Canada Year-By-Year: 1893

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Notable Events

On March 17, the first Stanley Cup playoff game would be played. The Amateur Hockey Association of Canada had four teams tied with records of 5-3-0 for the championship. It was decided that since there was no tiebreaking system in place, a three team tournament would take place between the Ottawa Hockey Club, the Montreal Victorias and the Montreal Hockey Club. In the first Stanley Cup playoff game, the Montreal Hockey Club would defeat the Montreal Victorias 3-2 and then five days later on March 22, the Montreal Hockey Club would defeat the Ottawa Hockey Club by a score of 3-1 to claim the first Stanley Cup. The Montreal Hockey Club would eventually win the Stanley Cup again in 1894, 1902 and 1903. In 1930, they won the Allan Cup and in 1932 became the Montreal Royals, which itself would exist until 1961.

On May 27, although some sources say May 23, Algonquin Provincial Park would be established as a wildlife sanctuary in Ontario. This makes it the oldest provincial park in all of Canada. Its creation was thanks to a five member Royal Commission that recommended the establishment of the park, where it was the headwaters to five major rivers. This was in response to the heavy logging being done in the area of the future park. The commission would state its goals in the report, stating:

“The preservation of the streams, lakes and water courses in the park and especially of the head waters of those rivers which have their sources therein…The maintenance of the Park in a state of nature as far as possible, having regard to existing interests…To protect the fish, insectivorous and other birds, game and fur-bearing animals therein and to encourage their growth and increase…To provide a field for experiments in and practice of systematic forestry upon a limited scale…To serve as a sanitarium or place of health resort.”

The name for the park comes from the Algonquin people, who were the Indigenous habitants in the area. Initially, it was referred to as The Algonquin National Park of Ontario but it wasn’t a national park as it was under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. It would become Algonquin Provincial Park in 1913. At the time, the park included 18 townships and covered an area of 3,797 square kilometres, 10 per cent of which was water. Today, the park is 7,653 square kilometres and it was named as a National Historic Site of Canada. Currently, the park is the only designated park in Ontario to allow industrial logging in its borders, albeit on a limited scale.

The park is also famous for the tragic death of artist Tom Thomson on Canoe Lake, stated to be accidental drowning in 1917. Some speculate about his death being suicide, murder or accident. Ken Danby, the painter of the iconic At The Crease, died there in 2007 and writer Blair Frazer died in the park in 1968.

On Dec. 18, Robert Machray was elected as the first Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. He would serve in the position until his death on March 9, 1904. Today, he is honoured in the Calendar of Saints of the Anglican Church of Canada with a feast day on March 10.

Events without a date include the Canada Evidence Act being passed. This law regulates the rules of evidence in court proceedings. This act only applies to proceedings conducted under federal law. Each province has its own provincial law and its own Evidence Act under provincial law.

Also in 1893, the Jacques Cartier Monument would be installed at the centre of Saint Henri Square. Designed by Joseph-Arthur Vincent, it is nine metres tall and made of cast iron. The original statue was replaced with an exact copy in the 1990s due to deterioration from exposure. The original statue is now located at Place Saint Henri Metro Station.

Frank J. Selke

There were several important births in 1893 but none that shook up Canada or were people who became incredibly famous like Sir Frederick Banting or Mary Pickford. I wanted to single at least one person out though and that person is Frank J. Selke. If you are a hockey fan, you know that name.

He was born on May 7 in Berlin, Ontario, today called Kitchener after the name was changed in 1916. At the age of 14, Selke was managing the Iroquois Bantams in Berlin and then from 1912 to 1915, was coaching the Berlin Union Jacks. He would help them get to the league final in his final season with them and in 1919, he went on to coach the University of Toronto’s hockey team to their first Memorial Cup.

After success with the Toronto Marlboros, who he led as coach to the 1929 Memorial Cup Championship, he would be called up to become the assistant to Conn Smythe of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He would hold onto this position until 1946. During his time with the team, he helped raise money for the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens and filled in as the acting manager of the team when Conn Smythe was away in the Second World War. The directors of the team were so happy with Selke, who helped the team win the 1942 and 1945 Stanley Cups, they asked him to remain in charge even though Conn Smyth returned.

