Category Archives: Masters2018_2

In Amazon HQ2, Toronto aims to concretize its economic reputation



Toronto awaits the results of its bid for Amazon HQ2, having surpassed Montreal in the race to house the online retailer’s new headquarters. This incident is a mere update to the longstanding rivalry between Canada’s two largest cities – one which solidifies Toronto’s status as the country’s economic epicentre.

Historically, Montreal was Canada’s longstanding financial and business hub, anchored in the founding of financial institutions in the early 1880s. Managed by Anglo-Quebecer businesspeople, French-speaking municipal officials was appeased with the arrangement so long as the anglophones’ business acumen benefitted the city.

By the 1960s, this symbiotic relationship began deteriorating – as did Montreal’s finances. In “Québec: Le défi économique,” Jacques Fortin says that Montreal’s inability to transition away from traditional industries of clothing, shoes and textiles laid the groundwork for its economic demise: from the mid-1960s until 1981, Montreal’s unemployment rate was three times higher than Toronto’s. This was aggravated by American corporations’ choice to invest in Toronto, owing to its geographical proximity to major American cities and to the lingua franca of commerce: English.

Meanwhile, spiteful feelings were building among Montreal’s citizens. Results from the federal Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in 1966 had more of a polarising effect than a reconciliatory one: it revealed that unilingual Anglo-Quebecers earned an average salary of $6,049 – nearly 95 per cent more than unilingual ($3,107) Franco-Quebecers, and 34 per cent more than bilingual Quebecers ($4,523).

By the time the Quiet Revolution began, tensions were anchored on the Parti Québécois’ slogan “Maîtres chez nous.” In 1977, separatist premier René Lévesque concretized rumbling societal tensions into Bill 101, a French language policy that drove Anglophone business out of the province, headlined by financial institutions who relocated their headquarters to Toronto. Ironically, the list includes Bank of Montreal, founded in Quebec in 1817, and Royal Bank of Canada.

The Montreal headquarters of Sun Life Assurance Co. was vandalized with “Bon débarras (good riddance) after the institution announced their impending move to Toronto. (Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)

When Sun Life Assurance Co. joined the exodus in 1978, it cemented the economic swinging of the pendulum away from Montreal. Brokers at the Montreal Stock Exchange called it “Black Friday” on Montreal’s already sluggish economy, while Quebec finance minister Jacques Parizeau reprimanded Sun Life as “one of the worst corporate citizens Quebec has ever known.”

According to the Fraser Institute’s report, “Interprovincial Migration in Canada: Quebeckers Vote with Their Feet,” an average of 13,238 more Quebecers emigrated from than immigrated into the province, making it the only province to have experienced a yearly loss from 1971/72 to 2014/15. Emigrants numbers peaked in 1977/78 at 46,429 – coinciding with Bill 101’s implementation.

Sun Life president Thomas Galt (left) and board chairman Alistair Campbell emerge from a meeting in which policyholders voted on moving their head office from Montreal to Toronto. (Source: Toronto Star Archives)

As the French would say, Toronto truly ‘profited’ from the influx of businesses, according to Statistics Canada data. From 1976 to 1982, individual accounts rose nine-and-a-half-fold to $4.4-billion from cashed cheques. In comparison, Montreal saw a threefold increase to under $800-million during that time.

Source: Statistics Canada

Between 1972 and 1980, the Toronto CMA’s value of exported goods increased by 166 per cent while the number of manufacturing establishments increased by 17 per cent.

In retail sales of the period, Toronto again had the upper hand on Montreal: there were 1.3 chain stores to serve every 1,000 Torontonians, compared with 0.9 stores per 1,000 Montrealers.

Nathaniel Baum-Snow, a specialist in labour economics and economic geography, indicates that the French-language barrier is a burdensome regulation in Quebec that will continue to dissuade businesses.

“The Quebec government has made the choice that they prefer primacy of the French language over economic primacy,” says the associate professor of economic analysis and policy at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. “They will have to grow organically within these confines to become a stronger business location. That will be a slow process… They will not be able to attract much English dominated business from elsewhere in any case.”

Hiding in the shadows: The spy agency Canadians knew nothing about


On January 9th 1974, as the Canadian public gathered around their bulky TV sets and turned on an hour-long, primetime television broadcast by the CBC revealing a secret communications branch of the National Research Council (CBNRC).

They reported that the average man dressed in a plaid shirt with overgrown mutton chops could be spy agents engaging in public espionage.  They were working closely with the CIA to spy on foreign enemies by monitoring radio, telephone, and satellite transmissions.

Today that branch is known as the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). Its mandate is being revised and debated in Parliament through Bill C-59. The CSE faces more scrutiny than its predecessor, but still it remains an obscure part of Canadian security culture for both the public and politicians.

In their documentary, the CBC referred to a treaty called UKUSA, a superpower alliance between Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia to divide the world up in four parts to share aggregated information. The United States allegedly did not reciprocate in passing along their intelligence.

