On January 8, David Milne is born in Ontario. He would become a noted Canadian painter, printmaker and writer. He would be described as one of the three greatest North American artists of his generation by art critic Clement Greenberg, but he often found himself overshadowed by the Group of Seven. Today, he is recognized as one of our greatest artists and his work has appeared in the National Gallery of Canada, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario. He would pass away on Dec. 26, 1953 at the age of 71.
On Feb. 1, Louis St. Laurent would be born in Quebec. He would begin his professional career as a lawyer, and was noted enough that he was offered a seat as a justice in the Supreme Court of Canada but would decline the offer. He would be 60 years old when he finally entered into politics and would become Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General on Dec. 10, 1941. He would continue in various roles in the government including as the Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1946 to 1948. On Jan. 7, 1948, he would become leader of the Liberal Party and a few months later on Nov. 15, 1948, he would become the 12th Prime Minister of Canada, serving until 1957. As Prime Minister, he would be seen as a success because of his work to help establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the inclusion of Canada in the United Nations effort during the Korean War and a large expansion of Canada’s social programs. He also had large infrastructure projects started including the Trans-Canada Pipeline, The Trans-Canada Highway and the St. Lawrence Seaway. He would also help bring Newfoundland in Confederation. He was also the first Prime Minister to live at 24 Sussex Drive, which he did from 1951 to 1957. He would pass away on July 25, 1973 at the age of 91.
Here is an interview St. Laurent did following his election defeat in 1957.
On Feb. 4, Edwin Pratt would be born in Newfoundland. He would go on to become a leading Canadian poet and a three-time winner of the Governor General Award for Poetry. He is often cited as being the foremost Canadian poet of the first half of the century. In 1930, he would be elected to the Royal Society of Canada, and would pass away on April 26, 1964 at the age of 82. IN 1975, he was named a Person of National Historic Significance.
In 1958, Pratt was interviewed by CBC about his life and turning 75.
On March 6, Barbara Hanley would be born in Ontario. She would eventually serve as the Mayor of Webbwood, Ontario, becoming the first woman in Canadian history to be elected as a mayor in a general election. She would serve from 1936 to 1944 and then as town clerk from 1946 to 1950. She would pass away in January of 1959.
On May 8, Prince Edward Island would hold its latest election, with William Wilfred Sullivan marching towards the fourth Consecutive victory and majority in the province. Sullivan had first become premier of Prince Edward Island, the fourth in its history, in 1879. Since that point he had become a fierce supporter of the island within Canada and he often protested against the federal government who he felt did not live up to its promises with Confederation, when the island joined Canada in 1873. In the latest election his party saw its support fall by 14 per cent, losing three seats but still maintaining a majority of 21. The Liberals, who were without a leader in the election, moved from six seats to nine.
On May 17, the internal borders of Canada were adjusted when the provisional districts of the North-West Territories are established between Manitoba and British Columbia, forming the districts of Assiniboine, Athabaska, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
On May 25, John Sparrow David Thompson becomes the premier of Nova Scotia, taking over from Simon Holmes. Sparrow had been in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly since 1877 but would only serve for two months as the premier of the province before losing in the 1882 election. He would then join the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and in 1885, entered federal politics and became the Minister of Justice. In 1892, he became would become the Prime Minister of Canada, the first Roman Catholic to have the position but he would die suddenly of a heart attack only two years into his term.
In June, the New Brunswick election was held, with Daniel Lionel Hanington initially won with 22 seats, while Andrew George Blair formed the opposition with 18 seats. Once the Legislature started up, Blair was able to win enough support from MLAs to topple the government of Hanington and form a new government with himself as premier.
On June 9, Robert Kerr was born in Ireland. He would come to Canada as a child at the age of five with his family and settle near Hamilton. Working as a firefighter, he enjoyed running in his spare time. He would turn that enjoyment into a short career, winning Canadian titles in the 100 yard dash in 1907, and the 200 yard dash from 1906 to 1908. In 1908, he would travel to the Summer Olympics in London, and would take gold in the 200 metres and bronze in the 100 metres. In the First World War, he would enlist and serve in various battalions. He would then go on to become a coach in football and athletics and was an official at the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. He would die at the age of 80 in 1963.
