John’s Believe It Or Not… July 13th

* 1953 – Shakespeare’s Richard the Third opens the first season of the Stratford Festival – held in a tent. * 1985 Live Aid concert * 1793 Charlotte Corday assassinates Marat * 1960 Kennedy nominated for presidency * 1990 Ghost opens

It’s Friday! TGIF! Did You Know…

* 1953 – Shakespeare’s Richard the Third opens the first season of the Stratford Festival – held in a tent.

The Stratford Festival (named the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, 1953–57; Stratford Festival, 1957–99; Stratford Festival of Canada, 2000–08; Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 2008–12) is an annual repertory theatre festival. It is recognized internationally as one of the premier festivals of classical and contemporary theatre. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 13th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 12th

* 1968 – Health Minister Allan MacEachen tables Medical Care Act in the Commons. * 1933 First Dymaxion car produced * 2008 Angelina Jolie gives birth to twins * 1389 Geoffrey Chaucer is named chief clerk by Richard II * 1979 Disco is dealt death blow by fans of the Chicago White Sox

It’s Thursday! Did You Know…

* 1968 – Health Minister Allan MacEachen tables Medical Care Act in the Commons.

Allan J. MacEachen, Canada’s first deputy prime minister and a legislator whose mastery of parliamentary politics ensured the country’s adoption of national health care and other far-reaching social programs, died on Sept. 12, 2017, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He was 96.

Mr. MacEachen lived in East Ainslie Lake, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, the area where he was born and which he represented as a member of Parliament. Over the decades he sat in the House of Commons and the Senate, where he was appointed as a member of the Liberal Party. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 12th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 11th

* 1906 – Lord’s Day Act makes Sunday a day of rest. * 1804 Burr slays Hamilton in duel * 1979 Skylab crashes to Earth * 1899 “Charlotte’s Web” author E.B. White born * 1960 The Hollwood Argyles’ “Alley Oop” leads a novelty-song outbreak

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did You Know…

* 1906 – Lord’s Day Act makes Sunday a day of rest.

Lord’s Day Alliance of Canada (renamed People for Sunday Association of Canada in 1982), a lay organization founded in 1888 under the aegis of the PRESBYTERIAN Church and supported by the other Protestant churches to combat increasing Sabbath secularization. In the early phases of Canada’s industrialization and urbanization, Sunday was usually the only day of rest: the issue was whether that day should be a holy day or a holiday. The churches faced growing competition for the loyalty of potential churchgoers: industrial concerns, such as railways, demanded Sunday labour from their employees. More important, new leisure pursuits beckoned. Technological advances, particularly electric urban transit systems, increased people’s mobility, allowing them to escape the cities. Commercial recreation activities such as sporting events, ice cream parlours and theatres were equally tempting. Many Canadians seemed inclined to make Sunday a day both of religion and recreation. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 11th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 10th

* 1789 – North West Company partner Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Beaufort Sea. * 1925 Monkey Trial begins * 1992 The Exxon Valdez captain’s conviction is overturned * 1985 The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior * 1941 Jazz great Jelly Roll Morton dies

It’s Tuesday! Did You Know…

* 1789 – North West Company partner Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Beaufort Sea.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie (or MacKenzie, Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacCoinnich; 1764 – 12 March 1820) was a Scottish explorer known for accomplishing the first east to west crossing of North America north of Mexico, which preceded the more famous Lewis and Clark Expedition by 12 years. His overland crossing of what is now Canada reached the Pacific Ocean in 1793. The Mackenzie River, the longest river system in Canada and the second longest in North America, is named after him. Sir Alexander Mackenzie (or MacKenzie, Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacCoinnich; 1764 – 12 March 1820) was a Scottish explorer known for accomplishing the first east to west crossing of North America north of Mexico, which preceded the more famous Lewis and Clark Expedition by 12 years. His overland crossing of what is now Canada reached the Pacific Ocean in 1793. The Mackenzie River, the longest river system in Canada and the second longest in North America, is named after him. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 10th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 9th

* 1793 – John Graves Simcoe passes Act Against Slavery. * 1960 Khrushchev and Eisenhower trade threats over Cuba. * 1993 Romanov remains identified. * 1846 U.S. takes San Francisco. * 1962 Bob Dylan records “Blowin’ In The Wind”

It’s Monday! Did You Know…

* 1793 – John Graves Simcoe passes Act Against Slavery.

On March 14, 1793, Chloe Cooley, an enslaved Black woman in Queenston, Upper Canada, was bound and thrown in a boat to be taken across the river and sold in the United States. She resisted fiercely; Peter Martin, a free Black man, noticed her screams and struggles and brought a witness, William Grisley, to report the incident to Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 9th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 6th

* 2013 – Unattended 74-car oil train derails at 100 kmh in Lac-Mégantic and explodes – killing 47 people. * 1957 Althea Gibson is first African American to win Wimbledon * 1942 Frank family takes refuge * 1971 Satchmo dies * 1957 John meets Paul for the first time

It’s Friday! TGIF! Did You Know…

* 2013 – Unattended 74-car oil train derails at 100 kmh in Lac-Mégantic and explodes – killing 47 people.

