This Week in Western Canadian History
November 14 - November 20
November
15
1761

Louis-Joseph Gaultier de la Verendrye, born in 1717, was a member of the famous family of explorers who explored much of the Canadian and American west. In 1737, while accompanying his father on a trip to the Cree lands in the Northwest, La Verendrye stopped an outbreak of smallpox among the Cree by explaining the ways in which the disease was transmitted among people. In 1743, he again travelled west, this time reaching a point at the juncture of the Bad and the Missouri rivers (opposite present-day Pierre, South Dakota). To mark his passage, La Verendrye buried a lead plaque at the site, which, when it was discovered in 1913, helped to verify the extent of his travels. In his later years, La Verendrye assisted the military in their dealings with the native peoples of New France. On November 15, 1761, La Verendrye drowned when his ship, en route from Quebec to France, was smashed to pieces on the shores of Cape Breton during a gale.

November
19
1858

The goldrushes of 1857 and 1858 attracted thousands of American gold seekers to British Columbia's Fraser River district. To maintain law and order, and to assert British control over the area, the mainland colony of British Columbia was established on November 19, 1858. In ceremonies at New Fort Langley, James Douglas, the Governor of Vancouver Island, was also sworn in as Governor of the infant colony.

November
19
1883

John Calgary Costello, the sixth child of William and Sarah Costello, was born in Calgary on November 19, 1883, the first child of European descent born in the community.

November
17
1884

As the community of Calgary started to grow following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway [see This Week in Western Canadian History, August 9 - 15], residents investigated the possibility of incorporation. The major benefit (and sometimes disadvantage) of incorporation was that it allowed the collection of taxation revenues to supply essential services. After several months of sometimes bitter discussion among the community's businessmen, the town of Calgary was incorporated on November 17, 1884.

November
16
1885

Louis Riel's prisonOn the evening of November 15, 1885, Father Andre, Louis Riel's priest, visited Riel in his Regina, Saskatchewan jail cell and told him that he was to be hanged the next day. According to Andre, Riel took the news calmly, saying that he had made his peace with God, and was fully prepared. The two spent the night in prayer, and wrote messages to Riel's family. Just after eight in the morning on November 16, the hangman appeared in the doorway of Riel's cell, but he was unable to speak. Riel asked, "Mr. Gibson, you want me? I am ready." He received absolution from the priest and ascended the scaffold; as Riel and the priest recited the words of the Lord's Prayer, the trap door dropped.

November
20
1901

North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) in the Yukon were on the alert after the threat of an American invasion spread throughout the Territory. It was rumoured that the Order of the Midnight Sun, a secret organization formed by disaffected American miners, planned to raise an invading force from surrounding communities in Alaska. On November 20, 1901, Canadian and American newspapers carried reports of the plot. NWMP detachments in the Yukon were strengthened with extra police officers, machine guns, and ammunition. By March of 1902, it was clear that the plot had fizzled out and there was no longer any danger of an invasion.

November
20
1913

The Calgary School Board adopted a programme of vocational education in Calgary high schools. Almost all of the trustees accepted the report of its Technical Education Committee which recommended that students be trained in industrial and household arts, and in commercial skills including typing in order to prepare them for a career after school. One trustee voted against the programme, maintaining that the knowledge students gained from the classics would provide the skills necessary for the workforce as well as producing a more rounded individual.

November
14
1922

Robert Edwards Bob Edwards, the colourful editor and publisher of the Calgary Eye Opener, died on November 14, 1922. Edwards was born in 1864 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and gained his first newspaper experience publishing an English-language newspaper for wealthy tourists on the French Riviera. By 1897, he was living in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, where he launched the weekly Free Lance -- the first newspaper to be published in Alberta between Edmonton and Calgary. Edwards later moved to High River, Alberta, and then to Calgary, where, because of his pointed commentaries, his newspaper The Eye Opener soon became both popular and feared. Among his favourite targets were organised religion, politics and politicians, and pomposity wherever it was to be found.

"How many men do you know who let their religion interfere with their business?"
- Bob Edwards, Eye Opener, December 6, 1913

"Most of any government's troubles come from trying to uphold the blunders it makes."
- Bob Edwards, Eye Opener, April 19, 1919

"Probably the saddest thing about Ottawa is the number of fourth-rate intellects applied to first-rate problems."
- Bob Edwards, Eye Opener, September 21, 1918
November
19
1924

A one-room school in southern Alberta was evacuated when the teacher and students suddenly became ill. Two school board members inspected the building's furnace and found the teacher's handbell (which had been missing for several days) wrapped in rags and stuffed into a pipe. It was believed that the schoolroom had filled with gas which couldn't escape because of the blockage. Everyone affected recovered within hours, but the children received a stern lecture on the possible consequences of their prank.

November
14
1933

The President of the Manitoba Historical Society cast doubt that the markings found on a boulder were in fact a Norse inscription. A Winnipeg farmer discovered the rock on his land and claimed that it was a rune stone, proving that the Norse had journeyed as far as the Canadian West at some point in the distant past. Dr. Bell suggested that the boulder was no more than a weathered piece of limestone, and that people who were so inclined could see "anything from the Royal Coat of Arms to a record of the Lost Tribes of Israel."

November
14
1938

A candidate for office of a central Alberta Social Credit constituency withdrew his nomination and walked out of the convention when delegates expressed their opposition to him because his wife had campaigned for the provincial Liberal party in another riding. Party members were concerned that Social Credit secrets might be passed along to the Liberals. The delegate suggested that his wife was entitled to her own political beliefs but the convention decided that her actions made it inappropriate for her husband to be considered for office.

November
20
1946

Drilling began at Imperial Oil's major oilfield discovery, Leduc #1, southeast of Edmonton, Alberta. By the end of 1947, there were 30 wells operating at the Leduc field, with a production of more than 3500 barrels of oil per day.

November
15
1954

Local authorities opposed a suggestion from Vancouver’s Junior Chamber of Commerce that children turn over their crime and horror comic books to be burned in a public bonfire. While agreeing that many of the books had no literary value and some verged on the obscene, most people wanted nothing to do with public book burning, suggesting that the cure would be worse than the disease.

November
17
1954

City police estimated that illegal pistols or revolvers – souvenirs from the war – could be found in two out of every three homes in Calgary. The matter was of concern to police because, although there was very little trafficking in the weapons, several had been stolen during burglaries. Police assured citizens that they would be allowed to keep the weapons but that they should be officially registered.



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