This Week in Western Canadian History
March 5 - March 11
March
8
1873

Alarmed by the number of American whiskey traders and their activities, the Council of the North-West Territories passed its first formal piece of legislation, prohibiting the sale of liquor anywhere within the Territories. A few months later the North-West Mounted Police was created in part to enforce this legislation -- an almost impossible task in the vast, unsettled, and largely unexplored territory.

March
7
1908

The University of British Columbia was created on March 7, 1908, by an Act of the provincial legislature. Prior to that time, university courses were offered by junior colleges affiliated with universities outside the province, such as the McGill University College of British Columbia.

March
5
1910

Avalanche in B.C., 1914 Avalanches endangered the Canadian Pacific Railway line through the Canadian Rockies prior to the construction of the tunnel and snowshed system. One of the worst avalanches occurred at Rogers Pass on March 5, 1910, when over 60 railway workers were killed. A work crew was clearing the residue from a small snowslide when a gigantic rush of snow came down, carrying the men into the canyon to their deaths. There had been several days of unusually heavy snowfall preceding the slide, followed by a day of warm temperatures and steady rainfall that made the snow unstable. Train traffic was halted until the tracks could be cleared and the safety of the passengers and crew assured.

March
10
1911

Calgary's Old Town HallAlthough Calgary's old City Hall was condemned because of its unsanitary conditions, the city commissioners agreed to keep it open until April 1 to house the unemployed men who slept there every evening. The men were only permitted to enter the premises at night, because it was alleged that during the day they sat around playing cards without making any effort to find work. The building was home to eight unemployed men.

March
11
1912

Charges were laid against five men after city police raided an opium den or "hop joint" in Calgary's Chinatown. The police were convinced that there were several such drug houses operating in the city and requested harsh penalties to serve as a deterrent to others.

March
6
1926

Calgary Street with Street Car The assistant superintendent of Calgary's Municipal Railway department returned from an extensive study of public transportation in eastern Canada and the United States, and predicted that streetcars in Calgary would be replaced by motor-buses before the end of the decade. Commissioner Graves noted that the cost of maintaining the electrical street-car system was becoming prohibitive and that the study confirmed that a bus system based on motorised vehicles would be more flexible and cheaper in the long term.

March
10
1932

Calgary Brewing and Malting CompanyA.E. Cross, one of Calgary's pioneer businessmen, left Montreal in 1884 to come to Calgary and become a rancher. He worked at the Cochrane Ranche until he started his own ranch, the A7, around Nanton, south of Calgary. In 1892, he established the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company, which grew into one of the major breweries in the west, and he remained president of the company until his death. Cross served as a member of the Legislature of the Northwest Territories from 1898 to 1902 and remained active in community affairs. In 1912, he was one of the "Big Four" who financed the first Calgary Stampede. A.E. Cross died in Calgary on March 10, 1932.

March
9
1937

There was much consternation in some parts of the province when banks refused to cash Alberta government unemployment relief cheques. Several of the cheques had been returned stamped "N.S.F." The government assured recipients that it was simply a temporary accounting problem.

March
5
1946

Two Calgarians who were involved in the top-secret Habbakuk project told a local newspaper of their participation in one of the strangest projects of the Second World War. In 1942, as the Allies faced a desperate shortage of aircraft carriers, an eccentric Englishman, Geoffrey Pyke, came up with the idea to construct "bergships" -- immense warships out of ice. Pyke had created a new material by adding wood pulp to water and freezing it. This new substance, which he called pykrete, was immensely strong, did not melt, and was virtually unsinkable. Pyke proposed building huge aircraft carriers which would house freezing plants and crew quarters, and would be used in the same way as conventional ships.

Both Lord Mountbatten and Winston Churchill took the proposal very seriously and looked to Canada as the obvious place to build and test the ships. Although Canadian authorities considered it a "mad, wild scheme," a prototype made of ice was built and tested at Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park. The experiments showed that, while the project was scientifically and technically feasible, there were difficulties in engineering and construction. Conventional steel ships were also cheaper and quicker to produce. In March, 1944, the project was officially terminated.

March
9
1946

Almost 200 British wives and children of western Canadian servicemen travelled across western Canada on the "Diaper Special" to be reunited with their husbands. The families landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and travelled across the country by train. A reporter with the group described the war brides' excitment to be joining their husbands, but they were sad to be leaving family and homeland behind. The women, who had endured six years of rationing in Britain, were overwhelmed by the variety and quantity of food available on the train.

March
10
1960

Senator James Gladstone introduced amendments to the Indian Act and the Canada Elections Act to give native peoples living on reserves the right to vote in national elections without losing their rights to income tax exemption. Gladstone could introduce legislation, but couldn't vote because he lived on the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta. Initially, few took advantage of the opportunity, fearing that they would lose their aboriginal status if they did so, but this fear was unfounded.

March
5
1965

A report from the Economic Council of Canada predicted that prairie farmers would be producing more, earning more and working less within five years. The Council was confident that improvements in technology would permit greater efficiency in both production and distribution, keeping costs down and resulting in higher profits for farmers.

March
8
1965

Catholics in Calgary seemed generally pleased with the introduction of English into Mass, which had traditionally been given in Latin. Local priests reported that their congregations took a more active part in the service and were especially pleased that the children were able to understand and participate in more of the ritual.

March
9
1970

One of the highlights of the Northwest Territories centennial celebrations was the first Arctic Winter Games, held in Yellowknife, N.W.T. Over 700 athletes, ranging in age from 10 to 87, participated in 10 official sports, including cross-country skiing, curling, and hockey. There were also demonstrations of traditional Inuit games. Instead of medals, winners received ulus (the traditional Inuit knife) in gold, silver and copper.

March
7
1974

Calgarians were exposed to the new fad of “streaking” when a young man wearing only a hat, bow tie and boots dashed along a downtown street. Authorities were taken by surprise since the temperature was well below 0°F and they had anticipated that most people considering the stunt would wait until the warmer weather.



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