Canada Year-By-Year: 1877

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Canada reached its tenth anniversary this year and it had been quite the first decade for the new country. Several notable, tragic and amazing events would happen in this anniversary year for Canada.

On Jan. 2, Jonathan McCully would pass away. Considered to be a Father of Canadian Confederation, he would use his newspapers to promote union of the country. After Canada became a country, he was awarded for his efforts with an appointment to the Canadian Senate in 1870, serving until his death.

On Jan. 5, Edgar Nelson Rhodes, future premier of Nova Scotia, would be born. He would serve as premier from 1925 to 1930. Prior to this, he served in the House of Commons from 1908 to 1921, a time in which he would also serve as Speaker of the House of Commons. He would be appointed as a senator, serving from 1935 to 1942 when he would pass away at the age of 65.

On Feb. 28, the University of Manitoba would be founded and was the first university in western Canada. Still operating today, it boasts almost 30,000 students and is the largest university in Manitoba and the 17th largest in Canada. The university has had 98 Rhodes Scholars, more than any other university in western Canada, and several notable people have graduated from the university including a Nobel prize winner, an Oscar winner, several members of Parliament and a few premiers of Manitoba. In 1970, research at the university would lead to the creation of canola oil.

On May 4, Charles Wilson would pass away. He was born in 1808 and as a young man, established a hardware business in Montreal that became very successful. He would serve as a city councillor for Montreal from 1848 to 1849, and from 1850 to 1852. He would also serve as Mayor of Montreal from 1851 to 1854.

In 1852, he became a member of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, and after Confederation, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada, where he would remain until his death.

On June 20, the Great Fire of Saint John, New Brunswick would erupt. The fire started when a spark fell into a bundle of hay at a storehouse. Within nine hours, the fire would spread and destroy 200 acres of the city, including 1,612 buildings. Eight churches, six banks, 14 hotels, 11 ships and four wood boats would be destroyed. In addition, 19 people would die.

On Aug. 5, Tom Thomson was born in Claremont, Ontario. While he would have a short career, he would produce over 400 oil sketches on wood panels, with another 50 works on larger canvases. His work tended to focus on landscapes that focused on the landscapes of Ontario. Two of his works, The Jack Pine and The West Wind, are prominent in the culture of Canada and two of the most iconic works in the country’s history. His work hangs at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound.

He would pass away accidentally by drowning in 1917.

On Sept. 22, Treaty 7 would be signed. This agreement was signed by the Canadian Crown and the Indigenous people, mostly from the Blackfoot nation. The land covered by Treaty 7 covers the southern portion of Alberta for the most part, covering 130,000 square kilometres. Chief Crowfoot was one of the signers of the treaty.

On Dec. 18, James Allison Glen was born in Scotland, where he would receive his education before coming to Canada in 1911 and settling in Winnipeg. In 1926, he would be elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal-Progressive. He would lose his seat in 1930, but regain it in 1935. In 1940, he would become the Speaker of the House. After 1945, he would be appointed as a Liberal to position of Minister of Mines and Resources, where he remained until 1948 he retired after a heart attack. He would pass away in 1950.

Some events are important but no date is specifically given. Manzo Nagano would become the first Japanese immigrant to Canada in 1877. He would become a salmon fisher before taking a job hauling timber onto ships. After returning to Japan in 1884, he would come back in 1892 and open a hotel and store. After a fire destroyed everything he owned in 1922, he moved back to Japan and died in 1923. Mount Manzo Nagano is named for him and Keegan Messing, a Canadian Olympic figure skater, is his great-great-grandson.

Refugees from the Lakota people would enter Canada this year following the end of the Great Sioux War, hoping to find safety from American violence against them.

Sir Wilfred Laurier, future prime minister and one of the longest serving politicians in Canadian history, would become the Minister of Inland Revenue in this year.

Sitting Bull, who had taken refuge with his people in Canada following the Battle of Little Big Horn, would refuse the pardon offer from the United States and choose not to go back to that country.

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