This Week in Western Canadian History
December 5 - December 11
December
7
1770

Samuel Hearne left the Prince of Wales's Fort on Hudson Bay, beginning his third and most successful attempt to find a western passage across the Barrenlands of northern Canada. He and his Chipewyan guide, Matonabbee, travelled by foot across the trackless tundra, finally reaching the Arctic Ocean on July 17, 1771.

December
8
1869

Louis Riel's Declaration of the People of Rupert's Land and the North-West, was issued on December 8, 1869. It stated that the Hudson's Bay Company -- on the basis of its sale of Rupert's Land to the Dominion of Canada -- had abandoned the people of the Red River Settlement to a "foreign power." Riel declared a Provisional Government for the settlement, asserting that the sale of the North-West territory without the consent of the Red River settlers entitled them to establish their own government. The Declaration went on to express the readiness of the new government to enter into negotiations with the Canadian government to achieve "good government and prosperity of this people."

December
9
1878

The first train from St. Paul, Minnesota, arrived at Winnipeg, Manitoba, late in the evening on December 9, 1878. Since the return train left at 4 am St. Paul time (17 minutes faster than Winnipeg time) some unfortunate travellers missed their bookings. The trip to St. Paul took approximately 30 hours, and meant the death of the Red River stern wheelers which had connected the two communities.

December
8
1882

Although most of the Cree and Chipewyan of central Saskatchewan and Alberta signed Treaty #6 in 1876, Big Bear, an influential leader of a band of Plains Cree, refused to sign. His band depended on the buffalo for survival, and Big Bear recognised that signing the treaty would change his people's way of life forever. But by 1882 the buffalo were exterminated, and it was clear that his people could no longer live as they had, whether they signed the treaty or not. Big Bear's followers, ineligible for government rations, were starving and living in make-shift shelters of cloth and tree branches. On December 8, 1882, Big Bear became the last of the major prairie chiefs to sign a treaty with Canada.

December
6
1911

Two employees of a Calgary dairy were convicted of theft after a number of milk bottles went missing from doorsteps, window sills, and milk chutes. The two men, who worked for a rival company, removed the milk deliveries so the annoyed customers would buy dairy products from their company instead.

December
6
1916

The Connaught Tunnel on the main Canadian Pacific Railway track in the Selkirk Mountains opened to train traffic on December 6, 1916. The tunnel was built to avoid the climb over the top of Rogers' Pass, and to eliminate over four miles of permanent snowshed construction which protected the tracks from frequent avalanches. The tunnel was an engineering achievement, running over five miles under the Rogers' Pass. It took more than two years and over $6 million to build.

December
5
1924

Calgary Police Chief Ritchie confirmed that officers of the Ku Klux Klan were in Calgary, recruiting members for a local branch of the organisation. Chief Ritchie indicated that police could not interfere as long as matter remained peaceful and now laws were broken.

December
11
1935

Alarmed by the antics of wrestlers performing at a local pavilion, Calgary's City Council requested that the local Boxing and Wrestling Commission and the police regulate wrestling or prohibit it entirely. Aldermen denounced the "dirty tactics" used by California wrestler King Kong in gouging, kicking, and tossing his opponent out of the ring.

December
10
1936

The Duke and Duchess of WindsorChoosing to give up the throne rather than the woman he loved, Edward VIII signed the decree of his abdication from the throne on December 10, 1936. Albertans watched the events unfold with particular interest. While on a trip across Canada in 1919, young Prince Edward had won many friends in Alberta, and when he purchased a ranch in southern Alberta it further endeared him to the people of the province. Public opinion on the abdication was mixed: some maintained that duty should come first, others that love conquers all.

December
6
1944

Calgarians dug through basements and garages looking for old skates and boots to send to Canadian troops in Europe. Artificial ice rinks were under construction in France, Belgium, and Holland and the Young Men's Christian Association planned to collect and dispatch the used equipment to the forces overseas.

December
9
1947

A Lethbridge woman and her 13-year-old daughter finally returned home to her husband in Alberta after being trapped in Bulgaria for almost nine years. The woman had taken her children to visit relatives in 1938 and was unable to leave when war erupted in 1939. After the war ended in 1945, the Communist government refused to allow her to leave. Her son escaped and served in the Royal Air Force during the war, but was killed in an accident in 1946. Her daughter remembered only a few words of English but was busy practicing so she could return to school.

December
6
1952

Calgary's public school superintendent reminded parents that their children were expected to attend school until December 23. Many students, especially those in senior grades, left school early in December to take temporary jobs in busy retail stores. School officials warned parents - - who were responsible for the truancy of their children -- that students who weren't in attendance for term-end examinations might not be promoted to the next level.

December
11
1954

Men's Suits, c.1954The owner of a well-known men's clothing store in Calgary suggested that women try to curb their natural desires for colour and design when buying neckties for Christmas. Retail statistics indicated that women purchased 80 percent of all ties sold, and that only one woman in four bought something that a man would choose for himself. While acknowledging that a tie represented the only opportunity a man had to personalise the standard business dress of dark suit and white shirt, the clothier recommended muted colours with either a small and regular geometric pattern or a classic regimental stripe. This advice, he claimed, would guarantee smiles and not shudders on Christmas morning.

December
6
1968

Delegates at a conference of Canadian resource ministers were advised that fresh water was one of Canada’s most precious resources and one in desperate need of immediate protection. Government officials were warned to be particularly aware of demands from the United States, where many state legislators maintained that the Americans had a moral right to Canadian waters. As the world’s population increased, there was a corresponding increase in the demand for fresh water, and Canada had to ensure that the needs of its own citizens were met first.



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