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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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It Began with Station XSW1!

Are you a fan of science fiction?  Do you like the ones, especially tv or movie format?  What about the early ones in the 50s?  Even if you answer no, I expect you will enjoy today’s post; if you said yes, you are in for a treat.

Space Command was a CBC original Canadian children’s science fiction television adventure series.  It aired beween 1953 and 1954, making it the first time the network aired its own dramatic series in Canada. The program presented a depiaction of life on the fictional space station XSW1 operated by the worldwide Space Command, featuring the activities of Frank Anderson (Bob Barclay).

Another character on the show,  Phil Mitchell, was portrayed by James Doohan (born on March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia, who gained international attention as a regular on the 1960s television series Star Trek as Chief Engineer Scotty. He died on July 20, 2005 at the age of 85).

William Shatner (born on March 22, 1931, in Côte Saint-Luc, Montreal, Quebec) the leading actor on Star Trek as Captain James Kirk, also appeared on episodes of Space Command.

Early Photo of William Shatner

Promotional photo for the aborted 1959 CBS television series Nero Wolfe
Source
Self scan of CBS promotional photo appearing in the January 1968 issue of Movie Life magazine (Vol. 31, No. 1), page 35

Another cast member was Austin Willis. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1917, and died on April 4, 2004. An interesting note is that he achieved attention for his appearance as Simmons, the man whom Auric Goldfinger beats at cards in the opening scenes of the James Bond film, Goldfinger. Originally he was to have played Felix Leiter but at the last-minute, fellow Canadian Cec Linder switched roles with him.

Yet another cast member you might know, especially if you are a sci-fi enthusiast, is Barry Morse who went on to be a part of the TV series The Fugitive and Space: 1999.

The series taught about topics such as asteroids, space medicine, meteorites and evolution.

Unfortunately, we can’t see the episodes online.  Nova Scotia media historian Ernest Dick lamented the loss of recordings of nearly all the series episodes, despite the production of kinescopes for distribution to CBC stations across Canada. The only known extant recording is that of one November 1953 episode. You can read his thoughts with the .pdf: Vanishing Media: Space Command

 

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Canada’s Roswell-Like Incidents

Shag Harbor Sign Identifying the 1967 UFO Incident.

Shag Harbor Sign Identifying the 1967 UFO Incident. Source: Wikipedia.org user 3h3dsfa4

I am reading Weird Canadian Places by Dan de Figueiredo, which is really entertaining.  It is a “Humorous, Bizarre, Peculiar & Strange locations & Attractions across the Nation.”

Here’s an example of what you can find in the book.  He writes about Canada’s version of Roswell, in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia.  It involves an apparent crash of a UFO, many witnesses, government and military investigations, surveillance and strange and odd smells, sights and sounds.

Shag is a small fishing village at the southern tip of Nova Scotia.  At about 11:20 p.m. on October 4, 1967, witnesses saw strange orange lights, then it turned at a 45-degree angle and seemed to crash towards the water with a bright flash and an explosion.   According to witnesses, the object had bright yellow lights floating on the surface of the water, about 18.3 metres in diameter and trailed yellow foam behind it.  It also smelled of sulphur.

Many people contacted the RCMP to report the incident.  If you look at the official papers about it, you ‘d read that it was a large aircraft that crashed in the harbour — no mention of a UFO.

That’s because one witness in particular, Laurie Wickens, told the authorities that he had seen a large airplane or small airliner crash into the Gulf of Maine.  This prompted an immediate response.  Ten RCMP officers arrived at the scene within fifteen minutes, concerned that the downed passengers would drown.  Within a half hour of the crash, local fishermen arrived at the site.  Within an hour after the crash, the Canadian Coast Guard arrived.

The next day, the Canadian military sent the HMCS Granby to the site to investigate.  By then, however, all that was left was a bit of yellow foam.  They dived for four days trying to find “something,” but came up empty.

This incident is not the only one Canadians have reported witness to.  A few of the others are:

  • May 19, 1967, Falcon Lake, Manitoba. Stefan Michalak was burned by one of two flying saucers with which he reportedly came into contact.
  • January 1, 1969, Prince George, B.C.. Three unrelated witnesses reported a strange, round object in the late afternoon sky.
  • 1975-1976, Southern Manitoba.  Several sightings were reported of a red glowing UFO, sometimes described as “mischievous” or “playful”.
  • October 1978, Clarenville, Newfoundland and Labrador.  Constable Jim Blackwood of the RCMP saw a sighting of a flying saucer hovering over the harbour near the town of Clarenville and Random Island.  When he switched on the roof lights of his police cruiser the craft appeared to mimic the flashing lights.
  • November 7, 1990, Montreal, Quebec, aerial phenomenon.  Witnesses reported a round, metallic object of about 540 metres wide over the rooftop pool of the Bonaventure Hotel. Eyewitnesses saw 8 to 10 lights forming into a circle above them, emitting bright white rays. The phenomenon lasted three hours, from 7 to 10 p.m., and moved slowly northwards.
  • 2006, Ajax, Ontario.  A UFO was Photographed.
  • 2007, Chilliwack, British Columbia, UFO witnessed by Dave Francis and Kelly McDonald.
  • January 25, 2010, Harbour Mille, Newfoundland and Labrador. A photograph taken revealed one of the UFOs to resemble a missile. There was an investigation by the community’s police force and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Another minor report of this incident came from Calgary, Alberta, where boys playing hockey reported seeing similar objects, about which they stated “We thought they were transformers.”

If you are still intrigued about this, I can direct you to a few places on the ‘Net.  There is a large database at MUFON (The Mutual UFO Network), at Canadian UFO Survey, and at UFO Roundup Articles Canada.
 

