The History of Canadian Thanksgiving

Proclaimed by Parliament in 1879 as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed,” Thanksgiving draws upon 3 traditions: harvest celebrations in European peasant societies for which the symbol was the cornucopia (horn of plenty); formal observances, such as that celebrated by Martin FROBISHER in the eastern Arctic in 1578–the first North American Thanksgiving–in which Frobisher and his crew gave thanks for their well-being; and the Pilgrims’ celebration of their first harvest in Massachusetts (1621) involving the uniquely American turkey, squash and pumpkin.

The celebration was brought to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and the citizens of Halifax commemorated the end of the SEVEN YEARS’ WAR (1763) with a day of Thanksgiving. Loyalists brought the celebration to other parts of the country. Starting in 1879, Thanksgiving was officially celebrated annually in Canada. Parliament declared 6 Nov 1879 as a day of Thanksgiving; it was celebrated as a national rather than a religious holiday. Later and earlier dates were observed, the most popular being the third Monday in Oct. After the First World War, Thanksgiving and Armistice (later Remembrance) Day were celebrated in the same week. It was not until 31 Jan 1957 that Parliament proclaimed the observance of Thanksgiving on the second Monday in Oct. E.C. DRURY, the former “Farmer-Premier” of Ontario lamented later that “the farmers’ own holiday has been stolen by the towns” to give them a long weekend when the weather was better.

A large crowd outside the church in Denain, France, where a service of thanksgiving was held Oct 1918 to commemorate the town’s deliverance by Canadian troops. It was attended by HRH Edward, Prince of Wales, and General Sir Arthur Currie (courtesy Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada, PA-40239 and PA-40240).

The First Thanksgiving Disputed
Some people have argued that the ceremony of giving thanks celebrated by Martin Frobisher was not a “real” Thanksgiving. The argument stems from the reason for giving thanks; according to American disputes of the Canadian claim to the first Thanksgiving, the holiday can only refer to the history of the harvest. Europeans who brought the tradition to the New World did mark the day by giving thanks for a successful harvest. However, the Canadian and American holidays are no longer restricted to harvest activities but have become a day for gathering family to give thanks for their general well-being. One might observe that the tradition has come full circle.



A Brief History of Human Sex Heather Whipps

Birds do it, bees do it, humans since the dawn of time have done it.

But just how much has the act really changed through the millennia and even in past decades? Are humans doing it more? Are we doing it better? Sort of, say scientists. But it’s how people fess up to the truth about their sex lives that has changed the most over the years.

Humans have basically been the same anatomically for about 100,000 years—so what is safe to say is that if we enjoy it now, then so did our cave-dwelling ancestors and everyone else since, experts say.


“Just as our bodies tell us what we might like to eat, or when we should go to sleep, they lay down for us our pattern of lust,” says University of Toronto psychologist Edward Shorter. “Sex has always offered pleasure.”

Hard wired

Sexuality has a lot to do with our biological framework, agreed Joann Rodgers, director of media relations and lecturer at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

“People and indeed all animals are hard wired to seek out sex and to continue to do so,” Rodgers said in a recent interview. “I imagine that is evidence that people at least like sex and even if they don’t they engage in it as a biological imperative.”

It is nearly impossible to tell, however, whether people enjoyed sex more 50 years ago or 50,000 years ago, said David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of “The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating” (Basic Books, 2003).

There is “no reason to think that we do more now than in the past, although we are certainly more frank about it,” Buss told LiveScience.

Indeed, cultural restraints—rather than anything anatomical—have had the biggest effect on our sexual history, Shorter says.

“To be sure, what people actually experience is always a mixture of biological and social conditioning: Desire surges from the body, the mind interprets what society will accept and what not, and the rest of the signals are edited out by culture,” he writes in his book, “Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire” (University of Toronto Press, 2005).

That’s not to say that cultural norms keep people from exploring the taboo, but only what is admitted to openly, according to archaeologist Timothy Taylor of Great Britain’s University of Bradford.

“The idea that there is a sexual line that must not be crossed but in practice often is, is far older than the story of Eve’s temptation by the serpent,” he writes in “The History of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture” (Bantam Books, 1996).

Modern advances

Religion especially has held powerful sway over the mind’s attitude towards the body’s carnal desires, most sexual psychologists agree. Men and women who lived during the pious Middle Ages were certainly affected by the fear of sin, Shorter said, though he notes there were other inhibiting factors to consider, too.

“The low priority attached to sexual pleasure by people who lived in distant times is inexplicable unless one considers the hindrances that existed in those days,” Shorter writes. He points especially to the 1,000 years of misery and disease—often accompanied by some very un-sexy smells and itching—that led up to the Industrial Revolution. “After the mid-nineteenth century, these hindrances start to be removed, and the great surge towards pleasure begins.”

Many historians and psychologists see the late 1800s as a kind of watershed period for sexuality in the Western world. With the industrial revolution pushing more and more people together—literally—in dense, culturally-mixed neighborhoods, attitudes towards sex became more liberal.

The liberalization of sexuality kicked into high gear by the 1960s with the advent of the birth control pill, letting women get in on the fun and act on the basis of desire as men always had, according to Shorter.

“The 1960s vastly accelerated this unhesitant willingness to grab sex for the sheer sake of physical pleasure,” he said, noting that the trend ofopenly seeking out sex just because it feels good, rather than for procreation alone, has continued on unabated into the new millennium.

Global variations

But despite the modern tendency towards sexual freedom, even today there are vast differences in attitudes across the world, experts say.

“Cultures vary tremendously in how early they start having sex, how open they are about it, and how many sexual partners they have,” said Buss, noting that Swedes generally have many partners in their lifetime and the Chinese typically have few.

An informal 2005 global sex survey sponsored by the condom company Durex confirmed Buss’ views. Just 3 percent of Americans polled called their sex lives “monotonous,” compared to a sizable 26 percent of Indian respondents. While 53 percent of Norwegians wanted more sex than they were having (a respectable 98 times per year, on average), 81 percent of the Portuguese were quite happy with their national quota of 108 times per year.

Though poll numbers and surveys offer an interesting window into the sex lives of strangers, they’re still constrained by the unwillingness of people to open up about a part of their lives that’s usually kept behind closed doors.

And what if we weren’t bound by such social limitations? Taylor offers the promiscuous—and very laid-back—bonobo chimpanzee as a utopian example.

“Bonobos have sex most of the time … a fairly quick, perfunctory, and relaxed activity that functions as a social cement,” he writes. “But for cultural constraints, we would all behave more like bonobos. In physical terms, there is actually nothing that bonobos do that some humans do not sometimes do.”

The Story of Halloween

The Story of Halloween



Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman’s Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.


Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. It was “he” who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.


The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the “season of the sun” and the beginning of “the season of darkness and cold.”


On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.

When the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.


The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”). The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.

During the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. One of these was the festival know as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens. It was also celebrated around the 1st of November. After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic’s Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed becoming 1 major fall holiday.


The next influence came with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain. In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church would make November 1st a church holiday to honor all the saints. This day was called All Saint’s Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later the Church would make November 2nd a holy day. It was called All Souls Day and was to honor the dead. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.

But the spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, Oct. 31, people continued to celebrate the festivals of Samhain and Pomona Day. Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow’s Eve, Hallowe’en, and then – Halloween.


The Halloween we celebrate today includes all of these influences, Pomona Day’s apples, nuts, and harvest, the Festival of Samhain’s black cats, magic, evil spirits and death, and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.

What is the origin of Halloween colours?

Have you ever wondered about the origin of Halloween colors? It is the custom of the celebration to use orange and black in decorations and costumes. Retailers embrace this holiday because it’s one of the most lucrative of all. 

