Category Archives: October

Halloween in Canada

Happy Halloween everyone!

Halloween in Canada by the numbers



For more information I recommend Statistics Canada, and


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Canada is a great country, having seen mostly peace for all of its existence, and being one of the countries whose history is almost impeccably laudable. Building that amazing history has partly been due to the fact that our leaders have mostly done the right thing for our country. And when the topic of good leaders come, our modern history has seen one whose name always stands out. Pierre Trudeau, the father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been an inspiration for an entire generation, with his wonderful period as a Prime Minister.

A personality that dominated the entire country with such ferocity as never seen in our country’s history, Pierre Trudeau had a great career as a popular political figure, loved by many. Beginning his career as a lawyer and activist in Quebec politics, Trudeau joined the Liberal Party in 1960s, and was quickly appointed the Parliamentary Secretary of Lester B. Pearson. He went on to become the Minister of Justice of the country. Such was his following that some even give it the term “Trudeaumania.” He stayed as Prime Minister for a long period, before resigning from his post finally in 1984. His leadership has been seen as a remarkable, and often favorably polarizing period for Canada.

An example of him holding tight to his decision in a crisis is the FLQ episode. Canadians were shocked on October 19, 1970 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the House of Commons passed the War Measures Act.

The federal and Quebec governments where struggling with the Front de Liberation du Quebec(FLQ). The had kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross on October 5. They held him for a ransom of $500,000 and demanded that the CBC broadcast the FLQ manifesto.

Then they abducted Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte on October 10; his body was discovered eight days later.

At one point, from the steps of parliament, the press asked him about the extreme implementation of the War Measures Act, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau replied, “Just watch me.” That statement would forever become a part of Trudeau’s legacy.

Some of his biggest national achievements during his term as Prime Minister were suppressing the Quebec sovereign movement, and building Canada as a nation with unity as a core principle. He is also known for introducing bilingualism as official policy of Canada, and for his Patriation of the Constitution. It was under him that Canada stopped being ruled by British laws that could be changed by the British, and it was the moment when Canada finally got sovereignty. This event has had him hailed as the “father of modern Canada”.

PM Pierre Trudeau doing a pirouette behind the Queen

Every great person has critics, and so did Pierre Trudeau. His critics impugn him with claims of arrogance and poor economic management, and of having centralized the management of Canada (which has been hailed as a very good thing by others), thus robbing Quebec of the culture and economy of Prairies. But whatever the naysayers speak, Trudeau has been consistently shown up in a list of the greatest Prime Ministers of Canada.

Pierre Trudeau has been considered one of the most loved, and the most hated of the Canadian Prime Ministers. This is because of the charisma and confidence that he held, along with his focus on uniting Canada and making sure that the country has one holistic identity. But he is also known for his antipathy towards his political opponents, and his dislike for any sort of compromise have also gained him some critics. In fact, it has been said the it was Mackenzie King, who was the only other person who had matched such levels of electoral success as Pierre Trudeau. This mad made Canada what it is today, fought for recognition, and suppressed any factional uprisings to make the country whole. That is something that is going to be on the history books forever.


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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo

Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo, image source Facebook

Canadians felt anger and sadness when Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo ( a reservist member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) was fatally shot while taking a turn as part of the Ceremonial Guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at 9:50 a.m. on October 22, 2014.

If there is a silver lining here, it is because of Kevin Michael Vickers, Canada’s Sergeant-at-Arms. Kevin Vickers came out of his office carrying a pistol, and shot the gunman.

Kevin Vickars, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons
Image source:

But what of the National War Memorial (also known as The Response)?

It stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada.

National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)

H.M. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth unveiling the National War Memorial, Ottawa, Canada, May 21, 1939.

It commemorates the First World War, and was rededicated to include the Second World War and the Korean War. It symbolizes the sacrifice made by every Canadian who has died or may yet die for their country.



The contract for the construction of the arch was awarded in December 1937 and the entire cenotaph was completed on 19 October 1938, after which the landscaping surrounding the memorial was laid out and installed by Toronto contractors. On May 15, 1939, the Post Office Department issued a stamp called National Memorial.

On May 21, the memorial was officially unveiled by George VI, King of Canada, in the presence of an estimated 100,000 people, months before the Second World War began.

The memorial serves as the focal point of Remembrance Day (November 11) ceremonies in Ottawa.

A national scandal arose following Canada Day (July 1) in 2006, when a group of young men were photographed urinating on the memorial at night, after celebrating the national holiday. This incident prompted the establishment of a Guard of Honour at the site, though the soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard are only present between 9 am and 5 pm from June through August. The navy and the air force also do rotations here in the summer months.

