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Brrrr X 10

Since Canada has been keeping record of temperatures, we’ve had proof of just how cold it was in previous years. So, a little trivia for you, here are 10 coldest records in Canada’s history:

ColdestTempDays
Stay warm, everyone!

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18 Comments

Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Trivia, Weather

 

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From Peach Basket to Fame

Basketball is a sports game that’s familiar to everyone worldwide. I don’t think there are many who do not know about basketball, or even a few rules of how the game is played.  But some do not know the history of the game.  Allow me to offer a quick refresher.

  • James Naismith, Canadian educator and a sports recreationalist, invented the game in 1891.
  • The game was created in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • It took Naismith and his team about 14 days to form the rules of the game.
  • That basketball was initially played using peach baskets as hoops.
  • That it was then played with 9 players on the court per team.
  • That the first ball use in basketball was actually a soccer ball.

Throughout the years, basketball has been polished and the rules were changed that only 5 players per team are now playing on the court. The peach baskets were also replaced by iron rims with nylon nets beneath. The point system was also refined. The soccer ball was replaced with an official basketball. Long range shooting or the three-point shot were also included in the game.

James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861 in Almonte, Ontario (Canada); he passed away on November 28, 1939 at the age of 78 in Lawrence, Kansas (United States).

He studied physical education in Montreal (Quebec) before moving to the United States, where he developed basketball while teaching at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts.

First basketball team at the University of Kansas, 1899.  Coach James Naismith is on the far right.

First basketball team at the University of Kansas, 1899. Coach James Naismith is on the far right. Source http://www.kumc.edu/research/medicine/anatomy/sutton/biology_and_basketball.html Author: Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

Naismith was also a National Guard chaplain with the First Kansas Infantry Regiment. He taught his soldiers basketball to control their excess energy. His effort helped increase morale and even lowered the rate of disciplinary actions among soldiers.

He lived to see basketball adopted as an Olympic demonstration sport in 1904 and as an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, as well as the birth of both the National Invitation Tournament (1938) and the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship (1939).

Naismith’s contributions to basketball have earned him several posthumous honors, such as in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame, the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame, and the FIBA Hall of Fame. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he is a member of the original Hall of Fame class, was named in Naismith’s honour.

 

 

 

 

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My Top 5

It is said that the weather is something Canadians talk about a lot.  I find myself counting the weeks left to see Spring temperatures.  For today’s post, I decided to describe my top 5 weather stories of 2013.

Photo of a street in Alberta during the floods of 2013

Alberta Floods in 2013

 

1.  Alberta’s super flood of May/June washed across one-quarter of the province and through the heart of Calgary – the fourth largest city in Canada.  The damage losses and recovery costs from the flood to exceed $6 billion, including a record $2 billion in insured losses. Trees were literally skinned of their bark 10 metres above the ground by gravel and boulders barrelling along in rushing waters. In Calgary’s downtown, 4,000 businesses were impacted and 3,000 buildings were flooded. Water rose at the Saddledome up to the 10th row. In Stampede Park, stables and barns were under more than two metres of water.

2. Toronto’s Torrent of July  when the city faced two separate storm cells – one on the heels of the other – that slowed then stalled over the city. The one-two weather punch delivered more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees during an entire July. Exacerbating the storm’s impact was the 38 mm of rain that had fallen on the city the day before. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated the July 8 storm costs at close to $1 billion in damages – the most expensive natural disaster ever in Ontario. Videos captured cars bobbing up and down on streets and highways, sinkholes opening up and snakes swimming inside stalled commuter trains. Thousands were stranded, necessitating rescue by boat in some instances. About 500,000 households were without power for as much as days.

3. February Fog on Fogo. No one got off Newfoundland’s Fogo Island for five days at the end of the month because heavy ice conditions and dense fog shut down ferry and air travel. The Island’s school closed, stores ran low on supplies and residents were unable to attend off-island medical appointments. Feelings of isolation and frustration only increased as strong winds blew more fog in on the Island instead of blowing it away.

