This Week in Western Canadian History
November 7 - November 13
November
7
1885

C.P.R's Last SpikeFive years after the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway was signed the construction of the railroad was completed. On November 7, 1885, a group of railroad executives and workers watched as Donald Smith, an enthusiastic advocate and financial supporter of the CPR, hammered in the "last spike" at Craigellachie, British Columbia.

November
7
1886

Calgary Fire, 1886At 6 a.m. on Sunday, November 7, 1886, a passer-by saw smoke coming from the back of a feed store on Atlantic Avenue (today 9th Avenue in downtown Calgary). The church bell sounded to give the alarm to members of the volunteer fire department, but, fed by wind and log buildings, the fire quickly spread out of control. By the end of the day, four hotels, three warehouses and four stores had been totally destroyed. Because the fire was so devastating to so many people, the town council recommended that major civic and religious buildings be constructed out of sandstone, rather than wood. So many buildings were built from sandstone that Calgary gained the nickname "The Sandstone City."

November
9
1905

The newly created Province of Alberta held its first election on November 9, 1905. The size of some of the election districts presented difficulties. The Peace River district in largely unsettled northern Alberta, was 400 miles long and over 350 miles wide with no communication system and few trails. Many people in the riding were unaware of the election and couldn't have reached polling stations if they had known. The campaign was bitterly fought on issues such as separate religious schools and control over the province's natural resources. The Liberal Party almost swept the province, winning 22 of 25 seats, and Alexander Cameron Rutherford became Alberta's first Premier.

November
13
1913

Local newspaper editorials bemoaned the loss of life's little courtesies, apparently due to Calgary's growth. Few people apologised as they jostled each other on congested sidewalks. On streetcars, men forgot to stand for ladies, and when they did the ladies forgot to thank them properly for their courtesy. Young people didn't demonstrate appropriate respect to their elders. In a busy city, one writer commented, manners and consideration were even more necessary for everyone to get along, and a "society for the propagation of courtesy" would be welcomed.

November
11
1918

Before dawn on the morning of November 11, 1918, in a railway coach on a siding near Compiegne, France, French Field Marshal Foch and the members of the German Armistice Commission signed the formal surrender that brought the First World War to an end. PoppyAfter four years of war, as the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month drew near, the guns fell silent and, incredibly, birds could be heard singing. As the news flashed across Canada, work stopped and thousands of people poured into the streets. Over 60,000 Canadians died in the war, and many more were wounded. In 1923, Armistice Day was merged with Thanksgiving Day. In 1931, November 11 was renamed Remembrance Day and declared a legal holiday in memory of Canadian veterans in this and other wars.

November
13
1919

A group of 27 Hungarians and Austrians from Saskatchewan was prevented from leaving their boat in Kelowna, British Columbia, by members of the Great War Veterans Association. The European families had hoped to purchase farms in the Okanagan region of southern British Columbia, but when they tried to land they were told that returned veterans wouldn't allow an alien colony to be established in the region. After three days, the group agreed to return to Saskatchewan. Germans, Hungarians and Austrians already living in Kelowna were advised to leave the community.

November
12
1947

Wedding Picture of Queen Elizabeth IIA young British woman, widowed during the war and recently arrived in Calgary, was surprised that Canadians were so interested in the impending wedding of Princess Elizabeth. In England, people were preoccupied with making a living and some resented what they saw as ostentatious ceremony during a time of austerity.

November
7
1981

Thousands of Canadians protested against the explosion of a five-megaton hydrogen bomb on the isolated Alaskan island of Amchitka. Several birds were killed in rockslides touched off by the explosion but otherwise, damage to the environment appeared to be minimal. The blast was detected as far away as Edmonton, where the ground moved eight microns (about one-hundred-thousandth of an inch).



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