As Canada approached its ninth year, closing out its first decade of existence, the growing pains and changes continued.
Let’s begin our look at the year 1876, in Canada Year-By-Year.
At the very start of the year, on January 1, the Fredericton City Hall was completed. Today, the building still stands and is the oldest municipal hall in Atlantic Canada still used for civic administration. On Nov. 23, 1984, it was declared as a National Historic Site of Canada and from 1883 to 1971, the Fredericton Police had their headquarters there.
On January 27, Frank Cahill was born in Calumet Island, Quebec. He began work as a postal clerk in Sault St. Marie, Michigan before moving to Saskatchewan and becoming a real estate broker in Saskatoon. In 1909, he opened a real estate office in Ottawa. It was there he would be elected to the House of Commons beginning in 1917 and again in 1921, 1924 and 1926, before losing in the 1930 election. He would pass away four years later at the age of 58.
On February 1, Andrew Elliott replaces George Walker as the premier of British Columbia. Elliott had been the High Sheriff of the Island and Mainland Colonies in 1866 and after British Columbia joined Canada, he was elected to the legislature and was Leader of the Opposition. Following the Motion of No Confidence over Walkem’s government, Elliott became the fourth premier of the province. He would lose the next election and his seat in 1878 after failing to get a railway built out to the province.
On April 3, Margaret Agnlin was born in Ottawa. The youngest of nine children, her father was Timothy Anglin, who was the Speaker of the House of Commons at the time of her birth. As a young girl, she fell in love with acting and would make her stage debut at the age of 18 in 1894 when she appeared in Shenandoah. In 1898, she made her Broadway debut in Lord Chumley, helping to raise her stature in theatre circles heavily. In 1905, she became known as the new star of American theatre after Sarah Bernhardt, the biggest female stage star in the world, asked her to perform with her. Anglin began to perform across the world at this point, focusing mostly on performing in Greek tragedy plays and Shakespearian plays. In 1911, she became a US citizen and would continue to perform until her final Broadway performance in 1936. Offered many times the chance to perform in movies, she always refused, sticking to her true love of the stage. She would pass away in 1958, 20 years after her husband Howard Hull.
On April 21, William Henry Wright was born in England. After serving with the British Army, including a stint in the Second Boer War, he came to Ontario and sold a plot of land that gave him a tidy profit in 1907. In 1911, after getting lost while out shooting rabbits with his brother-in-law, he stumbled upon a quartz outcrop. He could see free gold in the outcrop and he staked three claims. The seven gold producing mines that would be set up there by Wright would produce 13.5 million ounces. In 1916, he was a millionaire and approaching 40 but he signed up to serve as a private in the First World War and turned down promotions several times. In 1936, he bought The Globe and The Mail and Empire and merged them into The Globe and Mail, which is Canada’s national newspaper today. Wright passed away in 1951.
On July 1, nine years to the day after Canada became a country, the Intercolonial Railway that connects Central Canada to the Maritimes is completed.
In August, Sir Louis Henry Davies succeeds Lemuel Cambridge Owen as the premier of Prince Edward Island. Davies had established a coalition government after the defeat of the Conservative government of Owen, serving as both premier and attorney-general. As premier, he was able to establish the Public Schools Act that made school attendance for children mandatory when it was passed in 1877. Davies would last as premier until 1879 when he lost a Motion of No Confidence. Following his premiership, he served as an MP in the House of Commons, including as the Minister of Marine and Fisheries. In 1901, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada and was appointed Chief Justice, the oldest person appointed when he was 73 years old in 1918. He held the position until 1924 when he passed away. To date, he is the only Chief Justice of Canada to have held elected office, and the only Prince Edward Islander to have served on the Supreme Court.
On August 10, the world’s first ever long-distance phone call connects the Bell residence with a shoe and boot store located in Paris, Ontario.
On August 23, William Martina as born in Norwich, Ontario. In 1908, he would be elected to the House of Commons for Regina, serving until 1916 when he chose to enter provincial politics and took over leadership of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party, becoming Saskatchewan’s second premier. He would be re-elected in 1917 and serve as premier until 1922. He then became a judge of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and from 1941 to 1961, he was the Chief Justice of Saskatchewan.
On September 20, the Ottawa Football Club, which will one day be the Ottawa Rough Riders, is established. The team would become one of the oldest and longest-lived professional teams, winning the Grey Cup in 1925, 1926, 1940, 1951, 1960, 1968, 1969, 1973 and 1976. The team would fold in 1996.
On Oct. 6, Ernest Lapointe was born. He would work as a crown prosecutor before entering politics. He served in the Canadian Parliament beginning in 1904 and would continue to serve until 1941. He was appointed to the first cabinet of William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1921, and was known as a top advisor and the Quebec lieutenant for King, who consulted with him on legal affairs for issues related to French-speaking Canada. He would pass away in 1941 while in office.
Also on Oct. 6, John Young would pass away at the age of 69. He had been born in 1807 in Bombay, India. He would go on to become the second Governor General of Canada from 1869 to 1872. Within Canada, several streets and neighbourhoods are named for him.
On November 18, Walter Allward was born in Toronto. A noted sculptor, respected for his mastery of the classical form and brilliant craftsmanship, he would create the Bell Telephone Memorial, which would gain him fame and the task of creating the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, which is by far his most known work. Many of his works are in the National Gallery and he has been described as Canada’s most important monumental sculptor of the first third of the 20th century.
On December 9, Breton Churchill was born in Toronto. He would begin acting at a young age and move to New York City in 1903 where he worked as a pressman. He performed in over 30 Broadway plays during that time and in the 1920s, he moved to Hollywood and began acting in a variety of films, often in roles as a banker, state governor or land baron. His most famous role was in the 1939 classic Stagecoach, which starred John Wayne. He would be instrumental in creating the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. He passed away in New York City in 1940.
Other events of the year including the establishment of the District of Keewatin, which covered a large area west of Hudson Bay. It would eventually form into parts of Manitoba and Ontario, as well as Nunavut.
The Toronto Women’s Literacy Club would be founded, serving as a front for the suffrage movement that would get women the right to vote in 40 years.
The Indian Act is created, defining the status and land regulations of the Indigenous people of Canada who live on reserves. It also states that status Indians have no vote in elections but are exempt from taxes.
Wilson Abbott died in 1876, although the exact date is unknown. He was born in Virginia in 1801 and would find his way to Toronto in 1835, where he began to prosper as a businessman. He would serve in the militia that protected Toronto during the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, and was elected to Toronto City Council in 1840, making him one of the first black elected officials in Canadian history. His son, Anderson Abbott, would become the first black Canadian to practice medicine.