Things did not go well from the get-go with the two. Selke had traded Frank Eddolls to the Canadiens for the rights to Ted Kennedy in 1943, something that Smythe was not happy about at the time. Kennedy would go on to captain the Leafs for eight seasons, playing with them until 1957 and was the first NHL player to win five Stanley Cups. He also won the Hart Trophy and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. Eddolls won a Stanley Cup in 1946, but is mostly remembered for being part of the lopsided trade for Kennedy.

By 1946, Selke was out and the Montreal Canadiens snapped him up within two months and made him the general manager of the team. The Canadiens had won two Stanley Cups in the past three seasons but were not doing well financially. As manager, he would begin signing players and working a farm system that would keep great players coming into the team. His farm system would produce Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Tom Johnson and Henri Richard, all members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He would win the Stanley Cup with the team in 1953, and five times in a row from 1956 to 1960, the only team to ever do so. After building the first Canadiens dynasty, he retired and handed the job to Sam Pollock, who would guide the Canadiens to two more dynasties, winning nine Stanley Cups in his 14 years behind the desk.

In 1960, Selke was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and in 1978, the NHL created the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the best defensive forward in the game. In its first four years, the trophy was on by Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens.

Selkie passed away in 1985 at the age of 92. In 2016, he was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. 

Notable Births

On Feb. 7, Joseph Pearce was born in Brantford, Ontario. He would serve in the First World War, reaching the rank of Major before being injured and returning home to Canada. Back home, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and began studying at the Lick Observatory in California. In 1930, he would earn his PhD from Berkley. Returning home to Canada, he joined the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, becoming the Assistant Director in 1935, and from 1940 to 1951, the director. From 1949 to 1950 he served as the president of the Royal Society of Canada. His field of study was the structure of the Milky Way and O-type stars. He would receive an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the University of British Columbia. He passed away on Sept. 8, 1988.

On April 16, Germaine Guevremont was born in Saint Jerome, Quebec. She would work as a journalist and then spend several years as a housewife before returning to journalism. During The Great Depression, she would work as a court stenographer while also beginning to compile short stories for her first book. In 1945, she published her first two novels, which were compiled into The Outlander, an English translation. This work would win the 1950 Governor General’s Award. In the United Kingdom, it was published under the title of Monk’s Reach. She would pass away on Aug. 21, 1968.

On May 5, Joseph Dewey Soper was born in Rockwood, Ontario. As a young man, he was inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and would go on to study zoology at the University of Alberta. In 1923, he was commissioned to document Arctic flora and fauna on Baffin Island, Beachey Island, Ellesmere Island and parts of Greenland and Labrador. The next year, he conducted another Arctic expedition, covering 6,400 kilometres between 1924 and 1926 by dog sled, boat and canoe. In 1928, he began a six year, 50,000 kilometre search on Baffin Island for blue goose nesting grounds, which he did in 1929. He would earn the nickname Blue Goose Soper as a result. In 1934, he became the first Federal Chief Migratory Bird Officer for the Prairie Provinces in the Canadian Wildlife Service, and in 1948 was the Chief Federal Wildlife Officer for Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. By the time he finished his career, he had completed three Arctic expeditions and published 130 research papers. He would pas away in Edmonton in 1982.

On May 28, Donald MacLaren was born in Ottawa. As a young man he attended McGill University before leaving and working at a fur trading post on the Peace River with his father and brother. It was there he learned to speak Cree. In 1916, Donald enlisted with the Royal Flying Corps and would be sent to France on Nov. 23, 1917, first tasting air combat in February 1918. On March 21, 1918, he was awarded the Military Cross for destroying a railway gun, shooting down a balloon and two German planes. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in September of that year. He would assume command of his squadron in the last few months of the war, earning the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership. His war record was one captured aircraft, six balloons destroyed and 15 aircraft destroyed. In 1922, he would establish the first flying service on the west coast, and in 1926, he formed Pacific Airways. He would pass away on July 4, 1988.

On June 5, another First World War pilot was born when George Croil was born in Milwaukee. When he was 11, his family moved to Montreal and at the outbreak of the war, he enlisted as a private soldier before choosing to join the Royal Flying Corps in May of 1916. After the war, in 1920, he established air bases in Morley and High River. Four years later, he was made a founding officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force and in 1934, was appointed the Senior Air Officer of the RCAF, essentially making him the head of the organization. Four years later he was able to get the RCAF as its own branch of the military and his role was changed to Chief of the Air Staff. He would pass away on April 8, 1959.