Yesterday, a Canadian Forces soldier on ceremonial duty at the memorial was shot and killed by an armed man. The gunman then crossed the street and entered the Centre Block building of the nearby Canadian Parliament complex, where a firefight ensued between the shooter and members of building security. A security guard was wounded and the suspect was killed. The slain soldier was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, from Hamilton, Ontario.

Whenever the monarch or another member of the Royal Family is in Ottawa, they will, regardless of the date, lay a wreath at the monument. Other prominent dignitaries who have laid wreaths at the memorial include President of the United States John F. Kennedy in 1961 and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.

Let us never forget.


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Black History Month Part Five


Entrance to a Springhill, Nova Scotia mine. This is the entrance for a shaft that is open to the public. Taken by me in 2003.–RobNS 18:40, 30 May 2007

Last February, I posted this post.  As it is Black History Month, I’d like to see more people know this story.  And so today, I’d like to introduce you to Maurice Ruddick.

The Bump (underground earthquake)  of October 23, 1958 in Springhill, Nova Scotia, was the most severe bump in North American mining history!

A small bump occurred just as 174 coal miners began their 8 to 11 P.M. shift at the Cumberland Pit Shaft Number Two.  An hour later, a second and more intense bump happened.  Immediately, seventy-three miners were killed by a massive cave-in.  Within 24 hours, more than half of the survivors were rescued. Amazingly, six days later, on the morning of October 29, twelve more miners who were trapped 8,000 meters down, were saved.

By then, the Canadian and international news media had made their way to Springhill. The disaster actually became famous for being the first major international event to appear in live television broadcasts (on the CBC). Teams began to arrive from other coal mines: from Cumberland County, Cape Breton Island and Pictou County.

On Friday, October 31, 1958 the rescue site was visited by various dignitaries, including the Premier of Nova Scotia, Robert Stanfield and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who had been at a meetings in Ottawa.

On November 5, 1958, the last group of survivors was found!  The men, and their stories of survival, made the news in Canada and abroad.  “If it wasn’t for Maurice Ruddick, they’d all have been dead” was often quoted in these news reports.

Even though the forty-six year old father suffered a broken leg, he did everything he could to keep everyone’s morale up, especially with his singing.  For instance, on November 1, the men shared their last sandwich and water, Ruddick leading them in a loud “Happy Birthday” to Garnet Clarke.  As they waited to be saved, day after day, he kept telling jokes and singing!  When the rescuers finally arrived, Ruddick is quoted as saying, “Give me a drink of water, and I’ll sing you a song.”

One person who was so taken aback by the miracle of such heroics was the Governor of the Georgia  (United States), Marvin Griffin.  He invited the survivors to vacation and recuperate at one of his state’s luxurious resorts, Jekyll Island, usually reserved for millionaires. However, when he discovered that one of the miners was black, Maurice Ruddick,Griffin amended his offer, and said that Ruddick would have to be segregated from the others. When Ruddick heard this, he refused the offer.  But when he learned that his fellow miners would not go if Ruddick wasn’t also going, he changed his mind and accepted the offer.

So Ruddick, his wife, and the four of his twelve children, accompanied him on the trip all stayed in a separate area of the island, in trailers built by Griffin especially for the occasion, and attended separate ceremonies from the white miners.

Ruddick was named 1958’s Canadian Citizen of the Year, awarded by Ontario Premier Leslie Frost.  He described him as “an inspiration to all … a man with the divine attribute of common sense.”  For his part, Ruddick accepted the honour, “for every miner in town.”

UPDATE: an interesting legacy is his daughter, Valerie Macdonald’s, song she wrote about it.  Heather Sparling, an ethnomusicologist, has done a study of ‘Disasters Songs in Canada,’ from the Atlantic Canadian disaster songs at Cape Breton University (

To learn more about today’s post, I would suggest first is CBC Archives. Another very good page with the story, followed up with many other links is Black History Month by Historica Dominion Institute site. You still want more? No worries. A few other sites are Find a Grave.


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“Remove that blawsted Fence!”

English: Charles Tupper.

English: Charles Tupper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1869, the Métis stopped the surveyors who had been sent from Canada to mark out the land that was being taken over from the Hudson’s Bay Company (see my October 11 post:  You Go No Further!).  The next act of the drama followed on October 31.

William McDougall, Minister of Public Works in the Macdonald government, had been appointed the first lieutenant-governor of the territory.  Although Canada was not entitled to take over the territory until December 1, McDougall left Ottawa by train early in October.  On the day that Riel stopped the survey party, McDougall was at St. Cloud, in Minnesota, preparing to complete the journey to Fort Garry by Red River cart.  He was traveling like a king with his family, four assistants, and enough goods and chattels to fill sixty carts.