As the Celtics are given the most credit for beginning the holiday as the festival of the harvest, a color of autumn is used. Orange, being the most prevalent autumn tone, is derived from the pumpkin and leaves. 

Many people use pumpkins hollowed out as urns or vases to hold masses of fall mums or carve them into ghoulish or scary jack-o-lanterns with lit candles or mini electric lights inside to cast an eerie glow. 

The color orange also signifies strength and endurance. We don’t know if that is for the holiday or strength and endurance at the harvest time. Since the Celtics were involved in wars with Julius Caesar, they may have believed the color orange gave courage to those who wore the color during battle. Little is know about this idea. 

Halloween was once (and still may be in some areas) a festival of the dead. Death is usually associated with darkness and absence of light signified by the color black. 

Black cats, witches hats, cauldrons, and streamers are a few of the items that are reminders of the holiday. Most candies at this time of year are in black and orange wrappers. 

Traditionally, Halloween is always celebrated after sunset. The blackness of the night cloaks the revelers and hides their misdeeds or tricks if they don’t receive any treats. 

Walking into any retail store that carries Halloween costumes, candy, or decorations, you will find masses of black and orange items. You know that it’s Halloween time, because the distinctive color combination is only used for this season. Not too many people use this color combination for their house or clothing! 

The exact origin of Halloween colors is unknown but we all know that with practice and use, the uncommon becomes commonplace.

Slumach’s Lost Creek Gold Mine – Pitt Lake’s Lost Gold Mine


OK folks, for today’s history lesson with Andy.

Early on a January morning in 1891, Slumach’s life ended at the gallows. The Katzie Indian
had killed a man called Louie Bee. Bee and the sole witness, Seymour, were sitting in a
canoe when Slumach shot Bee from the shore of the Alouette River. The victim, “a welldeveloped
man of about 25 or 30 years of age,” according to the physician who did the
post-mortem, was described in court as quarrelsome, always harassing Slumach, with
threats of violence that made the old man fear for his life. Did the elderly Slumach feel
threatened by the man approaching the shore—did he act to protect himself?

Whether he killed in self-defence or not, at the time under Canadian law the penalty for
murder was death by hanging. This was a pretty straightforward case for the Crown, and
after deliberating for all of one quarter of an hour, the jury returned with the verdict that
Slumach was guilty of murder. Today, considering the absence of any indication of
premeditation in testimonies heard, and the known threats and provocations by Bee, a court
might come up with a verdict of “voluntarily manslaughter.” Taking into account Slumach’s
advanced age and that this was a first offence, punishment would probably be a few years
in prison. But in 1891 under Canadian law the Crown claimed Slumach’s life.

Under normal circumstances old Slumach and his tragic ending would have been long
forgotten. Both victim and culprit were without social status in the white community, and
the crime had no exceptionally daring or gruesome elements that could give it a place in
local memory. What assured Slumach’s name a permanent spot in local lore was his
supposed connection to the legendary gold of Pitt Lake.
The legend of Pitt Lake gold, or Slumach’s gold as it became known, has its roots in the
years of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, when maps were printed in California for the comfort
of gold hunters heading north to the Fraser. These maps showed words like “Gold” and
“Indian Diggings” in the country above Pitt Lake. Stories about an “Indian” finding gold in
the Pitt Lake area kept circulating. In a 1915 interview Wilbur Armstrong, a Washington
prospector preparing for his tenth and last search for Pitt Lake gold, identified the Indian
who first discovered the gold as “Slumagh…hanged in the jail yard at New Westminster in
1891.” Some prospectors at that time made money guiding gold hunting parties into the
rugged Pitt Lake country, and a good story was needed to attract and convince investors
and customers. Armstrong and his colleagues honed the old stories to perfection, creating
the basis for all later tales.

In the 1940s Slumach was given a new life. Pulp writers and journalists made Slumach into
a much younger man, the centre attraction of New Westminster, where he supposedly
frequented the bars, paying with raw gold. He received the flattering attention of dance-hall
girls, and he took some of them with him into the wilderness—none returned. The press
hanged Slumach again, this time for the murder of one of the girls, and had him taking the
secret of the location of the mine with him, placing a curse on anyone trying to find it.

If indeed anyone had walked around town with as much gold as the stories want us to
believe Slumach did, there would have been a riot in New Westminster. It would be a
miracle if Slumach had survived the torture of the mob trying to beat the secret of the
location of the gold out of him, and there would have been a stampede to the Pitt Lake
area. In those gold-crazed late 1800s the newspapers would have been full of stories about
Slumach and Pitt Lake gold—but there is nothing about that in the local press of that time.
Nevertheless Slumach’s name has remained linked to the legendary Pitt Lake gold to the
present day, and there are many who still believe in the legend of his finding of an
Eldorado, out there in the wilderness of Pitt Lake.

We know very little about the real Slumach. The 1898 fire in New Westminster destroyed
the records of the Indian Agent, and an important source of Katzie history went up in
flames. In the surviving documents Slumach’s name only appears in an 1879 census
showing him, “Slum.ook,” as one of seven adult Katzie staying at the Pitt River village at
the south end of Pitt Lake. Slumach’s brother Smum-qua (Tsa mem.kwahm) was the head
of that settlement.

From the court records we know that Slumach had a daughter called Annie, who was
present at the trial, and a 1926 newspaper article mentions Slumach’s widow. What else we
know is all related to the crime. For their stories most journalists and writers relied heavily
on the often flawed reports in New Westminster’s Columbian of 1890 and 1891. Some
writers have excused themselves from studying the legal records by claiming that they were

History of Education in Canada



“GASP”, it is time for the ever dreaded school buzzer to resume. As you sharpen your pencils and label your belongings I thought I would share this from,

The history of education in Canada

The history of education is a central theme in Canada’s social, economic and political history. In the 17th century education was usually an informal process in which skills and values were passed from one generation to the next by parents, relatives and older siblings. Four hundred years later, informal learning has become secondary to extensive systems of formal schooling under the jurisdiction of provincial governments.

The Canadian insistence on the collective concerns of peace, order and good government has meant that state projects such as schooling are seen in terms of their overall impact on society. In order to understand the growth of schooling in Canada, special attention must be paid both to official policies and the changing nature of children’s lives.

Prairie School
Prairie School
Coldridge School, circa 1905 (courtesy Saskatchewan Archives Board).

Education in New France
During the French regime in Canada, the process of learning was integrated into everyday life. While the French government supported the responsibility of the Catholic Church for teaching religion, mathematics, history, natural science, and French, the FAMILY was the basic unit of social organization and the main context within which almost all learning took place. In the labour-intensive economy of the 17th and 18th centuries, families relied on the economic contributions of their children, who were actively engaged in productive activity. Children learned skills such as gardening, spinning and land clearing from other family members. Young males were trained for various trades through an APPRENTICESHIP system.

Schooling in Rural New France

Similarly, because the population was small and dispersed, it was usually the family that provided religious instruction and, in some cases, instruction in reading and writing. In certain areas, parish priests establishedpetites écoles in which they taught catechism and other subjects. However, the majority of the population in New France, particularly in the rural areas, could not read and write. In the early 17th century, about one-quarter of the settlers were literate, but by the turn of the 18th century, the preoccupation of survival had taken its toll on the literacy rate and only one person in seven could sign his or her name.

Schooling in the 17th Century

In the towns of New France, formal education was more important for a variety of purposes. The JESUITS,RÉCOLLETSURSULINES, the CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME, and other religious orders provided elementary instruction in catechism, reading, writing, and arithmetic. More advanced instruction was available for young men who might become priests or enter the professions. By the mid-17th century, a course in classical studies, grammar and theology was available at the COLLÈGE DES JÉSUITES, founded in 1635. In the 1660s Bishop LAVAL founded the SÉMINAIRE DE QUÉBEC, which later became UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL.