The Lac-Mégantic rail disaster occurred in the town of Lac-Mégantic, in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, Canada, at approximately 01:15 EDT,[ on July 6, 2013, when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken Formation crude oil rolled down a 1.2% grade from Nantes and derailed downtown, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-two people were confirmed dead, with five more missing and presumed dead. More than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed, and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination of the townsite. Initial newspaper reports described a 1-kilometre (0.6 mi) blast radius. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 6th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 5th

* 1814 – British Retreat at Battle of Chippawa After Defeat by US Regulars * 1946 Bikini introduced * 1970 Pilot error causes crash in Toronto * 1996 First successful cloning of a mammal * 1954 Elvis Presley records “That’s All Right (Mama)”

It’s Thursday! Did You Know…

* 1814 – British Retreat at Battle of Chippawa After Defeat by US Regulars

The Battle of Chippawa (sometimes incorrectly spelled Chippewa) was a victory for the United States Army in the War of 1812, during an invasion of the British Empire’s colony of Upper Canada along the Niagara River on July 5, 1814. This battle and the subsequent Battle of Lundy’s Lane demonstrated that trained American troops could hold their own against British regulars. The battlefield is a National Historic Site. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 5th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 4th

* 1774 – Samuel Hearne builds Cumberland House * 1776 July 4 1776: America Declares Independence from Great Britain * 1987 Soviets rock for peace * 1911 Heat wave strikes Northeast * 1927 Playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon born

Happy Independence Day to My American Cousins!

* 1774 – Samuel Hearne builds Cumberland House

In 1774, the Hudson’s Bay Company established its first inland post, Cumberland House, on the lower Saskatchewan River. It was a momentous step for a company that, up until then, had hugged the shores of Hudson and James bays. The western Canadian fur trade was never the same.

For a century, the rather unimaginative HBC practice of encouraging interior Indians to come to the Bay to trade had resulted in steady returns for its English shareholders.

But that changed in the 1760s when Montreal-based traders moved up the Saskatchewan River to trade directly with Indian bands. No longer did the Cree and Assiniboine need to travel with fur-laden canoes to the Bay. They now enjoyed the convenience of getting their trade goods from these “door-to-door” pedlars.

The HBC grudgingly concluded that Canadian competition had to be answered by its own settlement on the Saskatchewan River – or it faced probable ruin

Fresh from his impressive trip across the barren lands from Fort Churchill to Lake Athabasca, Hearne was asked in August 1773 to head the expedition to establish the company’s first inland post.

The HBC contemplated two possible locations for its inland initiative, both in present-day Manitoba: Grand Rapids at the mouth of the Saskatchewan River, and Basquia Cree Territory near The Pas.

But after consulting with local Indian leaders, Hearne settled on a bay on Pine Island (Cumberland) Lake, just north of the Saskatchewan River Delta (in present-day Saskatchewan). Although not a traditional gathering center, the site was at the nexus of several major Indian trade routes – northeast to the HBC posts on the west side of the bay, northwest to the Churchill River and Athabasca country and west along the Saskatchewan towards the Rocky Mountains. In other words, the location of the HBC’s first inland post in Western Canada was determined by existing Indian social geography.

Hearne began supervising the building of Cumberland House on Sept. 3, 1774. The simple log structure may not have been much, but as Hearne noted, it marked the beginning of a new commercial struggle with its Montreal-based competitors. But until HBC servants learned to build and use canoes, the goods, furs and company personnel going to and from Cumberland House were transported by Indians. Hearne glumly estimated, for example, that it cost more in presents to transport trade goods inland than they were actually worth. Cumberland House was beset with problems. One was the incredible mosquito population during summer, which made working outside miserable, if not impossible at times. Another was the frequent flooding.

Then, there was the scarcity of food. Because of Cumberland House’s precarious game supply, traders were at the mercy of Indian hunters who expected special presents in exchange for supplying meat. If traders refused to co-operate, they faced the prospect of starvation.

No sooner had Cumberland House been established in 1774 than it was challenged by a series of competing posts that pushed the fur trade up the Saskatchewan River.

By the early nineteenth century, Cumberland House had become an inland supply depot and a Metis community. Today, the HBC’s first inland post enjoys the distinction of being Saskatchewan’s oldest continuously occupied settlement.

Samuel Hearne on the construction site.
Samuel Hearne (HBC Heritage)

* 1776 July 4 1776: America Declares Independence from Great Britain

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king.

The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France’s intervention on behalf of the Patriots.

The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Under the banner of “no taxation without representation,” colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax.

With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.

WHY DID THE AMERICAN COLONIES DECLARE INDEPENDENCE?
Most colonists continued to quietly accept British rule until Parliament’s enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade.

The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In response, militant Patriots in Massachusetts organized the “Boston Tea Party,” which saw British tea valued at some 18,000 pounds dumped into Boston Harbor.

