This Week in Western Canadian History
May 9 - May 15
May
12
1798

George Vancouver's Voyage, Vol. IGeorge Vancouver was born in England in 1757, and entered the Royal Navy at age 14. He sailed with James Cook on Cook's second voyage to New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands in 1772, and on his third voyage to explore Canada's Pacific Coast in 1776. [See This Week in Western Canadian History, March 23-29.] In 1789, Britain was interested in the commercial possibilities of the trade in sea otter pelts from the Northwest Coast. Spain had claimed the territory and exclusive trade rights, but Britain rejected Spain's arguments. In retaliation, Spain seized several British ships anchored in Nootka Sound. Faced with the prospect of war with Britain, Spain relinquished the ships and to abandoned her claim to exclusive occupation and trade on the Coast. In 1791, Vancouver was sent to the Northwest Coast to retrieve the confiscated property and conduct a survey for Britain. In two seasons he traced the coastline between 30 N and 56 N (from today's northern Mexico to Wrangell, Alaska). In 1794 he conducted more precise surveys of the area. When Vancouver returned to London in October of 1795, he had completed the longest surveying expedition in history. He retired from the Navy a month later and began work on his monumental book Voyages but died on May 12, 1798 without finishing them. (They were completed by his brother and published posthumously.) The city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, were named in recognition of George Vancouver.

May
12
1870

ManitobaCanada's fifth province was created when the Manitoba Act received royal assent. After the federal government purchased Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1869, Louis Riel's provisional government drafted a list of rights to protect the Metis population. It was this list, which included French and English language rights, provision for a legislative council and assembly, and representation in the federal Parliament, which formed the basis of the Act and permitted Manitoba to enter Confederation as a province -- albeit as a much smaller one than it is today -- rather than as a territory.

May
9
1885

BatocheThe Metis community of Batoche, capital of Louis Riel's provisional government during the Riel Rebellion, was the site of the final and decisive military action in the uprising.On May 9, Major-General Frederick DumontMiddleton and more than 800 soldiers attacked the Metis and Cree defenders under the command of Gabriel Dumont. Dumont's forces resisted the attack for three days, until on the morning of May 12 a final assault by the troops of the North-West Field Force weakened the Metis defences. The soldiers broke through and captured the village. This defeat was the beginning of the end of the resistance.

May
15
1885

Capture of RielFollowing the defeat of his forces at the Battle of Batoche, Louis Riel surrendered to Major-General Middleton. He was taken to Regina and put in prison where, after conversations with the military authorities, he was judged sane enough to stand trial for treason.

May
14
1914

As rumours of further discoveries of oil at the Dingman Discovery well circulated, Calgarians lined up around city blocks to demand that besieged brokers buy -- or sell -- their stocks. Curb traders and agents set up temporary stands in every available space in hotel lobbies, barber shops and cigar stores. Citizens of every economic level were caught up in the frenzy, with investments ranging from $10.00 to thousands of dollars.

May
15
1919

Riot in WinnipegIn the months following the end of World War I, massive unemployment and rising inflation in Canada, and the success of the Russian Revolution of 1917, led to nation-wide labour unrest. In Winnipeg on May 15, when negotiations between labour and management in the building trades broke down, the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council called a general strike. The strike spread quickly across the city, uniting disaffected private and public sector workers, closing factories and retail stores and crippling police, fire and telephone services. The federal government, afraid that the unrest would spread, arrested several of the strike leaders. On June 21, the Royal North-West Mounted Police charged into a crowd of strikers, resulting in many injuries and one death. By the end of the day, federal troops occupied Winnipeg's streets. The strike was called off on June 25 but left a legacy of bitterness and increased militancy across the country.

May
10
1924

After eight "dry" years, Alberta's Liquor Act was repealed on May 10, 1924, and replaced by the Government Liquor Control Act. Under the new legislation, the provincial government assumed complete control over the retail and wholesale selling of alcoholic beverages.

May
11
1928

Calgary's Crown Prosecutor blamed jurors not lawyers or judges for the miscarriages of justice which he admitted did occur. In a speech to the Calgary Board of Trade, he challenged members to show their manliness by reaching sometimes unpopular verdicts when they were called upon to serve on a jury. He suggested that there were so many organisations and societies "doing good" that a false sense of goodwill towards all men had been created and that individual jurors were not courageous enough to stand against the trend and do their civic duty.

May
12
1928

The chief forest ranger for northern Alberta was alarmed by the influx of settlers to the Peace River district. The new farmers set fires to clear their land of trees, resulting in so many fires that the famous forests of the north were quickly disappearing. In too many cases the fire grew out of control and burned vast sections of prime virgin timber. In the ranger's opinion, the goals of the immigration department and the forest service were in conflict and a compromise between the two was needed.

May
12
1937

Celebrations throughout the Commonwealth marked the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Across Canada, beacons were lit at sunset from Newfoundland to British Columbia; in Calgary, 100 boy scouts participated in the ceremonial lighting of the bonfire on the hill in the Rosedale district. The city's "Coronation Baby" was given a baby carriage "fit for a Royal baby," five Coronation silver dollars, a silver spoon, and many other gifts by local merchants. In Glendale, a district just west of Calgary, twin babies born that morning were named "George" and "Elizabeth" in honour of the royal couple.

May
14
1948

More than 500 Calgary Jews crowded the Jewish Community Centre to celebrate the creation of the modern state of Israel. Prayers of joy and thanksgiving were mixed with concern for family and friends living in the new state which was under attack from neighbouring Arab nations. Resolutions were passed at the gathering, asking that Canada formally recognise Israel and support its request to join the United Nations as an independent country.

May
13
1950

The yo-yo craze was in full swing across the country. In Calgary, a young instructor employed by a toy manufacturer was visiting schools at recess or before class and giving instruction in the use of the yo-yo. He also held contests on school days and on Saturday mornings. The grand winner of the final contest received two tickets to participate in a nation-wide contest to be held at the Canadian National Exhibition in July.

May
9
1951

Schools across the province were gradually introducing a new system of computing students' marks. Teachers of Grade IX science and social studies classes were asked to submit a mark for each student based on the student's work throughout the year. This was combined with the mark from the final examination which was administered by the province. An official from the Department of Education explained that the trend was away from a single mark based on the final examination because some children found the test procedure itself extremely stressful and because a mark obtained in this way did not reflect the total growth of the child during the school year. It was anticipated that the new system would be extended to other subjects and other grades.

May
12
1958

The North American Air Defence Agreement (NORAD), signed on May 12, 1958, integrated the air defence systems of Canada and the United States under a joint command located at Cheyenne Mountain, Wyoming. NORAD receives information on foreign air traffic from a variety of sources, determines the identity of unknown planes or missiles, and establishes a course of action. The governments of both countries must concur before formal action can be taken.

May
9
1977

In his report "Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland" Commissioner Thomas R. Berger strongly recommended a 10-year moratorium on pipeline construction in the Mackenzie Valley to allow time to settle land claims and to solve technical and environmental problems. Because of the fragility of the arctic environment, he also propsed a permanent ban on any pipeline from Alaska across the northern Yukon.



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