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Category Archives: December

Mr. New Year’s Eve

To remember Guy Lombardo, you have to be of a certain age. To appreciate Guy Lombardo, I’m sure you qualify. Allow me to introduce him to you.

Photo of band leader Guy Lombardo

Photo of band leader Guy Lombardo, 28 June 1944.

Gaetano Alberto Lombardo was born on June 19, 1902 in London, Ontario. He died in November 5, 1977, at the age of 75, in Houston, Texas. He was a Canadian/American bandleader and violinist.

“The Royal Canadians” was formed by Guy Lombardo in 1924 with his brothers Carmen, Lebert, and Victor and other musicians from his hometown, Lombardo led the group to international success.  They billed themselves as creating “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven.”  The Lombardos are believed to have sold between 100 and 300 million phonograph records during their lifetimes.

Lombardo and his brothers formed their first orchestra while still in grammar school and rehearsed in the back of their father’s tailor shop. They first performed in public with his brother Carmen at a church lawn party in London in 1914.

In 1938, Lombardo became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Although Lombardo’s “sweet” big-band music was viewed by some in the jazz and big-band community of the day as “corny”, trumpeter Louis Armstrong famously enjoyed Lombardo’s music.

Lombardo is best known for almost a half-century of New Year’s Eve big band remotes, first on radio, and then on television. Lombardo’s orchestra played at the Roosevelt Grill in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 to 1959, and from then until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Live broadcasts (and later telecasts) of their performances were a major part of New Year’s celebrations across North America; millions of people watched the show with friends at house parties. Because of this popularity, Lombardo was called “Mr. New Year’s Eve”.

The Royal Canadians were noted for playing the traditional song Auld Lang Syne as part of the celebrations. Their recording of the song still plays as the first song of the new year in Times Square.

Guy Lombardo has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles (I didn’t know some have more than one!).  There is a bridge named after him in London, Ontario near Wonderland Gardens, as well as Lombardo Avenue in north London near the University of Western Ontario.

I would highly recommend you listen to this New Year audio clip from CBC. You could also listen to an interview in 1959 at Radiotapes.com. And if you would still like to hear more, I suggest listening to Paper Tape Archive: Guy Lombardo at Hotel Roosevelt (1949).

If you would like to learn more about Lombardo, I will suggest the The Guy Lombardo Society, the “Duh! Dick Clark is proof that older people are here to stay. Hey, sick people too!” at the Noir Dame.  And for a very special treat, I recommend reading USA Today‘s article, “For auld lang syne: Guy Lombardo’s history needs a home.”

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Gift Tag Reads: From: Nova Scotia To: Boston

I just learned about Nova Scotia giving Boston a big tree every Christmas. Absolutely amazing. Let me tell you about it.

Christmas Tree for Boston from Nova Scotia.

Christmas Gift for Boston from Nova Scotia.

Since 1971, Nova Scotia has given a Christmas tree to the people of the City of Boston in gratitude for their help and support after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. You can read my post on it at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/halifaxs-worst-explosions-tsunami-and-snow/

In 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston in thanks and remembrance for the help that the Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee had provided immediately after the disaster. That gift was revived in 1971 by the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association, who began an annual donation of a large tree to promote Christmas tree exports as well as to acknowledge Boston’s support after the explosion. The gift was later taken over by the Nova Scotia Government to continue the goodwill gesture as well as to promote trade and tourism.

The tree is Boston’s official Christmas tree and is lit on Boston Common throughout the holiday season. Knowing its symbolic importance to both cities, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources has specific guidelines for selecting the tree. It must be an attractive balsam fir, white spruce or red spruce, 12 to 16 metres (40 to 50 ft) tall, healthy with good colour, medium to heavy density, uniform and symmetrical and easy to get access to.

This year, John and Ethel Ann MacPherson of Purlbrook, Antigonish Co., are donating the tree for Nova Scotia to give to the city of Boston.

The 13-metre (43-foot) white spruce is about 55 years old. It was cut during a festive public ceremony Monday, Nov. 17. Each year, the Nova Scotia tree for Boston stands proudly in Boston Common throughout the holidays. The annual event attracts more than 30,000 people each year and 300,000 more tune in to watch the live televised event on ABC.

The Nova Scotian government is always looking for the best tree to send to Boston. If you think you have what they want, here are the criteria and ways to get in touch: If you have or know of a white or red spruce or balsam fir with the following characteristics we want to hear from you.