McDougall’s progress towards the border was being reported to Riel by agents along the way.  He reached Pembina on October 30 and was in the United States’ Customs house when a Métis handed him a note.  it was written in French and said that the National committee of Métis of Red River ordered him not to enter the Northwest Territories without special permission of the committee.

McDougall was furious!  Who were these upstarts ordering him not to enter the territory of which he had been appointed governor!  The next day he sent his secretary, J. A. N. Provencher, into the territory to investigate.  Provencher was traveling just ahead of Captain D. R. Cameron, who had recently married a daughter of Sir Charles Tupper.   He found that the Métis had erected a barrier at the Rivière Sale.  However, he made an effort to be friendly and attended mass.  Then Captain Cameron came long with his bride and two servants.  On reaching the barrier, he put a monocle in one eye, gazed coldly at the Métis, and roared, “remove that blawsted fence!”

Provencher and Cameron were escorted back to Pembina, and Sir Charles Tupper himself had to intervene to regain his son-in-law’s baggage.  McDougall had to stay at Pembina until December 1, when he crossed the border and read a proclamation that he had forged, announcing that Canada had taken over the territory.

For more about today’s post, I suggest the Manitoba Historical Society.

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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Longer Entries, October, On This Day, postaday


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Countless families forced to live almost at starvation level

English: (The Depression) The Single Men's Une...

English: (The Depression) The Single Men’s Unemployed Association parading to Bathurst Street United Church. Toronto, Canada Français : (La Dépression) Membres de la Single Men’s Unemployed Association se dirigeant vers l’Église unie de la rue Bathurst. Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On October 29, 1929, Canada experienced one of its most depressing days in history: the great market crash! Black Tuesday.

Prices suddenly crashed on the world’s stock markets, and Canada was plunged into ten years of poverty. One year after the crash, a whopping 400,000 were unemployed, and many people who did have jobs were earning less than subsistence pay. Thousands looking for work travelled through the country by hiding in freight cars. Countless families forced to live almost at starvation level for several years, were held together only by courage, character, and much self-sacrifice of parents and children.

Many families who could not find work went “on relief.” Across the country this varied from place to place. For instance, in Toronto, Ontario, a family of seven received food vouchers worth $7 a week; in Saskatchewan, a family of five was given $10 a month, along with a 98-pound sack of flour. Scarce money was usually spent on potatoes and dried beans instead of fruits.

On the morning of October 29, people who were rich in terms of stocks and shares, suddenly found that they were broke and worthless by evening.

Conditions were so bad that hotel clerks would (jokingly) ask a man registering for a room, “Sleeping or jumping, sir?”

The economic conditions did not really begin to improve until 1937. And that was mostly due to the war in 1939, when factories and farms went into full productions, providing employment at better wages.

If you want to read more about the market crash, I can certainly suggest a few sites, such as Canada History, the Investigating Answers website, and the Torontoist, and the Financial Post, and finally the Visa Journey Forum.


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… There Was a Great Deal of Eating and Drinking

Timbre-poste du Canada 3 cents 1917

Timbre-poste du Canada 3 cents 1917 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By October 28, 1864, the Quebec Conference had drawn up a blueprint for Confederation.  Seventy-two resolutions had been discussed.  When the delegates and their wives left for Montreal by special train, all but three resolutions had been approved, and these were dealt with at Montreal.

There was great jubilation because the delegates did not realize how difficult the days ahead would be – Confederation still had to be approved by the five provinces, then submitted to the British Parliament, and this was to take another two and a half years.

After their meeting at Montreal the delegates toured the chief cities of Upper and Lower Canada.  They went first to Ottawa, the new capital chosen by Queen Victoria, and had lunch in the new Parliament Buildings, although they were only half-finished.  Then they went on to Toronto, making stops at Kingston, Belleville, and Cobourg, where they were greeted by cheering crowds and brass bands.  There was a torchlight procession in Toronto as they went from the station to the Queen’s Hotel and four brass bands played along the route.  Then the tour went on to Hamilton and St. Catharines.  Everywhere, there was sight-seeing, speech-making, and a great deal of eating and drinking.  The men did the eating and drinking, while their women, in true Victorian style, sat in the galleries and watched!

The most difficult problems solved by the seventy-two resolutions included that of striking a balance between federal and provincial powers — the American Civil War had shown how important it was to have a strong federal government.  It was agreed that all powers not expressly assigned to the provinces should be reserved for the Federal Government, which could also disallow provincial legislation.

The provinces would lose a great deal of revenue by not being able to impose customs duties; so it was decided that the Federal Government would pay each province 80 cents for every member of its population.  It was agreed to build the Inter-colonial Railway between Canada and the Maritimes.  The seventy-two resolutions also made provision for the Northwest, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island, should they decide to join the Confederation later.


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