The British Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops.

The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

With the other colonies watching intently, Massachusetts led the resistance to the British, forming a shadow revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist the increasing British military presence across the colony.

In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

Initially, both the Americans and the British saw the conflict as a kind of civil war within the British Empire: To King George III it was a colonial rebellion, and to the Americans, it was a struggle for their rights as British citizens.

However, Parliament remained unwilling to negotiate with the American rebels and instead purchased German mercenaries to help the British army crush the rebellion. In response to Britain’s continued opposition to reform, the Continental Congress began to pass measures abolishing British authority in the colonies.

HOW DID THE AMERICAN COLONIES DECLARE INDEPENDENCE?
In January 1776, Thomas Paine published “Common Sense,” an influential political pamphlet that convincingly argued for American independence and sold more than 500,000 copies in a few months. In the spring of 1776, support for independence swept the colonies, the Continental Congress called for states to form their own governments, and a five-man committee was assigned to draft a declaration.

The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. In justifying American independence, Jefferson drew generously from the political philosophy of John Locke, an advocate of natural rights, and from the work of other English theorists.

The first section features the famous lines, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The second part presents a long list of grievances that provided the rationale for rebellion.

WHEN DID AMERICAN COLONIES DECLARE INDEPENDENCE?
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion calling for separation from Britain. The dramatic words of this resolution were added to the closing of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July 4, the declaration was formally adopted by 12 colonies after minor revision. New York approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed.

The Revolutionary War would last for five more years. Yet to come were the Patriot triumphs at Saratoga, the bitter winter at Valley Forge, the intervention of the French, and the final victory at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.

The Declaration of Independence document lying on top of the Stars and Stripes
(BioCBD+)

* 1987 Soviets rock for peace

A rock concert in Moscow, jointly organized by American promoters and the Soviet government, plays to a crowd of approximately 25,000. The venture was intended to serve as symbol of peace and understanding between the people of the United States and the Soviet Union.

The idea of a rock concert in Russia was essentially the brainchild of concert promoter Bill Graham, a fixture in the West Coast rock and roll scene. He approached the Soviet government about the idea of holding a show in Moscow. Some Soviet officials were extremely reluctant to consider the concert. For nearly three decades, rock and roll had been castigated by official Soviet propaganda as “decadent” and a threat to public morality. However, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power in the mid-1980s heralded a new liberalism. The Soviets agreed to host the concert, and it took place on the Fourth of July. Performers included Santana, the Doobie Brothers, and Bonnie Raitt. The security for the show was heavy–some observers said “oppressive”–and most of the 25,000 people who attended were kept far away from the stage. One American reporter claimed that many of the Russians trickled out during the show, bored or disgusted. Only when a Russian folk troupe hit the stage did the crowd muster up much excitement.

The concert was evidence of the new, but still uneasy relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States. Gorbachev’s promises of economic and democratic reforms encouraged many in the United States to believe that a new and less antagonistic relationship with Russia might be possible. As the thousands of armed guards at the concert demonstrated, however, the new “openness” in Soviet society was hardly complete.

American-Soviet Concert for Peace
American-Soviet Concert for Peace

* 1911 Heat wave strikes Northeast

On this day in 1911, record temperatures are set in the northeastern United States as a deadly heat wave hits the area that would go on to kill 380 people. In Nashua, New Hampshire, the mercury peaked at 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Other high-temperature records were set all over New England during an 11-day period. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 4th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 3rd

* 1608 – Samuel de Champlain starts building his Habitation at the foot of Cape Diamond Kebec * 1863 Battle of Gettysburg ends * 1985 “Back to the Future” released – features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 * 2012 TV legend Andy Griffith dies * 1969 Brian Jones and Jim Morrison die – two years apart to the day

It’s Tuesday! Did You Know…

* 1608 – Samuel de Champlain starts building his Habitation at the foot of Cape Diamond Kebec

“I arrived there on the 3rd of July,” wrote Samuel de Champlain in 1608, “when I searched for a place suitable for our settlement, but I could find none more convenient or better situated than the point of Quebec.” Champlain stepped ashore and unfurled the fleur-de-lys, marking the beginning of that city and indeed of Canada. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 3rd”

John’s Believe It Or Not… July 2nd

* 1885 – Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa) surrenders to General Strange ending the North-West Rebellion. * 1964 Johnson signs Civil Rights Act * 1776 Congress votes for independence * 1839 Mutiny on the Amistad slave ship * 1937 Amelia Earhart disappears

It’s Monday! Did You Know…

* 1885 – Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa) surrenders to General Strange ending the North-West Rebellion.

Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear), Plains Cree chief (born near Fort Carlton, SK; died 17 January 1888 on the Little Pine Reserve, SK). Mistahimaskwa is best known for his refusal to sign Treaty 6 in 1876 and for his band’s involvement in violent conflicts associated with the 1885 North-West Rebellion. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 2nd”

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