Canada Year-By-Year: 1883

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On Jan. 29, William Smithe would become the premier of British Columbia, succeeding over Robert Beaven. Smithe had come to British Columbia in 1862 to work as a farmer and would win a seat in the provincial legislature in the first provincial election. In 1875, he became the informal leader of the opposition before becoming the premier of the province. As premier, he would work with the federal government to get the railway and initiated several grants of public resources and land to entrepreneurs. He would serve as premier until 1887 when he died in office.

On Feb. 27, Oliver Mowat and his Liberals go to a fourth consecutive majority in Ontario, despite losing nine seats in the election.

On Feb. 28, Fernand Rinfret was born in Montreal. He would go on to be elected the Parliament in 1920, serving until 1939. During that time, he served as the Secretary of State for Canada, and as the mayor of Montreal from 1932 to 1934.

On March 4, Sam Langford would be born in Nova Scotia. He would go on to become one of the greatest boxers to ever come from Canada, and is called the Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows by ESPN, and is considered by some to be the greatest fighter to ever live. Known as the Boston Bonecrusher, the Boston Terror and the Boston Tar Baby, he fought from lightweight to heavyweight, defeating many champions in each weight class. The Ring would rank him as the second greatest punchers of all time. BoxRec would rank him the third greatest heavyweight boxer of all-time, the ninth greatest pound-for-pound boxer and the greatest Canadian boxer. In 311 fights, he had 211 wins, 126 knockouts, 52 draws, seven no contests and 43 losses. By the 1940s, he was living in poverty and completely blind. His fans would raise $10,000 for him in 1944 and he would pass away in 1956.

On June 18, Francois Blanchet would pass away in Portland, Oregon. He had been born in Lower Canada in 1795 and would become a missionary priest for the Roman Catholic Church, helping to bring the Catholic Church presence to the Pacific Northwest after spending time at a seminary in Quebec before traveling to Oregon Country with Hudson’s Bay Company employees.

On June 22, John Bracken would be born in Ellisville, Ontario. In 1922, he would become the 11th Premier of Manitoba, and would serve in the position until 1943, becoming the longest serving premier in the history of Manitoba. He would be elected to Parliament in 1945, serving until 1949. He would pass away in 1969.

On June 30, Albert James Smith would pass away. He was born in 1822 and would enter politics in 1852. He would be against New Brunswick joining Confederation and would become leader of the Anti-Confederates that won the 1865 election before being forced out. He would eventually come to terms with Confederation and serve in the government of Alexander Mackenzie in 1873 as the Minister of Fisheries, before becoming the Attorney General of Canada on a temporary basis.

On Aug. 7, Gordon Harrington would be born in Halifax. He would go on to become the mayor of Glacé Bay from 1913 to 1915, and then left to serve in the First World War. In 1925, he was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature. He would serve as the 11th Premier of Nova Scotia from 1930 to 1933. He would retire from politics in 1937 and pass away in 1943.

On Aug. 14, James Cockburn would pass away in Ottawa. In 1861, he was elected to the legislative assembly as a reformer and would support Confederation as a Father of Confederation. He would become the first Speaker of the House of Commons, serving in that position from 1867 to 1874.

On Aug. 31, the Calgary Herald would publish its very first issue, publishing as The Calgary Herald, Mining and Ranch Advocate and General Advertiser. The newspaper exists to this day and has a weekday circulation of 107,000.

On Nov. 18, Canada would adopt standard time. Standard time had been first adopted by British railways in 1847 but it was Sandford Fleming who would propose worldwide standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute in 1879. On this day, both the United States and Canada adjusted their clocks to reflect the new five-zone system.

This is the Heritage Minute from the 1990s about the implementation of Standard Time and Sir Sandford Fleming’s idea.

On Nov. 30, James Gardiner would be born in Ontario. He would move to Saskatchewan and was first elected to the Legislature in 1914, serving in the Legislature for the next two decades of his life. He would become premier of the Saskatchewan in 1926, serving for three years until 1929. As premier, he would help pass the first legislation to provide free hospitalization and treatment of victims of tuberculosis anywhere in North America. He would serve as premier again from 1934 to 1935. In 1936, he would be elected to Parliament, serving until 1958. He would pass away in 1962.

In this radio clip from Nov. 9, 1942, James Gardiner asks farmers to step up production of diary products to help the war effort.

On Dec. 1, Regina officially becomes a town. It had been established as the territorial seat of government the previous year when the Lt. Governor of the North-West Territories, Edgar Dewdney, insisted on Regina over Battleford. Dewdney had land near the future CPR line at Pile-of-Bones, as Regina was called previously, and there was a conflict of interest in his decision to choose Regina as the site of the future seat of the government and it would become a scandal at the time.

Also this year, Augusta Stowe, the daughter of Emily Stowe, the first woman to practise medicine in Canada, would become the first woman to graduate from the Toronto Medical School. The Toronto Women’s Suffrage Association would from from the Literary Club, which was established in 1876. Nickel-copper ore was also discovered at Murray Mine in Sudbury during construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The discovery would transform the community and kick start its growth as a major municipality in Ontario.

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