Formal instruction for females was quite limited and usually did not extend beyond religious instruction and skills such as needlework. However, girls who lived in the countryside may have been better educated than boys as a result of the efforts of the sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, who established schools in rural areas as well as in towns, and travelled as itinerant teachers.

Education as Mission

While only a minority of colonists in New France received instruction in an institutional setting, CatholicMISSIONARIES played an important role in formal education. The Récollets hoped to undermine the traditional culture and belief systems of the aboriginal people by educating the young boys and girls in the Catholic religion and in French customs. The Jesuits, who also embarked on an ambitious program to assimilate  aboriginal people into French culture, compiled translations of the aboriginal tongues and established various schools.

Other groups, such as the Ursulines, focused their educational efforts on aboriginal girls. However, the Catholic Church’s missionary efforts met with minimal success and the educational programs had little impact on the society of aboriginal people, in which learning continued to be viewed as an ongoing part of everyday activity (see ABORIGINAL PEOPLE, EDUCATION).

<i>School At Canoe Cove, P.E.I.</i>
School At Canoe Cove, P.E.I.
Painting by Robert Harris, oil on canvas. This scene illustrates a Prince Edward Island one-room schoolhouse in the early 1900s, where children of various ages sat together and were instructed by one teacher (courtesy Confederation Centre Art Gallery/CAGH-72).
Ryerson, Egerton
Ryerson, Egerton
School promoters such as Egerton Ryerson, the founder of Canadian curriculum development, saw state-controlled schooling as the primary means of assimilating “alien” elements (courtesy PAO/S-2641).
Prairie Classroom, 1915
Prairie Classroom, 1915
Prairie classroom at Bruderheim, Alberta. Prairie schools were to be the vehicles by which immigrants would be assimilated (courtesy Glenbow Archives).

Schooling after the British Conquest of 1759-60
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the family remained the unrivalled setting for education; few children in what was then British North America received formal instruction either from tutors or in schools. The pattern began to change during this period, however, as the British government looked to education as a way of promoting cultural identification with Protestantism, the English language, and British customs.

In the years after the Conquest of 1759-60, the British authorities were exceedingly concerned about the strong French Canadian presence in the colony, and they tried repeatedly to assist in the establishment of schools that were outside the control of religious authorities. These efforts were undermined by the Catholic Church and, more importantly, by the disinterest of local communities, in which education was associated more with households than classrooms.

However, the concept of schooling became more widespread among social leaders during the early 19th century. In these years, politicians, churchmen and educators debated questions of educational financing, control and participation, and by the 1840s the structure of the modern SCHOOL SYSTEMS can clearly be discerned in an emerging official consensus.

The establishment of school systems across Canada during the 19th century followed a strikingly similar form and chronology due to the complex and often competing ambitions of both official educators and parents. Within this similarity, however, were some notable differences related to important social, cultural and political distinctions.

The general similarity among school systems in Canada emerged from the ambitions of educational leaders (appropriately described by historians as “school promoters”) throughout the mid-19th century, and the willingness of many parents (though certainly not all) to send their children to school whenever material conditions made it possible.

The fact that leading educators were so consistent in their ambitions is not surprising since they not only read each other’s writings, but also were often in touch with each other. The leading figure in Ontario, EGERTON RYERSON, worked in collaboration with Jean-Baptiste Meilleur in Québec, as well as John Jessop in British Columbia. In turn, these school promoters operated in an international context. For example, Egerton Ryerson visited more than 20 countries during 1844 and 1845 when he was developing his proposals for a public school system.

Leading educators, or school promoters, argued that mass schooling could instill appropriate modes of thought and behaviour into children. In their minds, the purpose of mass schooling did not primarily involve the acquisition of academic knowledge. School systems were designed to solve a wide variety of problems ranging from crime to poverty, and from idleness to vagrancy.

Educators related these potential and actual problems to 3 main causes: the impact of constant and substantial immigration; the transition from agricultural to industrial capitalism; and the process of state formation in which citizens came to exercise political power. While all 3 of these causes played key roles in the minds of school promoters across Canada, the relative importance that each educator attributed to them depended on the regional and cultural context in which the school promoter functioned.

The Mid-19th Century
In mid-19th century Ontario, the predominantly rural population (with only smaller commercial cities) meant that fears about the impact of massive economic change were based on developments elsewhere rather than immediate experience. However, massive immigration and the importance of state formation were very visible at the local level.

During the REBELLIONS OF 1837, rural and village leaders in a variety of communities in central British North America took up arms in pursuit of political change. To many community leaders, the various uprisings supported the argument that school systems were needed to form the rising generation of citizens.

School promoters in Ontario often opposed the employment of teachers or textbooks from the United States. Instead, they imported certain components of Irish schools; most notably, the Irish readers which had been written to accommodate a Protestant and Catholic population. This strategy also made sense in that Irish immigrants formed the majority in mid-19th century Ontario.

In Québec, the Rebellions were even more important than they were in Ontario, and political concerns loomed especially large in the minds of educational leaders. Given the leadership role of the Catholic Church, however, the construction of an educational state lagged behind while secular and religious leaders debated the division of power and responsibility.  Québec set up its first Ministry of Public Instruction in 1868, but abolished it in 1875 under pressure from the Catholic Church, which deemed it was alone capable of dispensing education. Thereafter, Québec was the only province without a Minister of Education.

Certainly, immigrants were very visible all along the St Lawrence River extending from the port of Québec City, but many were passing through the province on their way to more western parts of the continent. Similarly, Québec’s economy was undergoing significant change, but only in Montréal could educators argue realistically that schools were needed to offset the negative consequences of processes such as industrialization.

Education on the West Coast
On the West Coast, for example, immigration was the primary factor in shaping the mass schooling movement, but it did so in ways quite different from those on the East Coast of the continent.

In the case of British Columbia, the key distinction was the arrival of substantial numbers of Asians, beginning with Chinese men who worked in the mines of the Cariboo and then as labourers for railway building. In the early 20th century, Japanese immigrants became a significant group in the fishing industry and to a lesser extent in other forms of commerce and farming.

In the context of a predominantly British-origin population, significant Asian immigration fuelled fears about the future of British Columbia as a “white province” and about immediate economic competition. Anti-Asian riots and pressure by groups such as the Asiatic Exclusion League resulted by 1923 in legislation to curtail Asian immigration (including a closed door to the Chinese). During the Second World War  continued racism led to the uprooting from coastal villages of those considered to be “Japanese,” including Canadian-born residents of Japanese ancestry, and their forced relocation to internment camps.

Religion and Minority-Language Education
A great deal of educational conflict and controversy has involved religion and language. The establishment of schools brought local practice under official scrutiny and forced communities to conform to prescribed standards of formal instruction which did not accord with the reality of a diverse society.

For example, religious groups did not always agree on the desirability of nondenominational Christian curricula, and their protests led to the growth of parallel Catholic and Protestant school systems in Québec, the provision for SEPARATE SCHOOLS in provinces such as Ontario, and a completely denominationally based school system in Newfoundland. These developments were legally guaranteed by the Constitution Act, 1867, which not only assigned education to the provinces but also enshrined the continued legitimacy of denominational schools that were in place in the provinces at the time that they joined Confederation.

In the context of higher levels of Asian immigration and rising prejudice, schooling developed somewhat differently on the West Coast than in the rest of Canada. One noteworthy difference was the emergence of a trend for examinations, especially the first standardized “intelligence tests” during the early 20th century. Somewhat more than provinces such as Ontario, and considerably more than Québec, educators in British Columbia seized upon “scientific” testing as an appropriate way to classify students.

The British Columbian leaders focused considerable attention on Asian students and were careful to examine test results in light of each student’s ancestry. The consistent finding that Asian-origin students scored very well astounded educational officials and inspired them not only to concoct explanations based on the selective nature of immigration, but also to continue testing in the pursuit of educational “progress” for the British-origin population of the province.

