This Week in Canadian History (April 9-15)

April 9, 1917 – For the first time in their history, all four Divisions of the Canadian Corps fight together, under then-General Arthur Currie and Canadian Corps Commander Sir Julian Byng, at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. With extensive rehearsals, shared knowledge of targets amongst ranks and the creeping barrage technique, almost 100,000 Canadian troops, plus support from British artillery and the 51st Highland Division, captured all but one objective by 12 noon on the 9th. “The Pimple,” the German’s most impregnable spot, would be taken by the 12th of April. Considered one of Canada’s greatest victories (four Victoria Crosses were awarded) and defining moments, it is important to remember the cost: nearly 7000 wounded and 3578 dead, including my great-great uncle Claude.

April 10, 1841 – Halifax is incorporated as a city. Founded in 1749, Halifax served as a British counter to the French Acadia settlement and an important stronghold for British share in cod and fisheries.

1866 – Over 700 Fenian (Irish-American) troops stationed across the shore in Maine are prevented from attacking Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Many cite the Fenian threat as a contributing factor in Maritime and Canadian Confederation.

April 11,1713 -The Treaty of Utrecht is signed, ending the War of the Spanish Succession; most relevantly to Canadians, France recognized British claim on the Hudson Bay basin, and ceded claims to Newfoundland and the French settlement of Acadia.

April 12, 1980 – Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope begins; he dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s, Newfoundland, planning to run across Canada to raise 1 million dollars for cancer research. Terry was 21 years old from British Columbia. Watch his amazing story below.

April 13, 1861 – Margaret Saunders, author of Beautiful Joe and the first Canadian author to sell over 1 million copies of a book, was born in Nova Scotia.

April 14, 1871 – Act setting uniform currency across Canada is approved in Canadian parliament: this included dollars, cents and mills. The dollar must be feeling lonely now that the “cent” is going out of circulation!

Hearses at Halfiax wharf
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Photo Drawer - Transportation & Communication - Ships & Shipping - RMS Titanic #3

April 15, 1912 – The RMS Titantic, which hit an iceberg 11:40PM on the 14th,  sinks in the North Atlantic by 2:20AM. 1,514 passengers die in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters. Although the Carpathia (which docked in New York, with approximately 700 survivors) is the best known recovery vessel, and first on the scene, four Canadian-based ships were involved in the recovery of bodies. Mackay-Bennett recovered 306 bodies, and buried 116 at sea. The Minia, CGS Montmagny and Algerine (from St. John’s) recovered 22 bodies, with 3 burials at sea. Although 59 dead were sent to families, the remaining found their final resting place at Fairview Lawn Cemetary in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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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