Canada Corner

Walk in the park
Canada Corner, O Canada

Walk in the park

It began, as so many things did in this country, with John A. Macdonald.  In November 1885, he declared that 26 square kilometres on Sulphur Mountain overlooking Banff, Alta., would be designated for the public. It contained the Cave and Basin hot springs, which had been used by Indigenous peoples for centuries but had recently been discovered by railway workers. Macdonald had an ulterior motive. The hot springs could become a tourist attraction and help make his beloved railway economically viable. The following year, a legal survey of the area declared that “a large tract of country lying outside of the original reservation presented features of the greatest beauty, and was admirably adapted for a national park.” In 1887, the Rocky Mountains Park Act created what is now Banff Nationa...
Britain’s defence
Canada Corner

Britain’s defence

While facing hard times, the United Kingdom is also increasing defence spending Speaking to the British Parliament in late November 2020, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said his country faced its worst recession in 300 years (!) and an 11.3 per cent drop in gross domestic product. Worse yet, those numbers did not include the economic effects of Britain’s departure from the European Union, which was expected to add another two per cent to the decline in GDP.  The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the British economy have been devastating, and the pandemic has not yet run its course. Even Britain’s much-boasted contribution to foreign aid, pledged by the government during the 2019 election to remain at 0.7 per cent of gross national income, was chopped to 0.5 per cent. Despi...
Super Heroes
Home Front

Super Heroes

Wartime restrictions accidentally created a golden age for Canadian comic book heroes with patriotic messages Torontonian Leo Bachle was just 16 in 1941 when he created Canadian wartime comic book superhero Johnny Canuck.  “I didn’t see it as propaganda at the time,” he said in a CBC interview in 1995. “I created Johnny to give Canada a hero. I really believed in the war effort. I felt very nationalistic.”  With typical Canadian reserve, these heroes didn’t always possess Superman-like powers. Bachle was in the right place at the right time with the right talent. Canada’s War Exchange Conservation Act of December 1940 banning non-essential imports had an unintended benefit to the war effort. Among paper products it barred were pulp magazines and comic books. In blocking popular A...
Lord Stanley’s cup(s)
Canada Corner, O Canada

Lord Stanley’s cup(s)

When Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, was Governor General of Canada, he donated a trophy—known originally as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup—for Canada’s best amateur hockey club. It became known as the Stanley Cup. Lord Frederick Stanley of Preston, Canada’s Governor General from 1888 to 1893, saw his first hockey game on Feb. 4, 1889, and like so many of us, he was hooked.  Three years later, he donated a trophy to be awarded to the best hockey team in the country. The gold-lined silver bowl was 18.5 centimetres tall and cost $48.67. On May 15, 1893, the first Cup was awarded to a Montreal team (quelle surprise!)—the Montreal Athletic Association.  Among early winners were the Winnipeg Victorias, Montreal Wanderers, Kenora Thistles, Vancouver Millionaires and Ottawa Sen...
Rugged Workhorse
Home Front

Rugged Workhorse

From the Sahara to Normandy, Canadian Military Pattern trucks kept armies supplied and moving The Desert Fox, General Erwin Rommel, had to make a decision. It was June 1942 and after mauling Britain’s Eighth Army in the Western Desert campaign, the commander of Germany’s Panzer Army Africa was at the end of his logistical support.   Rommel was a brilliant tactician, but his strategic vision was dulled by the defeat he inflicted on the British in Libya, forcing them to retreat to El Alamein, Egypt, a shot-up railway station along the Mediterranean coast. He decided to make one last effort to crack British defences and have his Panzer forces roll through Egypt to the Nile. But first he had to capture Tobruk, Libya, and gain the stores and petrol left by the retreating British—supplies...
Broken Arrow
Canada Corner, Military History

Broken Arrow

Brilliant and blazingly fast, the CF-105 was ahead of its time—and short-lived During the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, there was a growing concern that Soviet bombers would attack North America via the shortest route, over the Canadian Arctic. NATO intelligence suggested that such an attack could occur as early as 1954. So, in 1953, the Royal Canadian Air Force commissioned the A.V. Roe Canada Ltd. aircraft manufacturing company in Malton, Ont., to design and build a fighter plane that could operate in any weather, fly at twice the speed of sound, execute a 2G turn at 50,000 feet without losing speed or altitude, and fire a missile at oncoming bombers. It was, at the time, the most demanding specification in the world, and many international manufacturers believed it couldn’t...

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