A Brief Canadian History Part I

Throughout this blog, I will be discussing certain historical events and people in Canadian history. I’ll include a couple of ancestors of my own and how these people and events have impacted our lives today. It might help you re-think certain things about our history and show what type of people we’re supporting.

Canada officially became its own nation on July 1, 1867. Sir John A. MacDonald became the first prime minister. In December 1866, while in London to work out the final terms of the British North America Act (BNAA), MacDonald burned his shoulder after accidentally lighting his hotel room on fire oops. The Canadian delegation wisely kept that a secret. Legendary for his drunkenness, they say he had his drinking under control by his 60th birthday. According to a detailed 2006 paper on Macdonald’s many drunken episodes, the Prime Minister’s last “incident” of public drunkenness occurred in 1878, 13 years before his death. In 1886, Macdonald took his first ride on the railroad he had pushed so hard to build, and his wife spent much of the journey through British Columbia on a chair strapped to the cowcatcher.

To help fund the railroad building, Macdonald found a private group called the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to be a partner. The estimated cost for building the line was 100 million dollars. During the building of the railway, many innocent lives came to an abrupt end. Many surveyors got frostbite or scurvy, were attacked by grizzly bears, died in fires, or drowned. The most difficult part in the journey of building the railway was the Fraser Canyon section. 15 tunnels were blasted there. Just over 7,000 workers were needed. 6,000 of them were Chinese. Chinese workers were paid one dollar a day and had to pay for their own equipment, while white labourers were paid $1.50—$1.75 a day and were given equipment.

So, of course, Chinese workers were usually given the most dangerous jobs, such as blasting, causing many deaths. It is estimated that four Chinese workers died for each mile through the Fraser Canyon. Men also died from poor eating, sickness, poor clothing, and poor working conditions. Macdonald gets much of the heat for a national policy that would profoundly negatively impact First Nations, and he was at the helm when thousands of prairie aboriginals succumbed to disease and starvation. MacDonald wasn’t all that bad of a guy though, he was the first leader to attempt to give women the right to vote, and at least he kicked his nasty addiction. You can’t please everyone, especially in the money-sucking, can’t trust anyone, do only what’s best for a small percentage of the population, governing society, we all live in.

O Canada! The original lyrics of “O Canada” were written in French by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. Routhier was a Canadian judge, author, and lyricist. He was born on May 8, 1839, in Saint-Placide, Quebec. He graduated and then was called to the Quebec bar in 1861. He was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 1873 (as Chief Justice from 1904 to 1906) and the exchequer Court of Canada (from 1897 to 1906). Routhier was involved in several federal elections as a Conservative candidate, but he was never elected. In June 1914, Routhier was one of the three judges appointed to conduct the Commission of Inquiry into the British steamship sinking, The Empress of Ireland (The Canadian Titanic), which had resulted in the loss of 1,012 innocent lives. This number of deaths is the largest of any Canadian maritime “accident” during peacetime.

There were only 465 survivors, 4 of whom were children (the other 134 children were lost), and 41 were women (the other 269 women were lost). It would only take 14 minutes for the ship to sink from the time the incident occurred completely. They say it was due to heavy fog when a Norwegian coal ship ran into the side of the massive steamship along the St. Lawrence river.  Isn’t it great this man had a part in creating our national anthem? This cold hardhearted guy had many sites and landmarks named after him, such as Rue Basile-Routhier (Basile-Routhier Street), located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada; Place Basile-Routhier, located in Shawinigan; Rue Basile-Routhier in Montreal, Quebec. Maybe, if he had another thousand or so people killed, we would have named a whole city after him, or possibly a province? Drop the sir and the “e” from the first part of his name, and you left with the first name of another iconic mass murderer. In my opinion, he doesn’t deserve anything named after him and especially shouldn’t have anything to do with our national anthem.

To be continued.

Click Here for Part II

“I am not here to build a business; I am not here to build a corporation; I am not here to build Schools; I am not here to build churches—I am no Mother Theresa.

What I will do, is—lead a legacy.”

~Dean Mathers


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