Winslow Peck, a former intelligence officer of the National Security Agency, told their reporters that Canada was “merely an extension of the United States in a northward direction.”

The claims regarding the program sparked a heated debate in the House of Commons during the following two sessions.

David Lewis, the leader of the New Democratic Party, suggested that the Liberals in power should rethink the proprietary of Canadian scientists decoding and intercepting information for their southern neighbours.

“Is such an activity of value to Canada’s own interests or does it merely underline Canada’s satellite position in international affairs,” he asked.

Mitchell Sharp, Liberal External Affairs Minister, denied the existence of both the branch and the treaty calling the documentary “mischievous and misleading.”

Lewis persisted and pushed to sever the ties between the CIA and Canada. During this period of time they had a bad reputation for committing discreditable acts like murdering suspected Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau casually responded that the United States was a friendly government and the RCMP would not judge the activities of their neighbour’s spy agency.

Lewis then suggested that research council’s communication branch be moved to a more appropriate department to which the prime minister responded that he was happy that the MP had acknowledge spying was justified.

One year later Lewis’ suggestion was put into effect. The communications spy agency became housed under the Department of National Defence and changed its name to the Communications Security Establishment of Canada.

“There was no more need to hide it in the NRC,” explained Alan Barnes, a CSE information analyst  and historian on Canadian security culture. “Plus administratively it got awkward for the NRC because it never really had authority over the communications branch.”

“Decryption aid made with cardboard tubing and graph paper made by analyst. Tube with characters, within a black tube case with slit window to lign up with characters,” Communications Security Establishment

In late March, at a routine committee meeting MP Perrin Beatty of the Progressive Conservative party asked the Minister of State for Science and Technology whether the secret UKUSA  pact existed. The minister, Charles Dury, confirmed that there was an agreement referred to as such that would affect the activities of the signals intelligence agency.

Two months later Beatty revealed these findings to parliament, with no consequences for the ministers who had mislead them a year and a half earlier.

According to historical literature on the subject, the CSE’s mandate was never revised after the shocking revelations of its existence. No statutory framework was ever put in place and its capabilities still remained an official secret.

The public held the CSE to even less accountability than the politicians because there was less understanding about the impact of its role than there is today. More recently, there has been a lot written about the government’s ability to monitor that kind of information, explained Barnes.

He enjoys the increased attention the foreign signals intelligence agency is now receiving. With that attention comes more resources like the $500 million Canada’s national security sector will be allocated over the next five years, a good chunk of which is going to the CSE.

“Intelligence culture has always been extremely secretive. I think more secretive than necessary which does it a disservice,” he concluded.


Manitoba’s railway dream turned nightmare: the severed link to Churchill


Raging blizzards, expansive bog land and unstable clay-covered bedrock greeted the men who had taken up the daunting task of completing the last stretch of the Hudson Bay Railway linking Manitoba’s capital, Winnipeg, to its only port, Churchill, in the late 1920s. Last spring however, a powerful blizzard that caused widespread flooding in the province’s north damaged that stretch of rail so significantly that the track’s owners have refused to pay to repair it, citing the large price tag.

The rail line was washed away in 19 spots along the 290-kilometre stretch, nearly the same distance as between Calgary and Edmonton. According to Omnitrax, the U.S.-based rail operations company that purchased the Hudson Bay Railway during the privatization of Canada’s railways in 1997, the link between Winnipeg and Churchill is no longer worth fixing.

Since Churchill has no road access to the south, the community’s 900 residents have been cut off from their main source of supplies. The town can now only be accessed by air, a costly alternative to rail.

It’s not the first time the railway has had trouble justifying its costly existence. In fact, from its outset in the late 19th century, the 1,700-kilometre long rail link faced pushback from both government officials and private corporations who doubted its ability to improve Canada’s economy.

According to a paper written in 1958 for the Manitoba Historical Society by Leonard F. Earl, a former Manitoba economic and political journalist who died in 1969, early Manitoba Liberal politician Hugh McKay Sutherland proposed a railway to the Hudson Bay as early as the 1880s.

Liberal MP Hugh McKay Sutherland. Photo provided by the Manitoba Historical Society.

Sutherland saw the economic potential of shipping prairie grain from a port on the Hudson Bay directly to European and global markets, an alternative to the lengthy rail transportation to Canada’s eastern port cities. Sutherland however, may have overlooked the geographic navigation problems of building a railway so far north, a feat that had never been attempted before.

The former MP for Selkirk also faced intense backlash from Conservative politicians from eastern Canada who didn’t want to see their port cities challenged by the west.

On top of both geographic and political challenges, the return of Métis revolutionary Louis Riel to Manitoba and the outbreak of the Red River Rebellion in 1885 significantly delayed the project. By the end of the 19th century, the Hudson Bay Railway was jokingly referred to as “a crackpot dream” by politicians and railway tycoons alike, according to Earl.


