We continue our journey through the early 1900s, hitting the year 1902.
On Jan. 5, Myrtle Cook was born. Cook excelled at hockey, bowling, cycling and tennis and won the gold medal in the 4×100 metre relay at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Following the 1928 Olympics, she would continue to compete before retiring from competition in 1931. She would help to establish the Toronto Ladies Athletic Club, the first of its kind in Canada. Widely respected, she would coach the men’s baseball team, the Montreal Royals, in base-running techniques and during the Second World War she was involved in training military recruits. She served on nearly every Canadian Olympic and Commonwealth Games committee from 1932 to 1972, giving her the honour of taking part in 11 Olympic Games in one form or another. She would pass away in 1985.
On April 14, Olive Freeman was born in Roland, Manitoba. She grew up on the Canadian Prairies and met John Diefenbaker in Saskatoon at a church where her father worked just after the First World War. She eventually went on to become a high school teacher and married Harry Palmer in 1933. He died in 1936 and she began working for the Ontario Department of Education. In 1951, she met Diefenbaker again and they married in 1953. Diefenbaker’s first wife had died in 1951. She remained married to Diefenbaker until her death in 1976. During their marriage, John Diefenbaker served as the prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963. In her life, she supported women’s rights and was noted for her skill with French.
On May 24, Victoria Day was celebrated as a legal holiday for the first time in Canada. This was done to honour Queen Victoria who had died the previous year. Outside Canada, Empire Day was celebrated throughout the British Empire, but in Canada it was Victoria Day. In 1977, Victoria Day was made the first Monday before May 25.
On May 29, Ontario went through a provincial election. the Liberals would once again win a majority, the party’s ninth consecutive, but this time they lost a seat to finish with 50. The Conservatives, in contrast, continued to rise and finished with 48 seats, only two away from tying the Liberals.
Due to the fact that it was so close, most newspapers couldn’t report on who had won the election the day after. The Halifax Herald reported quote:
“The news of the Ontario elections received up to the present writing indicate that the contest has been a close one, and leave in doubt the final result…it may not be possible for even a day or two after the election to say, with certainty, which side is actually ahead.”
Finally, the results came in and the newspapers, the ones that supported Ross and the Liberals, launched into praise of the government on its victory. One newspaper stated in bold letters quote:
“Ontario continues true to her old allegiance.”
This was the last election win for the Liberals until 1934.
On June 19, Guy Lombardo was born in London, Ontario. In 1914, he performed in public for the first time and by the 1920s was becoming one of the top musicians on the continent. His New Year’s Eve radio broadcast began in 1929 and continued for decades, into the era of television. With his brothers, who formed The Royal Canadians, it is believed they sold between 100 and 300 million albums in their lifetime.
On July 1, the Raymond Stampede was held for the first time. It was held in a vacant lot as part of the town’s first Canada Day celebration. It continues to run to this day and not only is it Alberta’s oldest rodeo, it is also Canada’s oldest professional rodeo, predating the Calgary Stampede by a decade. This was also the first time the word stampede was used for a rodeo. Hundreds of spectators came out to watch the stampede. For bronc riding, the horses were blindfolded and the cowboy simply stayed on the horse until they fell off or the horse stopped bucking. The entire idea for the stampede came from Raymond Knight, who was a local rancher. For that reason, he is called the Father of Canadian Stampedes.
On Aug. 11, Norma Shearer was born in Montreal. In 1920, she had moved to New York and began acting with the Ziegfield Follies before moving on to appear in movies as an extra. In 1923, she moved to Hollywood. She soon began to make a name for herself and within a year, was making $5,000 per week in movies. By the time the 1930s began, she was called the Queen of MGM and was one of the most famous actors in the world. She continued to act until her retirement in 1942 and she passed away on June 12, 1983. In her acting career, she was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress six times, winning in 1930 for her role in The Divorcee. In fact, in 1930, she was nominated for two different roles.
On Oct. 20, the railroad reached Edmonton for the first time. It had been built to Strathcona a decade previous but it was not until the Low Level Bridge was built in 1900 that the railroad could cross the North Saskatchewan River and reach Edmonton. This spurred on the growth of the city and the eventual amalgamation with Strathcona a decade later.
