This Week in Canadian History (April 2-8)

April 2, 1871 – The first Census of the new Dominion of Canada is taken. Our population? About 3,689,250 strong, with approx. 2,110,500 claiming British origins and approx. 1,082,940 claiming French. (My family history has a little of both!)

– 1975 – The final pieces of Toronto’s CN Tower are put in place, forever changing the skyline of Ontario’s capital city.

April 3, 1916 – Canadian troops from the 2nd Canadian Division relieve British forces at St. Eloi, Belgium, finding trenches that were waist-deep in water and under constant fire from German artillery. German counterattacks three days later drove Canadians from their positions. There were 1373 casualties from the fighting here.

NATO Photos, Ref. no: 12323

April 4, 1949 –  12 countries, including Canada – as represented by then Minister of External Affairs Lester B. Pearson and the Canadian ambassador, sign the North Atlantic Treaty, becoming founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Listen to the CBC Radio coverage of the signing here. Pearson said the pact was born from “fear and frustration,” and was “not a pact for war, but a pledge for peace and progress.”

April 5, 1951 – Award-winning Canadian author Guy Vanderhaeghe was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. Vanderhaeghe is perhaps best known for his collection of short stories Man Descending (1982) and novel The Englishman’s Boy (1996), both winners of the Governor General’s Award.

April 6, 1968 – Pierre Trudeau is elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada at its National Leadership Convention in Ottawa.

April 7, 1868 – Thomas D’Arcy McGee is assassinated on his way home from a session in Parliament. McGee was one of the Fathers of Confederation, present at the Charlottetown and Québec conferences and an MP for Montréal West. D’Arcy McGee, Irish-born, was also fervently opposed to the Fenian Brotherhood. A suspected Fenian, James Patrick Whelan, was later arrested for the murder.

– 1977 – The Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Chicago White Sox 9-5 at their first-ever home opener. The first game in Blue Jays history was anything but uneventful — before the first pitch, the turf at Exhibition Stadium had to be vacuumed of a layer of snow. Listen to the CBC Radio coverage of the game here.

April 8, 1875 – The North-West Territories Act is enacted by Canadian Parliament, separating the North-West Territories from Manitoba and granting it separate political entity, with David Laird as its first Lieutenant Governor and the promise of an elected council. (It’s been a good two weeks for Canadian provinces and territories, with Nunavut and Newfoundland last week!)

Like this feature? Check out The Canadian Encyclopedia, Today in Canadian History and the CBC Archives for more just like it!

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