“He drank like a fish.” “The early bird gets the worm.” “It’s raining cats and dogs.” “You can’t get blood out of a stone.” “As quick as a wink.” “Six of one and half a dozen of the other.” “There’s many a true word said in jest.” These, and many other expressions, colour our vernacular without our being aware that the satiric voice behind them belonged to Thomas Chandler Haliburton, a prominent Nova Scotian.
Haliburton was born on December 17, 1796 in Windsor, NS, the son of a judge and grandson of a lawyer. An upper crust Tory, he was also a successful lawyer and businessman and was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. He held office in England after his retirement from the bench. He was wealthy, respected and influential, but, despite his accomplishments, he was deeply frustrated.
Legend dictates that the games of the Olympiad owed their origin to the Theban hero Heracles who staged them to honour his grandfather Pelops. It was said of Heracles that while engaged in his 12 labours he brought back a twig of wild olive from the legendary land of Hyperboreans and planted it in Olympia. This was the tree whose branches served to crown the victors. If we look for more practical explanations, the Olympic Games more likely derived from funeral games held in honour of fallen heroes, like the one Achilles held for his friend Patroclus in Homer’s Iliad.
George Orton is known as Canada’s first Olympic gold medal winner. On the official Olympic Games website, there are two records concerning George Orton at the 1900 Paris Olympics. The records show that he won a bronze medal in the 400 m men’s hurdles and a gold medal in the 3000 m steeplechase. The records note his country as Canada, making George Orton the first Canadian to win at the Olympic Games. The Canadian Olympic Association supports that record; it regards Orton as the first Canadian Olympic medalist. But Canada did not send a team to the Olympics in 1900; Canada had no Olympic team until 1904 at the St. Louis games. Orton, a student, competed as part of the University of Pennsylvania team. Because he was entered as an American athlete, it was not until years later that anyone even realized that a Canadian had won an Olympic competition.
“Throwing back his head he played for us, for the first time, the masterpiece of his genius – it was Calixa Lavallée; he played O Canada.”
Naming a country is no small task. The name should evoke feelings of pride and strength and reflect the character of the land and its people. The explorer Jacques Cartier generally gets the credit for naming Canada; he documented the name in his journal, describing the “Kingdom of Canada” and noting that the entrance to the St. Lawrence River “is the way to and the beginning of…the route to Canada.” However, the story of the country’s naming is not his alone.
There were celebrations on July 1, 1867 for the new “Dominion of Canada,” but neither the date, name nor designation were sure things a few months before.
Every year, French Canadians celebrate their cultural pride and heritage through parades and parties on June 24 marking, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. These festivities combine the ancient rites of the summer solstice with traditional celebrations in honour of the Patron Saint of French Canadians, Saint John the Baptist. How did Saint John come to be the patron saint of French Canada? The Canadian Encyclopedia offers some clues:
June 15 kicked off the city of Toronto’s War of 1812 celebrations, with an abundance of free and lively events around town in conjunction with the Luminato Festival. The Canadian Encyclopedia attended a handful of events, one of which was a unique art installation called The Encampment at Fort York.
On September 13, 1811, Lieutenant-General Sir George Prevost arrived at Quebec to take up the duties of Captain General and Governor-in-Chief of British North America. Prevost, an officer with considerable military and colonial experience, was appointed the task of readying British North America for a war with the United States.
The Prince Regent and the government gave Prevost specific guidance that limited his military and diplomatic authority. He could not undertake offensive action into the United States or declare war on his own. Most importantly, as Britain was pre-occupied with the war against Bonaparte, he could not expect any large-scale reinforcements.
On May 23, 1914, the ship Komagata Maru was turned away from a Vancouver harbour when it tried to land. Onboard were 376 South Asian immigrants from British India, veterans of the British Indian Army, who sought to make a life for themselves in the empire they had fought to defend. How wrong they were. Instead of a warm reception, the Komagata Maru was surrounded by Canadian immigration boats half a mile from shore and ordered to leave.