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Category Archives: March

Renowned Canadian Explorer as you have never seen him …

Dr. Joseph MacInnis is a Canadian physician, author, underwater diver and aquanaut. He was born on March 2, 1937 in Barrie, Ontario.

He first learned to scuba dive in 1954, at the age of 17.

He earned his MD from the University of Toronto and did his internship at the Toronto General Hospital. It was during his internship that he came across John McGean, a tunnel construction worker who came in suffering from decompression sickness. This was the beginning of his lifetime passion in diving medicine and studying the effects that undersea exploration has on their psyche and physiology. He transferred McGean to a pressure chamber in Buffalo, New York. The patient fully recovered.

Between 1970 to 1974, MacInnis led four major scientific diving expeditions to Resolute Bay 965 kilometers (600 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.

On the third expedition, MacInnis established the first polar dive station, “Sub-Igloo.” This led to the very first filming of Harp seals and Bowhead, Narwhal and Beluga whales.

His team also discovered the remains of the HMS Breadalbane in the Northwest Passage, at 104 meters beneath the surface. The British ship sunk in 1835, crushed by ice.

He was heavily involved in the 1985 exploration of the Titanic. In 1991 he co-led a team in the filming of the IMAX movie of the fated ship.

Dr. Joseph MacInnis has written 9 books covering his explorations.

I would highly recommend dropping by Dr. MacInnis’s official website. And, to top things out, here are a few books he wrote:

               

 

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Que Sera Sera

Today marks the Journée internationale de la Francophonie (International Day of the French-speaking). It is celebrated in the International Organization of La Francophonie’s 77 member states every March 20. There are over 274 million French speakers on Earth. The date celebrates the signing of the Niamey Convention in Niger on the 20th of March 1970. The convention established the Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, the precursor to the International Organization of La Francophonie.

francophonie March20, 2015

“La francophonie, c’est un vaste pays, sans frontières. C’est celui de la langue française. C’est le pays de l’intérieur. C’est le pays invisible, spirituel, mental, moral qui est en chacun de vous.”   – Gilles Vigneault

“The French-speaking world, is a vast country without borders. This is the French language. It is the country from within. It is the invisible country, spiritual, mental, moral, which is in each of you.” -Gilles Vigneault

 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in March, On This Day

 

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A Young Commonwealth

Commonwealth Day is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations held on the second Monday in March, and marked by a multi-faith service in Westminster Abbey, normally attended by Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth, with the Commonwealth Secretary-General and Commonwealth High Commissioners in London. The Queen delivers an address to the Commonwealth, broadcast throughout the world.

Commonwealth Day March 9, 2015

While it has a certain official status, Commonwealth Day is not a public holiday in most Commonwealth countries, and there is little public awareness of it.

Royal Commonwealth Society In Canada, the only official recognition is a federal government stipulation that the Royal Union Flag be flown alongside Canada’s flag at government installations nationwide, “where physical arrangements allow…. Physical arrangements means the existence of at least two flag poles”. The 1964 parliamentary resolutions creating the Maple Leaf flag also retained the Union Flag as an official symbol of Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth, and allegiance to the Crown.

You can participate via social media:  on Facebook or Twitter. Tag your social media posts with the hashtag #YoungCommonwealth.

For more information I suggest Event Brite for Toronto’s celebrations, and “The Commonwealth” webpage for lots of information, quiz, and more.

 

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Canada’s Worst Avalanche Disaster

The 1910 Rogers Pass Avalanche killed 58 men clearing a railroad line near the summit of Rogers Pass across the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia on March 4, 1910. It is Canada’s worst avalanche disaster.

Photo of workers recovering bodies from the avalanche

Workers recover bodies and clear the tracks on March 5, 1910.

The winter of 1909–1910 provided conditions particularly conducive to avalanches; many slides experienced during January and February. On March 1, 96 people were killed further south into the Wellington avalanche in Washington State.

Three days later, on the evening of March 4, work crews were dispatched to clear a big slide which had fallen from Cheops Mountain, and buried the tracks just south of Shed 17. The crew consisted of a locomotive-driven rotary snowplow and 59 men. Time was critical as westbound CPR Train Number 97 was just entering the Rocky Mountains, bound for Vancouver.

Half an hour before midnight as the track was nearly clear, an unexpected avalanche swept down the opposite side of the track to the first fall. Around 400 metres of track were buried. The 91-ton locomotive and plow were hurled 15 metres to land upside-down. The wooden cars behind the locomotive were crushed and all but one of the workmen were instantly buried into the deep snow.

The only survivor was Billy Lachance, the locomotive fireman, who had been knocked over by the wind accompanying the fall but otherwise remained unscathed.

When news of the disaster reached nearby Revelstoke, a relief train consisting of 200 railmen, physicians and nurses was sent to the scene. They found no casualties to take care of; it became a mission to clear the tracks and recover the bodies beneath 10 metres of snow. Several of the dead were found standing upright, frozen in place. Among the dead were 32 Japanese workers.

The disaster was not the first to befall the pass; in all over 200 people had been killed by avalanches there since the line was opened 26 years before. The CPR finally accepted defeat and in 1913 began boring the five-mile long Connaught Tunnel through Mount Macdonald, at the time Canada’s longest tunnel, so bypassing the hazard of Rogers Pass. It was opened on December 13, 1916, and the railway abandoned the pass.

To read a wonderfully written article, with photos and a map, I suggest clicking your way to the Weather Doctor.