Growing acceptance of public education
Changing parental strategies help explain why children were sent to school in increasing numbers and for longer periods during the course of the 19th century. The development of agrarian, merchant and industrial capitalism heightened perceptions of economic insecurity. Everyone became aware that while great fortunes could be made, they could also be lost just as quickly. The obvious insecurity of even well-paying jobs or successful businesses came to loom increasingly large in the minds of parents planning for their children. One response was to have fewer children and to invest more in their education. By the mid-19th century, many parents across English Canada were practising contraception in an attempt to raise a smaller number of  children with a better quality of life. By the time compulsory attendance legislation was passed in the Canadian provinces (except Québec) during the later 19th century, only a minority of parents were not already enrolling their children in class.

Some resistance to schooling did develop, particularly from those reluctant to pay extra taxes, from those who did not approve of the local teacher, and from those who wished to maintain the connection between formal religious instruction and mass schooling. In cities, truant officers rounded up children (particularly from working-class and immigrant backgrounds) and sent them to residential “industrial” schools. However, this resistance was generally focused on the form and cost rather than the need for mass schooling; thus, compromises such as the acceptance of parochial schools (those funded by religious bodies) resolved some of the conflicts. For the most part, the attendance requirements of the compulsory laws were met well before the actual legislation was introduced.

Motivation and patterns of use
Why many parents believed that schooling would improve the prospects of their children was primarily connected to the value attributed to academic training. Unlike the emphasis of school promoters on character formation, the shaping of values, the inculcation of political and social attitudes, and proper behaviour, many parents supported schooling because they wanted their children to learn to read, write and do arithmetic.

Interestingly, the perceived value of this academic training was not necessarily dependent on finishing any particular level. While some parents sent their children to school to obtain credentials, many simply sent them whenever other priorities permitted. For example, the attendance of male teenagers declined in communities where industrial jobs were plentiful.

Similarly, children’s attendance varied seasonally, particularly in rural areas, where family labour demands were the first priority. There was no neat transition from school to work at any point in growing up. Rather, many children worked and attended school with changing frequencies during the year and from year to year; and, in most cases, their final departure from school was not strongly related to the acquisition of a diploma.

The French Canadian Exception
However, French Canadians (both in Québec and other provinces) developed a generally weaker attachment to the importance of schooling. Although francophones did begin practising contraception by the mid-19th century, they did so with much less intensity than any other group. In the same way, francophone children increasingly attended school, but to a considerably lesser extent than the average elsewhere. Literacy rates among francophones remained far below the Canadian standard through the early 20th century. Overall, most francophones did not seek to raise a smaller number of children in the same way as most other groups after 1850 and before the mid-20th century.

The distinct family reproduction strategies of francophones  was a result of many factors, but one important element was the continuing importance of child labour to familial economic activities. To a somewhat greater degree than other groups, francophones continued to seek material survival and security by combining the labour of family members. This strategy was not only apparent in expanding rural areas (both in Québec and Ontario), but also in wage labour settings in villages and cities. Only in the period following the Second World War would a new relationship between school and society take hold among francophones.

The Quiet Revolution
By the beginning of the 1960s, the Department of Public Instruction in Québec managed over 1,500 school boards, each with its own programs, textbooks and criteria for graduation. In many rural areas, children of different grade levels shared a single one-room schoolhouse. The Liberal government of Jean Lesage saw the need for change and appointed a major commission of inquiry of inquiry on education, which was chaired by Msgr.Alphonse-Marie Parent, at the start of what came to be called the QUIET REVOLUTION. In response to the resulting report’s recommendations the Québec government revamped the school system in an attempt to enhance the francophone population’s general educational level and to produce a better-qualified labour force. Catholic Church leadership was rejected in favour of government administration and vastly increased budgets were given to school boards across the province.

The major changes to schooling in Québec were at the heart of the Quiet Revolution. Despite the reluctance of Catholic Church authorities, the Québec government portrayed educational progress as a key strategy for becoming “maîtres chez nous” (“masters in our own house”). More academically focused schooling was promoted as a “national” project; this better education would lead to economic and cultural renewal, and Québec francophones would become part of a fully modern society.

In keeping with the aspirations of the Quiet Revolution, the value of schooling for the Québécois was described in two ways. First, leaders emphasized that a legacy of high illiteracy and low attendance rates had to be rejected in order to achieve an appropriate societal level of modernity. Education was promoted as an inherently valuable possession required in contemporary civilization.

Secondly, the revamped school system was designed to produce a modern Québec society by ensuring economic competitiveness. Better skills in mathematics and science were particularly seen as an important strategy for overcoming British-origin oppression dating from the Conquest of 1763. The long-established emphasis on religion and the humanities in the francophone schools was not immediately abandoned, but their importance steadily eroded after the early 1960s.

The most controversial specific strategy was the language legislation of the 1970s, BILL 101, that insisted on French-language schooling for the children of immigrants to the province. This legislation was designed to reverse the traditional pattern in which immigrants integrated more into the anglophone than the francophone population of the province.

The promotion of educational restructuring as a national project in Québec attracted widespread support. Indeed, since the 1960s, officials and parents in Québec have supported higher-quality education with considerable enthusiasm despite massive tax increases to finance the changes.

Parents also began embracing the ambition to raise a smaller number of children in whom greater educational investment could be made. During the course of the 1950s and early 1960s, the birth rate in Québec dropped sharply, moving the provincial average from its traditional place at the highest level in Canada and the United States to a position at the lowest level. Interestingly, both religious and secular leaders in Québec opposed this trend — it threatened to decrease the relative importance of the francophone population. Despite this opposition, parents continued to limit family size to an unprecedented extent as part of their changing strategies of family reproduction.

Changing Approaches to Education Across Canada
The development of public school systems in the 19th century was marked by the standardization of textbooks, teacher training, classroom organization, and curriculum. Children were viewed as clay to be molded in desired forms, but over time a view of children as inherently distinct with varying levels of potential (that is, as seedlings that had to be cultivated according to their individual natures) came to prevail.

The changing view of children contributed to the growth of new educational programs (especially at the secondary level) designed to accommodate the differing abilities and potential of different students. Most importantly, technical and vocational courses were developed for students who were deemed unsuitable for further academic study. Not surprisingly, the criteria used for assigning children to various courses reflected cultural and social prejudices more than intellectual assessments. Measures such as IQ tests, developed by the 1920s, revealed unintentionally more about the school administrators than the students, but they were nevertheless used to place different students in different courses of study after the elementary years.

This approach has been constantly revised during the 20th century, especially after the Second World War, when the expansion of post-secondary institutions provided a new way of sorting different students into different programs. In these years, educational debate focused on the content of the appropriate CURRICULUM for various age groups.

Religion and Language
A great deal of educational conflict and controversy has involved religion and language. The establishment of schools brought local practice under official scrutiny and forced communities to conform to prescribed standards of formal instruction which did not accord with the reality of a diverse society.

For example, religious groups did not always agree on the desirability of nondenominational Christian curricula, and their protests led to the growth of parallel Catholic and Protestant school systems in Québec, the provision for SEPARATE SCHOOLS in provinces such as Ontario, and a completely denominationally based school system in Newfoundland. These developments were legally guaranteed by the Constitution Act, 1867, which not only assigned education to the provinces but also enshrined the continued legitimacy of denominational schools that were in place in the provinces at the time that they joined Confederation.

Culture and Discrimination in Education
Canada’s educational history has been marked by constant conflict over minority-language education. Most controversies have involved francophones outside Québec, but recently the language question has affected Québec anglophones as well as heritage language instruction to children of immigrant groups (see SECOND-LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION). These conflicts reflect the fact that within the general expansion of standardized public schooling, there have been competing educational visions  among policymakers and parents.

