This Week in Western Canadian History
February 20 - February 26
February
24
1887

On the night of February 24, 1887, a mob of more than 300 men attacked the Chinese camp at False Creek, then two miles outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. The trouble started after a local contractor hired Chinese workers for 75-cents per day, instead of the negotiated rate of $2 per day for other workers. Because of the riot, the provincial government suspended Vancouver's municipal charter, removed the mayor from office, and assumed responsibility for policing the community.

February
26
1890

The Reverend Leonard Gaetz, a minister and pioneer farmer in the Red Deer district of central Alberta, appeared before a federal committee investigating the suitability of the area for settlement. Reports were circulating that the land couldn't support agriculture or mixed farming, but the Rev. Gaetz contradicted the rumours. He was also one of the first to recommend that producers in western Canada explore the potential of the Asian market as purchasers of agricultural products, manufactured goods, and natural resources.

February
24
1897

Deerfoot, Siksika Runner Sports of all kind were popular and affordable entertainment in frontier Calgary. Running was one of the first sports to be formally organised in the young community. Deerfoot, a Siksika (Blackfoot) man whose real name was Api-kai-ees and who was a nephew of Chief Crowfoot, soon made his name as a long-distance runner at local sporting events. Unfortunately, since wagering was also a popular form of entertainment, the races were not always run "fair and square." Deerfoot soon became disillusioned and bitter towards the white community. In August of 1887, he stole two blankets from a settler's house. When the police tried to arrest him, he attacked them with an axe, and disappeared. A mounted posse searched for him, but Deerfoot remained on the run until he surrendered to the police in the spring of 1889. He was sentenced to 45 days of hard labour. He spent the remaining years of his life in and out of trouble with the law and never ran again. During his incarceration he contracted tuberculosis and, on February 24, 1897, Deerfoot died in the Mounted Police infirmary in Calgary. Today, one of the fastest roads in Calgary a multi-lane highway over which thousands of vehicles speed every day - bears the name of Deerfoot.

February
23
1916

Dentist's Office A legislative committee in Manitoba ordered the province's dentists to stop advertising "painless dentistry." Witnesses complained that their dental experiences were certainly not painless, and the committee agreed that such claims were misleading and possibly even fraudulent.

February
26
1921

Calgary's Trades and Labour Council resolved to send a formal complaint to the Calgary School Board, to protest the hiring of a female janitor whose husband already had a job. The issue generated some lively debate within the Council, with some members pointing out that the husband's wages were barely enough to house and feed his family. The majority rejected this argument, noting that the principle of one pay envelope coming into a family had to be preserved, otherwise everyone's wages would be cut.

February
21
1935

A herd of 2,300 reindeer guided by Lapp and Alaskan Eskimo herdsman reached the Mackenzie Delta from Alaska's Kotzebue Peninsula on February 21, 1935. The herd was to be the nucleus of a domestic reindeer industry. An area of 6,600 square miles was set aside as a reserve for the animals, but after several years of successful breeding it was increased to almost 18,000 square miles. Local Inuit were trained and hired as herdsmen and proved so successful that, within a few months, the Lapp herders had returned to their homes.

February
24
1937

Patrick Burns, pioneer rancher, businessman and senator, left his family's home in Oshawa, Ontario, in 1878, and made his way west to the new province of Manitoba. He took out a homestead in Minnedosa, Manitoba, where he farmed and raised a few cattle. In 1886, when the railroad from Regina to Saskatoon was under construction, Burns won the contract to supply beef to the crews. As railways were built across the prairies, his business expanded rapidly, and in 1890, Burns moved his business headquarters and opened a slaughter-house in Calgary. By 1912, he owned six ranches in southern Alberta and was one of the four founders of the first Calgary Stampede. At Burns' 75th birthday party in 1931, Prime Minister R. B. Bennett announced that in recognition of his contributions to the development and progress of Western Canada, he had been appointed to the Canadian Senate. Patrick Burns died in Calgary on February 24, 1937.

February
26
1942

Japanese Workers in Field Prime Minister Mackenzie King announced that all Japanese were to be temporarily moved from Canada's west coast. Previously, all Japanese men between 18 and 45 were moved 100 miles inland, and so this order extended that requirement to all persons of Japanese origin. Many of the men were sent to road camps in British Columbia's interior, or to agricultural projects in the prairies. (Eventually, their families were allowed to join them.) Some were interned in prisoner-of-war camps. Each adult was permitted to take 150 pounds of clothing, bedding and utensils. Other property, including homes, businesses, fishing boats, cars and personal possessions, was sold.

February
21
1948

At a meeting of the Calgary branch of the Engineering Institute of Canada, an official of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers discussed the use of radio-telephones in automobiles. About 50 automobiles in Toronto and Montreal were equipped with the technology. All were company vehicles, and included a department store delivery truck and emergency vehicles from the Ontario Motor League. While there were no theoretical limits as to the number and types of vehicles that could be equipped with the radio-telephone, Mr. Geiger could see little practical value for the ordinary motorist.

February
21
1955

A local Calgary newspaper dropped the popular American comic strip Dick Tracy, because in the opinion of the publishers, the strip advocated "brutality for its own sake," and could no longer be considered suitable for children. The decision was made amidst concern about the rising crime rate and discussion of the media television, movies and comic strips apparently glamourising the criminal lifestyle among young people.

February
22
1962

Health officials in Vancouver criticised the tobacco industry for trying to increase their sales through campaigns directed at young people. In one specific promotion, free packs of cigarettes were distributed to university students. Public health authorities warned that these tactics compromised the health of the entire nation.

February
26
1969

The President of the University of Calgary asked the public to be more understanding of the turmoil and dissent on the university campus. Dr. Carrothers acknowledged that protest might seem threatening to some but suggested that, in fact, both students and faculty had a responsibility to challenge and criticise the status quo.

February
22
1995

A geologist's report announced that Bre-X, a Calgary-based mining company, had discovered a reserve of more than one million ounces of gold at Busang, Indonesia. Thousands of people invested, only to find out that the claim was worthless.



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