On Nov. 21, the SS Bannockburn disappeared in Lake Superior. The ship was sailing out of an area near current-day Thunder Bay, Ontario carrying 85,000 bushels of wheat on Nov. 20, 1902. As she headed towards Georgian Bay, the ship suffered a slight grounding but with no apparent damage, it left the next day. The captain of the Algonquin would see the ship later that day, stating he viewed the ship several times but then that it was suddenly gone when he looked again. He blamed it on foggy weather and forgot about it.
That night, a powerful storm hit Lake Superior and the crew of the Huronic reported seeing another ship’s lights in the storm but that no signals of distress were reported. The next day, the Bannockburn was reported as overdue but due to the storm it was believed the ship was delayed. On Nov. 25, the John D. Rockefeller passed through a field of floating debris that could have been the Bannockburn but at the time the ship had not been reported as lost yet. It would not be until Nov. 30 that the ship was given up officially as lost. On Dec. 12, a captain at a life saving station found a cork life preserver from the Bannockburn, the only known piece of wreckage ever recovered from the ship other than an oar that was also found. Within one year, people on the Great Lakes began to report her as a ghost ship. To date, the wreck of the ship has never been found and no bodies have ever been recovered.
The same day that ship disappeared, Edward Prior was made the premier of British Columbia, succeeding from James Dunsmuir. Prior only served as premier until June 1, 1903 before he was dismissed by the Lt. Governor due to charges of conflict of interest. He remains the last Canadian premier to be dismissed by a Lt. Governor. Ironically, On Dec. 9, 1919, he became the Lt. Governor of British Columbia, remaining in the post until his death on Dec. 12, 1920.
On Nov. 21, Foster Hewitt was born in Toronto. After developing an interest in radio, he became a reporter with the Toronto Star knowing that they were going to launch their own radio station. On Feb. 16, 1923, he made his first broadcast of a hockey game. He became such a fixture of hockey on the radio that on Nov. 12, 1931, he was part of the opening ceremonies of Maple Leaf Gardens and had a special gondola built for himself to broadcast the games from. For four decades, he was Canada’s play-by-play broadcaster on Hockey Night in Canada, where he used the phrase He shoots, He scores! He continued to handle play-by-play until he retired from broadcasting in 1968. He came out of retirement in 1972 to broadcast the Summit Series. He passed away on April 21, 1985.
On Nov. 23, Eddie Shore was born in Fort Qu’Appelle. Growing up on a ranch near Cupar in Saskatchewan, he spent his time breaking horses, herding stock and hauling grain. All of this helped form him into a man who could handle the physical grind of hockey. In Cupar, the first rink was 44 feet by 100 feet, and that was the first ice surface Shore would skate on.
In 1922, Cupar won the Southern Championship against Moose Jaw and played Melville in the provincial final. The display Shore put on would eventually lead to the Melville Millionaires asking Shore to play for them in the 1923-24 season. He would accept, and led them to the Saskatchewan Senior Championship in his first year. This was not a professional league so Shore worked as a fireman for the railway during that same time.
In 1927, he debuted with the Boston Bruins after spending time in the WCHL. In his first season he had 12 goals and six assists for 18 points. Along with those 18 points he had 130 penalty minutes, which was a record for the time.
His influence was seen immediately as he helped the team reach its first Stanley Cup in 1929.
Arguably the most famous of the incidents on the ice for Shore was on Dec. 12, 1933 when he hit Ace Bailey of the Toronto Maple Leafs from behind. Baily’s head hit the ice, knocking him out and putting his body into convulsions. The incident came as a result of King Clancy upended Shore with a check as he rushed up the ice. Shore, looking to get back at Clancy, rushed Baily mistaking him for Clancy. After the hit on Bailey, Red Horner punched Shore so hard his head hit the ice, knocking him out as well and resulting in seven stitches. Bailey was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull and had to go into the operating room for four hours. There was speculation that he would die, and while he was in a coma for ten days, he did make a full recovery but never played professionally again.
Ace would regain consciousness and was being attended to by doctors. Shore, also having regained consciousness, went into the dressing room to apologize to Bailey, saying quote “Ace, I’m sorry, I had no reason to do that to you. I hope you forgive me.” Bailey responded that it was all part of the game before losing consciousness again.
The first all-star benefit game was held on Feb. 14, 1934 to raise money for Bailey and his family. With nearly $21,000 raised, or $401,000 today. At the game, Bailey and Shore shook hands and embraced at centre ice. The crowd cheered but the incident would stay with Shore for the rest of his life. Bailey would later say, “I hold no grudge. I see Eddie often when he comes up to Toronto for the games. It was just one of those things that happens.”
