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WHO’s Warning

SARS virus

The SARS Coronavirus, from: http://www.cdc.gov/sars/lab/images.html

SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, the epidemic, spread faster than expected at a time when immediate global news is taken for granted. Just remembering the warnings are enough to make me cringe. In Canada alone, there were 251 cases, and 44 of these died.  But thank goodness, on July 5, 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the epidemic was no more. In total, SARS took about 775 people’s lives from 29 countries.

The epidemic of SARS was started in China in November 2002. The first reported case of SARS, a farmer, was treated in the Hospital.  The patient died soon after, and no definite diagnosis was made on his cause of death. Despite taking some action to control it, Chinese government officials did not inform the World Health Organization of the outbreak until February 2003.

It was actually good timing that allowed Canada to learn about the virus.  Canada’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), is an electronic warning system that is part of the World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak and Alert Response Network (GOARN), that picked up reports of a “flu outbreak” in China.  Thankfully, GPHIN had recently been upgraded to enable Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish translations.  Prior, the system was limited to English or French.  Still, an English report was not generated until 21 January 2003.

The CDC and a Canadian laboratory identified the SARS genome in April, 2003.

Masked Palm Civet

Masked Palm Civet

In late May 2003, studies from samples of wild animals sold as food in the local market in Guangdong, China, found the SARS virus could be isolated from palm civets, even though they didn’t show any symptoms. The preliminary conclusion was the SARS virus crossed the xenographic barrier from palm civet to humans, and more than 10,000 masked palm civets were killed. The virus was also later found in raccoon dogs, ferret badgers, and domestic cats. In 2005, two studies identified a number of SARS-like viruses in Chinese bats.

Health care providers were the heroes.  Even at risk to themselves, they cared for the sick around the clock.  The BBC wrote a wonderful tribute to these men and women.

 

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Official Recognition From Canada

English: John G. Diefenbaker, M.P., speaking i...

English: John G. Diefenbaker, M.P., speaking in the House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada Français : John G. Diefenbaker, député, faisant une intervention à la Chambre des communes, Ottawa, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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At the beginning of the 20th century, Britain was still guiding Canada‘s foreign relations.  Later in the century, Canada was often accused of following U.S.’s lead in foreign affairs, despite Ottawa’s refusal to join the Organization of American States.  But there was consternation in Canada, the U.S.A., and some other parts of the world on October 13, 1970, when Mitchell Sharp, Minister of External Affairs, announced in the House of Commons that Canada was giving official recognition to the Republic of China.

The move should not have come as a surprise.  Negotiations had taken place of twenty-two months.  In fact, the first steps dated back to 1960 when Communist China bought 200,000,000 bushels of wheat from Canada, government led by John Diefenbaker.

Relations became closer when Pierre Elliott Trudeau became Prime Minister in 1968 (see my April 6 post: Trudeau Elected).  Trudeau had paid extensive visits to China in 1949 and 1960.  The second visit was as a member of the first group of white Westerners to be admitted since the revolution and the visit lasted six weeks.  In 1966, Trudeau was a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations and he was in favour of the Communist government’s admission as the official representative of China at the U.N.  He also told his colleagues that Canada should recognize Communist China.

Canada’s delay in recognizing Communist China is believed to have been due to unwillingness to embarrass the U.S.A.   By 1970, the U.S. A. probably welcomed Canada’s move.  The New York Times reported that most Americans approved; only the most better anti-Communists were opposed.

Canada’s move was soon followed by the establishment of an embassy from Peking in Ottawa.  Communist China was admitted to United Nations as the official representative of China, and President Nixon of the U.S.A. announced that he was going to China to visit the Communist leaders.

There is little doubt that Canada’s recognition of China in 1970 helped to break the dangerous log jam in international affairs.

To learn more about today’s post, I suggest the Government of Canada, and the Canada Treaty Information, and the University of Alberta China Institute, as well as the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, and finally the Review of the Bilateral Political Relations.

 

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Vancouver Citizens Celebrate

English: Engine 374 of the first Canadian Paci...

Engine 374 of the first Canadian Pacific Railway passenger train to arrive in Vancouver – May 23, 1887. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The short route to China, which explorers from Cabot onwards had hoped to find, really came into being on May 23, 1887 when the first C.P.R. transcontinental passenger train arrived at the new west coastal terminal, the city of Vancouver.  It was drawn by engine 374, now displayed in Kitsilano Park, Vancouver, and clambered through every day by children.

Vancouver had only been incorporated as a city the previous April, and was destroyed by fire in June.  Yet, when 374 puffed in on May 23, it had been rebuilt and was a vivid sight with fir arches, garlands and slogans.  There were many rounds of “three cheers and a tiger” for the C.P.R.

Port Moody, farther up Burrard Inlet, was supposed to be the Canadian Pacific terminal and still is officially, but William Van Horne moved the end of the line to Vancouver, to allow deeper berthing water for a shipping service.  The C.P.R. had already made its plans for steamship routes across the Pacific.  The Abyssinia of 3,000 tons had sailed from Yokohama and arrived at Vancouver on June 14, with first class passengers and a cargo of tea.  She had crossed the Pacific in thirteen days.  Her passengers reached Montreal twenty-seven days after leaving Japan.  Things were speeding up in the world! The Abyssinia also carried the first transpacific mail and the pioneer cargo of silk.  For many years, the fast “silk trains” were something to behold, as they roared across the continent with their precious cargo, some to Prescott, Ontario, whence they were ferried to Ogdensburg, N.Y.

