Canada A Yearly Journey: 1903

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On Feb. 25, Francis Michael Clancy was born in Ottawa. At the time, his father played football for Ottawa and was called King Clancy because he was known as the King of the Heelers on the team. That nickname would eventually transfer down to Frank, becoming his pseudo name for the rest of his life as he was known as King Clancy.

Growing up in Ottawa, Clancy would have seen the legendary Ottawa Senators team dominating hockey in Canada. Clancy first gained notice in Ottawa while playing for St. Joseph’s High School and then the city munitions junior squad.

Clancy would debut with the Senators on Dec. 17, 1921 at the age of 17, weighing only 150 pounds. He would score in his first game as well, an overtime win against Hamilton.

That first year, he would record 10 points in 24 games, followed by five points in 24 games the next season. In that second season, he helped the Senators win the Stanley Cup.

Known for his small size, Clancy was also tough and fast and would not back down from any fight.

The Senators would win the Stanley Cup again in 1927 and Clancy’s point totals continued to increase. In 1929-30, he recorded 40 points in 44 games for the Senators but that would prove to be his last season with his hometown team. Over the course of his seasons with the Senators, he hit double digits for goals three times and was known for using every trick he could to defend his own zone.

By this point, the Senators were in dire financial stress and had begun selling off their prize players. No player on the team was as prized as that of King Clancy. Toronto manager Conn Smythe was a great admirer of Clancy and would pay $35,000, or $541,500 today, along with two players to bring Clancy to the Maple Leafs. The story of how Smythe was able to afford Clancy is a tale unto itself. The Leafs’ board of directors would only give him $25,000 to get Clancy, which was half what the Senators wanted. In order to get the money, Smythe entered the horse he had just bought for $250, Rare Jewell, into the stakes race at Woodbine. Smythe’s own horse trainer said Rare Jewell had no chance of winning, and she was a 107-to-one long shot. Amazingly, she won the race and netted Smythe $15,570. As he collected his winnings he turned to his friends and said, “Now I can buy King Clancy.”

For Smythe, Clancy would not only turn his team into a powerhouse, it would also help him get a hockey shrine built, Maple Leaf Gardens. He would say, quote:

“Clancy made it possible. We were building a great team with many fine players, but Clancy made it all stick together.”

In his first season with the Leafs, he recorded 21 points in 44 games. In his second season, which saw him with 19 points in 48 games, he led the Maple Leafs to the Stanley Cup, the third of his career. He would stay with the Maple Leafs for the remainder of his career until 1936-37.

Eventually, Clancy realized he could no longer continue as he was unable to keep weight on his already small frame. Nothing was wrong with his health, but he knew the time was done. He would say, quote:

“I was 33 and the highest-paid player in the NHL when I announced I was hanging up my skates. I’ll never forget the date, it was Nov. 24, 1936. I was through as a player but not finished as far as the Toronto Maple Leaf organization was concerned. Mr. Smythe gave me a job as a goodwill ambassador and that kept me in touch with the game I loved.”

Upon his retirement, his 283 points as a defenceman were the most in NHL history. During his NHL career he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1931 and 1934, and the Second All-Star Team in 1932 and 1933.

Following his retirement, Clancy would briefly coach the Montreal Maroons. During his season, 1937-38 coaching the Maroons, they finished fourth and Clancy was fired. He then began working as a referee in the NHL, a career that would last the next 11 years.

In 1958, Clancy would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

He would remain as assistant general manager into the 1960s as the team settled into a new dynasty in which it won four Stanley Cups under coach Punch Imlach. When Imlach was fired in 1969, Clancy assumed he would be fired as well but he was made vice-president of the team instead.

Harold Ballard took over control of the Maple Leafs in 1971-72 and quickly became good friends with Clancy. In 1971-72, he stepped behind the bench for 15 games to coach the Maple Leafs while head coach John McLellan recovered from a peptic ulcer. Clancy would remain with the Leafs’ front office for the rest of his life.

In 1986, Clancy had an operation to remove his gallbladder but an infection from the gallbladder seeping into his body during the operation resulted in him going into septic shock. He would die on Nov. 8, 1986 and is buried at Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery in Toronto.

Clancy’s 65 years of work in professional hockey is a record only equaled by Marcel Pronovost. He was also the last surviving member of the Stanley Cup winning Ottawa Senators of 1922-23.

On April 19, Oliver Mowat died. He first entered politics in 1857 as an alderman with the City of Toronto, and then served in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1858 to 1867. Considered a Father of Confederation, he remained in the Assembly until he 1872 when he became the premier of Ontario. He would serve as premier until 1896, longer than anyone else in the history of the province. As premier, he fought for more provincial rights, introduced the secret ballot, extended the vote to beyond property owners, regulated liquor and also fixed the boundary between Ontario and Manitoba.

From 1896 to 1897, he served in the Canadian Senate, and from 1896 to 1897, he served in Parliament in the cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

In 1897, he became Lt. Governor of Ontario, serving until his death.