Similarly, within the concept of a standard education, there has been a sharp distinction between males and females. The ideal public schoolhouse of the mid-19th century included separate entrances, classrooms and recess areas for boys and for girls. In addition, the redefinition of the family as less of an economic unit of production than an association based on emotional attachment was accompanied by the idea that girls should be educated for household responsibility while boys should be trained as breadwinners.

By the late 19th century, girls attended HOME ECONOMICS programs to learn cooking and cleaning skills while boys, especially from working-class families, learned manual skills related to factory production. The idealization of women as wives and mothers, as well as the relative lack of other employment opportunities for women, contributed to the feminization of the elementary-school teaching force.

While the proper sphere for women was considered the home, young single women came to be viewed as ideal teachers for younger children who could benefit from their supposedly inherent nurturing qualities. Women teachers were poorly paid and were supervised by male officials who saw themselves as the real educators. Even in the later 20th century, many of the earlier patterns remained unchanged. The history of education has therefore been quite different for men and women.

Formal education also had different implications for Canadians of non-European ancestry. The ambitions of educators to encourage the assimilation of aboriginal peoples continued unchanged after the time of New France. In the 19th and 20th centuries, boarding schools were a major strategy for separating aboriginal children from their own people, but this approach only served to confuse the children culturally and damage them psychologically. (see RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS)

Recently, official educators have made efforts to collaborate with aboriginal peoples in developing educational programs that respect cultural identity.

The history of Canadian education also includes the establishment in the 19th century of separate schools for blacks in Ontario and Nova Scotia and special regulations for Asians in BC. Such discrimination is no longer official policy in Canada, but more subtle and informal racism is still apparent in some educational programs and textbooks.

The history of education in Canada, as in other Western countries, has involved the growth of formal instruction funded by taxes and supervised by the state. This growth resulted from concern about cultural, moral and political behaviour, the emergence of a wage-labour economy, changing concepts of childhood and the family, and the general reorganization of society into institutions.

By the late 20th century, schooling had become part of an institutional network which included hospitals, businesses, prisons, and welfare agencies. Various groups experienced this development in different ways, sometimes by official design and sometimes by their own choice. As a result, there are many histories of Canadian education and important distinctions within the general trends.


Chad Gaffield. Revised by Dominique Millette.


Looking over our ancestors shoulders today in history (one time thing)



