies into battle. Imagine!


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