This Week in Western Canadian History
March 12 - March 18
March
12
1820

Mackenzie's route to the Arctic OceanAlexander Mackenzie was born in Stornoway, on one of the islands of the Outer Hebrides, in 1764. He came to America with his father in 1774. After his father's death, Mackenzie left school to become a trader, and later a partner, in the fur-trading company Finlay and Gregory. (He was also a partner in the North West Company after it absorbed Finlay and Gregory.) In 1789, Mackenzie founded Fort Chipewyan (in today's northern Alberta), and left there to explore the river that flowed westward out of Great Slave Lake. To his disappointment, Mackenzie discovered that the river (later named the Mackenzie) flowed to the Arctic rather than to the Pacific Ocean. In 1793, he followed the Fraser River, the Peace River, and the Bella Coola River to the Pacific Ocean. [For a more detailed examination of his routes in 1789 and 1793, see this map.] Mackenzie left the west in 1795 and returned to England in 1799. He was knighted in 1802 and retired to an estate in Scotland where he died on March 12, 1820.

March
17
1900

Members of Horse RegimentIn 1899, when war broke out between Great Britain and the Afrikaner republics in South Africa, Canadians were divided on the issue of sending military aid to Britain. Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier finally yielded to public pressure and sent a token force. As the war continued to go badly for the British, loyal Britons in Canada came to the aid of the Empire. In 1900, Lord Strathcona, Donald A. Smith, raised a regiment in the Canadian west based on the organization of the North West Mounted Police. Superintendent Samuel B. Steele of the NWMP was appointed to command the regiment which was named "Strathcona's Horse." Within five days, over 500 volunteers - many former Mounted Policemen - were recruited in the major prairie centres. On March 17, 1900, 540 men and 599 horses left Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the month-long ocean voyage to Cape Town, South Africa.

March
15
1906

Amidst much pomp and ceremony, Lieutenant Governor George H.V. Bulyea formally opened the inaugural session of Alberta’s first provincial legislature. Since there was no provincial legislature building, the session was held in Edmonton’s Thistle Curling Rink which was decorated with flags and banners for the occasion. The ice was taken out and church pews from local churches were brought in to provide seating for the thousands of spectators. The speech from the throne promised that legislation relating to public health, telephones and land registration would be introduced during the session.

March
15
1912

A British investor warned others to stay away from investing in Canadian mining companies. Too many companies, he said, exaggerated their reports and based estimates of finds on imagination not on facts, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the entire industry.

March
13
1919

Delegates at the Western Labour Conference in Calgary voted to conduct a referendum among Canadian union members. The issue was whether to secede from the American Federation of Labor and the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada and form a new industrial union, to be called the One Big Union. The motion passed, and the OBU was launched in June. The Union emphasized the importance of the general strike as a means to overthrow capitalism. At its peak in 1920, the OBU had over 40,000 members, mostly in western Canada. In 1956, with its membership dwindling, the OBU became a regional affiliate of the Canadian Labour Congress.

March
17
1920

The coordinator of the education committee for Alberta's Women's Institutes suggested that rural schools would be more successful in keeping teachers if they provided adequate accommodation. In rural areas local families were expected to provide room and board, but the accommodation varied widely. The committee reported that some teachers were required to share rooms with other family members, sometimes even with the children they were expected to teach. One teacher complained that she was expected to hatch baby chickens and keep baby pigs warm in her bed. The conditions in several homes were described as "squalid." The committee recommended that a basic standard be established and that homes be checked on a regular basis to ensure the standard was maintained.

March
18
1924

A local Member of Parliament announced his intentions to introduce federal legislation to ban slot machines in Alberta (the only province which permitted the machines). Police and city officials considered the slot machines a menace to the community. If the legislation failed, Calgary mayor George Webster was prepared to raise licensing fees for the machines so they would no longer be profitable.

March
16
1939

Members of Calgary's Polish and Hungarian communities expressed their concern about the situation in their homelands after Hitler invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia. Hitler claimed he was simply trying to unite all German peoples who had been separated by artificial political borders. Representatives of local communities wondered just how far Hitler was prepared to go to achieve his goal.

March
12
1952
Members of the Manitoba Legislature voted against the radio broadcast of their daily sittings. A bill was introduced to allow the broadcast of debates so that the public would be aware of the issues before the Legislature and how the Legislature worked. Legislators expressed concern that too many of their colleagues would grandstand because of the audience and that the stately business of the Legislature would descend into a performance.
March
18
1953

As the Cold War grew colder, civil defence officials announced that Calgary would receive 13 air raid sirens to be installed throughout the city. Department officials noted that while there was no immediate cause for alarm, sirens were being placed in Canadian cities with populations of over 20,000 should the situation between Russia and the United States worsen.

March
16
1968

In a speech at the University of Calgary, an American scientist expressed his concern about the “disastrous” decline of students, in both number and quality, who were studying physics at the university level. The problem began, he said, in the high schools, where teachers were poorly prepared and unable to communicate any enthusiasm for the sciences. This lack of interest was especially critical as our society increasingly depended on specialised scientists to continue to make advances in medicine and the technologies.

March
14
1973

A group of Grade 4 students sent a disapproving letter to the members of the Manitoba Legislature, criticising them for their apparently juvenile behaviour during the session. The students commented that they had been instructed to be quiet and well-behaved during their tour, but that they were shocked by the rude behaviour of their elected representatives as they interrupted each other and held private conversations during question period. One 9-year old questioned the salary that the members received, wondering why when “all they do is argue ... they don’t deserve the money they’re getting”.



Back to Calendar

www.glenbow.org

Copyright © Glenbow Museum