Flow of wheat transportation in Canada. From the 1921 Canada Year Book.

Sutherland pushed forward with the project nonetheless, and despite constant funding setbacks, construction on the project went ahead in stages: first northwest to Dauphin and the Saskatchewan border due to the thousands of lakes preventing a straight push northward, then northeast towards The Pas and back into Manitoba.

However, construction was again delayed in 1914 with the outbreak of World War One and in 1926, when work on the last leg of the railway between Gillam and Churchill finally began, Sutherland passed away in England. He would never see his 40-year dream of a link between Winnipeg and the shipping routes of Canada’s north complete.

Even if he did, however, he may have been disappointed by the final result. By the time the first trains could reach the port of Churchill in the autumn of 1929, the railroad, sitting on frozen bogs and shaky outcrop, was too unstable to carry trains with heavy loads of grain.

Photo of from the Manitoba Archives in Lines of Country: An Atlas of Railway and Waterway History in Canada (1997)

The port, designed to ship millions of tonnes of grain to the world, only handled a fraction of that for the next few decades.

Then, after the National Wheat Board was shuttered and the port of Churchill was closed in 2016, the railway was only used to transport tourists and supplies to the remote northern town.

Last year’s flooding and the severing of an 89-year-old link to Winnipeg and the rest of Canada served as Churchill’s final kick to the shins.

A shaky dream from the start, the Hudson Bay Railway has turned into northern Manitoba’s nightmare. Now, it may be in its final days.

Change is slow coming for people living with visual impairments in Ottawa

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians President Peter Field with dog Boss. Photo used with permission from Peter Field.
Ottawa’s new light rail system is slated to open this spring, but some people with visual impairments feel the City is not taking their mobility seriously. In their third meeting with the City since December 2015, the Ottawa Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, expressed their concerns with the lack of digital navigation in the light rail system.

Alliance president, Peter Field believes digital navigation would allow riders to use a GPS-like function on their phones to travel independently. According to Field, the City has not committed to a digital navigation system. They did, however, say train operators could assist people who struggle to find their way on the train. “This is not universal design – where an environment is created to fit the needs of everyone,” said Field.

The light rail system will incorporate an assessable fare box and audible gates tones. While this is a good start, Field feels the City is disconnected from the needs of visually impaired people. “There is an accessible procurement policy in Ottawa which means they don’t procure anything until accessibility is taken into account,” said Field. “But I don’t know what was taken into account. They didn’t talk to the users. They decided what was assessable.”

Field has been fighting for accessibility rights for over 40 years. His experience was first documented in a 1979 Globe and Mail article titled, “He was Blind and they were Deaf.”

The Globe and Mail, February 26, 1979

The article states:

“Peter Field, blind since 1977 was ejected from a Toronto restaurant the other night because “they wouldn’t let the dog in. I tried to convince them that the dog wouldn’t do any harm, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Peter, 17 turned to the police for help. It was the logical thing to do, and logically, he should have received a cordial reception, and the promise of assistance. He received neither.

The person answering the telephone at Division 52, told him there was nothing the police could do. After a quick word with The Canadian National Institute for the Blind, which assured him he had the full support of the law, Peter called Division 52 again, and said he “wanted to tell the Inspector to inform his men that there is a law.””

“I remember that clearly,” said Field. “When I started to lose my vision, I went straight to a guide dog. There wasn’t a time when I used a cane, so the dog really was my independence.”

Field remembers being asked to leave the hotel restaurant in front of his friends. “The idea of being refused felt very personal – like someone was doing something to me,” he said.

A grade eleven law teacher showed him The Blind Persons’ Rights Act, and encouraged Field to report this matter to the police. This Act which was passed in 1976, guaranteed people with visual impairments the right to be accompanied by a guide dog at all times.

An exceprt from The Blind Persons’ Rights Act, 1976. The penalty for violating The Blind Persons’ Rights Act was a $1,000 penalty. Today, the penalty is $5,000.

Unfortunately, the police were unaware of the Act. Stories like Field’s were so common that in 1978 Attorney-General Roy McMurtry mailed over 6,000 notices to restaurants, hotels and bars reminding them of their duties to uphold the law – and of the $1,000 fine.

The Globe and Mail, Thursday May 11, 1978

“Fast-forward to today, and not a lot has changed,” said Field. Just three years ago Field was denied service from a taxi driver, because of his guide dog. When Field reported the incident the police said there was nothing they could do. “So much time has passed and the police still don’t even know how to enforce this Act,” Field said.

“This happened when I was 17, and I am now coming up to 57,” he said.

In the next 40 years, Field envisions digital navigation as the primary way people with visual impairments navigate the world. He thinks Ottawa has missed a great opportunity to implement digital navigation in the light rail system — forcing people with visual impairments to remain patient for change yet again.