In 1939, Shore would win a second Stanley Cup and then retired and bought the Springfield Indians of the AHL. The Bruins then approached Shore about coming back to the team, offering him $200 per game, or about $5,200 today. Shore played only four games before deciding his heart wasn’t in it. He would obtain permission to play in home games for the Springfield Indians, and after pushing to play in road games, he was traded to the New York Americans, despite owning the Indians. As a result, he played with the Americans until their elimination from the playoffs, and then played for the Indians in their playoff games. In six games over six nights, he played three games for the Americans and three games for the Indians. On March 24, 1939, he would play in his final NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Over the course of his career, Shore had won two Stanley Cups, was named to the NHL First All Star Team in 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938 and 1939 and was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy four times, only Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky won it more, in 1933, 1935, 1936 and 1938. He also won the Hart Trophy more than any other defencemen in history. Over the course of his NHL career, he had 105 goals and 179 assists for 284 points in 550 games, along with an astounding 1,047 penalty minutes.
On March 15, 1985 Shore was visiting his son in Springfield when he began to vomit up blood. He was rushed to the hospital and died the next day from liver cancer.
Shore was honoured extensively throughout his life for his contributions to hockey. In 1947, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and had his #2 retired by the Bruins that same year. He won the Lester B. Patrick Award for contributions to hockey in 1970. In 1975, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame. In 1998, he ranked #10 on the list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players of All Time, the highest of any pre-World War Two player. In 2017, he was part of the first group of players to be named as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history. The Eddie Shore Award, awarded to the top defencemen in the AHL, was created in his honour.
He was even name dropped in a classic hockey movie, Slap Shot.
On Dec. 21, Howie Morenz was born in Mitchell, Ontario. As a child, he began to play hockey on the Thames River, using a homemade hockey stick and chunks of coal for pucks. By eight he was playing in his first organized hockey game. Playing as a goaltender, he let in 21 goals and was soon switched to the position of rover. He would still play goal and in one game, when the score was 3-3, he stopped a shot, saw an opening and took the puck down the ice while wearing his padding, to score the winning goal.
By the time he began his junior career, he was playing as a forward to take advantage of his incredible speed on the ice. With that move, he took his team to the Western Ontario Junior Championship.
In 1923, he played in a CNR hockey tournament in Montreal, where he scored nine goals. This was seen by a friend of Leo Dandurand, the owner of the Montreal Canadiens, who told his friend about this new phenom. Dandurand went to see Morenz play the next month and immediately wanted him to sign with the Canadiens. Dandurand would meet with Morenz and his family, who said they wanted Morenz to finish his apprenticeship with CNR for another two years.
On July 7, 1923, Morenz signed a contract with the Canadiens for three years, worth $3,500 per year with a $1,000 signing bonus. With the contract signed on the seventh day of the seventh month, Morenz chose to wear seven for the Canadiens.
By the end of the 1923-24 season, Morenz had 13 goals with three assists in 24 games. He also helped the team finish first for the first time in five years. Playing for the NHL championship, Morenz helped the team win against the Ottawa Senators and advance to play for the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Maroons and the Calgary Tigers. They defeated the Maroons and in the first game against Calgary, Morenz scored three goals. Montreal won the first game 6-1 and the second game 3-0, with Morenz scoring four goals total. Morenz, in his first season, had won the Stanley Cup.
The season after his marriage, 1927-28, would be the best Morenz ever had. He would become the first player to reach 50 points in a season, finishing with 51. He led the league in goals, assists and points and won the Hart Trophy.
Macleans would write years later quote:
“Morenz was far more than a Canadien hero. To youngsters all over Canada he was to hockey what Babe Ruth was to baseball, and Jack Dempsey to boxing, a fairy-tale figure who could do things no one else could do and against greater odds.”
Morenz was known for his amazing speed. In one game against Ottawa, Alex Smith got a breakaway to the Canadiens net and apparently had 50 feet of space on Morenz but Morenz caught him, batted the puck into the corner and picked it up, flipping it up to a teammate who scored.
In 1929-30, he scored 40 goals in the season, including five goals in a game against the New York Americans on March 18, 1930. He then led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup, including scoring the Cup-winning goal.
In 1930-31, Morenz once again scored 50 points, and won his second NHL scoring title and his second Hart Trophy. In the playoffs, he took the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Black Hawks. Playing with an injured shoulder, he only had one goal in 10 playoff games, but his one goal was the last one of the playoffs, helping the Canadiens win another Stanley Cup, Morenz third.
