Author: Maddy Macnab On June 7th, 1939, Canada denied entry to over 900 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis. Seventy-two years later, Canada’s part in the fate of the MS St. Louis was officially remembered with the unveiling of Daniel Libeskind’s “Wheel of Conscience” monument, at the Canadian Museum of Immigration. As Canada assumes [...]
Author: Dr. Alexander Herd 69 years ago, on June 6, 1944 Canadians, alongside their fellow Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen, participated in D-Day, the invasion of Normandy, France and the first step towards the liberation of continental Europe in the Second World War. Canadians performed a wide variety of tasks on D-Day. In advance of the [...]
Canadians across the country have poems in their pockets, from a pretty little haiku to historical epics to the latest pop earworm. Every year new poets give us wonderful and engaging works. But we can’t forget the strong Canadian poetic tradition captured by, among others, Bliss Carman’s romantic odes to landscape, Stephen Leacock’s biting satire, [...]
On April 4, 1949, the foreign ministers of Canada, the US, the UK, France and eight other countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty. An armed attack on one member would be an armed attack on them all.
Isaac Brock was long remembered as the fallen hero and saviour of Upper Canada (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-36181).
[Editor's Note: Saturday, October 13 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Sir Isaac Brock, the hero of the War of 1812.]
In the very early morning of October 13, 1812, Major General Isaac Brock was fast asleep in his bunk at Fort George, on the Niagara Frontier. About 4:00 am he was awakened by the distant thud of cannon fire. He rose in a flash, dressed, mounted his horse Alfred and dashed through the fort gate towards the sound of the guns.
Brock knew that the Americans, who had declared war on Britain in June, would try to invade somewhere along the frontier. Former US president Thomas Jefferson told President James Madison that taking Canada would be a “mere matter of marching.”
Frobisher discovered the bay now named for him on Baffin Island, but was deceived by the pyrites, which he took for gold (courtesy Bodleian Library, Oxford).
It has become common knowledge that the first Thanksgiving in North America was held by Martin Frobisher and his crew in the eastern Arctic in 1578. There are those—mainly Americans upset at having their holiday co-opted—who argue that it wasn’t a “real” Thanksgiving. I would counter that Frobisher had reason to give thanks, and that giving thanks was an important aspect of Elizabethan society, so it would have been a natural thing for him and his men to do.
Sir Martin Frobisher, mariner, explorer, chaser of fool’s gold, made three voyages from England to the New World in search of a passage to Asia. He discovered the bay that is named for him and returned with tons of dirt that he thought contained gold. Each expedition was bigger than the preceding one and on his third, in 1578, he commanded a flotilla of 15 ships and more than 400 men. They set sail on May 31 for Baffin Island, where they intended to establish a gold mining operation and the first English colony in the New World. On July 1, they sighted Resolution Island, but they were driven by storms across the entrance to Hudson Strait, the fleet was dispersed and one ship, which carried their prefabricated barracks, was sunk by ice. Another ship deserted the flotilla and sailed back to England. The remaining ships assembled at the Countess of Warwick’s Island, which is known today as Kodlunarn Island, a tiny speck of land in Frobisher Bay. They established two mines on the island and set up shops to test the ore from other mines. The mine sites and the ruins of a stone house are still clearly visible.
It’s that time of year again: autumn is upon us, with the tang of decay in the air and the scent of paper burning in the woodstove. And paper, bound into books and printed in interesting and artisanal fonts, is the order of the day for lovers of Canadian literature in autumn. Forthwith: the shortlisted nominees for the three principal English-language fiction prizes of the season, for your readerly delectation, and possibly a quick trip to the local bookmaker on the corner.
On Saturday, September 29, the Bluenose II, a reconstructed version of Canada’s most famous ship, the Bluenose, will launch in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia!
Beginning at around 7am, the day will feature the official relaunch of the iconic vessel, musical performances, storytelling, and an evening fireworks display on the Lunenburg waterfront. All events are free and spectators are encouraged to show their pride by turning their noses blue to become “bluenosers” for the day! For those outside of Lunenberg, watch a live webcast to catch all the excitement of the launch.
Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for our feature article on the Bluenose.
After the film Argo had its world premiere at the Toronto International Festival in September, friends of Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, criticized it for minimizing Canada’s role in the real-life events that inspired the film. Critics say that the film suggests that the CIA were the real heroes of the rescue mission and that for political reasons, Canada took the credit. It also paid short shrift to Taylor’s role as the mastermind of the operation.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau talks with Justice Minister Jean Chrétien as they wait for the premiers to take their places during the ConstitutionaI Conference, Nov. 4, 1981.