On June 23, Merrill Denison was born in Detroit. He would come to Canada and study at the University of Toronto, and then became the art director of the Hart House Theatre in Toronto. In 1926, he began to write comedies that were performed in the Tweed Playhouse in Tweed, Ontario. From 1931 to 1932, he wrote The Romance of Canada, which was broadcast on CNRV. He also had an interest in business history and would write histories of Massey-Harris and Ontario Hydro. He would pass away in San Diego in 1975.

On July 7, another pilot was born when James White was born on Manitoulin Island. He had served in the First World War, recording 12 victories in the air between Jan. 24, 1918 and Oct. 3, 1918. After he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, his citation read: “A fine fighting pilot who has accounted for eight enemy aeroplanes. He has numerous offensive and low bombing raids, and by his able and daring leadership has achieved great success with a minimum of casualties to his patrol.” He would pass away on Jan. 2, 1973.

A giant of Canadian music was born on Aug. 18 in Ontario. Ernest MacMillan was born into a musical family and began studying the organ at the age of eight. At the age of 10, he gave his first organ recital and was described as a musical prodigy. In 1914, he was in Germany when the Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated. MacMillan was detained by German police and after Canada declared war on Germany, he was imprisoned as an enemy alien. He would spend the entire First World War at a British civilian detention camp outside of Berlin. After returning to Canada, he would become a conductor at the Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto, becoming the premier conductor in the country with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He would also be noted for being an excellent performer, and a composer, with String Quartet in C Minor being seen as his most influential work. In 1935, he would be knighted by King George V and in 1938 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. In 1964, the new facility for the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music was named for MacMillan. The personal papers of MacMillan, and his music, would be established in the Music Archives of the National Library of Canada. His former home is also a National Historic Site in Toronto. Today, he is called Canada’s Musical Knight and the pre-eminent musician of Canada from the 1920s to the 1950s. He would pass away on May 6, 1973.

PL-110424 13/02/52 Rockcliffe Portrait – A/M W.A. Curtis (1st choice)

On Aug. 21, Wilfred Curtis, another pilot, was born in Havelock, Ontario. In 1916, he would join the Royal Naval Air Service and in 1917 was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his skill and courage. The medal was as a result of an attack on Oct. 21, 1917 when Curtis took down an enemy plane, then shot down a second enemy scout plane. In all, he had 13 kills in the air. He stayed with the military in the interwar years and during the Second World War, he would become the deputy air officer commanding RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London. After the war, in 1947, he was appointed the Chief of the Air Staff. In that role, he would reorganize the RCAF and expand it during the Korean War and as part of NATO. He would serve in the role until his retirement in January of 1953. In 1967, he was awarded the Order of Canada and in 1973 was inducted into the Canada Aviation Hall of Fame. He would pass away on Aug. 14, 1977.

On Oct. 12, George Hodgson was born in Montreal. He would begin competing in swimming and water polo at McGill University. In 1912, he competed in the Olympic Games in Stockholm, earning gold in the 400 metre freestyle and the 1,500 metre freestyle. He would be Canada’s only winner in swimming competitions at the Oympics until 1984. After he returned home, he retired from swimming at the age of only 18. Both of his times in the 400 and 1500 metre freestyle swims were Olympic records at the time. He would graduate from McGill in 1916 with a degree in applied science. Generally considered the greatest swimmer in Canadian history, he would be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 and the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. He would pass away in Montreal at the age of 89 in 1983.

On Nov. 22, Raymond Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia. He too would go on to become a pilot during the First World War. He would qualify as a pilot in January 1916 and spent seven months patrolling the British coast. His first recorded enemy victory would come on Oct. 12, 1916 and he would go on to become the highest scoring Royal Navy Air Service flying ace with 60 victories in the air, and was second only to Billy Bishop for total enemy kills in the air among all Canadian pilots. During the War he would earn the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross, along with the Distinguished Service Order and Bar. In 1919, he would help the White Russian forces during the Russian Civil War and would go on to serve in Persia and Egypt. During the Second World War, he would command the No. 204 Group, later called the Desert Air Force, in North Africa. He would die at the age of 82 on Sept. 28, 1976. In 1999, the Nanaimo Airport was named in his honour.