4. The Nightmare during Christmas, happened the weekend before Christmas as a vigorous winter storm coated parts of eastern Canada with a thick mixture of snow, ice pellets, rain and freezing rain that plunged large parts of the region into days of cold and darkness. Thick glaze left roads and sidewalks slick and dangerous and knocked down power lines, leaving over 500,000 people without electricity. Though

Downed trees on a road

Nightmare During Christmas

picturesque, the Christmas storm created extremely dangerous conditions as fallen power lines intertwined with broken tree limbs dangled across streets and property. The affected area extended from Lake Huron, across the Greater Toronto Area, east along Highway 401 to Cornwall, through Quebec’s Eastern Townships and across the central Maritimes centred on the Bay of Fundy. The epicentre of the freezing rain was in southern Ontario between Niagara and Trenton where between 20 and 30 mm fell – more than two-year’s worth in two days. It crippled North American transportation at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

5. Prairie Perpetual Winter. Environment Canada considers the months of December through February as winter. Tell that to Canadians on the Prairies, where cold, snow and ice went on for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013, inclusive – the longest and coldest period in 16 years. Snows came early, stayed late and never disappeared. As a result, it felt and looked like winter from before Thanksgiving to a month after Easter. And with deep snow on the ground any warm-up was stalled until late May. Persistent cold – between March 1 and April 30, the average temperature in Regina was -8°C; eleven degrees colder than the previous year and the coldest period in 113 years. The prolonged winter was especially costly for governments. By the end of January, Saskatchewan had already spent $6 million more than usual on snow and ice control with much more to come.

I guess this year’s winter isn’t so bad after all.

 

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Medicine Man’s Hat

Medicine Hat in Alberta was named in 1882 by Cpl Walter Johnson of the North-West Mounted Police. Johnson may have simply translated the Blackfoot Saamis, “head-dress of a medicine man”, in reference to the shape of a small hill.

Medicine Hat

View from the Finley Bridge, looking southwest toward City Hall and Court of Queen’s Bench. MedHatRiverViewCC BY-SA 3.0
Festbock – Own work

However, at least 13 legends about the naming of the place have evolved over the years.

One story often told claims a Blackfoot medicine man was killed during a battle with the Cree medicine man’s hat, with the Cree fleeing.

When some suggestions were made in 1910 to give the city a more prosaic name, such as Gasburg, or Smithville, the calamity was stifled after famous British writer Rudyard Kipling sharply rebuked the thought of such insolence.

There is a great book, Dictionary of Canadian Place Names that I still refer to for research, and sometimes just to read through. To visit the official page for the city of Medicine hat, click HERE! If you are thinking of visiting Medicine Hat someday, I refer you to Medicine Hat Tourism.

 

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Looney? See “Lunatic”

If you look up the Looney on Wikipedia, here’s the first sentence:

“This article is about the coin. For the Canadian dollar as a currency, see Canadian dollar. For a mentally ill person, see lunatic.

The Big Loonie in Echo Bay, Ontario.

The Big Loonie in Echo Bay, Ontario.

Here’s a bit of trivia you might not have known, or may have forgotten. The original design for the loonie was to be a sketching of a voyageur on the dies ([dahy] noun, plural dies; an engraved stamp for impressing a design upon some softer material, as in coining money.) that were created in Ottawa, and were sent to Winnipeg’s Royal Canadian Mint to be manufactured. To save a whopping $43.50, they were  instead shipped via a local courier. The Mint disagreed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s later investigation’s contention that the dies were simply lost in transit, believing instead that they were stolen. The dies were never recovered.

Fearing the possibility of counterfeiting after the loss, the government approved a new design for the reverse, replacing the voyageur with a Robert-Ralph Carmichael design of a common loon floating in water. The coin was immediately nicknamed the “loonie” across English Canada, and became known as a “huard”, French for “loon”, in Quebec. The loonie entered circulation on June 30, 1987, as 40 million coins were introduced into major cities across the country, though an error by the banks resulted in some Calgary residents receiving the coins one week earlier.

Another story about the loonie, is how it became known as the “lucky loonie.”  For the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, Dan Craig was invited as a National Hockey League’s ice making consultant, He invited a couple of members from the ice crew in his hometown of Edmonton to assist. One of them, Trent Evans, secretly placed a loonie under the ice.  Both men and women Canadian teams went on to win gold medals. Several members of the women’s team kissed the spot where the coin was buried following their victory. After the men won their final, the coin was dug up and given to Wayne Gretzky, the team’s executive-director, who revealed the existence of the “lucky loonie” at a post-game press conference.  You can view the coin at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Canadians have subsequently hidden loonies at several international competitions. Loonies were buried in the foundations of facilities built for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

 

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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.

 
9 Comments

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

 

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