325 – Council of Nicaea ends with adoption of the Nicene Creed establishing the doctrine of the Holy Trinity
357 – Battle at Straatsburg: Julianus beats Alamannen, Chonodomarius caught
1212 – Children’s cruisaders under Nicolas (10) reach Genoa
1248 – The Dutch city of Ommen receives city rights and fortification rights from Otto III, the Archbishop of Utrecht.
1330 – AntiPope Nicolaas V overthrows himself
1425 – Countess Jacoba of Bavaria escapes from jail
1485 – Battle at Bosworth Fields: Henry Tudor beats king Richard III
1499 – Battle at Sapienza: Turkish fleet beats Venetians
1537 – The Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army, and the second most senior, is formed.
1540 – Explorer Hernando de Alarcon travels up Colorado River
1566 – Iconoclastic fury begins in Dutch province Utrecht
1580 – Battle of Alcantara, Spain defeats Portugal
1609 – Galileo demonstrates his 1st telescope to Venetian lawmakers
1628 – Assault on sultan of Mantarams of Batavia
1689 – Battle at Charleroi: Spanish & English armies chase French
1689 – Montreal taken by Iroquois
1698 – Czar Peter the Great returns to Moscow after trip through West-Europe
1704 – Battle at Malaga: French vs English & Dutch fleet
1718 – Hundreds of French colonists arrive in Louisiana; New Orleans, found
Captain/Explorer James CookCaptain/Explorer James Cook1768 – Captain James Cook departs from Plymouth, England on his 1st voyage onboard the Endeavour bound for the Pacific Ocean
1795 – Curacao slaves opponents returns to St Christopher
1802 – Toussaint L’Ouverture imprisoned in Fort de Joux, Jura, France
1804 – Alice Meynell becomes 1st woman jockey (England)
1814 – British forces destroy Library of Congress, containing 3,000 books
1825 – Uruguay declares independence from Brazil (National Day)
1829 – Pres Jackson makes an offer to buy Texas, but Mexican government refuses
1830 – Belgium revolts against Netherlands and begins The Belgian Revolution
1835 – NY Sun publishes Moon hoax story about John Herschel
1862 – Secretary of War authorizes Gen Rufus Saxton to arm 5,000 slaves
1864 – Combination rail & ferry service available from SF to Alameda
1864 – Petersburg Campaign-Battle of Ream’s Station
1875 – Matthew Webb becomes 1st to swim English Channel (21h 45m)
1886 – 1st intl polo meet (US vs England)
1888 – 8th US Mens Tennis: Henry W Slocum Jr beats Howard A Taylor (64 61 60)
Russian Tsar Peter the GreatRussian Tsar Peter the Great1890 – Would be start of Eng/Aust Test Cricket at Old Trafford Washout
1894 – -26] Balinese troops assault Dutch army, 97 killed
1894 – Shibasaburo Kitasato discovers the infectious agent of the bubonic plague and publishes his findings in The Lancet.
1898 – 700 Greeks and 15 Englishmen are slaughtered by the Turks in Heraklion, Greece.
1904 – James J Jeffries TKOs Jack Munroe in 2 for heavyweight boxing title
1908 – Allen Winter wins US 1st $50,000 trotting race
1908 – National Association of Colored Nurses, forms
1910 – 30th US Mens Tennis: Wm Larned beats Thomas Bundy (61 57 60 68 61)
1910 – Yellow Cab is founded.
1912 – 1st time an aircraft recovers from a spin
1912 – Different nationalities battle with each other in Macedonia
1912 – The Kuomintang, the Chinese nationalist party, is founded.
1914 – -26] Belgian offensive at Antwerp
1914 – Belgium: German army begins 6 week plundering of Leuven Belgium
1914 – German Zeppelins bomb Antwerp Belgium, 10 die
1914 – German troops march into France pushes French army to the Sedan
1915 – Hurricane kills 275 in Galveston, Texas with $50 million damage
1916 – Dept of Interior forms National Park Service
1917 – 37th US Mens Tennis: R Lindley Murray beats N W Niles (57 86 63 63)
1919 – 1st scheduled passenger service by airplane (Paris-London)
1920 – 1st US woman to win in Olympics (Ethelda Bleibtrey)
1920 – Russia suffers a decisive defeat in the battle of Warsaw against Poland
1921 – US signs peace treaty with Germany
1921 – Yankee pitcher Harry Harper hits 3 batters in an inning tying record
1921 – The first skirmishes of the Battle of Blair Mountain occur.
1922 – Cubs beat Phillies 26-23 in highest scoring major-league game
1924 – International maritime treaty drawn
1924 – Wash Senator Walter Johnson 2nd no-hitter beats Browns, 2-0 in 7 inn
1925 – Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters organizes (Harlem NY)
1925 – Last Belgian troops vacate Duisburg
1926 – Pavlos Koundouris becomes president of Greece
1928 – Tri-City Rugby Football Union forms consisting of Moose Jaw, Regina & Winnipeg
1929 – Graf Zeppelin passes over SF for LA after trans-Pacific voyage
1932 – Amelia Earhart completes transcontinental flight
1936 – 3 Braves hit twice in an inning getting 2 hits each
1937 – Japanese fleet blockades Chinese coast
1940 – 1st (British) night bombing of Germany (Berlin)
1940 – Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia incorporated into Soviet Union
1941 – English & Russian troops attack pro-German Iran
1941 – German troops conquer Nowgorod, Leningrad
1942 – SS begins transporting Jews of Maastricht Neth
1943 – 10th NFL Chicago All-Star Game: All-Stars 27, Washington 7 (48,471)
1943 – German occupiers impose 72-hour work week
1943 – Lord Mountbatten appointed Supreme Allied Commander in SE Asia
1943 – Red Army under Gen Vatutin recaptures Achtyrka
1943 – US forces overrun New Georgia in Solomon Islands during WW II
1944 – France 2nd Tank division under General Leclerc reaches Notre Dame
1944 – Gen De Gaulle returns to Paris/walks Champs Elysees Paris
1944 – Paris liberated from Nazi occupation (Freedom Tuesday)
1944 – US 12nd Army corp reaches Troyes
1945 – Jewish immigrants are permitted to leave Mauritius for Palestine
1946 – 28th PGA Championship: Ben Hogan at Portland GC Portland Ore
1947 – Marion Carl in D-558-I sets world aircraft speech record, 1,047 kph
1948 – Bradman scores 150 in 212 minutes in his last innings at Lord’s
1950 – Pres Harry Truman orders army to seize control of RR to avert a strike
Middle/welterweight championship boxer Sugar Ray RobinsonMiddle/welterweight championship boxer Sugar Ray Robinson1950 – Sugar Ray Robinson KOs Jose Basora to win middleweight boxing title
1951 – Cleveland Indians win 16th straight home game
1952 – Det Tiger Virgil Trucks 2nd no-hitter of yr, beats Yankees, 1-0
1952 – Puerto Rico becomes a US commonwealth
1954 – Ivan Filin wins Berne marathon (2:25:26.6) (260m)
1955 – Last Soviet forces leave Austria
1956 – To make room for Enos Slaughter, NY Yanks release Phil Rizzuto
1957 – Prince Suvanna Phuma forms government in LAOS, with Pathet Lao
1960 – 17th summer olympics opens in Rome
1960 – AFL begins placing players names on back of their jersies
1960 – Demonstrations against premier Lumumba
1961 – Brazilian president Janio Quadros, resigns
1962 – USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR
1962 – USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1963 – Kathy Whitworth wins LPGA Ogden Ladies’ Golf Open
Pop Star & Beatle Paul McCartneyPop Star & Beatle Paul McCartney1963 – Paul McCartney is fined 31 pounds & given a 1 yr suspended license for speeding
1964 – Singapore limits imports from Neth due to Indonesian aggression
1967 – Beatles go to Wales to study TM with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
1967 – Minn Twin Dean Chance 2nd no-hitter of month beats Cleveland, 2-1
1967 – Paraguay accepts its constitution
1967 – Train crash at Beesd, 2 die
1968 – Arthur Ashe becomes 1st black to win US singles championship
1968 – Kathy Whitworth wins LPGA Ladies World Series of Golf
1968 – NY Yankee outfield Rocky Colavito pitches 2 2/3 innings & beats Tigers 6-5; he played right field in 2nd game & homered
1969 – Det Lions beat Boston Patriots 22-9 in Montreal (NFL expo)
1970 – Elton John’s 1st US appearance (Los Angeles)
1973 – Butch Trucks drummer of Allman Brothers, breaks leg in a car crash
1973 – France performs nuclear test at Muruora Island
1973 – Guitarist Henry McCullough quits Wings
1973 – Zambia adopts constitution
Singer Elton JohnSinger Elton John1974 – France performs nuclear test at Muruora Island
1974 – LA Aztecs defeat Miami Toros to win NASL cup
1976 – Harm Wiersma becomes world checker champion
1976 – Yanks beat Twins 5-4 in 19 innings
1978 – Baseball umps stage a 1 day strike
1979 – “Madwoman of Central Park West” closes at 22 Steps NYC after 86 perfs
1979 – California Angels trounce Toronto Blue Jays, 24-2
1979 – Somali adopts constitution
1980 – “42nd Street” opens at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 3486 performances
1980 – Gower Champion’s musical “42nd Street,” premieres in NYC
1980 – Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins arrested for possession of drugs
1981 – Jeff Schwartz, sets solo record for trampoline bouncing (266:09)
1981 – Voyager 2’s closest approach to Saturn (63,000 miles/100,000 km)
1983 – Triple A baseball’s Louisville Redbirds breaks 1 million fan mark
1983 – US & USSR sign $10 billion grain pact
1984 – French airship capsizes
1984 – USSR performs underground nuclear test
1985 – Met Dwight Gooden becomes youngest pitcher to win 20 games (20y 9m 9d)
1985 – Pat Bradley wins LPGA National Pro-Am Golf Tournament
1985 – STS 51-I scrubbed at T -9m because of an onboard computer problem
1986 – A’s Mark McGwire hits his 1st major league home run
1987 – Dow Jones industrial stock avg reaches record 2722.42
Pop Star MadonnaPop Star Madonna1987 – Madonna sings in Rotterdam
1988 – Challenger Center opens its classroom doors in Houston
1988 – Heavy fire destroys historic center of Lisbon
1988 – Iran & Iraq begin talks to end their 8 year war
1988 – NASA launches space vehicle S-214
1989 – After 12-year, 4-billion-mile journey, Voyager 2 flies over cloudtops of Neptune & its moon Triton, sending back photographs of swamps
1989 – Mayumi Moriyama becomes Japan’s first female cabinet secretary.
1990 – Li Hui Rong of China sets triple jump woman’s record (47’8½”)
1990 – UN security council authorizes military action against Iraq
1991 – “Getting Married” closes at Circle in Sq Theater NYC after 70 perfs
1991 – 43rd Emmy Awards: LA Law, Cheers, Kirstie Alley & Patricia Wettig
1991 – 91st US Golf Amateur Championship won by Mitch Voges
1991 – Carl Lewis rus 100m in 9.86 seconds
1991 – Cubs Doug Dascenzo commits his 1st career error after 242 games
1991 – Krizstina Egerszegi swims world record 200m backstroke (2:06.62)
Olympic Sprinter and Long jumper Carl LewisOlympic Sprinter and Long jumper Carl Lewis1991 – Martha Nause wins LPGA Chicago Sun-Times Shoot-Out Golf Tournament
1991 – Norway & Denmark recognize independence of former USSR Baltic reps
1991 – Wanda Panfil wins 3rd female world champion marathon (2:29:53)
1991 – White-Russia declares it’s independence
1991 – Linux was born when Linus Torvalds sent off the email announcing his project to create a new operating system.
1992 – Jamie Solinger, of Iowa, crowned 10th Miss Teen USA
1995 – Andrew Symonds scores 254 Gloucs v Glam, world record 16 x 6
1995 – Indians’ Jose Mesa fails in save attempt after 38th consecutive saves
1996 – 96th US Golf Amateur Championship won by Tiger Woods
1996 – Laura Davies wins Star Bank LPGA Golf Classic
1997 – Egon Krenz, the former East German leader, is convicted of a shoot-to-kill Berlin Wall policy.
2003 – The Tli Cho land claims agreement is signed between the Dogrib First Nations and the Canadian federal government in Rae-Edzo (now called Behchoko).
2012 – 330 people are killed as a result of conflict in the Syrian civil war
2012 – 39 people are killed and 80 are injured after a gas leak in North Venezuelan refinery
2012 – 85,000 people are displaced by severe floods in Myanmar

A few facts …

Greetings, a few facts on humans. I have read many of these but a few are new to me.

Shakespeare’s tombstone in Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church bears this inscription, said to have been written by him: Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear to dig the dust enclosed here. Blest be the man that spares these stones, and curst be he that moves my bones”.

The Hindus of India once believed that the Earth was a huge bowl (to keep the oceans from falling off) held up by giant elephants standing on long pillars. No one back then ever thought to ask what the pillars were standing on!