On April 29, Turtle Mountain collapsed onto the community of Frank. Throughout April 1903, the miners heard the rumblings of the mountain.

The pressure of the shifting rock even began to crack and splinter the supporting timbers of the mine shaft.

Still, the mining continued. On April 28, 1903, a sudden wave of cold air caused the water in the mountain to freeze.

This trapped air and liquid within the mountain.

With that extra pressure of the expanding ice in its fissures, Turtle Mountain had reached its breaking point.

At 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903,  30 million cubic metres of limestone rock, weighing 82 million tons, broke off Turtle Mountain.

The section of mountain that barreled down to Frank was one kilometre wide, 425 metres high and 150 metres deep.

Moving at 112 kilometres an hour down the mountain, it took 100 seconds for the slide to slam into Frank.

The crash was so loud, it was said that it could be heard 200 kilometres away in the Town of Cochrane.

Many people who survived and were close to the disaster said it sounded like cannons going off next to their heads.

The reason the slide moved so fast was that an air cushion developed between the rockslide debris and the mountain from the compressed air.

There is also the theory of acoustic fluidization, which theorizes that a huge mass of moving material creates enough seismic energy that it reduces the friction between two materials, allowing it to move faster and farther.

As the landslide fell down the mountain, it destroyed the entrance to the coal mine, two kilometres of railway, two ranches and a section of Frank.

Thankfully, it only hit the eastern edge of town, which was more sparsely populated than the other areas of Frank.

In all, it killed at least 90 to 100 people.

On April 30, Emily Stowe died. Born on May 1, 1831 in Oxford County, she was refused entrance to Victoria College because she was a woman and then the Toronto School of Medicine. She was told,

“The doors of the university are not open to women and I trust they never will be.”

She went to the United States and earned a medical degree at the New York Medical College for Women in 1867. She came back to Canada and opened a medical clinic, providing care to women and children.

She is considered to be the first female physician to practice in Canada.

In 1880, Stowe was finally granted a licence to practice medicine based on her three decades of experience, becoming the second woman in Canada to have a medical licence. In her later life, she became a leading figure in the women’s suffrage movement and in 1893, retired from medicine. Her daughter, Augusta Stowe-Gullen became the first woman to earn a medical degree in Canada.

On May 23, Elsie Gibbons was born in Ottawa. In 1920, she married Gordon Gibbons and the two operated a small grocery store together which did well through the 1930s and 1940s.

Due to her large community role in Portage-du-Fort, she was asked to become mayor by the citizens of the community. She was elected by acclamation on May 13, 1953, becoming the first woman to be mayor of a community in Quebec. Under her role as mayor, she persuaded voters to vote for a water distribution system, and secured $15,000 for its construction. She also had every road in the village paved, renovated buildings and sidewalks and developed leisure and sports facilities, while also employing a fire chief, voluntary fire brigade and law enforcement in the community on weekends.

In 1971, her time as mayor came to an end, but in 1973 she was elected councillor and again as mayor from 1975 to 1977.

She passed away on Jan. 28, 2003.

On June 23, Paul Martin Sr. was born in Ottawa. In 1907, Martin contracted polio, something that would shape him for the rest of his life. For a time, he was unable to walk and his siblings took him to school in a child’s wagon. Other boys would throw snowballs at him, tease him, and try to tip the wagon over.

He was left with a weakened left arm, and it showed him the importance of developing a vaccine to deal with the terrible disease. To counter the weakness in his arm, and leg muscles, he swam daily throughout his career, all the way up to his 80s.

As a child, he saw his father work at a grocery store, and for a time be unemployed. This pushed him to later advocate heavily for government unemployment insurance.

Originally planning to go into the priesthood, Martin became fascinated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and chose instead to pursue politics. When Laurier died in 1919, Martin skipped classes and walked 15 kilometres to pay homage to the man lying in state.

In 1928, he attempted to win a provincial seat in the Ontario Legislature but failed.

Upon his graduation as a lawyer, he worked briefly in Toronto but moved permanently to Windsor in 1930 to set up his own firm.

In 1935, Martin was elected to the House of Commons, where he would remain for over three decades.

The Liberals had just swept back into power, having defeated the Conservatives by winning 173 seats, the most in Canadian history to that point.

Almost immediately, Martin began to rise up the Liberal ranks thanks to his experience with international relations and law.

During the Second World War, despite the fact he was in Parliament, he tried three times to enlist for active service but did not qualify physically. He then enlisted as a private and served with pride.

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King made him the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour in 1943.

In 1945, Martin was appointed as the secretary of state.

One year later in 1946, he was the minister of national health and welfare.

In early 1946, Martin introduced the Canadian Citizenship Act. Prior to this point, a Canadian citizen was designated as a British subject who was born, naturalized or domiciled in Canada. In 1921, the status of Canadian national was introduced.

On April 2, 1946, the Act was given first reading in the House of Commons and received its Royal Assent on June 27, 1946. It was implemented on Jan. 1, 1947, with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King becoming the first Canadian citizen.