On June 13, Robert Beaven became premier of British Columbia, succeeding from George Walkem. Beaven had moved to British Columbia from Toronto and was first elected to the Legislature in 1871. Unpopular and accused of corruption, he would only last as premier until Jan. 29, 1883 when he was brought down by a Vote of No Confidence.
On June 20, the federal election was held and Sir John A. MacDonald cruised to his second consecutive majority. His Conservatives would win 133 seats, down one from the last election, while the Liberals under Edward Blake would jump up 10 seats to 73.
On that same day, the Nova Scotia general election was held, as I had mentioned earlier, and the Liberal Party, which had no leader, easily beat the Conservatives under John Thompson. The Liberals jumped 300 per cent in seats from six to 24, while the Conservatives fell from 32 to 14.
On July 19, Sarah Ramsland was born in Boon Lake, Minnesota. She would move to Saskatchewan in 1906 and settle in Canada to begin with. Over a decade later in 1917, she would be elected as the Liberal MLA for Pelli, becoming the first woman ever elected to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. She would serve as MLA until 1925. She would pass away on April 4, 1964 in Prince Albert at the age of 81.
On July 31, Joseph-Alfred Mousseau becomes the premier of of Quebec. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1874, and would serve as the Secretary of State of Canada before leaving federal politics to become the sixth premier of Quebec. He would serve until Jan. 22, 1884 when he resigned.
The Nova Scotia Liberals, who had won the previous election without a leader, would find their leader on August 3 with William Thomas Pipes. His two years as premier would be mostly unsuccessful and his personal situation, as well as his relationship with his cabinet, were not the best. He would resign on July 15, 1884.
On Oct. 3, A.Y. Jackson would be born in Montreal. He would become a founding member of the Group of Seven and one of Canada’s greatest painters. He would paint war paintings throughout the First World War, and would become good friends with Sir Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of Insulin. The two would take an Arctic journey together in 1927, in which they spent their time painting landscapes. He would pass away on April 5, 1974 at the age of 91. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1967, as well two schools are named for him and in 1970 he was awarded a medal for lifetime achievement by the Royal Canadian Academy.
In 1955, Jackson did an interview about his life as he reached the age of 73.
On December 3, the Royal Society of Canada would be formed. This society’s objective is to promote learning and research in the arts, humanities and sciences. The Society is Canada’s National Academy and it promotes Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both languages. The organization was incorporated by a statute put forward by the House of Commons.
On Dec. 9, Sir Hugh Allan would pass a way in Scotland. Born in Scotland but sent to Montreal to work as a young man by his father, he would return to Montreal in 1831 and become a commission merchant with his family’s firm, eventually becoming a partner and helping to build it to the point where it had the largest shipping capacity of any Montreal-based firm. In 1851, he would be elected as the president of the Montreal Board of Trade and would establish the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company. During this time, he also served as a director of the Bank of Montreal. Later in life, he would be part of the syndicate that would form to build a national railway. To get the contract, he bribed Sir John A. MacDonald, providing him with $350,000, or $42 million today, for his re-election fund as prime minister. This would erupt into the Pacific Scandal, which brought down the government of MacDonald and ended Allan’s hopes of becoming a railway magnate. When he died, during a visit to Scotland, he was one of the richest men in the world with a fortune valued between eight and 12 million Pounds, which would be 969 million to 1.4 billion Pounds today.
Various things would happen that did not have a date in place.
John Ware, a man I did a podcast episode about a couple months ago, would arrive in Alberta and begin to cement his legend as one of the greatest cowboys the area ever saw. He would introduce longhorn cattle into Canada and be a pioneer in the development of the rodeo.
Also, the North West Mounted Police would establish a post in Regina. This would eventually become the official training location for the RCMP, which still exists to this day.
The North Bay Police Service was also founded this year.