This Week in Western Canadian History
January 30 - February 5
February
2
1901

Memorial services for Queen Victoria were held in Calgary as the city mourned her death on January 22, 1901. Flags were flown at half-mast and all of the public buildings in the city (and many of the private ones) were draped in black. A wooden mourning arch, featuring a portrait of the late Queen swathed in black cloth, was erected on Stephen Avenue, the city's main street. Religious services were held at the Anglican cathedral and the official memorial service was at the opera house.

February
2
1904

Ernest CashelFor two months in the winter of 1903-1904, convicted murderer Ernest Cashel was the subject of the largest man-hunt in western Canada's history. Cashel was from Wyoming, and had been in trouble with the law almost from the day he arrived in Alberta in the summer of 1902. He was arrested in Calgary in October on a charge of forgery, but he escaped and made his way north to Lacombe, Alberta, where he stole a horse. He signed on with a local rancher in the area and, a short time later, the rancher -- along with his horse, saddle, shotgun, clothing and money -- disappeared. Not coincidentally, so did Cashel. He was next heard of in Shaganappi, a camp on the western outskirts of Calgary. He was detained, and found to be dressed in the rancher's missing clothing. Cashel was charged with theft, but a few weeks later the rancher's body was discovered with a bullet hole in the chest. He was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to hang on December 15, 1903.

Cashel's Capture by PoliceOn December 10, Cashel's brother John visited him -- ostensibly to say a last goodbye. John slipped a couple of loaded revolvers through the bars, and later that night Ernest Cashel escaped and slipped into the night. The police sent reinforcements, but Cashel remained at large for over a month. Finally, on January 24, the police received a tip that the wanted man was hiding in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Calgary. Forty men surrounded the house and Ernest Cashel surrendered. He was hanged on February 2, 1904.

February
4
1913

The Calgary facilities of the Young Women's Christian Association were temporarily closed because of a quarantine due to an outbreak of smallpox. The YWCA was used as temporary accommodation by hundreds of young women who flooded into the city in search of employment. It was suspected that one of the residents had brought the disease with her. The city was attempting to locate other accommodation for the displaced residents.

February
5
1914

Canadian Pacific Railway officials in Montreal announced that the new Canadian Pacific Railway hotel in Calgary was to be named the “Palliser”, to honour John Palliser who had led one of the earliest exploring expeditions of southern Alberta [see This Week in Western Canadian History, August 18, 1887]. The name came as a surprise to local railway officials, who believed that the hotel was to be called the Piedmont, but all agreed that the name that had been selected was much more appropriate to the region.

January
30
1919

Sam SteeleSamuel Benfield Steele was born in Purbrook, Ontario, in 1849. He joined the Canadian Militia during the Fenian troubles of 1866, and in 1870 he travelled west with the Red River Expedition. In 1873, Steele was one of the first to join the newly created North West Mounted Police. During his career as a mounted policeman he was involved in many of the pivotal events in western Canada. He helped rid the West of whiskey traders who were preying on native peoples; he maintained law and order among construction workers employed to build the Canadian Pacific Railway; Steele's Scouts forced Big Bear to release his hostages during the North-West Rebellion, and participated in the battle at Steele's Narrows (the last battle fought on Canadian soil); and he established the authority of the Canadian government during the Klondike gold rush and applied Canadian law and justice throughout the Yukon.

In 1900, Lord Strathcona chose Colonel Steele to lead Strathcona's Horse to South Africa during the Boer War, and in 1915 Major-General Steele trained and took overseas the Second Canadian Division. Judged too old for action on the front, he was placed in command of training all Canadian troops in Britain. When the First World War ended in 1918, Steele prepared to return to western Canada. While he was arranging for a home in Calgary, he fell victim to an influenza epidemic, and died in London on January 30, 1919.

February
4
1920

Liquor Prescription FormAlberta's Attorney General complained that, because of the widespread forgery of liquor prescriptions, his staff were required to issue a new prescription form every second month. A new design was issued in January which was considered secure, but by the end of the month a flood of counterfeit forms had appeared. Druggists were ordered not to honour the old forms, and physicians were once again supplied with new forms.

February
1
1928

Less than one-quarter of Canada had been properly surveyed and mapped, according to R.W. Cautley, President of the Association of Dominion Land Surveyors. Even the most modern maps depended on the scattered explorations of fur traders and missionaries to document vast sections of the country's unexplored northern regions. The situation was especially critical in the north and in western Canada where mineral and resource development hinged on accurate surveys, and where survey expeditions were sent out on an emergency "as required" system.

February
1
1928

Calgary's school superintendent expressed alarm at the number of school children leaving school before completion of even grade seven. Some were required to leave because of their family's economic situation, but Dr. Scott suggested that too many others wanted to earn their own money just to become independent of parental control. Young girls especially were able to obtain employment in clerical positions that once were reserved for men. Many preferred these careers to remaining in school and assisting with the running of a household.

February
4
1938

Teachers in several schools around Calgary complained that young students were frequently bringing their younger siblings with them to school. School officials reminded parents that schools weren't intended to serve as day nurseries and that only children who were registered could attend. Some parents objected to the ruling, pointing out that teachers were there anyway and that one more child couldn't cause that much extra work.

February
3
1947

While western Canada shivered in a protracted cold spell, Snag, Yukon Territory, experienced the lowest temperature ever officially recorded in Canada, -81 F (-63 C). The precise temperature was only an educated guess, as the thermometers in use were only graduated to 80 degrees below zero, and the gauges registered below the lowest mark.

February
1
1958

A Calgary man was convicted of public mischief after it was discovered that he lied to police about a robbery. The man had complained to police that he had been assaulted by three people who had demanded his wallet and taken all of the money. It was revealed that he had actually lost the money in a poker game but was afraid to tell his wife the truth.

February
1
1972

A new magazine aimed at women made its appearance on Calgary newsstands. The magazine, called Ms. (for those who didn’t know, pronounced Mizz) was intended to provoke wide discussion of social issues of interest to women. The first issue included articles on “De-Sexing the English Language” and a list of books for children that de-emphasised traditional sex roles.

February
5
1998

The remote community of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta was cut off after unseasonably warm weather produced by El Nino melted the ice road that connected the town with Fort McMurray, 170 miles south. Since transport trucks could no longer reach the community, supplies had to be flown in and food costs doubled overnight. Stocks of gasoline and propane were also running low and there was concern that the town might run out of heating fuel before the road was restored.



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