Here’s some of the criteria we look for:

Twelve to fifteen meters (40-50 feet) in height
Healthy with good colour
Medium to heavy density
Uniform and symmetrical
Easy to access.

Please take a photo to the nearest Department of Natural Resources Office or send one to Tim Whynot at whynottw@gov.ns.ca Tim can also be reached at 424-3615.

To read more about this special Christmas gift and its origin, I highly recommend clicking your way to Nova Scotia Government information pages; you can follow the tree’s transport via twitter and facebook. A few media site that have covered it this year are the CTV News Atlantic, the CBC News and the Bostinno.

 

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Remembering a Hockey Legend

Earlier this week we lost a hockey legend, Jean Béliveau.  Can I introduce you to him?

He was born on August 31, 1931 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.  He died on December 2, 2014 at the age of 83, in Longueuil, Quebec.

Photo of Jean Béliveau

Hockey legend Jean Béliveau

He was a professional Canadian ice hockey player who played parts of 20 seasons with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Montreal Canadiens from 1950 to 1971. He began to play professionally in the Quebec Major Hockey League (QMHL). He made his NHL début with the Canadiens in 1950, but chose to stay in the QMHL full-time until 1953. By his second season in the NHL, Béliveau was among the top three scorers. He was the fourth player to score 500 goals and the second to score 1,000 points. Béliveau won two Hart Memorial Trophies (1956, 1964) and one Art Ross Memorial Trophy (1956), as well as the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy (1965). As a player, he won the Stanley Cup 10 times, and as an executive he was part of another seven championship teams, the most Stanley Cup victories by an individual to date. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Nicknamed “Le Gros Bill” (The Big Bill), Béliveau ranks among the ten greatest NHL players.

Interestingly, Béliveau can trace his ancestry to Antoine Béliveau, who settled in 1642 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The Béliveaus were expelled along with the Acadians in 1755 and the family settled in the Boston area before moving to Québec to the Trois Rivières area in the mid-19th century.

He suffered from many ailments for decades now.  He’s suffered two strokes, and was diagnosed with cancer (he recovered after a punishing course of treatments).

Another defining moment in his life, Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered Béliveau the position of Governor General of Canada in 1994.  However, he declined the offer to be with his daughter, Hélène, and two grandchildren, Mylene and Magalie. Their father, a Quebec police officer, committed suicide when the girls were five and three.

Of many legacies he leaves behind, one of the greatest (I think) is the charitable Jean Béliveau Foundation, established in 1971. In 1993, Béliveau transferred the foundation to the Society for Disabled Children.

We have missed him on the ice and admired him for his steadfast vigour for living life to its fullest.  Thoughts and prayers for his family, friends and fans.

 

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Halifax’s Worst Explosions, Tsunami and Snow!

Prior tо thе invention of nuclear tесhnоlоgіеѕ, the wоrѕt man-made еxрlоѕіоn occurred іn Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 6, 1917, at roughly 8:45 am.   Dеѕtrоуіng thе еntіrе district of Richmond, thе еxрlоѕіоn wаѕ саuѕеd whеn a French cargo ship, SS Mont Blаnс, саrrуіng wartime wеароnѕ collided wіth a Nоrwеgіаn ѕhір, SS Imo.  

Map of Nova Scotia and area

Nova Scotia and area. Source: http://pcmha.com/page.php?page_id=5991Pictou County Minor Hockey Ass’n.

Ships carrying dangerous cargo were not allowed into the harbour before the war, but the risks posed by German submarines had resulted in a relaxing of regulations.

The collision caused a fіrе to brеаk out, which in turn іgnіtеd thе еxрlоѕіvеѕ оn bоаrd. A huge еxрlоѕіоn wаѕ саuѕеd, killing 2000 people and injuring 9000 from fіrеѕ, fаllіng dеbrіѕ, and collapsing buіldіngѕ.  The out-of-control fire aboard Mont-Blanc set off her highly explosive cargo. The ship was completely blown apart, and the remains of her hull were launched nearly 1,000 feet into the air.  The blast travelled at more than 1,000 metres per second. Temperatures of 5 000 °C and pressures of thousands of atmospheres accompanied the moment of detonation at the centre of the explosion.  White-hot shards of iron rained down upon Halifax and Dartmouth. The Mont-Blanc’s forward 90 mm gun landed about 5.6 kilometres north of the explosion site near Albro Lake in Dartmouth, while part of her anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres south at Armdale.