• This historical documentation is The Blind Persons’ Rights Act which was introduced in Ontario in 1976.
• I obtained this document through the McOdrum Library digital archive.
• This document helped me observe the original language surrounding the Act.

• This is a Globe and Mail article written on February 26, 1979, titled, “He was Blind and they were Deaf.”
• I obtained the article on the historical Globe and Mail digital archive through the Ottawa Public Library.
• This article was written three years after The Blind Persons’ Rights Act was passed, so it helped me understand how Act was applied in real life.

Leonard Marchand: A legacy revisited

Leonard Marchand assumes a pensive pose as MP of Kamloops-Cariboo.
Source: Chuck Mitchell, The Canadian Press

Alex Kurial

Fifty years ago “Trudeaumania” swept across Canada, propelling Pierre Trudeau and the Liberals to power in the 1968 election. The election was historic for many reasons, but perhaps one of the greatest revolved around what happened in the riding of Kamloops-Cariboo. Participating in its first election as an official district, the central British Columbia electoral district voted Liberal candidate Leonard Marchand as their MP. This represented the first time a Status Indian had been elected to Parliament in the country.

‘Len’ as he was often called did not want his ethnicity to be the sole defining feature of his political career however. In an interview with The Globe and Mail just weeks after the election, Marchand said he was “an MP who happens to be an Indian,” and that “I will not become the official Indian spokesman in the House of Commons.” Marchand instead preferred that his hard work would define him, and by extension paint a positive image of his people and heritage.

Marchand’s win was seen as a surprise, but not because of his ethnicity. Kamloops had emerged as a city that prided itself on its progressive racial ideals, evidenced by the election of the first mayor of Chinese background in North American history, Peter Wing, in 1966. Rather Marchand had defeated a Conservative heavyweight in David Fulton, a decorated war hero and MP for Kamloops since 1945

Following the victory, Marchand set out to make his name in Ottawa. He soon became parliamentary secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and future Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. Described as an “intelligent man, whose quiet demeanor conceals sound political judgment,” Marchand did not become a major name nationally, but attracted the attention of the Prime Minister through his thorough behind the scenes work.

This culminated with a selection to Trudeau’s federal cabinet in 1976 as the new Minister of State for Small Business. Marchand became the first Indian cabinet member in Canadian history, yet again setting a new milestone for a people that had been systemically oppressed throughout the country’s history.

The news was welcome to those in Marchand’s riding back home, who felt that Trudeau had passed their MP over for a cabinet job a few years prior. The move helped to partially thaw upset Liberal members from British Columbia, who felt that the Trudeau government was ignoring western concerns.

Marchand remained as Minister of State for Small Business for a year, during which time he was able to pass regulation to alleviate small businesses of redundant operating costs, saving tens of millions of dollars. After a year in this role Marchand continued his impressive rise by being promoted to Minister of the Environment.

In the same interview with The Globe after being elected back in 1968, Marchand had pledged his dedication to the people of Kamloops. “My philosophy is Canada first, my constituency second,” Marchand had proclaimed. He routinely put this into action during his time in office, particularly in one instance as Minister of the Environment. When mining company Consolidated Rexpar Minerals and Chemicals Ltd. attempted to build a uranium mine near the small town of Clearwater, BC, Marchand personally attended a town meeting to voice his opposition to the project. It was this kind of personal attention that forever endeared Marchand to his constituents.

After the Liberal government was defeated in the 1979 election, albeit briefly, Marchand returned to politics when Pierre Trudeau retook power a year later. He appointed Marchand to the Senate, only the second Indigenous Canadian to hold a position in the upper chamber.

The 2015 Canadian election held certain parallels to the election of 1968. A new type of Trudeaumania had swept the nation, and with it another Trudeau to power. And a historic mark was reached with regards to Indigenous success, as ten candidates of Indigenous background entered the House of Commons. They, and in fact all Canadians, will forever look to Marchand for political inspiration.


Document 1: Len Marchand ‘MP who happens to be an Indian’, The Globe and Mail, July 15, 1968

I found this article through a ProQuest search “1968 Kamloops election”. I was interested to get a sense of how people in his home riding felt about Marchand, and what his thoughts were as the first Status Indian ever to be elected. This is where I found that Marchand never wanted his background to be all that people saw in him, and that he wanted his work to speak for itself. It’s also where I learned of Kamloops’ progressive history, and their forward thinking views on race for the time.


Document 2: “A matter of milestones”, The Globe and Mail, Sep. 16, 1976

Again this article was found via a ProQuest search. It helps shed light on Marchand’s character while in office, a quiet figure who doesn’t seek the spotlight, but one who is always working hard to fulfill the duties of the office. I also found it very interesting that the article discusses how far Canada still has to go with regards to erasing prejudices towards Indigenous peoples in the country, and when we flash forward over 40 years we are still facing many of the same issues today.


Controversial Château Laurier addition conjures heat similar to debates long past

After an architectural battle for private enterprise, the Château Laurier is constructed on public lands, in 1912. Source: Library and Archives Canada, PA-034088.

