Canada Year-By-Year: 1879

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Eva Tanguay

On Jan. 4, Pierre Alexis Tremblay passes away. He was born in 1827 and had served as a Liberal Member of Parliament from 1867 to 1875 and from 1878 to 1879. At the time, he was also serving as an MLA with the Quebec Legislature.

On Jan. 15, Maise Louise Roche, who would become Mazo de la Roche, was born in Newmarket, Ontario. Roche would become a noted writer in her time, beginning with her first story at seven and her first published story at the age of 23. She would publish her first book in 1922 but is best known for her Jalna series that became incredibly popular throughout the world. The series tells the story over 100 years of the Whiteoak family from 1854 to 1954. In all, 16 novels were written and the series would sell 11 million copies in 193 English and 92 foreign editions.

On Jan. 17, Richard Reid is born in Scotland. He would go on to become a politician in Alberta and the sixth premier of Alberta from 1934 to 1935. He would be the last member of the United Farmers of Alberta to serve in office and he has the distinction of the shortest serving premier in history to that point.

On Feb. 4, William Wilfred Sullivan would begin term leading  the legislature of Prince Edward Island when the Conservatives won their third consecutive majority. Sullivan would help the party’s seat total go up from 15 to 24, while the seat total for the Liberals fell by one. As for Sullivan, he would have a long and illustrious career on the island. He would serve as the fourth premier of the province until 1889, then become the Chief Justice of Prince Edward Island from 1889 to 1917 and eventually find himself knighted.

On March 12, Sir John A. Macdonald introduced tariffs on manufactured goods being imported into Canada. He would also announce the transcontinental railway project and a new national policy of immigration to the west.

On March 20, Maud Menten is born in Port Lambton, Ontario. She would go on to become a bio-medical researcher who made massive contributions to the field of histochemistry and enzyme kinetics. From 1905 to 1921, she would work Leonor Michaelis and discover the reaction rate relationship with enzyme-substrate concentration, now known as the Michaelis-Menten equation.

On April 4, Jean-Baptist’s Thibault passed away. Born on Dec. 14, 1810 he was a Roman Catholic priest and missionary who negotiated on the behalf of the Government of Canada during the Red River Rebellion of 1870 because he was widely respected by the Métis. It was said he was a “a reserved and prudent man, Thibault was content to remain in the background.”. He would also establish the first Roman Catholic mission in what would one day be Alberta, at Lac Sainte Anne in 1842. The mission would exist until 1898.

On June 5, Sir Oliver’s Mowat’s Liberals would earn their third majority in a row in the Ontario election. Mowat had served as the leader of the province since 1872 and would see the party’s seat total rise by seven. Mowat would serve as premier for nearly two decades more until 1896. One year later, he would become the eighth Lt. Governor of Ontario, serving until his death in 1903.

On June 12, Charles Dow Richards would be born in New Brunswick. He would go on to become a lawyer, judge and politician, serving as the 20th premier of New Brunswick from 1931 to 1933. He would serve as an MLA from 1920 to 1933 and as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick from 1946 to 1955.

On Aug. 1, Eva Tanguay was born in Quebec. She would go on to become known as the Queen of Vaudeville, seeing the height of her popularity from the early 1900s to the 1920s. She would appear in many films and was the first performer to achieve national mass-media celebrity. Her tours were sold out across the continent and was described as the first symbol of the emergence from the Victorian Age.

On Oct. 6, James Bowman was born in Dauphin, Manitoba. He would find himself an MP in Parliament, serving from 1930 to 1935 under Prime Minister R.B. Bennett. After George Black suffered a nervous breakdown, Bowman was made Speaker of the House of Commons, becoming the first person from Manitoba to have the role in Ottawa.

On Oct. 7, William Henry Pope would pass away. Born in 1825, he was a lawyer, journalist and politician who is considered a Father of Confederation. Born in Prince Edward Island, he was the editor of the Prince Edward Island newspaper The Islander from 1859 to 1872. During that time he entered into politics in 1863. He was a major supporter of Canadian Confederation and he pressed for union even after it was rejected by the island government in 1864. When PEI joined in 1873, Pope was appointed as the county court judge and his son, Joseph Pope, became the private secretary to Sir John A. Macdonald, and would write a biography about him.

On Oct. 9, William Warren was born and would make his way to the Newfoundland House of Assembly in 1903 as a Liberal, serving as the Speaker of the House from 1909 to 1913. Eventually, he would become the seventh Prime Minister of Newfoundland, serving from 1923 to 1924.

On Oct. 31, Sir Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau becomes the new premier of Quebec. He will serve premier until 1882.

On Dec. 19, the Alberta Canada Cannibal, also known as Swift Runner, is executed for murder and the eating of eight members of his own family the previous winter. He stated he had been possessed by a Wendigo.

On Dec. 24, Emile Nelligan was born in Montreal and he would go on to become a noted Francophone poet. In 1903, his poems were collected and published to acclaim in Canada and he was considered to be one of the greatest poets in French Canada.

Also this year we would see the first Toronto Industrial Exhibition. This would eventually become the Canadian National Exhibition, which today is the largest annual fair in Canada and the sixth largest in North America. The original was created to promote agriculture and technology in the country.

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