In 1931-32, Morenz had 49 points, finishing third in league scoring and he became the first NHL player to win the Hart Trophy for a third time. That season, on March 17, 1932, he scored his 334th point, passing Cy Denneny for the most career points by an NHL player.
By 1933-34, the point and goal totals for Morenz began to decline, scoring only eight goals and 21 points. Still, on Dec. 23, 1933, he scored his 249th career goal, becoming the NHL leader for career goals, passing Cy Denneny for the honour.
On Jan. 2, 1934, Morenz twisted his ankle in a game, tearing a ligament and forcing him to miss a month. When he returned to the ice, he could no play at his current level and he was booed by the fans.
On Oct. 3, 1934, Morenz was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks.
In his first season with the Black Hawks, he played 48 games and finished with a respectable 34 points. That would be his only productive season with the team. In the next season, he was benched several times and only played 23 games, finishing with 15 points.
On Jan. 26, 1936, he was traded to the New York Rangers.
With the Rangers, Morenz had six points in 19 games.
After the season was over, the Canadiens brought back Cecil Hart to coach the team and he said he would take the job only if Morenz was back on the Canadiens. This was agreed to and Morenz was with the Canadiens for the 1936-37 season, and doing quite well with 20 points by the mid-point of the season.
Unfortunately, on Jan. 28, 1937, in a game against the Black Hawks, Morenz went into the corner to get a puck and lost his balance and fell to the ice. He crashed into the boards and his left skate caught on the wood siding. Earl Seibert, the Black Hawks defencemen, could not stop and slammed into Morenz. It was said you could hear the snapping of Morenz’ leg throughout the stadium.
Morenz was taken to the hospital where it was found he had broken his leg in four places.
Morenz would never play another game again.
On March 8, Morenz complained of chest pains. At 11:30 p.m., he attempted to get out of bed to go to the bathroom but collapsed on the floor, suffering a coronary embolism from blood clots in his broken leg. Within minutes, he was dead.
On March 9, the Montreal Canadiens game was cancelled in honour of Morenz but Mary Morenz insisted the game be played as that is what her husband would have wanted. In the game, the Canadiens and Montreal Maroons players wore black armbands, and a two minute silence was observed at the start of the game.
On March 11, a funeral was held in the Montreal Forum for Morenz and he was situated in his casket at centre ice. A total of 50,000 people, some say 200,000, filed by to pay their respects. At his funeral, 15,000 people attended.
For months, Montreal mourned the death of Morenz and on Nov. 2, 1937, his #7 was retired forever by the Canadiens. A benefit All-Star game was also held to benefit the Morenz family. His sweater was auctioned off for $500 and it was bought by Joseph Cattarinich, who then gave it to Howard Raymond, the son of Morenz. In all, the event raised $20,000 for the family, about $400,000 today.
Over the course of his NHL career, Morenz had 472 points, 271 goals and 201 assists, in 550 games.
In 1945, he was one of the first nine players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1950, he was named the best hockey player of the first half of the 20th century by the Canadian Press.
In 1998, he was ranked #15 on the list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players in history. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL players ever. In 1998, Macleans ranked Howie Morenz the ninth greatest hero in Canadian history, below Terry Fox and Roberta Bondar, and above Anne of Green Gables.
Some events occurred this year without specific dates.
Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier had an eye to the future when he signed an agreement with Marconi, the inventor of the wireless communication system that used Morse code, to construct a transatlantic communications facility and the tools for communication for lighthouses and sailing stations to communicate. Two years later, he would sign a contract with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada to operate a network of radiotelegraphy stations, known today as marine band radios, creating the first network of wireless radio transmission systems in the world. In 1904, there were six stations and by 1915 there were 21.
In 1902, the Chinese Head Tax had not slowed Chinese immigration and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier government doubled the tax from $50 to $100. That same year, a second inquiry, called the Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese immigration. That commission would suggest that the tax needed to be increase to $500 to prevent Chinese immigration to the country. This huge increase made the tax equal to the cost of two homes at the time, or two years’ salary. Parliament would pass the recommendation in 1903.
The year 1902 proved to be a watershed year in the history of the Doukhobors in Canada as Peter Verigin had arrived in Canada.
By this point, the Doukhobors represented the largest single mass migration of a group in Canadian history.