Halifax explosion blast cloud

View, of the column of smoke raised by the Halifax Explosion. One of only a few photographs of the blast itself. 6 Dec. 1917 / Halifax, N.S.; 6 December 1917 Source: Library and Archives Canada/PA-166585

The shock wave from the blast travelled through the earth at nearly 23 times the speed of sound and was felt as far away as Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island.  An area over 400 acres was destroyed by the explosion, while the harbour floor was momentarily exposed by the volume of water that vaporized. A tsunami was formed by water surging in to fill the void, which rose up as high as 18 metres (60 feet) above the harbour’s high-water mark on the Halifax side.  Imo was carried onto the shore at Dartmouth by the tsunami.

The disaster had damaged buildings and shattered windows as far away as Sackville and Windsor Junction, about 16 kilometres  away. Buildings shook and items fell from shelves as far away as Truro and New Glasgow, both over 100 kilometres  away. The explosion was felt and heard in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, roughly 215 kilometres  north, and as far away as North Cape Breton, 360 kilometres  east.

Relief efforts were hampered the following day by a blizzard that blanketed Halifax with 16 inches  of heavy snow.

Robert Borden, Canada’s prime minister at the time, was in Charlottetown at the time of explosion and he also heard it along with many of his officials. He arrived and toured Halifax two days later to oversee and organize the recovery and rescue efforts.

Thе еxрlоѕіоn also wiped оut the еntіrе lосаl соmmunіtу оf Mі’kmаԛ First Nаtіоnѕ реорlе that had lіvеd in thе Tuft’ѕ Cоvе аrеа fоr generations.

The last body, a caretaker killed at the Exhibition Grounds, was not recovered until the summer of 1919.  An additional 9,000 were injured, 6,000 of them seriously; 1,630 homes were destroyed in the explosion and fires, with 12,000 more houses damaged.

Many of the wounds inflicted by the blast were permanently debilitating, with many people partially blinded by flying glass or by the flash of the explosion.  With the recently formed Canadian National Institute for the Blind, they managed to greatly improve the treatment of damaged eyes.

The death toll could have been worse if not for the self-sacrifice of an Intercolonial Railway dispatcher, Patrick Vincent (Vince) Coleman, operating at the Richmond Railway Yards about a quarter-mile away from Pier 6 where the explosion occurred. He and his co-worker, William Lovett, learned of the dangerous cargo aboard the burning Mont-Blanc from a sailor and began to flee. Coleman remembered, however, that an incoming passenger train from Saint John, New Brunswick was due to arrive at the rail yard within minutes. Coleman sent his Morse code message and left with Lovett. For unknown reasons, he returned to his post alone and continued to send out urgent telegraph messages to stop the train. Several variations of the message have been reported, among them this from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic:

“Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.”

There are a number of books written about this event.  A few notable ones are:

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917,

Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917,

Dear Canada: No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917,

and Dear Canada: No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917.

 

 

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First in the world, don’t you know

Just a re-blog of a while back.  I was going through older posts and liked this one.  So here it is again …

George Edouard Desbarats published the first issue of Canadian Illustrated News in Montreal on October 30, 1838. It is the world’s first to use the new half-tone technique to reproduce a photograph.

English: Canadian Illustrated News, Vol.XXII, ...

English: Canadian Illustrated News, Vol.XXII, No. 7, Page 97. Photo: From Library and Archives Canada. Title: Come to Stay Artist: Julien, Henri, 1852-1908 Date: 14 August, 1880 Pagination: vol.XXII, no. 7, 97 Notes: Canada welcomes these bands of immigrants who, in such numbers, last week, came to settle in the Dominion, instead of passing to the United States. Subject: Immigrants Record: 110 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Black History Month Part Six

Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot song)

Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a repost from December 2, 2013.  As I continue with this series of Black History Month, I would like to introduce you to Gordon Lightfoot, and particularly, to his song “Black Day in July” published in December 1968.

Amazingly, it is banned on many of the United States’ top 40 radio stations.

The lyrics are about the 1967 race riots in Detroit.

The riots were set off by a police raid in an inner-city bar raid. The rioting lasted five days. Tally aftermath was 43 dead, 467 injured, 7,231 arrested and 2,509 stores burned down or looted. City officials estimated damage cost at between $40 and 80 million (US).

CBC Archives did a great job reporting on this.

 

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“Hard To Be a Cat at Christmas” Music Video”

This is a great video, So I suggest you check it out!  🙂

 

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