Stay warm and safe everyone!

 

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Canadian Delegates were “miffed”

Canada on Globe

Canada

On March 8, 1867, the British North America Act was passed by the House of Commons in Britain, less than a month after it had been introduced in the House of Lords.  It was a speedy job of legislation, so much so, that the Canadian delegates were a little “miffed” because it had not caused more debate.  John A. Macdonald’s grumbled: “The English behave as though the British North America Act was a private bill uniting two or three parishes.”

Some British M.P.’s were suspicious that the bill was being rushed through, but the only man who offered any opposition was John Bright, free-trader and reformer.  In this case, he was on the side of the underdog, Joseph Howe, who had been in London since July trying to keep Nova Scotia out of Confederation.

Howe even went to Lord Carnarvon and claimed that fifty-two of the seventy-two resolutions leading to the British North American Act had been drawn up by Macdonald who had probably been drunk at the time. Carnarvon, greatly upset, wrote to Governor-General Lord Monck in Canada asking him to investigate.  Evidently he was reassured because the bill went through without delay.

John Bright tried to have the bill set aside by criticizing the colonial system generally.  He said that if the provinces of British North America were going to keep asking Britain for money for defence and railways, then it would be better if they were given their independence and paid their own way.

M.P.’s were so little concerned that many of them were not in their seats when the British North America Act got its last reading on March 8.  They came rushing in immediately after, because the next item of business was a bill to place a tax on dogs, and most of them owned dogs!

The British North America Act was officially proclaimed on March 29, and Queen Victoria set July 1 as the date for Confederation.

To learn more about today’s post, I would suggest visiting the Canadian History webpage. Another very good resource to look at is the Confederation Timeline at Canada Channel. If you’ve never been, another great place to visit is the Encyclopedia Britannica.   All very good places to start.

 

 

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Nash Was the First

Pic of RCMP

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The RCMP, who “always gets his man,” have been part of Canada’s identity since the 1870s.  In RCMP history, Constable John Nash, tragically, was the first Mountie to die in the line of duty.

Nash was one of the original members who made the voyage westward in 1874 from Fort Dufferin, Manitoba to present-day southern Alberta.

The specifics of his death near Fort MacLeod in the Northwest Territories remain a mystery, because most of his service records were lost in the 1897 fire that damaged the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. However, there is a document held at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters. It confirms that Nash was born in 1849, that he joined the force in Halifax in 1873, that he was nominated to the Honour Roll, and that his death was related to an accident involving his horse.

We also know that he served the RCMP from October 18, 1873 to March 11, 1876.

As reported by edmrcmpvets.ca, Nash signed up for a five-year term of service with the RCMP.  For his service, he received a salary of 75 cents a day and a promise of a 160-acre land grant after his term.  Even though he didn’t serve the full five years, the land grant was granted to his mother in Halifax.

He was 27 years old when he died.

His final resting place is where he died, at Fort MacLeod (now part of Alberta), in Union Cemetery, in the North West Mounted Police Field of Honour (row 5, grave number 24).

For an impressive list of RCMP’s Honour Roll, go to Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After that, you can find a wonderful site through Library and Archives Canada, Without Fear, Favour or Affection: The Men of the North West Mounted Police.

 

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“Like a giant can opener … and he fell right through…”

John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted"...

John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” filming a segment for his show in the studios of the show in the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On March 26, 2002, inmate Raymond John Tudor was reported missing from the medium security Drumheller Institution, in Alberta.

You might assume that this was a simple case of a prisoner who jumped the walls and escaped custody, and would be recaptured after a day or two nearby. This story, however, I found particularly interesting.

The 48-year old double murderer was said to have a “shake and stutter” and many thought it was Parkinson’s disease. He had also neglected his beard and it looked quite straggly.  When he was reported missing, then, it was suggested that he had been planning the escape for years, and that once on the outside, he would shave and drop the pose.

For eight weeks he was hunted across North America, and was even profiled on “America’s Most Wanted” television show.

The police suspected he might show up in nearby Carseland, where Tudor had lived.  Some of the citizens were concerned as well, because they had testified against Tudor in court.  Many couldn’t understand what he was even doing in a medium security prison, having killed twice.

His escape was a mystery. Of course a full-scale search was done, but that failed to find him.   Apparently, there is only one place where an escape could theoretically be done, and it’s manned by officers who check everyone going in or out.  Basically, he would have had to climb a fence to get out of there.

But there is a big problem with that scenario: The fence is topped with flesh-ripping razors, and there are sensors, with alarms, on the ground and fence. These alarms were tested and they were working perfectly and weren’t triggered.

Then, finally, a prison employee eyed Tudor in the vent above him, while in the workshop!

High tech gear was brought in, such as thermal imaging, remote cameras, and sound equipment.  They even brought in a five-year old German Shepherd dog, Taz.  Sure enough, when Taz entered the workshop, he found the inmate hiding in the ductwork six metres high.  So the RCMP climbed onto the roof, sent in a remote camera, and pinpointed his location.  Then they cut a hole, and down he fell.

He was living mostly on cookies, and he lost 15 kilograms.  He had access to the washrooms at night when that part of the prison was closed!

The previous November, that same Institution suffered a riot where one prisoner was killed and had caused $1 million in damage.

If you would like to read more about this, I suggest CNN transcript archives, and an interesting discussion at Prison Talk, as well as Free Dominion.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Canadian-related Links, Crime, Longer Entries, March, May

 

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