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Great Banks Earthquake & Tsunami of 1929

Tsunami in Burin Pen on November 18, 1929

The “Great Banks Earthquake of 1929” centred just off the south coast of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean. The earthquake measured 7.2 on the Richter scale at 5:15 pm. Just after 7 pm, people in the village of St. Lawrence saw the water in their harbour raise to thirty metres (99 feet).The tsunami caused 28 deaths, hundreds of people homeless, and nearly $400,000 in damage costs (nowadays that is roughly $5.5 million). The tsunami was to have been felt by those as far as New York.

When the waves first hit the coast, they hit hard. They first hit at 40 kilometres an hour and caused sea levels to rise from up to three metres all the way up to a shocking seven meters. In the narrow bays of peninsula the level rose by an even more shocking height of 13 metres and in some places, 27 metres! This made it possible for there to be houses lifted off their foundations and to be carried away by the waves of the sea. Not only causing devastation, but taking literally taking the homes of communities.

The Globe and Mail reported:

“The earthquake threshed the bed of the Atlantic with sufficient force to sever ten of the twenty-one cables connecting the Easter and Western Hemispheres.”

Hence, the people could not send out an S.O.S.

Although the tsunami’s three waves hit Burin Peninsula within the space of 30 minutes and sea levels had returned to normal after about two hours, it had destroyed more than homes. Thousands of victims confused by what had happened and upset. Many people missing and presumed dead. The mental impact this had on the victims is unimaginable.

On a final note, here is another first-hand experience of the events:

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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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Not Cowboys & Indians, Part 2

For the month of April, I’ll be continuing the series of “Indian wars in Canada,” this post will cover the 17th century.  Now, I have to say that there were skirmishes, battles and wars.  I can’t, obviously, cover every one.  So with a broad pen stroke, let’s keep going.

Beaver War Map of colonial settlements.

Map of the location of major tribes involved in the Beaver Wars laid against a period map showing colonial settlements.

In the mid-17th century, the Beaver Wars began. They were also known as the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars. These battles were fought in eastern North America.  Two of them were:

On June 19, 1610 the battle of Sorel began and continued intermittently for almost a century, and ended with the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701. It pitted the nations of the Iroquois confederation, led by the dominant Mohawks, against the Algonquian people of the Great Lakes region.  They were supported by the Kingdom of France.   Actually, the first deliberate battle in 1609 was fought at Champlain’s initiative. William Brandon, in his book, The American Heritage Book of Indians (1984), wrote that Champlain is said to have written, “I had come with no other intention than to make war.”  Unfortunately, this battle created 150-years of mistrust that diminished any chances that French-Iroquois alliances would be durable and long-lived.

Another was the Lachine Massacre (present-day Montreal, Quebec) on the morning of August 5, 1689. 1,500 Mohawk warriors attacked 375 inhabitants.  The event was precipitated by the Iroquois who wanted to avenge the 1,200,000 bushels of corn burned by the French.  But since they were unable to reach the food stores in Montreal, they kidnapped and killed the Lachine crop producers instead. 3 Mohawks and 72 French settlers were killed.  When one survivor reported to a local garrison, 4.8 km (3 miles) away, two hundred soldiers, along with 100 armed civilians and some soldiers from nearby, marched against the Iroquois.  Numerous attacks from both sides followed, but the two groups quickly realized the futility of their attempts to drive the other out.  The Montreal Treaty of 1701, concluded with the Iroquois promising to remain neutral in case of war between the French and English.

Map of King William's War.

Map of King William’s War.

Another major war of the 17th century, besides the Beaver War,  was King William’s War, from 1688 to 1697.  It was also known as the Second Indian War, Father Baudoin’s War, as well as Castin’s War. This war had many battles.  To offer a sense of the war, here is one of many battles in that war.

At Siege of Pemaquid, in 1696, New France and the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, led by St. Castine and Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, returned and fought a naval battle in the Bay of Fundy before moving on to raid Pemaquid (Maine). After the siege, d’Iberville led a force of 124 Canadians, Acadians, Mi’kmaq and Abanakis in the Avalon Peninsula Campaign. They destroyed almost every English settlement in Newfoundland, over 100 English were killed, many times that number captured, and almost 500 deported to England or France.

In retaliation, Church (Colonel Benjamin Church is considered to be the father of American ranging. He was the captain of the first Ranger force in America) went on his fourth expedition to Acadia and carried out a retaliatory raid against Acadian communities on the Isthmus of Chignecto and Fort Nashwack (now Fredericton, New Brunswick), which was then the capital of Acadia.  He led his troops personally in killing inhabitants of Chignecto, looting their household goods, burning their houses and slaughtering the livestock.

My next post will cover the 18th century.

 

 

 

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Not Cowboys & Indians: Part 1

A fellow blogger asked me recently about “Indian wars” in Canada. And so the next few posts are my replies.  Not a complete listing of wars and skirmishes, and definitely over simplified, but enough to get a decent picture, I hope.

L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Norse long house recreation, L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Courtesy D. Gordon E. Robertson.

   Before the 17th century,  there were two main conflicts.  The first was around the year 1006, between the Norsemen and the Skraeling, at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. We know this because Helge Marcus Ingstad and his wife, Anne Stine, uncovered the remnants of a Viking settlement in 1960; and from the sagas of Erik the Red; and from  indigenous accounts from the Inuit Peoples which tell of the Norse interactions and travels to their land. It proves that the Norsemen were here roughly 500 years before Christopher Columbus and John Cabot.