While recent Twitter comments condemned the re-designs for the Château Laurier addition as “the same ugly glass structure” that “birds might enjoy pooping on,” they also echo criticisms from the hotel’s distant past.

In fact, designs for the beloved Château itself were once seen as a “blot on our government,” and an “indignity” to Major’s Hill Park’s public space, as esteemed merchant Mr. Poulin told the Ottawa Journal from August, 1907.

Public lands for private enterprise

Similar statements from ‘leading citizens’ were collected by the Journal – Ottawa’s 20th century Twitter – after the Grand Trunk Railway company revealed their designs for the expensive hotel and train station, and left a citizenry divided.

Public opinion from ‘leadings citizens’ reflects how controversial the public site at Major’s Hill Park was for the proposed Château Laurier. Source: The Ottawa Journal, Aug. 15, 1907. City of Ottawa Archives.

The hotel would be built at the front of Major’s Hill Park, a public space many Ottawans valued for its heritage and scenic view of the Parliament buildings. Here, the developers felt it would have unfettered access to tourists using the adjacent railroad.

An unhappy Mr Ross, of the C. Ross department store, told the Journal it would “utterly destroy one of the finest pieces of natural scenery that Ottawa has.”

J.R. Jackson, in a dramatic letter to the next day’s issue, wrote that “every man, woman and child [. . .] would say let the Grand Trunk and its hotel (and station, too, for that matter) get out of Ottawa bag and baggage, rather than surrender the choicest public grounds [. . .] to be a private promenade…”

Not all Ottawans opposed the site, however. A Dr. Kennedy expressed that most park-goers weren’t actually from the city, and “would be more struck by a handsome hotel [. . .] than they are by the Park itself.”

The Château’s architect, a New Yorker named Bradford Lee Gilbert, mirrored these claims in an urgent letter to Grand Trunk’s general manager, Charles Hays, that month. “Judging from the number of benches provided, [the park] is not used to very great extent by the citizens of Ottawa,” he wrote.

Gilbert’s letter, obtained from the Library and Archives, argued the Château’s gothic structure would “harmonize” with the Parliament buildings, and wouldn’t pose any threats to the park’s usage.

Public lands for government-gain

But the designs would have to win the federal government over before construction could begin. An archival letter to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier reveals the government wasn’t keen to have the hotel in a space that could be used for new government buildings instead. After Laurier suggested that Napean Point be a more suitable location, Hays argued otherwise.

“Its distance from the centre of business would make it difficult to earn its fixed charges. [. . .]For the first few years at least, an hotel on the Napean Point would be run as a loss,” he wrote to Laurier.

Grand Trunk General Manager Charles Hays tries to persuade Sir Wilfrid Laurier to choose the Major’s Hill Park site, for its economic benefits. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Laurier Papers, p. 127741.

Laurier then contacted the Grand Trunk’s Vice-President William Wainwright three days later, claiming the hotel’s height would compete too much with Parliament. “You should ask your architect if it would not be possible to take off one or two storeys,” he suggested.

Architectural Upheaval

Architect Bradford Gilbert’s miserable fate heightened the controversies. His designs for the hotel and station to cost a combined $2.5 million were approved by the government, but six days before City council examined them, Gilbert received a distressing order from Hays to re-design the building to cost $1 million less.

A distraught editorial claims that Ross & Macfarlane’s designs (bottom) are far too similar to Gilbert’s (top) to be truly original. Source: The Architectural Record, July, 1908. PressReader.

Gilbert refused to take responsibility for the re-designs the City didn’t approve of, and was fired in February, 1908. The new firm Ross & MacFarlane soon unveiled designs that an angry editorial in the Architectural Record claimed were “identical” to Gilbert’s.

“If this be ‘architecture,’ a supply of tracing paper and a brazen front are the main requisites for [. . .] that noble art,” it haughtily states.

The hotel became controversial again when designers proposed its first expansion, in 1929.

Château historian Kevin Holland said in an email that throughout history, any changes to the hotel “reflect the respective owners’ confidence in their property and its market,” and “any controversy reflects the passionate and protective views held by Ottawans for what has long been an iconic landmark in the capital.”

And if history repeats itself, today’s new ‘disdain’ might just become tomorrow’s old icon.

See document descriptions here.

Undesirable: A Sick Immigrant’s Journey Home


George Fry boarded a ship destined for Liverpool in the late summer of 1907. He had arrived in Alberta only a few months earlier. Red Deer, where he found work, was booming. The town had just become a divisional point for the Canadian Pacific Railway and was bracing for a wave of settlers. Fry, a bricklayer in his forties, wouldn’t be there to see it.

Fry had contracted syphilis more than fourteen years earlier and was facing deportation, according to archival material available online. The discovery of penicillin was still decades away, and Fry’s infection could have already spread to his internal organs and brain.