Vancouver grew quickly with the arrival of the railway.  By the end of the year its population was 5,000 with new settlers arriving every day.  Two years later it had grown to 8,000, and eventually it became the third largest city in Canada.

An important “first” for Canada, I’m sure you’ll agree. To learn more about this, there are a few places to check out; for instance, a very good place to start is at the Canadian Pacific Railway, for a great article and photos. Other places to visit are The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, and an interesting blog by the Stanley Park, and finally Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

 

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King Charles II granted HBC Charter

Hudson' Bay Company

Hudson’ Bay Company (Photo credit: Gregalicious)

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On May 2, 1670, King Charles II granted a charter to the “Merchant Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay,” which came to be known as the Hudson’s Bay Company.  It was a momentous charter in the history of Canada.

The head of the company was the king’s cousin, Prince Rupert, who rated in warfare as Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky do in hockey.  He would go into battle clad in scarlet, adorned with silver lace, and mounted on a black Arabian charger.  He was also a good mathematician, understood chemistry and made gunpowder.  The trading area granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company was known as Rupert’s Land, which extended from Labrador to the Rocky Mountains (although the Rockies had not then been seen by white men).

The company was given absolute power to control the fur trade, rule the inhabitants, make laws and even go to war.  Its duties included finding the Northwest Passage to China, gold, silver and anything precious.  It was not required to bring in settlers, or try to convert Indians to Christianity, as was the Company of New France.  In fact, 100 years passed before a priest went to the trading posts.

There was a condition that if the king visited the area he must be given two black elks and two black beaver skins.  These were given to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when they visited Winnipeg in 1939.

The company nearly always made a good profit, sometimes as high as 200 percent in a single year, but it had its lean years as well, especially when it was in competition with the Northwest Company, a rivalry that came close to civil war.

The activities of the company were also challenged by France.  In October, only a few months after it had been formed, Intendant Talon sent a mission to Hudson Bay where the Le Moyne brothers of Montreal captured the Hudson’s Bay Company posts.  The most famous Le Moyne of them all, Iberville, won the biggest naval victory in French history in Hudson Bay.

Despite the opposition, the Hudson’s Bay Company was a major force in the development of Canada.

The birth of Hudson’s Bay Company is such an important part of Canada, that I am sure some of you will want to read more about it. So, a few places to start looking is CBC Learning – a People’s History; BC Heritage – Family Album; The Government of Manitoba website; Canada History.com; from the University of Alberta – Hudson’s Bay Company: Incorporated 2nd May 1670: A brief history; and The Canadian Encyclopedia.

 

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“I believe that this was the land God allotted to Cain”

English: Map of Jacques Cartier's first voyage...

Map of Jacques Cartier’s first voyage to North America in 1534. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 20, 1534, marked the beginning of Jacques Cartier‘s first historic voyage to Canada.  He made the crossing to Bonavista, Newfoundland, in the incredible time of twenty days.

After an overhaul, Cartier took his ships northward along the east coast of Newfoundland to the Strait of Belle Isle, which had already been named by French fishermen.  He explored the strait which he hoped was the beginning of a river leading to China.  He knew from the movement of the water that there must be a great river ahead.

After exploring the Labrador coast in small boats, Cartier became discouraged.  The land was so desolate and poor that her wrote in his diary:

“I believe that this was the land God allotted to Cain.”

Along here he saw natives for the first time and wrote that they tied their hair on top of their heads like wreaths of hay!

Cartier made his way along the west coast of Newfoundland which he saw only occasionally through the fog.  Gradually, the country improved, especially along the north shore which is now Prince Edward Island.  He was still hoping to find the route to Cathay (China) and  was fired with hope when he sailed into a deep inlet in the Gaspé.  The inlet opened out into a bay which he named “Chaleur”, the French word for “heat”.  The weather was so hot that Cartier expected to find figs growing there.

When Cartier landed he was greeted by the natives who sang, danced and waded out into the water.  The French raised a huge wooden cross on the shore, and nailed a shield on it, with a crest bearing the fleurs-de-lis and the words, “Vive le Roy de France.”  A monument was erected there 400 years later.

Although it was only July, Cartier felt that he should hurry back to France before winter came.  He persuaded an Indian chief to let him take two of his sons, promising to bring them back the next year.  Cartier, in return, gave the natives all the presents he could, especially shirts, red caps and other clothing.

One of the most valuable features of the exploit was the careful diary Cartier kept, in his own writing.  It is one of the world’s truly historic documents.

Interesting, isn’t it? To read more extensively about this, I suggest History World.org and an interesting article at Sympatico, as well as a new site I found at the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, and another new site for me is Helium, which seems to be a community “where knowledge rules.”

I find reading a diary from time past very interesting. As such, I found a wonderful blog called Jacques Cartier, a blog devoted to Cartier (as the name implies). There’s a well-written .pdf of his journals from Government of historial narratives of early Canada from the government of Manitoba.  You might also want to read Upper Canada History.

 

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