Sir Martin Frobisher

Portrait of Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelis Ketel, dated 1577. Oil on canvas, 211 cm x 98 cm. Courtesy of the collections of the University of Oxford.

The second was in the late 1570s,  There were skirmishes between English sailors under Martin Frobisher and the Inuit on Baffin Island. Frobisher arranged to have one the Inuit as a guide. Then he sent five men in a boat, telling them to stay a distance away from the Inuit. The crew disobeyed, and were taken captive. Frobisher searched for them, but failed to find them. So he took the guide as a hostage, hoping to make a trade. The men were never seen again, so Frobisher returned home. Inuit legend tells that the men lived among them for a few years until they died attempting to leave Baffin Island in a self-made boat.

My next post will cover skirmishes in the 17th century.

 

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Newfoundland’s Tib’s Eve

English: Newfoundland and Labrador Province wi...

Newfoundland and Labrador Province within Canada.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 23 means Tib’s eve in Newfoundland, Canada. I’d never heard of this either, until last year, anyway.

Quite interesting. Tib’s eve, from what I’ve read, means “never”. As in, “it’ll be Tib’s eve before you get that done!”

Tibb’s Eve, also known as Tipp’s Eve, Tip’s Eve or Tipsy Eve, originated on the south coast of Newfoundland.  It’s also widely recognized in other parts of the province stretching from Port-Aux-Basques to St. Anthony. The term is substantially less well known on the more urban avalon portion of the province.

The wild festivity started sometime around the mid-20th century as the first night during Advent when it was appropriate to have a drink. Advent was a sober, religious time of year and traditionally people would not drink alcohol until Christmas Day at the earliest. Tibb’s Eve emerged as an excuse to imbibe two days earlier. According to Dr. Phil Hiscock of Memorial University’s Folklore Department the tradition of celebrating Tibb’s Eve is similar to 19th century workers taking Saint Monday off from work.

“The more contemporary explanation of St. Tib’s comes from the association of the day with a Christmas tipple. In the 1500s if you were to go out for a drink you went out to a tipple, or alehouse, and were served by a tippler, the alehouse keeper. In Newfoundland – St. Tib’s became – the first real occasion to taste the homebrew, a day where the men would visit each other’s homes for a taste.”

 
Page update December 24, 2014

 

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“The Day the World Came to Town”

Cover of "THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN:...

The day the world came to town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland. Author: Jim Defede. Copyright 2002

I have just finished reading the most amazing book, and I just had to share it with you!

The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede, is an absolute read.

From the back cover, I quote:

“When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of the United States airspace, the citizens of this small community and surround towns were called upon to care for the thousands of distraught travelers.
Their response to the challenge was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could giver her a hug as a favor to her sister, who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers sheltered at her school fax letters to loved ones all over the world. And members of a local animal protection agency crawled into the cargo holds of the jets to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights.
These stories and hundreds more are beautifully rendered in The Day the World Came to Town, the true account of a community that exemplifies love, kindness, and generosity.”

I cannot add more about this book, except to say that I highly recommend everyone read this book!  Very uplifting, so many stories … Definitely, a must-read!!

 

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Dutch Territory in Ottawa

Civic Campus

Civic Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During World War II, when Holland was occupied by the Germans, Princess Juliana and her three children were evacuated to Ottawa.  The princess was due to give birth to another child, and since the baby would be in the direct line of succession to the throne of Holland, it was desirable that the birth should take place on Dutch territory.  Prime Minister Mackenzie King arranged to have a room in the Ottawa Civic Hospital ceded to  Holland, and the baby was born there.

It was not the first time that Holland had claimed territory in Canada.  In the seventeenth century the Dutch were as active as the British, French and Spanish in the establishment of colonies.  They had founded New York in 1626, calling it New Amsterdam, and invaded Newfoundland several times.  In 1674, Captain Aernoutsz, who was based in the West Indies, decided to capture Acadia, which then belonged to France.  He obtained the help of Captain John Rhoades of Boston, an experienced pilot, and organized an expedition which captured Governor Chambly and a number of small forts.  Aernoutsz then claimed the territory of Holland, and on October 27, 1676, the Dutch West India Company appointed one Cornelius Steenwijck as governor of the newly-acquired province.

Aernoutsz tried to enforce a blockade so that the ships of other nations could not trade in Acadia.  This annoyed the New Englanders who enjoyed a good trade there, and when some of their ships were seized by the Dutch, countermeasures were organized.  An armed fleet sailed from Boston and intercepted some of Rhoades’ ships in the Bay of Fundy.  There was a sea battle in which Rhoades was captured, and then taken to Boston where he was tried for treason and piracy.  Found guilty, he was fortunate not to have been hanged.  The Dutch claim to Acadia ended abruptly, before Steenwijck had ever set foot there.

There is warm friendship today between Holland and Canada, because Canadian troops helped to drive out the Germans in 1944-1945.   Every year Holland sends thousands of tulip bulbs to Ottawa, and their display in Ottawa is one of the outstanding attractions of the capital, the Tulip Festival.

 

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