For the last 30 years, politicians and the media have frequently recounted the same story about the patriation of Canada’s constitution and the adoption of the Charter of Rights. Most of the credit in this version goes to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, but three others are recognized for breaking an impasse in the negotiations in 1981: federal justice minister Jean Chrétien, Saskatchewan attorney general Roy Romanow, and Ontario attorney general Roy McMurtry. In his memoirs, Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford argues that the key intervention came not from Romanow, Chrétien, and McMcMurtry, but from Peckford himself and the members of the Newfoundland delegation.
Brian Peckford’s new memoir, published by Flanker Press.
The Patriation Agreement of November 5, 1981 was a historic event for at least three reasons: it meant that Canada could amend its constitution without any reference to the British Parliament as had been the requirement before this agreement; it introduced a Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and various important additional amendments were accepted.
The process by which the Agreement happened, especially the evening/night of November 4th and 5th, has been inaccurately described almost from the time the agreement was announced.
The Honourable Peter Lougheed, former premier of Alberta (1971 to 1982) and president of the Historica Council (2003 to 2007)(courtesy Historica Foundation).
The Historica-Dominion Institute mourns the passing of Peter Lougheed, a great Albertan and Canadian. Along with his many achievements on behalf of his country, the Institute in particular is grateful for his commitment to history, shown through his constant support of our initiatives. In 1978, when Mr. Lougheed was asked, in his capacity as Alberta premier, to support the creation of The Canadian Encyclopedia, he immediately agreed – and also offered to underwrite the Encyclopedia’s development cost. He then decided to provide additional funding in order to send a copy to every school and library in Canada. This gesture became Alberta’s gift to Canada, given on the occasion of Alberta’s 75th anniversary. That grant marked the first in support of the Encyclopedia, a national resource that has now been available to Canadians for almost 30 years (available today in online form.)
Peter Lougheed and Mel Hurtig leaf through the new The Canadian Encyclopedia which Hurtig’s company had just published on June 28, 1985. (Photograph by: Keith McNicol , edmontonjournal.com)
When I arrived in Edmonton in 1980 to become the editor of The Canadian Encyclopedia I was only dimly aware of the presence of the man at the epicentre of both the oil boom and the fight with Ottawa. Having lived in Ottawa I had experienced the power that another man, Pierre Trudeau, had over the political landscape, but I soon learned that Peter Lougheed had equally put his stamp on the dramatic decade of the 1970s.
Arguably the most famous film ever shot in Canada, Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North was first shown to the public 90 years ago in New York City and then around the world in the summer of 1922. It caused an immediate sensation with its real-life depiction of the people and their struggle to survive the harsh landscape of Canada’s Far North. The film went on to exert considerable influence on the development of documentary films worldwide, although the word “documentary” was not in use when the film was made. It came later, in 1926, when Scottish film critic John Grierson, the man who would go on to create the National Film Board of Canada in 1939, coined the word to describe Moana of the South Seas, another Flaherty film.
John Mason compiled the information for his map during his time as governor of Cupids Cove. Like many maps of the period, it was printed with north at the bottom (courtesy Centre for Newfoundland Studies, Memorial University Libraries).
Cuper’s Cove, Newfoundland (now Cupids) was England’s first attempt at organized colonization in Canada and the second plantation in North America (Jamestown, Virginia being the first in 1607). One of the first settlers in John Guy’s colony at Cuper’s Cove was Thomas Willoughby. He was the black sheep of his family and at age nineteen, he was sent along with his guardian Henry Crout to Cuper’s Cove to “reform himself.”
When Ken Taylor arrived in Iran for his first ambassadorial posting, he had no reason to expect anything but a serene time as a promoter of Canadian business and trade. Instead, he ran headlong into the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iranian Revolution.
Entrance to the TIFF Lightbox Theatre (Image: TIFF).
“If there is anything the Festival of Festivals should avoid becoming, it is the Cannes Film Festival.” Jay Scott, film critic, The Globe and Mail, 1981
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), now in its 37th year, is one of the world’s great film festivals without question. Second only to the Cannes Film Festival in terms of audience/press attendance, prestige and number of films screened; yet, since it opened its impressive five-story digs – known by its corporate name, the Bell Lightbox – in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district in 2010, many questions remain unanswered. The big one being: how do you fill the 1,400 seats in the five state-of-the-art cinemas beyond the festival’s 11-day run during the first two weeks of September?
Thomas Chandler Haliburton in a lithograph by E.U. Eddis (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-6086).
“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.
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.