In 1948, he launched the $30 million annual health grants system, followed by an expansion of the Family Allowances Act and Old Age Pensions Act.

Martin was instrumental in ensuring that the polio vaccine was available to Canadians, even as some worried about its safety.

On April 25, 1955, reports began to appear that some batches of the vaccine produced by Cutter Laboratories in California had not fully activated. A total of 79 cases of polio were tied to the vaccine and the US Surgeon General recalled all of the Cutter vaccine and a new polio surveillance system was set up. In total, 200 children were left paralyzed and 10 would die. On May 7, the United States suspended its vaccine program. There was a great deal of debate about what to do. Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent was resistant to allowing vaccines to continue but his health minister, Paul Martin Sr., decided to continue the program in Canada.

In 1955, Martin negotiated an agreement that allowed for the expansion of the membership of the United Nations, allowing it to become the organization it is today. His work allowed 16 new members to join the General Assembly.

In 1956, he steered through the House of Commons the legislation that would allow for a national hospital insurance system in Canada.

Finally, with Lester B. Pearson retiring, Martin once again tried to become leader of the party. Unfortunately, this time he was up against the up and coming Pierre Trudeau, who was the choice of Lester B. Pearson to run. Trudeau didn’t confirm if he was running or not and Martin attempted to find out whether that was the case. In the election race, Trudeau would be his main challenger despite the age difference. On Jan. 23, 1968, he even sent his son to spread the message that he wanted to be identified with the leading wing of the party, not the old guard. Despite his best efforts, the leading wing of the party put their support behind Trudeau.

On April 6, 1968, the leadership convention was held. On the first ballot, Martin finished a distant fourth with 11.6 per cent of the vote, tying with the young and dynamic John Turner, while Trudeau had 31.5 per cent of the vote.

With that loss, he knew his chance at becoming prime minister was over. According to his son, Paul Martin Jr., his father was filled with anguish.

Over the course of his Parliamentary career, he never lost an election in his riding, 10 straight wins in all. Often, he took 50 to 60 per cent of the vote in those elections. One reason for his success was he was a pioneer when it came to using poll-by-poll surveys, check back visits, direct mail methods and vote projections. It was said his workers could predict, almost exactly, to the vote, how the election would turn out in the riding days before the election happened.

In late August 1992, Martin broke his hip, spending three weeks in the hospital and while it seemed as though his condition was improving, it suddenly took a turn for the worst.

On Sept. 14, 1992 in Windsor, Martin passed away.

The Ottawa Citizen said of him,

“He was an institution. Familiar, enduring, as Canadian as hockey or maple syrup. He seemed to have been with us forever, and would remain for a long time to come.”

On July 30, Harold Ballard was born in Toronto. Beginning his career as a businessman, he had a strong history in hockey and he sponsored the Toronto National Sea Fleas that won the Allan Cup in 1932. In 1940, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and in 1957 he became a senior executive.

In 1961, he became part owner of the team and for the next decade, he saw the team win the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967. In 1972, he became the majority owner of the team, which he would own until his death.

Among Maple Leaf fans, this period of time is not looked upon fondly as he routinely dismantled promising teams and never built a true contender for the city.

In 1978, he bought the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who won the Grey Cup in 1986 under his ownership. He sold the Tiger-Cats in 1988. In 1977, Ballard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and in 1987 was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

He died on April 11, 1990 at the age of 86. He is one of only seven people to have won both the Stanley Cup and Grey Cup.

On Aug. 31, Helen Battle was born in London, Ontario. When she was only 16, she started to pursue her undergraduate degree, and earned her PhD in 1928 becoming the first woman in Canada to earn a PhD in Marine Biology.

From 1929 to 1967, she served in the faculty of Western University, where she taught over 4,500 students on the subject of zoology and marine biology. Throughout her time with the university, she fought to improve the position of women in universities and encouraged women to go to graduate school.

In 1961, she cofounded the Canadian Society of Zoologists, and in 1967 retired from her position. In 1971, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from Western University and a Doctor of Science from Carleton University.

She passed away on June 17, 1994 at the age of 90.

Also this year, the Lachine Rapids Hydraulic and Land Company was established, which generated 12,000 electric horsepower for use in Montreal thanks to the Lachine Canal.

In 1903, the Alaska Boundary discussions with the United States would begin. Canada wanted an all-Canadian route from the Klondike gold fields to the pacific, currently blocked by US territory on the Alaska panhandle that the United States claimed as its own. A six person tribunal was created with Canada getting two votes, the United States getting three and Britain getting one. In the end, Britain rules in favour of the United States hoping to avert military conflict. This incident greatly irritates Laurier who sees Canada lacking the power to make its own international decisions.

The Canadian government purchased the Plains of Abraham this year, where a decisive battle between the British and French was fought on Sept. 13, 1759. The battle led to the eventual surrender of the French, and the transfer of New France to Britain.

And Frank McGee returned to the Ottawa Senators after losing his eye in one game a few years previous. He would play for the Senators for the next three seasons, winning three Stanley Cups. In his first season back with the team, he had 14 goals in six games.

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