Cattle in Red Deer, Alberta. 1900-1910. Credit: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Resources / Library and Archives Canada / PA-021033.

“George Fry is suffering from syphilitis and dangerous to be at large. Do not delay deporting,” his immigration records warned.

Newcomers to Canada still face medical scrutiny today. However, a system overhaul could be coming. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he plans to announce changes to Canada’s medical inadmissibility policy in April, after calling it “out of step with Canadian values.”

The current policy allows the government to deny residency to people whose medical conditions could place excessive demand on Canada’s health care system. Advocates say it discriminates against people with disabilities.

Hon. Frank Oliver, minister of the interior from 1905 to 1911. Oliver developed the Immigration Act of 1906. Credit: Library and Archives Canada / PA-.

Fry’s fate might have been different had he arrived in Canada a year earlier. The Immigration Act of 1906 tightened restrictions on prohibited immigrants. Under the new act,  any immigrant who was “feeble-minded, an idiot, or an epileptic, or who is insane” was considered undesirable.

The physically unwell were also prohibited, including those “afflicted with a loathsome disease… which may become dangerous to the public health or widely disseminated.”

The immigrant’s journey itself was a source of sickness. Canadian port officers became used to dealing with immigrants who fell ill during their lengthy voyage on a crowded ship.

As legislation stiffened, the focus of medical examination shifted from immediate contagion to overall fitness. For Lisa Chilton, immigration historian at the University of Prince Edward Island, this change coincided with a growing interest in eugenics.

“Their sense of what was genetic included a lot of things that now a lot of us would say are more class based,” Chilton explained. She cited the once popular argument that African immigrants were genetically incapable of withstanding the Canadian winter.

“Certainly, a lot of the economic arguments were tinged with racism,” Chilton said.

George Fry was born in Wells, England with light brown hair and a medium complexion. He likely wouldn’t have faced the racism that Asian, African, and Irish immigrants did. However, his “loathsome disease” attracted a unique set of prejudices.

“The defectives of other countries are not merely a burden, whether able to be at large or requiring detention, but they are apt to perpetuate a criminal or otherwise defective population,” a Globe and Mail columnist argued in 1910.

Chilton believes that our mentality towards people with disabilities has changed significantly since George Fry’s time.

“There are opportunities to be inclusive in the workplace of people who in the early 20th century would have been seen as just a burden,” she said.

Passenger list of the SS Lake Champlain arriving in Québec on May 19, 1907. George Fry’s name is sixth from the bottom as “Geo. Fry.” Credit: Library and Archives Canada.

Fry was one of 2,296 immigrants deported for medical reasons between 1902 and 1913. The Immigration Act of 1906 made it easier to deport any immigrant who became a burden to society within two years of their arrival – a sort of probation period.

Fry was deported just five months after he arrived. On Aug. 30, 1907, he boarded the SS Lake Erie bound for Liverpool. A Canadian immigration officer overseas confirmed his arrival ten days later. He was said to be heading to London – returning to the wife he had left behind.

Document 1: Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Deportations, by Cause, Nationalities, and Provinces, from 1902-03 to 1949-50.

Document 2: Statement regarding George Fry, Department of the Interior, Immigration Branch

Featured Image: The SS Lake Champlain, on which George Fry first sailed from Liverpool to Quebec. 1911. Credit: Lamb, W.K / Library and Archives Canada / PA-143538.

Moro, Mowat, and Memorial: Remembering Alexander Campbell


In Fall 1943, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division was working its way up the boot of Italy alongside their British and American counterparts. It was a tough, dirty scrap – the Germans were in fighting retreat, springing ambushes and laying mines. In December, the small coastal town of Ortona became the site of a bloody clash between the Canadians and an elite unit of German paratroopers.

Alexander Railton Campbell was killed just outside that small coastal town, near the Moro River. He was 33 years old, a Major in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, and the immediate superior of Canadian writer Farley Mowat.

He is a major character in Mowat’s war memoir, And No Birds Sang. Mowat describes Campbell as “elephantine lump of man” who had “a ferocious determination to kill as many Germans as he could.” But more than the exaggerated “Titan” of Mowat’s memoir or one of the battle’s 5,836 Canadian casualties, Campbell was a real person whose sacrifice is only fully understood through the letters he left behind.

Capt. Alexander Railton Campbell  portrait, dressed in
Hastings  & Prince Edward Regiment Uniform. Date unknown.
CWM 20100088 – 10
George Metcalf Archival Collection
Canadian War Museum

Born and raised in Perth, ON, Campbell lost his father to war at the age of seven. Harry Davies Campbell was killed on July 30, 1917 and was buried in Noeux-les-Mines, France. Sarah Jane Railton Campbell had to raise Campbell, along with his two sisters and two brothers, on her own.

That early tragedy did not stop Campbell from military involvement. He joined the Militia’s Lanark and Renfrew Regiment in 1928 before switching to the “Hasty Pete’s” in 1940.