The first black surgeon to do open heart surgery was Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. In 1893, he saved a man who was knifed by opening his chest and sewing together the wound, which was only a fraction of an inch from his heart. He was one of the first to do this. He accomplished this without any modern medical devices, such as x-rays.

Thomas Crapper developed the flush toilet. In 1884, he simulated the materials a toilet would normally handle, to create “a super-flush which had completely cleared away: 10 apples, 1 flat sponge, 3 air vessels, Plumbers Smudge coated over the pan, 4 pieces of paper adhering closely to the soiled surface.” A fantastic feat of flushing!

Vincent Van Gogh only sold 1 painting his whole life and that was to his brother!

A Japanese explorer named Maomi Uemura was the first man to reach the North Pole alone, on April 29, 1978, after his eight-week journey.

Mark Twain, one of America’s best-loved authors, dropped out of school when he was 12 years old, after his father died.

On April 2, 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman candidate for the U.S. presidency.

Babe Ruth kept a cabbage leaf under his cap to keep cool.

Abraham Lincoln once invented a device for lifting riverboats over shallow water.

Did you know that the Egyptians thought the world was in the shape of a rectangle and that the heavans were held up by four giant pillars? They also warned sailors not to go to far away or you just might row off the giant rectangle called Earth. When the Queen of England heard this she sent 4 ships south, north, east and west to search for these “pillars”. When they didn’t find any (because the world is in the shape of a sphere) they questioned the Eygptians and they told her the pillars must have been farther than they predicted! Clever weren’t they?

There were about 300 bones in your body when you were born, but by the time you reach adulthood you only have 206.

A dentist invented the electric chair!!!

The largest baby to be born so far weighed in at 15 pounds, 5 ounces!

Sir Edmund was the first to climb Mt. Everest and return back.

The tallest man in this world was Robert Wadlow, a chinese man who was 7’1″ tall!

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, was actually afraid of the dark.

Vancouver history in a nutshell.



Here, in a nutshell, are some of the highlights of Vancouver’s sometimes oddball history.

16,000 to 11,000 BC: Segments of the Coast Salish people-the ancestors of the Squamish, Burrard, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam (Xw’muthk’i’um), Tsawwassen, Coquitlam (Kwayhquitlam), Katzie and Semiahmoo Indian bands-arrive from Asia. They seem to be quite satisfied with the beaches teeming with seafood-they named English Bay Ayyulshun, which means ‘soft under feet’. And they liked the forests teaming with wildlife. Not to mention that nearby is the mouth of a big river emptying into a vast ocean where big, fat, silvery salmon swam by six months out of every year.

1592 – 1774 AD: The Spaniards cruised by as part of their exploration of Canada’s west coast. Spain claimed the west coast of North America by virtue of the Treaty of Tordesillas, which occurred in 1494. Their presence is still felt today even though the Spanish felt Friendly Cove at the entrance to Nootka Sound was a better place for a town. The City of Vancouver has a number of streets named after Spaniards: Cordova, Cardero, Valdez and Narvaez (Galiano Street in Coquitlam.)

1792: Captain George Vancouver arrived. He spent one day here, which was long enough to discover the Spanish had already claimed the place and headed off again. During the day British Captain Vancouver met with Spanish captains Valdez and Galiano and one of Vancouver’s best beaches, Spanish Banks is named for the meeting place. That’s also the same reason English Bay got its name. Note however, that the Bay is bigger than the Banks and there are a ton more streets in Vancouver named after the British. (There is a Vancouver Street but it’s, um, in New Westminster.)

1808: Simon Fraser, an explorer and fur trader arrived here following an overland route from Eastern Canada by a river he thought was the Columbia. Even though he was wrong about his travel plan the river was still named for him.

1827: Hudson’s Bay Company built a trading post on Fraser River. It was the first permanent non-native settlement in the Vancouver area. Since 1893 the company has occupied a prime location at the corner of Georgia and Granville in Vancouver’s downtown core and they’re still trading.

1858: The news there was gold on the banks of the Fraser raised a bit of interest. About 25,000 prospectors dropped in to have a look.

1860: Three English who should have stayed out of the sun built a brickyard. The business flopped amid much guffawing and “I told you so’s” from the local population. They were called the “Three Greenhorns”; the area is now known as the West End, one of the most populated places in North America. And there’s no shortage of brickwork in the surrounding buildings.

1867: A talkative chap nicknamed “Gassy Jack” opened a saloon for forestry workers on the shore of Burrard Inlet. It became so popular a community built up around the place and called itself Gastown.

1870: Gastown is incorporated as the town of Granville.

1884: The Canadian Pacific Railway moved its terminal from the head of Burrard Inlet to the area of Granville, now known as Coal Harbour. Port Moody was miffed but Granville grew like Topsy. That same year the vessel Robert Kerr left England with Seraphim Fortes aboard. Seraphim, from Barbados who had been living in Liverpool working as a bath attendant and swimming instructor, was heading for Victoria when the ship foundered. It was towed into English Bay and ‘Joe’ Fortes thought well, what the heck, I might as well stay and do the same kind of work here.

1886: Granville incorporated as the City of Vancouver: now that it had about 1,000 people. The first mayor was realtor M.A. McLean. On June 13 a brush fire got away and burnt the city to the ground in less than 30 minutes. McLean knowing the value of real estate got rebuilding going in a matter of days.

1887: The CPR’s first train arrived; the final stop of the first transcontinental trip.

1888: The last body is buried in Pioneer Cemetery, the graveyard of many of Vancouver’s earliest citizens. The cemetery stretched from Brockton Point to the Nine o’clock Gun. Why no more? Well: 1888 was when the road that would eventually wind around Stanley Park was first constructed in the Brockton Point area. The first perimeter road around Stanley Park was paved with the shells from native middens (refuse heaps) in the park.

1889: The first Granville Street bridge is completed. There was another one built in 1909. The one that’s there now is the third built in 1954.

1889: The original Capilano Suspension Bridge was built.

1890: The first lighthouse is built at Brockton Point. Electric streetcars began operating this year.

1891: The city’s first tram-based public transit system, the Interurban starts up.

1898: Sand is added to English Bay Beach. Up to that time you had to walk through bushes to get to it. A large rock on the beach separated men and women bathers (no peeking!) The Nine o’clock Gun is placed at Brockton point. People still set their watches by it.

1900: Vancouver surpasses the provincial capital of Victoria in size. Did they immediately move the capital to Vancouver? No.

1902: The first meeting of the Vancouver Information & Tourist Association was held on June 25, 1902. Today, the organization celebrates more than 100 years of operation and is now known as Tourism Vancouver.

1905: Johann and Anna Breitenbach arrive in Vancouver from Brisbane, Australia aboard the Aorangi. They were two of hundreds of new immigrants to Vancouver as the flood of people moved through to settle the Prairies. The Breitenbachs stayed and their descendants are still in Vancouver. The trip took a month; they travelled in steerage the whole way. They brought their ten kids with them. And you think commuting today is tough.

1909: The Dominion Trust Building, the city’s first skyscraper opens at Hastings and Cambie. It’s still there but looking kind of puny. The same year the second Granville Street Bridge opens.

1911: Canada’s first artificial ice rink, the Arena, opened. People immediately begin skating around the edge counter-clockwise. It was at 1805 West Georgia at the corner of Denman. At the time it was the largest indoor ice rink in the world. The Vancouver Millionaires, the city’s first hockey team, was built out of players swiped from the National Hockey League.

The 1914-15 season: The Millionaires become Stanley Cup champions.

