On this date: December 2020


1 December 1959

Twelve countries sign the Antarctic Treaty, declaring the continent a scientific preserve and banning military activity.

2 December 1942
The first controlled self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is triggered at the University of Chicago, ushering in the atomic age.

3 December 1943
The 1st Special Service Force, the U.S.-Canadian commando unit known as The Devil’s Brigade, attacks Monte la Difensa, Italy, in an attempt to clear German positions.

4-6 December 1950
HMC ships Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux support the evacuation of the port of Nampo near Pyongyang, North Korea (see page TK).

5 December 1942
The Toronto RCAF Hurricanes defeat the Winnipeg RCAF Bombers 8-5 in the first non-civilian Grey Cup at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.

6 December 1989
Fourteen women are killed by a gunman at École Polytechnique in Montreal. The gunman commits suicide.

7 December 1941
Canada declares war on Finland, Hungary and Romania, the same day as Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

8-9 December 1941
Japan bombs Hong Kong and Singapore in a prelude to invasion.

9 December 1755
Canada’s first post office opens in Halifax in an attempt to improve military communications between Britain and North America.

10 December 1939
Four RCN destroyers provide close escort to the first troop convoy—TC-1—carrying 7,400 soldiers, out of Halifax.

11 December 1931
Passage of the Statute of Westminster in Britain frees Canada to adopt its own laws, including the right to declare war on another country.

12 December 1901
Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic wireless signal, transmitted 2,700 kilometres from Cornwall, England, to St. John’s.

13 December 2008
Responding to reports of suspicious activity, three soldiers of the Royal Canadian Regiment are killed by an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan.

14 December 1915
A.S. Ince is the first Canadian credited with downing an enemy aircraft, shooting down a German seaplane off Ostend, Belgium.

15 December 1964
Parliament votes to adopt the maple leaf design for Canada’s new flag.

16 December 1944
The Battle of the Bulge—Hitler’s last major offensive of the war—begins.

17 December 1992
Canada ends 28 years of continuous service in the United Nations Signal Squadron in Cyprus.

18 December 1950
Canada’s first fighting unit—2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry—reaches Korea.

19-20 December 1915
Pressed by Turkish forces, the Newfoundland Regiment is among the last evacuated from Suvla Bay after the Battle of Gallipoli (see page TK).

20 December 1941
Off Shelburne, N.S., patrol vessel HMCS Adversus grounds in a gale and is lost. All 16 crew survive.

21 December 1943
Canadians engage in vicious house-to-house fighting in Ortona, Italy.

22 December 1977
Canadian Patrol Frigate Project is authorized, but it will take years to get the ships into the water.

23 December 1956
British and French forces leave the Suez Canal after pressure by the United Nations and United States.

24 December 1944
Minesweeper HMCS Clayoquot is torpedoed by U-806 off Halifax. Eight die, 76 survive.

25 December 1941
Hong Kong surrenders. Survivors face nearly four years in brutal Japanese prisoner of war camps.

26 December 1791
Britain’s Constitutional Act creates Upper and Lower Canada and sets the stage for rebellion.

27 December 1972
Lester Pearson, prime minister from 1963 to 1968 and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, dies.

28 December 1961
466 Squadron, RCAF, is established in North Bay, Ont., and equipped with Bomarc missiles.

29-31 December 1813
In retaliation for the burning of Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake), British forces raze buildings in Buffalo and Black Rock in New York.

30 December 1941
Winston Churchill delivers an inspirational speech in Ottawa that helps galvanize wartime resolve.

31 December 1992
New Canadian military honours are created: The Victoria Cross, Star of Military Valour, Medal of Military Valour and Mention in Dispatches.