This Week in Western Canadian History
September 5 - September 11
September
9
1883

Many young men joined the North-West Mounted Police in search of adventure and excitement but found instead only tedium and quasi-military discipline. During the summer of 1883, the men of C Troop, stationed in Fort Macleod, became increasingly dissatisfied with conditions at the post. Repeated complaints to their superior officers went unanswered until, on September 9, the men decided that since the officers would not do their duty, the enlisted men would not do theirs. They refused to participate in parade duties, a drastic act which both officers and men recognised as mutiny. During the investigation into the event, the Commanding Officer insisted that he had not been fully informed of the circumstances of the grievances. After a frank meeting between the Commanding Officer and the men, many of the issues were satisfactorily resolved and the Fort Macleod mutiny ended.

September
6
1897

The Crow's Nest Pass Agreement between the federal government and the Canadian Pacific Railway was signed on September 6, 1897. The Canadian government gave the railway a subsidy of $3.3 million to extend its lines into the valuable mining and smelting areas of southern British Columbia. In return, the railway agreed to reduce, in perpetuity, eastbound freight rates on grain and flour, and westbound rates on a specified list of "settlers' effects." The "crow rate" still provokes debate today.

September
11
1905

John Ware and his family, c. 1896. John Ware, Alberta's first black cowboy and a respected rancher in southern Alberta for over 25 years, was thrown from his horse and died on September 11, 1905. There are few facts about John Ware's early life, but there are many stories, including one that Ware escaped from slavery in Texas. Although this is unlikely, it is possible that he was the son of a slave and that he came north believing there was no future for him in the United States. Ware came to Alberta in 1882 as a cowboy on a cattle drive for the North-West Cattle Company (later the Bar U). By 1891, he had purchased his own land on the north fork of Sheep Creek and chose 9999 as his brand. Later, Ware moved to the Brooks area where he ranched until his untimely death.

September
8
1911

On September 8, 1911, classes officially began at Calgary's Mount Royal College. The College was under the sponsorship of the Board of Colleges of the Methodist Church. It offered elementary and secondary level academic courses, and special courses in household sciences, business, music and art to 200 students in its first year. Today, over 35,000 students attend Mount Royal College each year for credit and continuing education courses.

September
9
1914

In keeping with its slogan "First in everything", Calgary's Allen Theatre took great pride in announcing that it was the first theatre in the city to present footage from the European front. The First World War was the first to be documented on film that was shown to people in theatres thousands of miles from the battlefields. Within days of the first showing of the newsreels, city authorities were suggesting that the Allen be ordered to withdraw the films from public viewing, since the graphic depiction of the brutal realities of war stood in stark contradiction to the optimistic propaganda of the government.

September
10
1929

During the 1908 federal election campaign, Wilfrid Laurier promised that his government would build a railway to Hudson Bay with a terminus on the Bay providing access to the markets of Europe. Western farmers believed that the railway would compete with the Canadian Pacific Railway and force cheaper rates for grain transportation. Although Laurier's Liberals won the election, construction did not begin on the first stage of the railway until the midst of the next federal election in 1911. Work was suspended several times over the subsequent decades until, under the direction of the Canadian National Railway, the Hudson Bay Railway, which connects The Pas, Manitoba to Churchill, Manitoba, was finally completed and opened on September 10, 1929.

September
10
1941

Schools across Alberta were ordered to remain closed due to the epidemics of infantile paralysis (poliomyelitis) and of sleeping sickness (encephalitis) in the province. Local school boards provided lessons which were published in the newspapers so that students would not get too far behind in their studies. In Calgary, for the first time since 1911, high school football was cancelled.

September
11
1942

With so many young men involved in the war effort, there was a critical shortage of labour across the country. On September 11, 1942, it was announced that all women, single and married, born between 1918 and 1922, were required to register with the Unemployment Insurance Commission. The Calgary manager of the Commission explained that the women would not necessarily be given employment immediately, but that their experience and skills would be classified in case they were required for necessary war work.

Across the prairies, hundreds of people, including teachers, bankers, lawyers, clergymen and schoolchildren, volunteered to assist with bringing in the harvest. In Drumheller, Alberta, as in towns all across the prairies, the local Board of Trade organised busses and cars to take the volunteers to farms where they worked with local farmers to harvest the grain and build granaries to store it.

September
11
1958

The Cremation of Sam McGee The Bard of the Klondike, Robert Service, died in Lancieux, France, on September 11, 1958. In 1894, at the age of 20, Service gave up his bank job in England to come to Canada, "for I was not satisfied with a humdrum existence." After working on a farm in Duncan, British Columbia, he accepted a bank position with the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Victoria, British Columbia. In 1905, he was transferred to the bank's Whitehorse branch. From there, he made his way to Dawson City where he began his writing career with "The Shooting of Dan McGrew." Shortly afterwards, he wrote perhaps his most famous poem, "The Cremation of Sam McGee." These and other poems were published in the 1907 book Songs of a Sourdough, which became an overnight success. Service left the Yukon in 1912, and served as an ambulance driver and newspaper correspondent during the First World War. He spent his later years in virtual seclusion in France.

September
7
1970

Morris Cohen was born in 1887 near Warsaw, Poland. Soon afterwards his Orthodox Jewish family fled the pogroms of Central Europe and settled in London's East End. Cohen's early years were not those of which legends are made. He was an incorrigible juvenile delinquent and at the age of 12 was arrested for picking pockets and clapped into a British reform school. When Cohen emerged five years later, his parents shipped him off to western Canada with the hope that the Great Plains and untarnished optimism of North America would rehabilitate him. They did not.

Cohen spent his time wandering through Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, plying his trade as a pickpocket and hustler and working in circus sideshows. He regularly played poker at Chinese gambling dens, and one evening stumbled into the middle of an armed robbery. Having boxed as a child, Cohen easily knocked the burglar out. His selfless act immediately won him the respect of the Chinese community. Cohen was asked to join Sun Yat-sen's anti-Manchu society, and in 1922 sailed to China and became a bodyguard to President Sun. He also started sporting two pistols wherever he went. Following Sun's death in 1925, "Two-Gun" Cohen was made a Chinese general and worked for various leaders as a bodyguard, chief of security, arms merchant, and confidant. When the Japanese invaded China in 1937, Cohen joined the war effort. Soon after he placed Mme. Sun Yat-sen on one of the last flights out of Hong Kong, he was captured by the Japanese and interned in a Japanese prison camp.

Following the war, Cohen aided a Jewish delegation at the 1945 UN Conference in San Francisco gain access to the Chinese delegation. He was also one of the few people who was able to move between the mainland and Taiwan, and brokered deals for western firms eager to do business in Mao's China. In 1948 he helped Jewish patriots acquire weapons and showed them how to train soldiers and prepare attacks on the British in British-controlled Palestine in the event that the British did not withdraw from the territory as promised.

In the 1950s Cohen settled in Manchester, England. His last visit to China was in 1966 as a guest of Zhou Enlai. He died on September 7, 1970.
[Source: Daniel S. Levy, “Two-Gun Cohen : A Biography”. St. Martin’s Press, 1997.]

September
10
1994

A record crowd of more than 49,000 people stood and applauded as one of Canada’s favourite show jumpers made his farewell appearance at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows equestrian centre. Thousands of hands reached out to touch Big Ben, the 18-year old horse as he and rider Ian Millar took their final walk around the International Ring. As the loudspeakers played “The Wind Beneath My Wings”, by Bette Midler, Millar paid an emotional tribute to the horse that he called “truly the wind beneath my wings. He’s my hero.”



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