1915: The first lighthouse at Brockton Point is torn down and the current one is built. You notice the arch at the bottom of the current lighthouse? That was going to be part of a boathouse until somebody noticed that the ocean current right there would make it easier to not store boats there.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) opens for business. A few bleary-eyed students show up. There are now more than 46,000 students at the verdant waterfront campus. UBC opens at a temporary headquarters at the former McGill University College facilities adjacent to Vancouver General Hospital (nicknamed the Fairview “shacks” after the surrounding neighbourhood).

1920: Vancouver grows bigger than Winnipeg, which was the main city of western Canada. For its next trick the city’s population turned out in droves to watch Houdini suspend himself from the top of the Sun Tower. He chose that building because that’s where The Vancouver Sun’s offices were located at the time.

1922: ‘Joe’ Fortes dies of pneumonia. The City paid for his funeral and thousands of people, many of whom learned how to swim with Joe’s meaty hands holding them up in the lukewarm waters of English Bay, lined Granville and Hastings Streets to say goodbye.

UBC students organize a province-wide publicity campaign to persuade the government to complete the Point Grey campus. The “Build the University” campaign climaxes in a parade (the “Great Trek”) from downtown Vancouver to Point Grey, and the presentation of a petition with 56,000 signatures to the Speaker of the Legislature in Victoria. The government authorizes a $1.5 million loan to resume construction. The campaign marks the beginning of active student involvement in the University’s development.

1925: The first Second Narrows Bridge connects the city with North Vancouver. The one that’s there now is the second one.

1927: In Alexandra Park, a small drinking fountain, just the right size for kids, was built to commemorate ‘Joe’ Fortes; it was near where he lived in a shack that the City had saved for him when it tore down all the squatters shacks on English Bay Beach years earlier. The inscription on the drinking fountain reads: “Little children loved him.”

1931: The English Bay bathhouse was constructed out of concrete replacing the first bathhouse, which was made of wood.

1936: The new City Hall at 12th Avenue and Cambie is dedicated. It still looks like it ought to be in Gotham City. The same year the Denman arena was destroyed by fire.

1938: The Lions Gate Bridge is completed so a real estate company can at last sell the property it bought on the North Shore. It was engineered to last about 50 years.

1939: The landmark Hotel Vancouver is completed.

1954: The British Empire and Commonwealth Games Association of Canada donated the flag after the name change was voted on in 1952, and it was used for the first time at the 5th British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in 1954. The games featured the Miracle Mile, in which two runners-Roger Bannister and John Landy-both broke the 4:00 minute mark for the mile, the first sports event televised to all North America.

1957: Elvis Presley sings a half dozen songs and leaves the stage after 15 minutes. The audience paid $2 per ticket and were pretty cheesed by being short-changed.

1959: A busy year. The city’s first shopping mall, the Oakridge Centre, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Vancouver Maritime Museum all open. That year they also sunk the George Massey Tunnel-most people still call it the Deas Island Tunnel. Fortunately, sinking it was the right thing to do because it goes under the Fraser River.

1964: For the first time the BC Lions won the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup.

1970: The Vancouver Canucks played their first game in the National Hockey League. They played the Los Angeles Kings (and lost.)

1974: The locomotive Royal Hudson logs its inaugural run since being rebuilt. People are steamed today, not because the famous loco plied the Squamish run for so many years, but because it’s now toast. Efforts however are currently underway to rehabilitate the Royal Hudson and hopefully it will soon be making its picturesque journey.

1979: The Vancouver Whitecaps won the North American Soccer League championship.

1983: BC Place Stadium inflates and becomes the world’s largest air-supported dome. It has 60,000 seats. Let’s put that in perspective. If you put all the residents of Vancouver in it when the city was incorporated 97 years earlier, you would have 59,000 empty seats.

1985: SkyTrain starts up mid-December. The initial route, from Vancouver to New Westminster, retraces in part one of Vancouver’s original Interurban lines.

1986: Vancouver’s centennial is marked by the highly successful six-month fair Expo 86 on the north shore of False Creek. It was the largest special category World Exposition ever staged in North America -the category was Transportation.

1985: Vancouver holds its first Vancouver Sun Run, a 10 kilometre run through downtown streets and spectacular Stanley Park. Now an annual, very popular event, first year’s participants were 3200 – by 2003 there were approximately 49,000 runners – a true reflection of the love of sport in the outdoors!

1988: The first ever Vancouver Gay Pride Festival. Now also an annual, week long event, it includes a parade and a variety of celebrations and parties throughout the city.

1990: The 1990s began with a roar as the first “Indy” race took place on the downtown Vancouver track, winding through tight corners, past apartment complexes, False Creek and Science World. It was an annual event held each summer, however 2004 was the final year that it took place in Vancouver.

1993: Woodward’s department store, a Canadian retail institution dating back to 1903, goes bankrupt and closes its doors. Over the following years, debate regarding reuse of the landmark building or redevelopment of its property has ranged from the creation of affordable housing to a downtown parking complex to various retail options. Today, there are several housing options still being reviewed.

1994: The Vancouver Canucks reach the Stanley Cup finals but lose in the final moments of the final game. The BC Lions football team won the Grey Cup for the second time in their history.

1995: The new Vancouver Public Library building opens and is a landmark within the downtown core. Interestingly, initial designs had the building facing the opposite direction, with the main entrance facing Georgia. As they finalized construction plans, someone noticed that by flipping the design, the main plaza would face the sun rather than being in the shadow of the main building!

General Motors Place (currently Rogers Arena) for hockey, basketball and musical performances, opens and is nicknamed ‘The Garage’.

The spiffy Ford Centre for the Performing Arts opens for what turned out to be for three years before it reopened as The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, and today offers large-scale theatrical productions several times a year.

1996: Estimates show the central city’s population had increased by more than 107,000 since 1981-a 26 per cent jump!

The Vancouver Grizzlies joined the NBA, along with the Toronto Raptors, as part of the league’s two-pronged expansion into Canada. They are the first non-U.S. cities to join the league since 1946-47. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies were sold in 2001, so Vancouver only got to enjoy their NBA team for 5 years.

1997: The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts opens at the University of British Columbia, offering year round performance by University programs, touring companies and local performers.

1999: Vancouver creates the 2010 Olympic Bid team to organize the proposal to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. By July, 2004, Vancouver is selected!

2000: The annual Polar Bear Swim, started in 1920 by a local restaurant owner, Peter Pantages, reaches a record of 2,128 swimmers.

2001: It is estimated that 200 movie and television productions are filmed in Vancouver. Each year, this list grows more and more substantial, as estimates from 1981 show only 11 productions! Earning its nickname of ‘Hollywood North’, celebrity spotting is everywhere – they’re out and about on Vancouver streets, browsing in shops and relaxing in local restaurants and spas.

2002: The Economist magazine’s Intelligence Unit ties Vancouver and Melbourne as the World’s Top City to live in.

2003: Mercer Human Resource Consulting rates Vancouver as top city in North America for quality of life.

July 1 – Canada Day – 2003, Vancouver is selected as the Host City for 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Rogers Arena broadcasts the announcement live to a sold out crowd, while celebrations take place across the city.

2004: The hosting of the first large outdoor public arts show on the streets of Vancouver called ‘Orcas in the City’ by the BC Lions Society.

2009: A major expansion to the Vancouver Convention Centre opens, tripling the capacity of the original Canada Place venue. The green, grass-roofed West Building is Canada’s largest waterfront convention centre.

2010: The region enthusiastically hosts the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Para-lympic Winter Games in February and March. More than 2.5 billion people around the world tune in to watch 2,600 athletes from 82 nations compete. The highlight for Canadians? Winning the men’s hockey gold medal.

2011: Vancouver celebrates its 125th birthday with a year-long party of events and performances taking place throughout the city.

Vancouver walking tour, a must do while here!

Cbc podcast review: (It’s near the end of it).

If you ever end up here this is time well spent if your a history geek like me!