On Dec. 23, our last major pilot was born when Arthur Brown was born in Carleton Place, Ontario. When the First World War broke out, he would enlist and crashed his plane soon after completing his training, requiring two months in the hospital. In 1917, he began flying in patrols off the Belgian coast, achieving his first kill on July 17 of that year. On April 21, 1918, Brown took to the air with legendary pilot Wop May, who was at the time just starting out in his career as a pilot. Brown and May had been friends in school and the pilots came across a squadron of German fighters in the sky. May was told to stay clear of the fight and did so, but seeing another pilot doing the same he attacked. The other pilot was Lt. Wolfram von Richthofen, the cousin of the Red Baron. The Red Baron began chasing Wop May and Brown, seeing his friend in trouble, dove steeply to rescue his friend. While it is not known exactly what happened after this, the end result was that the Red Baron was shot down, ending the career of the greatest flying ace in the First World War. Brown was credited with the kill and awarded a bar on his Distinguished Flying Cross as a result. After the war, he would work as an accountant at a small town grocery store, and started a small airline in 1928. When the Second World War broke out, he attempted to reenlist but was refused. He would pass away on March 9, 1944. In 2015, he was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame.

Also during this year, Parr was born on Baffin Island. He was an Inuit artist who lived a traditional Inuit lifestyle with his family. In Cape Dorset he began to draw and make stonecut relief prints. Over the next eight years, he would create over 2,000 works of hunting, shamanic subjects and more. He would pass away in 1969. In 1977, one of his prints was featured on a stamp from Canada Post. His work is also on permanent display at the National Gallery of Canada.

Notable Deaths

On April 2, Eden Colville died at the age of 74. He was born in Kent, England and came to Canada as a young man to be employed with the Hudson’s Bay Company. He would be appointed as the Governor of Rupert’s Land, settling in the Red River Colony in 1850 with his wife. He took charge of the colony and installed himself as president of the Council of Assiniboia. While in charge there, he would arrange a compromise between the Presbyterians and Anglicans. He would return to England and become chair of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, passing away in Devon.

On July 22, John Rae would pass away at the age of 79. Born in Scotland, he would explore many different places in North America, including the Gulf of Boothia, and the Arctic Coast near Victoria Island. He would also obtain credible information about the fate of the Franklin Expedition from the Inuit. Highly skilled at living off the land, hunting, the use of Indigenous methods and boat handling. His openness to adopting and learning the ways of the Inuit was unusual for the time, but it made him the foremost specialist in cold-climate survival and travel. While many felt that the Indigenous were too primitive to learn from, Rae respected Inuit customs, traditions and skills. While Rae would find the credible evidence of what happened to the Franklin expedition, Lady Franklin’s efforts to glorify the dead of the expedition meant that Rae’s accounts that were less noble of a fate for Franklin, resulted in him being shunned by the British establishment. While other explorers were all knighted, Rae never was. It would not be until 2014 that a plaque dedicated to Rae was installed at Westminster Abbey, where he should have been buried originally for his accomplishments.

On Oct. 30, Canada’s third prime minister, Sir John Abbott, would pass away at the age of 72. Born in Lower Canada, he was the first prime minister to be born in Canada. He would become prime minister following the death of Sir John A Macdonald in 1891, serving from June 16, 1891 to Nov. 24, 1892. As he was in his 70s at the time, he did not stay prime minister for long. While he was not prime minister for long, he did deal with a large government backlog of business including reforming the civil service and making revisions to the criminal code. In a 1999 ranking of the first 20 prime ministers, he was ranked at 17th.

Charles Sangster would die on Dec. 9 at the age of 71. He was the first poet in Canadian history to write poetry which was based on Canadian subjects and he is called the best of the pre-Confederation poets. Working as a journalist for parts of his adult life, he would release his first book of poetry, The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Poems, in 1856. It was widely praised and called the best and most important book of poetry produced in Canada until that time. The National Magazine of London would say of Sangster, “Well may the Canadians be proud of such contributions to their infant literature. In some sort, and according to his degree, Mr. Sangster may be regarded as the Wordsworth of Canada.” In 1892, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Other Tidbits

On Oct. 31, William Lyon Mackenzie King, future prime minister, wrote in his journal:

“The night was a great night with the police. Being Halloween, a great number of students went to hear Gladiator at the Grand. After this, the chief work of the evening was to tear down an old shed on the Varsity grounds. We sang college songs, tore down fences as usual. I carried a large flag pole. The police were very rough. Many fellows were struck.”

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