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    Postal workers toil all Christmas eve to deliver mail

    December 8th, 2013

    In 1920, Montreal postal workers were on the job all night on Christmas eve, so that carriers could deliver the last of the Christmas mail on Christmas morning, Read the rest of this entry »


    Guarding Canada’s treasury from greedy hordes

    December 7th, 2013

    The early years of Confederation both appalled and titillated Canadians with perhaps the country’s most sensational—or sensationalized—political corruption and scandals. Read the rest of this entry »


    Sodom and Gomorrah in Upper Canada

    December 5th, 2013

    Canadian Freeman, York (Toronto), Upper Canada, May 26, 1831 rails against the town’s countless whore houses, one in a house controlled by a police magistrate. Read the rest of this entry »


    Sunday school class learns 10,538 Bible versus

    December 4th, 2013

    Pupils at the Sunday School of the Presbyterian Society in York, Upper Canada, “learned” 10,583 Bible verses and 4,534 hymns in 1828, says the Society’s annual report, published in the Colonial Advocate, January 29, 1829. Excerpt: Read the rest of this entry »


    Marriage prospects killed by free trade

    December 3rd, 2013

    Free trade is a bit like religion: economists now agree that it would be a good thing, if it were practiced as much as it is preached. In the nineteenth century, there was as much preaching against free trade as for it. Read the rest of this entry »


    Gold rush miners pine for Sunday preachers

    December 2nd, 2013

    The Hollywood image of the old west gold mining camps as lawless, lustful and licentious doesn’t apply to peaceful, law-abiding Canada Read the rest of this entry »


    Flies help make Montreal Canada’s deadliest city

    December 1st, 2013

    In the past two blogs we explored the fatal effects of bad milk and unsanitary slums. Add flies to the list. Flies were seen by the Montreal Star in 1910 as another cause of an infant mortality rate so high that Montreal was described by later historians as “one of the deadliest cities in the world.” Read the rest of this entry »


    Haiyan, climate change, death toll and the bleating of deniers

    December 1st, 2013

    Yesterday, November 30, the official death count from typhoon Haiyan passed 5,600, with more than 1,700 people still missing. Yet growing louder we hear the voice of those claiming that climate change poses no risk—sounding as credible as the bleating of an earlier generation of deniers who kept repeating that smoking tobacco was harmless.

    How many more tens of thousands of people must die before we learn the lessons of Haiyan?

    How many millions more left homeless before we learn that we must cut back on burning coal, oil and natural gas, as fast as possible?

    Haiyan is tragic confirmation that climate change is hurting now, not at some time in the distant future. And it’s getting worse. Weather disasters— storms, floods, droughts, heat waves and Read the rest of this entry »