You can listen to his podcast episode on Canadian History Ehx on all podcast platforms.
As Canada moved through the 1870s, it would see more growth and continued changes as the new nation found its feet.
So, let’s look at the year that was 1871 in Canada.
On Jan. 30, Wilfred Lucas was born in Norfolk County, Ontario. He would eventually make his way to Broadway and debut in 1904 before finding his way to Biograph Studios run by D.W. Griffith. A Canadian pioneer in the early years of Hollywood and would become successful as an actor, director and screenwriter. He would appear in over 375 films over the course of 30 years.
On Feb. 20, Paul Kane would pass away in Toronto at the age of 60. He was noted for his paintings of the First Nations peoples in the Canadian West. A self-taught artist, he would begin travelling throughout the northwest area of Canada in 1845, eventually reaching Fort Vancouver in 1846. Kane was one of the first Canadian painters to make a living from artwork alone and possibly the first tourist to travel across the Canadian west and Pacific Northwest.
On March 10, the government of Manitoba would meet for the first time following its election and establishment the previous year.
On March 21, Ontario held an election with Edward Blake’s Liberals winning a majority government over J.S. Macdonald and his Liberal-Conservatives. Blake would win 43 seats, and increase of two over the previous election, while Macdonald took 38 seats, a drop of three.
On April 2, the first official Canadian census was completed. The population of the country would be listed as 3,689,257 people.
On May 8, the Treaty of Washington was signed to grant fishing rights and Great Lakes trade between Canada and the United States. The new agreement helped to settle various disputes between the two countries. It was also a watershed moment for the two countries as it began the permanent peaceful relations between the United States and Canada that has continued to this day.
On May 16, Nova Scotia held an election to elect members to its Legislature. William Annand would win 24 seats, a drop of 33 per cent, while still winning the election for the Liberals. Hiram Blanchard and the Conservative Party saw a 600 per cent increase in seats, going from just two in 1867 to 14 in the next election.
A rather grim thing happened on July 15 when Phoebe Campbell murdered her husband with an axe. She had originally said that two men broke into her log cabin and killed her husband and six men were arrested. However, doubts soon began to arise since she did not do anything to save her husband and showed no emotion during his funeral. She would eventually go on trail in 1872 and be found guilty. She would be hanged soon after the guilty verdict.
On July 20, British Columbia would officially join Confederation as the newest province in Canada.
Five days alter, Treaty 1, the first of the western treaties with First Nations, was signed. The treaty was between the Anishinabe and Swampy Cree nations and had the indigenous groups agree to cede, release and surrender land in southern Manitoba to the government. Unfortunately, within one year the government would already be delaying providing several items it had promised.
On July 25, Richard Ernest William Turner was born in Quebec City. He would go on to join the Canadian Army and serve in the Second Boer War and the First World War. During the Boer War, he commanded a small group of men who repelled a large force of Boers at close range. For his efforts, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. He would reach the rank of Brigadier General at the start of the war, and become a Lt. General by the end of the war.
On Aug 17, Treaty 2 would be signed between Canada and the Chippewa and Cree people and would cover much of the future land Manitoba would grow into. I will be going into detail about the treaties in a future episode of the podcast.
On Sept. 8, Robert Samuel McLaughlin was born in Ontario. He would eventually start the McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1907, which was one of the first major car manufacturers in Canada. This would eventually evolve into General Motors of Canada. His brother John would eventually found Canada Dry, which Robert would run from 1914 to 1923.
On Nov. 11, the last of the British army would leave Canada after centuries of occupying territory.
On Nov. 18, Enos Collins would pass away at the age of 97. He was the founder of the Halifax Banking Company, which would one day merge with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. A supporter of the Anti-Confederation Party, his estate was estimated to be worth $6 million, which would make it the largest personal fortune in Canada at that time.
British Columbia would hold its first election following its establishment as a province. The province had to choose 25 members for its Legislature through 12 riding so. Polling was done from October to December and conducted by a show of hands on nomination day. There were no organized political parties at the time. A total of 46 candidates picked up 3,804 votes and John Foster McCreight would become British Columbia’s first premier.
On Dec. 13, Emily Carr was born. She would become a noted Canadian artist and writer who was greatly inspired by the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. While she did not receive widespread recognition for her works in her lifetime, she is now considered to be one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia and a Canadian icon.
On Dec. 14, Marc-Amable Girard would become the first Francophone premier of Manitoba after he replaced Alfred Boyd, who had resigned as premier only five days previous.
Several other important events would happen during this year including the founding of the National Meteorological Service, and the legalization of the use of the metric system by Parliament. The Ontario Schools Act would pass that would require all students between the age of seven and 12 to attend school.
Goodwin Smith immigrated to Canada this year from England where he would begin to edit the Canadian Monthly and become a noted literary figure in the country.