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Archive for July, 2009

July311868 — Canada, only a year old, is about to expand dramatically in size. The British House of Commons has passed the Rupert’s Land Act permitting Canada to purchase all of the lands belonging to the Hudson’s Bay Company (today’s Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, northern Quebec and northern Ontario).

Exactly 12 years later, on July 31, 1880, an Imperial Order-in-Council officially annexes all British possessions in North America (except Newfoundland) to Canada. This includes the Arctic Islands previously excluded. Sir John A. Macdonald‘s new country now touches three oceans.

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July301975 — Concerned that U.S. oil companies operating in Canada are probably sending most of their profits south of the border, Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, with the support of the New Democratic Party, has launched a new government oil company — Petro-Canada — as a Crown corporation.

With $1.5 billion in start-up money and the takeover of service stations once belonging to BP Canada, Petrocan is off to a quick, healthy start. Six years later, it acquires Canada’s Fina stations and in 1985 adds all of the Gulf Canada stations in Ontario and the West.

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July291910John Diefenbaker, 15, and his brother Elmer have just moved to Saskatchewan with their family and are earning spending money by selling newspapers at Saskatoon’s railway station. A dignified-looking gentleman disembarking from the train pays John 25 cents for a paper and chats with him about his aspirations.

After laying the cornerstone for the College Building at the University of Saskatchewan this afternoon, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier comments on the impressive quality of the local newsboys. “After I talked to a newsboy this morning, he told me: ‘I can’t waste any more time on you, Prime Minister. I must get about my work.’ “

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July281930 — The signs of an economic depression are everywhere in the lead-up to Canada’s 17th federal election. The Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King touted its economic savvy throughout the boom times of the 1920s and is now bearing the brunt of the downturn.

With businessman R.B. Bennett at the helm, the Conservatives have been quicker to grasp the magnitude of the problem. They actively promote a more aggressive approach to turning things around and end up winning an additional 43 seats to give them a majority government. As the depression deepens over the next five years, the ailing economy that catapults Bennett into a power ends up defeating his government in 1935.

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July271882 — Having been defeated at the polls, Premier John Thompson of Nova Scotia is able to collect on an offer made by the federal government. He had agreed to serve as premier; Ottawa had agreed to appoint him to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court as a reward.

In accepting the post as Puisne Judge ( a judge other than the Chief Justice), Thompson returns to his first love — the law. Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald leans on that love three years later by enticing Thompson to join his cabinet as Justice minister.

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July261849John Abbott, a newly minted lawyer who is with the Badgley & Abbott firm in Montreal, marries Mary Bethune, the daughter of Rev. John Bethune, principal of McGill where Abbott studied law.

They are married at Christ Church where Abbott not only sings in the choir but also directs a smaller six-person chorus. Mary’s grandfather — also named John Bethune — is the direct ancestor of Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian physician who served in the Spanish Civil War and the Chinese Revolution.

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July251990 — Following the failure of the Brian Mulroney government and the provinces to amend the constitution to recognize Quebec as a distinct society, six Conservative MPs from Quebec leave the party to form the Bloc Québécois. They’re joined by one Quebec Liberal MP.

Their leader is Lucien Bouchard, Mulroney’s former Environment minister who resigned in May. Three years later, the Bloc elects 54 MPs to become the official Opposition party.

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