This Week in Western Canadian History
March 28 - April 3
March
29
1778

In July of 1776, Captain James Cook left England on his third voyage in search of a North-West Passage. His ships, the H.M.S. Resolution and H.M.S. Discovery, made first for Tasmania, then New Zealand and Tahiti. His ships then turned north, and by March of 1778 they were sailing along the Oregon Coast. On March 29, 1778, the ships turned into Nootka Sound (named King George's Sound by Cook) and dropped anchor. The expedition remained in the Sound for a month, repairing their ships and trading with the local Nootka people. Cook left the British Columbia coast on April 26, 1778; nine months later he was killed on a Hawaiian beach.

April
3
1802

In the late 1700s, economic changes forced thousands of Highland crofters from their lands. On April 3, 1802, the 5th Earl of Selkirk proposed the settlement of the evicted families to colonies in North America. He established his first colony on Prince Edward Island in 1803, but his primary interest was in the Canadian northwest, then controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1811 he finally succeeded in establishing the Selkirk Settlement (near present day Winnipeg, Manitoba).

April
2
1873

On April 2, 1873, the Hon. L.S. Huntington charged Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservative government with accepting money from Sir Hugh Allan in exchange for awarding Allan's company the contract for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although the Conservatives managed to survive a Royal Commission into the scandal, both Parliament and the public kept the controversy alive, and in October the government was forced to resign. Allan's company folded, and it would be another seven years before an agreement on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was reached.

March
30
1885

Following the battle at Duck Lake, 200 Cree made their way to Battleford, district headquarters for Treaty Six bands, to make their concerns known to the Indian Agent. On hearing about the Cree advance, 500 settlers in the area made their way to the Mounted Police barracks for protection, remaining there under siege for more than a month.

April
2
1885

The Herald ExtraTension increased in the Northwest as word spread of the Metis victory at Duck Lake and the ongoing siege of Battleford. On April 2, despite the efforts of Big Bear, a band of his Cree warriors attacked the community at Frog Lake. Nine men were killed, including the Indian agent, the farm instructor, and two priests, while others - including the wives of two of the murdered men - were captured.

April
3
1898

Climbing Chilkoot PassGoldseekers following the Chilkoot Trail to the Klondike goldfields had to cross the formidable Chilkoot Pass on the British Columbia-Alaska Border. Men, women, and horses struggled up the steep slopes on their way to the summit -- almost 3600 feet above sea level. The winter of 1897/98 was long and severe, and spring storms added six feet of fresh wet snow. Travellers were advised to sleep during the day and cross the pass at night, when the snow was frozen and safe. On the morning of April 3, 1898, a group of 66 men and two women, roped together for safety, were swept away by a massive avalanche that rushed down the Pass. The avalanche piled wet snow up to 30 feet deep over approximately ten acres. Twelve people on the end of the rope escaped the slide. A few others -- including one man who was buried for 22 hours -- were dug out by rescuers. Fifty bodies were recovered, but others weren't located until the snow disappeared in the spring.

March
30
1918

For the first time in its history, the Presbyterian Home Mission Board appointed female missionaries to take charge of mission fields. The Church faced a critical shortage of missionaries because so many young men were involved in the war effort. There was some concern about allowing young women to work alone in the fields, but it was seen as a necessity if the Presbyterian Church was to fulfill its obligations to churches in the West.

March
29
1926

Illustration of HaircutTwo nurses were dismissed from Calgary's Holy Cross Hospital because they violated hospital regulations and "bobbed" their hair. According to officers of the Graduate Nurses' Association, no other hospital had regulations forbidding shingled hair. In fact, many senior nurses and doctors preferred short hair because it was more sanitary. The Association considered this an internal matter between the nuns and the nurses and wasn't prepared to take action on the issue.

March
28
1935

In the early years of this century, Francis Rattenbury was among Canada's most respected architects. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, he designed several of western Canada's most beautiful buildings, including the Canadian Pacific Railway's Empress Hotel and the Legislative Buildings in Victoria. However in 1923, Rattenbury's personal reputation suffered when he began a very public affair with a young woman almost 30 years his junior. When his wife refused to give him a divorce, Rattenbury attempted to humiliate her by removing the furniture from their home and having the light and heat turned off. When this failed he and Alma (his mistress) moved into the Rattenbury home, forcing his wife to live in one room of the house. At one point, he and Alma repeatedly played the funeral march on the piano as his wife lay in bed listening in the room above. Soon after this incident his wife agreed to the divorce and he and Alma married. Because of the scandal, Rattenbury was ostracised by his former friends and colleagues. He and Alma moved to England where success continued to elude him. On March 24, 1935, Alma found her husband collapsed in a chair in the drawing room of their home. He had been badly beaten and died a few days later. Alma and her live-in lover were charged with the murder. The young man was found guilty and served several years in prison; Alma was found not guilty but committed suicide five days later.

April
1
1938

The Young Men's Section of the Calgary Board of Trade proposed that the three prairie provinces amalgamate into one large western province. They argued that significant savings could be made in the simple costs related to running a government, and these savings would result in substantially lower taxes. Policies and authorities would be uniform across the three provinces, which already shared many common interests and concerns. It was suggested that all three provinces would benefit from increased economic stability, and that one large western province would have a stronger voice in negotiations with the federal government and the large eastern provinces.

April
3
1946

On April 3, 1946, Canada purchased the almost 2000 kilometer section of the Alaska Highway that ran from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to the Alaska border. The purchase price of $108 million included the airfields, flight strips, buildings, and telephone systems along the route. The highway was opened to unrestricted traffic the following year.

April
1
1975

Canadians accustomed to putting on coats and gloves at 30 found themselves overdressed as weather offices across the country provided temperatures in Celsius instead of the Fahrenheit scale for the first time. While 30 F is below freezing, 30 C is a warm summer day for most Canadians.

April
3
1975

Artwork by G. Tailfeathers Gerald Tailfeathers, a Blood from the reserve near Standoff, Alberta, was born in 1925. As a young child he was greatly influenced by his uncle, Percy Plainwoman, who painted under the name of Two Gun. When Gerald was 10, he spent a summer at an art school near St. Mary's Lake in Glacier Park, Montana, where he developed an appreciation and understanding of his people's traditional culture. He showed a particular talent for portrait work, creating illustrations of his people first in charcoal and later in pastels. He had his first show in 1938, at the age of 13. After leaving the residential school, Tailfeathers studied in Banff under the instruction of such well-known artists as W.J. Phillips, Charles Comfort and H.G. Glyde. In 1944, he graduated from the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary. He found the next few years difficult, since he preferred to live on the reserve, but couldn't find enough work there. He lived and worked in Calgary and Edmonton, continuing to paint and exhibit. In 1959, he and his family moved back to the Blood Reserve, and Tailfeathers began painting in earnest. Over the next several years his reputation continued to develop. Today, many of his works are in Glenbow's collection. Tailfeathers died on the Blood Reserve on April 3, 1975.



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