Campbell wrote to his mother regularly during his service, often apologizing for delays or complaining of the wait – he wouldn’t see “a real-life German” until mid-1943. And although Mowat quotes him saying the “only good German… was a dead one,” little of this hatred appears in his letters. But the effects of the war on children did upset Campbell.

“Whenever I see pictures of the kids in Europe I think of Bill + Jan and I get so mad I could wring Hitler’s neck,” reads one 1940 letter mentioning his niece and nephew, whom Campbell missed.

Letter from Campbell to “Bill,” dated Dec. 27, 1941.
CWM 20100088 – 27
George Metcalf Archival Collection
Canadian War Museum

“Hey there fellow you better stop growing or I won’t know you when I come home,” he writes to Bill on Dec. 27, 1941.

The holidays were difficult for Campbell, as they undoubtedly were for many soldiers. “This is the one time of the year I really would like to ship away and come home,” reads a December 1942 letter.

In an undated 1943 letter to his mother, Campbell is excited at the prospect of some future family vacation. “I think your idea of a trip over after this war is dandy,” he writes.

Telegram notification of Alexander Campbell’s death, dated Jan. 3, 1944.
CWM 20100088 – 31
George Metcalf Archival Collection
Canadian War Museum

Official records and a glib telegram to Sarah Campbell show Campbell died on Christmas Day, 1943. Mowat’s account – itself secondhand – has him, upon witnessing the devastation of a Canadian platoon, seizing a Tommy gun, giving “an inarticulate bellow” and charging straight at the enemy.

“He could have gone no more than three or four paces before he was riddled by scores of bullets,” Mowat writes.

In the July 29, 1944 edition of the Canadian Gazette, Campbell is listed as “Mentioned in Dispatches” – a recognition for bravery. A poem he wrote, “Prayer Before Battle,” is held in commemoration by the still-surviving Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment.

But 75 years later, the legacy of Campbell and soldiers like him is uncertain.

“I think Canadians do not have a very strong sense of the Battle of Ortona or the Italian campaign,” said historian Tim Cook over the phone last week. The campaign is often overshadowed by  D-Day and Juno beach, according to Cook.

“There are very few monuments and memorials in Canada or in fact on those battlefields that draw Canadians to those sites of memory,” he said.

Campbell’s grave is at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, 1600 km from his father and 6900 km from home.


Document 1: And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat
Document 2: Letter to Bill, 1940

Pipeline politics: Kinder-Morgan dispute is a tale as old as TransCanada

The signing of the TransCanada Pipeline Bill, June 7, 1956. Source: Duncan Cameron / Library and Archives Canada. No restrictions on use.

The embers of a fiery conflict between B.C. and Alberta over the Kinder-Morgan pipeline are still smouldering.

In early February, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley levied a province-wide boycott on B.C. wines after her counterpart, B.C. Premier John Horgan, proposed restrictions that would put the brakes on the pipeline project. Though the wine ban was lifted less than two weeks ago, the war wages on in court. On February 22, Horgan said his NDP government would seek an official ruling on the legality of halting diluted bitumen flows through the province.

The drama encircling Kinder-Morgan is far from unprecedented. In fact, Canada’s earliest major pipeline project started off with one of the biggest rows in Canadian parliamentary history.

In 1956, the smooth-sailing Liberal government hit the rocks for the first time in over two decades.

The government made plans in May of that year to allow the recently founded (and at that time American-owned) TransCanada Pipelines to move natural gas from Alberta to Quebec via what would then be the world’s longest pipeline.

But as Parks Canada recounts, the opposition parties were vehemently against the project, which in their view would subject Canada’s economy to the will of American capital. The Liberals needed a strong parliamentary showing through the spring months in order to stave off the oncoming windstorm of dissent in the house.

C.D. Howe at an official ceremony in Highwater, Quebec at the joining of the Portland-Montreal pipeline to a U.S. oil tanker, August 1, 1941.
Source: Library and Archives Canada. No restrictions of use.

Enter Clarence Decatur Howe. The Liberal Party’s Minister of Trade and Commerce was well seasoned, hard-nosed and unabashedly resourceful. In a 2008 blog post, Calgary-based oil historian Peter McKenzie-Brown explained Howe’s unofficial title, “the Minister of Everything.” He was the right-hand man of then Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, and had sway over much of the Liberal government of his day.

Having introduced a bill to authorize the pipeline, Howe swiftly gained the support of his fellow Liberals. Parliamentary Hansards show that Progressive Conservative opposition leader George Alexander Drew took exception to what he perceived to be a hyper-partisan display. “The anvil chorus is following instructions. The trained seals have now learned to make a sound in unison,” he said in parliament on May 8.

On May 15, Liberal finance minister Walter Edward Harris addressed the ‘trained seals’ label that had become a steady refrain in parliament. Rather than deny the accusation, Harris evoked the classic ‘takes one to know one’ rebuttal.