 

 

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Diplomatic Faux Pas

There was a controversial phrase in a speech delivered on July 24, 1967, during an official visit to Canada under the pretext of attending Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec. So let me introduce you to President Charles de Gaulle of France.

French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963

French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Wegmann, Ludwig – Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), B 145 Bild-F015892-0010

The Canadian federal government had been concerned about President de Gaulle for two reasons. One, the French government had not sent a representative to the funeral service for Governor General Georges Vanier on March 5, 1967, even though Vanier and his wife, Pauline, had been personal friends of de Gaulle since 1940; and two because later in April, de Gaulle did not attend the 50th anniversary ceremonies commemorating the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge.

In the spring of 1966, as part of the Expo ’67 diplomatic protocols, De Gaulle and all world leaders whose countries had an exhibit at the fair were invited to visit Canada during the spring and summer of 1967, and a few months later, de Gaulle was also sent a separate invitation to visit Quebec by Quebec premier Daniel Johnson. Although a visiting head of state, the president did not arrive in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as would be conventional protocol. Instead, he arrived in Quebec City, the province of Quebec’s capital city. There, De Gaulle was cheered enthusiastically, while the new governor general, Roland Michener, was booed by the same crowd when “God Save the Queen” was played at his arrival.

On July 24, de Gaulle arrived in Montreal and was driven up the Chemin du Roy to Montreal City Hall, where Mayor Jean Drapeau and Premier Johnson waited. De Gaulle was not scheduled to speak that evening, but the crowd chanted for him.  He said to Drapeau: “I have to speak to those people who are calling for me”.  An opportune momen for De Gaulle to voice what he had prepared.

He stepped out onto the balcony and spoke to the assembled masses, which was also broadcast live on radio. In his speech he commented that his drive down the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, lined as it had been with cheering crowds, reminded him of his triumphant return to Paris after the liberation from Nazi Germany. The speech concluded with the words “Vive Montréal ! Vive le Québec !” (“Long live Montreal! Long live Quebec!”), but he then added, “Vive le Québec libre ! Vive, vive, vive le Canada français ! Et vive la France !” (“Long live free Quebec! Long live, long live, long live French Canada! And long live France!”),

This statement, coming from the French head of state, was considered a serious breach of diplomatic protocol.  It emboldened the Quebec sovereignty movement, and produced tensions between the leadership of the two countries. The crowd’s reaction to De Gaulle’s phrase was emotional, and has been described as frenzied,Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson rebuked de Gaulle with an official statement, delivered to the French Embassy on July 25, and he read it on national television that evening.  He said “The people of Canada are free. Every province in Canada is free. Canadians do not need to be liberated. Indeed, many thousands of Canadians gave their lives in two world wars in the liberation of France and other European countries.”

There was an uproar afterwards, which resulted in de Gaulle cutting short his visit to Canada.  The day after the speech, de Gaulle visited Expo ’67.  The next day, instead of continuing his visit on to Ottawa, where he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Pearson, he decided to return to France on a French military jet plane.

De Gaulle was also heavily criticized by a large part of the French media for his breach of international protocol, in particular by Le Monde.

I would suggest visiting Ici Radio Canada for a video of the speech in question.

 

 

 

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Capturing an Underwater Goddess!

Benjamin Von Wong

Benjamin Von Wong is a photographer from Montreal.  I recently saw his photographs featuring a beautiful woman, underwater, with a 50-year old shipwreck.  You can see how amazing his photos are.  Then I continued to be surprised when I learned that these photos were not photoshopped!  In Bali, he and his team dove underwater to take these shots.  The model had to hold her breath for 3 to 4 minutes at a time!  Yep, very impressive.

I could not find much about who Wong is, unfortunately.  And though I would have liked to dig deeper, I also think that his works tell a story all on their own.  So I am giving you links that you can follow to see his amazing work for yourself!

The best place to start, would be his official website at www.vonwong.com.  He has his own dedicated Facebook page that is entertaining. Then another site that showcases his work would be at My Modern Met blog.  I suggest you visit where I first learned of Von Wong, at demilked.

 

 

 

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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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Machine Gun Molly

In this post, I’d like to write a little about Monica Proetti, a bank robber.

Pic of Monica Proietti

Monica Proietti, mieux connue sous le nom de « Monica la mitraille », était voleuse de banques et héros populaire. Date 5 September 2007 Source Own work Author:  Hellebore

 

Monica Proietti, was born on February 25, 1940; she died on September 19, 1967.  She was a Montreal bank robber and folk hero better known as “Machine Gun Molly” and in French, she is known as Monica la Mitraille.

Monica came from a poor Montreal family, and crime was not foreign in the house.  For instance, her grandmother served time in jail for receiving stolen goods; she reportedly ran a school for crime for the neighbourhood children.

In 1956, at the age of 17, Monica married Anthony Smith, a Scottish gangster, who was 33 years old. The couple had two children. Smith was deported from Canada in 1962. She then became romantically involved with Viateur Tessier, but he was jailed in 1966 for armed robbery.

When she was 19, four of her seven siblings perished in a fire in downtown Montreal.

Monica and her accomplices held up more than 20 banks, stealing over an estimated $100,000. On September 19, 1967 Monica died after crashing into a bus and being shot twice by an undercover police officer following a high-speed chase through the north-end of Montreal. Reportedly, this was to have been her last bank robbery, intended to fund a new life in Florida.

A 2004 Quebec film Monica la Mitraille (Machine Gun Molly in English) was loosely based on her life. The film was adapted from the book Souvenirs de Monica by Georges-Hébert Germain.

 

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