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    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 »


    Joyous winter sleigh ride to Porcupine gold mines

    November 21st, 2013

    Development of mines that would make the Porcupine Lake area of northern Ontario one of the world’s great gold-producing areas was still in its infancy in 1910 when the Montreal Star described winter travel to a  new mining camp. Excerpts from the Montreal Star, January 31, 1910.

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    Police wink at gambling in the Great North West

    November 20th, 2013

    At the start of the twentieth century, gambling was prohibited in all “civilized countries,” but winked at by the police in the Great North West, Read the rest of this entry »


    An Irish catholic bishop blesses the victory of a protestant Scottish politician

    October 22nd, 2013

    Catholic and protestant friction was often raw in nineteenth century Canada, and perhaps no more so than in St. John’s, Newfoundland. So it was a rare incident of political ecumenism when the city’s predominantly Irish Catholics elected a Scottish Presbyterian to the colony’s Legislative Council. Read the rest of this entry »


    Drinkers suffer alcoholic poison because it’s the social custom

    October 16th, 2013

    People don’t drink because they like the stuff, but simply because it’s the accepted thing to do, argued the Winnipeg Times on April 15, 1879. Read the rest of this entry »


    When flush toilets et al powered greater change than the Internet and the digital revolution

    May 8th, 2013

    An inscription on a rural tombstone of a man who lived from 1869 to 1952 reminds us that this was an era that wrought greater change—the practical use of electricity, automobiles, refrigeration, aircraft, radio, movies, television, and flush toilets—than the Internet and the digital revolution. Read the rest of this entry »


    XENOPHOBIA 05: Former slave girl must abandon husband and baby

    May 7th, 2013

    On November 12, 1930, Canada’s supreme court ordered Gee Shu Moy, a 19-year-old former Vancouver slave girl, deported to central China. She must abandon not only her Canadian-born husband, Lim Fat Chung, but also either abandon her six-month-old son, a Canadian citizen, or raise him “in the poverty stricken confines” of her native village, the Toronto Globe reported. Read the rest of this entry »


    Fire demolishes Vancouver in 2 hours

    April 11th, 2013

    Barely two months after it was incorporated, the City of Vancouver was demolished within two hours, as fire roared through its one thousand wooden framed buildings while its 3,000 residents ran for safety to the water of Burrard Inlet, throwing themselves on rafts, boats, anything that would float in a stormy sea. Read the rest of this entry »


    Avalanche kills 62 in worst railway disaster at Rogers Pass in Selkirk Mountains

    April 9th, 2013

    On March 4, 1910, a work crew of 63 men, a 91-ton locomotive with a rotary snowplow, and railway cars to house the workers, were  dispatched from Revolstoke to clear deep snow from an avalanche that buried a section of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Rogers Pass in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. A second, sudden, unexpected avalanche killed 62 of the workers in Canada’s worst railway disaster. Read the rest of this entry »