Canada Year-By-Year: 1880

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A new decade dawns for Canada, its third decade, so let’s look into what happened in the year 1880 for Canada.

On Jan. 17, Mack Sennett is born in Melbourne, Quebec. He would start making films in New York before founding Keystone Studios in California. He would originate slapstick routines such as pie-throwing and car chases, as were seen in the Keystone Cops films. Known as the King of Comedy, he would have several successful movies until sound-movies arrived. By 1933, he was bankrupt but he would be presented with an honorary Academy Award for his contribution to film comedy in 1938. By the end of his career, he had made 1,000 silent films and several dozen talkies. He would die in 1960.

On Jan. 18, Richard Squires was born in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. He would go on to become a politician and serve as the Prime Minister of Newfoundland from 1919 to 1923 and from 1928 to 1932.

On Feb. 4, five members of the Donnelly family near Lucan, Ontario were killed in one of the most shocking crimes in Canadian history. The Donnellys were an Irish family who emigrated to Ontario and were murdered by an armed mob, while their farm was burned down. Why did this happen? It was essentially the culmination of a long-standing conflict between the family and other residents. The family were not well-loved and generally considered to be troublemakers in the area. They were very familiar with local law enforcement because of the accounts of their activities that included assault, arson, trespassing, attempted murder, verbal assault, the murder of local Patrick Farrell, assaulting a police officer, theft and robbery. After their murder, despite two trials, no one was ever convicted of the crime of murdering the family.

On Feb. 6, Edward Chandler would pass away at the age of 79. He was born in 1800 in Nova Scotia and would become a politician in New Brunswick, serving as the Government Leader from 1848 to 1854. Considered to be a Father of Confederation for his support of the inclusion of New Brunswick in Canada, he would go on to become the fifth Lt. Governor of the Province, serving from 1878 to his death.

On Feb. 14, the wife of the Governor General, Princess Louise, was severely injured when the sleigh she was in overturned in Ottawa. After the carriage overturned, the coachman and footman fell from the sleigh and the horses bolted, running one-third of a kilometre with the carriage dragging on the ground. Princess Louise was knocked unconscious when she hit her head on an iron bar. Afterwards, doctors said she had a severe concussion, and her earring had caught on the side of the carriage, ripping her ear lobe in two.

On March 6, the Royal Academy for the Arts is founded.

On March 25, George Brown was shot by an angry employee. Brown was the founder and editor of the Toronto Globe, the most influential newspaper of its time. He had a major role in helping to unify Canada and was a powerful spokesman for the Liberal Party. He had served as the Premier of Canada West from Aug. 2, 1858 to Aug. 6, 1858, and was a senator from 1873 to 1880. On March 25 though, he was shot by George Bennett, an angry former Globe employee who had been fired recently. Brown had managed to push the gun down when confronted but he was shot in the leg. This minor injury became gangrenous and seven weeks later, on May 9, he would die from his wound. Bennett would be hanged for the murder.

On May 4, Edward Blake became the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He would serve as leader of the Liberal Party from 1880 to 1887, and is one of only three federal Liberal leaders never to become prime minister.

On June 24, O’ Canada was performed for the very first time. The song had been commissioned by the Lt. Governor of Quebec at the time, Theodore Robitaille, The original lyrics were in French, and would be translated into English in 1906. Beginning in 1939, O ‘Canada would be the de facto anthem of the country, until 1980 when it became the official national anthem through the National Anthem Act.

On Aug. 29, Marie-Louise Meilleur was born in Quebec. She would spend most of her life in Ontario and Quebec. She would have 12 children with two husbands, and only four children would outlive her. She would have 85 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren and 57 great-great grandchildren, as well as four great-great-great grandchildren in her lifetime. By 1982, at the age of 102 she quit smoking and on Aug. 4, 1997, she became the oldest living person in the world. By the time she was 117, she was too weak to talk and could only hear if someone shouted in her right ear. She would die on April 16, 1998 at the age of 117 years, 230 days. She is the oldest Canadian in history.

On Oct. 9, the United Kingdom gave Canada control over the Arctic islands, helping to make the eventual country the second largest in the entire world.

On Oct. 27, Vere Ponsoby was born in London, England. He would go on to become the 14th Governor General of Canada, serving from 1931 to 1935.

On Dec. 8, Charles Fisher would pass away. He was born on Aug. 15, 1808 in New Brunswick and would first be elected to the colonial assembly in 1837. He would serve as the Premier of the Colony of New Brunswick from 1857 to 1861 and his government would initiate several reforms to education and the electoral system. He would participate in the Quebec Conference of 1864 and is considered to be a Father of Confederation after he took part in the London Conference of 1866 that drafted the British North America Act. In 1867, he would be elected to the House of Commons but resign in 1868 to become a judge on the New Brunswick Supreme Court.

On Dec. 14, David Christie would pass away. He was born in Scotland on Oct. 1, 1818 and would come to Canada in 1833. He would be elected to the Parliament of the Province of Canada in 1852 and serve through two more Parliaments.

In 1867, he was summoned to the Senate of Canada and would serve in that position until his death. From 1873 to 1874, he was the Secretary of State of Canada and from 1874 to 1878, he was the Speaker of the Senate of Canada.

Some events also occurred without a set date.

Emily Stowe became the first woman to practice medicine in Canada. She would eventually become the second licensed female physician in Canada, and an activist for women’s rights and suffrage. She would help to found the suffrage movement in Canada and she would campaign for the country’s first medical college for women.

Sanford Fleming, the future creator of Standard Time, would become the chancellor of Queen’s University. He would also design Canada’s first stamp, engineer the Canadian Pacific Railway across Canada and was a founding member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Bell Canada would be founded in this year. Today, it makes $23 billion per year in revenue and has 52,790 employees.

Work begins on the Canadian Pacific Railway with 25 million acres set aside at a cost of $25 million. The company is given a 20-year monopoly as the only railway in the country and a 20-year contract over rate setting.

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