“Everyone in this house knows that all parties practically invariably follow a single party line,” he said.

In the end, partisan politics would win the day. On June 7, 1956, the bill was signed. While the ink dried, the house mourned the death of Liberal MP Lorne MacDougall, whose death the day before marked the end of the final debate before the deadline.

The pipeline was extended – all the way to Montreal by 1958 – but the Liberals’ term in office was not. Howe’s hardball tactics were topped off by the rarely used closure provision that served to cut short the debate. The move proved to be too forceful, if not undemocratic in the eyes of many Canadians, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. St. Laurent suffered a surprise defeat to John Diefenbaker’s Conservatives in the 1957 election, ending 22 years of Liberal leadership.

A lesson can by drawn by today’s Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who has stood steadfast behind the Kinder-Morgan project. With the national public split in half on the current pipeline debate according to the latest poll by Ipsos Global Public Affairs, too much force either way could mean falling off the tightrope in between.

If nothing else, the events in 1956 proved that Canadian pipelines are about more than the flow of bitumen or natural gas from one province to the next – they also tend to transport votes from one party to another.


Document 1: ‘Ottawa Letter’ by George Bain in The Globe and Mail, 30 May 1956 

Document 2: ‘Opposition Charges Guillotine Methods’ in The Globe and Mail, 16 May 1956 


The fastest man in the world falters: Canada’s time at the 1924 Winter Olympics


On Jan. 25, 1924, the shadow of Mont Blanc blanketed the snowy valley of Chamonix, France. The French Alpine town was home to one of France’s oldest skiing resorts and, in 1924, the event that would challenge the world’s best in winter sports. There was the rudimentary bobsledding course with curves made from tightly packed swaths of snow, the wide ice-hockey rink in full view of the official stand, and the modest ski jumping hills that athletes skillfully threw themselves from. All of this was happening while 5 evenly-spaced rings stood over the stadium.

Since there was only 16 different events, the layout for the 1924 Winter Olympic Games was truly simple. Source: 1924 Olympic Games Official Report

This was the first year of the Olympic Winter Games.

Originally titled Semaine Internationale des Sports d’Hiver (International Winter Sports Week), the first Winter Games had only 258 athletes competing for 16 countries in 16 events, a far cry from the Games that just passed. Pyeongchang 2018 had almost 3,000 athletes, competing for 92 countries in just over 100 events.

Only around 5000 copies of the poster for the first official Olympic Winter Games were printed. Source: Wikimedia Commons

2018 marked Canada’s best showing at the Winter Games, with the country coming in third place overall behind Norway and Germany. Canada won a total of 29 medals, 11 of them gold. It was by far the most impressive Olympics to date for the country, but Canada’s history at the Winter Games, while long, was not always been so successful.

Canada in Chamonix

In 1924, the Canadian team was made up of 12 members – 11 men and one woman. Cecil Smith, was the country’s first female Olympian and competed in partnered figure skating with Melville Rogers. Alongside the duo was the nine-man ice hockey team, that won gold after a devastating victory of 6-1 over the United States. The medal would be the only hardware Canada would take home that year.

Completing the team was Canada’s only speed skater, Charles Gorman. Gorman hailed from Saint John, New Brunswick, where he got his start in the sport. He, like other young men in the town, practiced on the wind-swept Kennebecasis and Saint John Rivers in the winter. Unlike the other young men, Gorman was outstanding.

Charles Gorman is seen here crouched on the ice in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1921. Source:  Wikimedia Commons

He went onto win countless international competitions, and even after wounding his leg in World War I, he continued to dazzle audiences with his unmatched speed and power.

He was the ‘Human Dynamo’, the ‘Man with the Million Dollar Legs’.

Fall from Grace

It was on Jan. 26 of that year when the first speed skating race of the Games, the 500m, was held. The temperatures dipped just below freezing and the sky was overcast. The ice beneath the feet of the competitors was decently firm, but had a bit of yield.

As the starting gun was lifted, Gorman and his fellow athletes crouched down and primed themselves for what would amount to less than a minute of racing. The gun was fired. The skaters began propel themselves forward with forceful strokes of their legs, cutting over the ice. And not long after that it was over.

Charles Jewtraw of Lake Placid, New York, took first place with a time of 44 seconds. At 45.4 seconds, Gorman placed seventh.

Gorman’s stumbles continued when he placed 11th in the 1500m. And in the 5000m he was not able to finish.

Olympic Future

Canada placed ninth overall in 1924. A poor showing, but Canada’s time at the the first Winter Games set the tone for the nation and its athletes for future Games. Gorman and the other competitors laid the foundation for the success that was enjoyed in Pyeongchang.

And while Gorman fared poorly at the Games, the New Brunswick native went onto set seven world records by the time he retired in 1928, proving himself to be ‘The World’s Fastest Man’.


Document #1: Clipping from The Ottawa Journal

Document #2: Clipping from The News-Palladium