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Editorial

Editorial: John Humphrey, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

In 1946, John Humphrey became director of the United Nations Division on Human Rights, and Eleanor Roosevelt was named the United States representative to the UN’s Commission on Human Rights. Humphrey was an obscure Canadian law professor. Roosevelt was the world’s most celebrated woman. For two years, they collaborated on the creation of one of the modern world’s great documents: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was adopted on 10 December 1948.

Article

Bessie Starkman

Besha (Bessie) Starkman (Perri), organized crime boss (born 14 April 1889 or 21 June 1890 in Poland; died 13 August 1930 in Hamilton, ON). During the Prohibition era she became known as Canada’s first high-profile female crime boss. With her common-law spouse, mobster Rocco Perri, she ran a bootlegging and drug-smuggling enterprise. Starkman was gunned down in the garage of her home and her murderers were never caught. Her funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Hamilton.

Article

Islam

Islam is one of the major religions of the world and is estimated to be the fastest-growing religion in Canada and worldwide. Its 1.6 billion adherents are scattered throughout the globe, though concentrated most densely in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and North and East Africa. In 2021, there were nearly 1.8 million Muslims in Canada (4.9 per cent of the population).

Memory Project

Douglas Sample (Primary Source)

Douglas Sample served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. Read and listen to his veteran testimony below.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

Article

Laurent-Olivier David

Laurent-Olivier David, lawyer, journalist, newspaper owner, writer, politician (born 24 March 1840 in Sault-au-Récollet (Montréal), QC; died 24 August 1926 in Outremont, QC). David was responsible for founding the Monument-National and was the author of a number of biographies of famous Canadians.

Article

Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney, politician, leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, premier of Alberta (born 30 May 1968 in Oakville, ON). Jason Kenney is the leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta and the Leader of the Opposition in that province. From 1997 to 2016, he was Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast. He held several Cabinet positions in the Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, minister of employment and social development and minister of national defence. Kenney resigned his seat in Parliament in 2016, following the defeat of the Conservative government in the previous year’s election. In 2017, he was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, which then merged with the Wildrose Party. After the merger, Kenney was elected leader of the United Conservative Party. On 16 April 2019, Kenney and the UCP won a majority government in the Alberta general election.

Article

Paul Haggis

Paul Edward Haggis, writer, director, producer (born 10 Mar 1953 in London, Ontario). Within Canada, Paul Haggis may be best known as the creator of the popular TV series Due South, which earned him six Gemini Awards including two for Best Dramatic Series. Internationally, he is renowned for a number of film achievements. He made history in 2006 as the first screenwriter of back-to-back Best Picture Oscar winners — Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Crash (2005). He also won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscars for the latter and helped rejuvenate the James Bond franchise with his screenplays for Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). More recently, his reputation has been marred by four allegations of sexual assault: in January 2018, he began defending himself in a civil suit against those allegations.

Article

Won Alexander Cumyow

Won Alexander Cumyow (溫金有), activist and interpreter (born around 21 March 1861 in Port Douglas, BC; died 6 October 1955 in Vancouver). Won Cumyow was the first Chinese Canadian born in British North America, which became Canada. He knew several languages, which assisted his work as a Chinese community leader and court interpreter.

Article

Alejandro Malaspina

Alejandro Malaspina, explorer (b at Mulazzo, Italy 5 Nov 1754; d at Pontremoli, Italy 9 Apr 1810). Born to an illustrious but impoverished family, Malaspina entered the Spanish naval service. In 1784 he sailed around the world in the frigate Astrea.

Article

Elizabeth “Betty” Dimock (Primary Source)

Elizabeth “Betty” Dimock’s great ambition during the Second World War was to become a nurse. She registered in the South African army to treat wounded soldiers from the North African Campaign. Read and listen to Dimock’s story below.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

Article

Somalia Affair

In 1992–93, Canada contributed military forces to UNITAF, a United Nations–backed humanitarian mission in the African nation of Somalia. In 1993, Canadian soldiers from the now-defunct Airborne Regiment tortured and killed a Somali teenager named Shidane Arone. These and other violent abuses during the mission shocked Canadians and damaged the country’s international reputation. They also led to a public inquiry that revealed serious failures of leadership at the highest levels of the Canadian Armed Forces, kick-starting reforms aimed a professionalizing the officer corps.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Article

Portia White

Portia May White, contralto, teacher (born 24 June 1911 in Truro, NS; died 13 February 1968 in Toronto, ON). Portia White was the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. She was considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century. Her voice was described by one critic as “a gift from heaven.” She was often compared to the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson. The Nova Scotia Talent Trust was established in 1944 specifically to enable White to concentrate on her professional career. She was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.

Article

Kaska Dena

The Kaska Dena or Denek’éh (often referred to simply as Kaska) are a Dene-speaking people who live in southern Yukon and northern British Columbia, primarily in the communities of Lower Post, Upper Liard (near Watson Lake), Watson Lake and Ross River in the Pelly drainage. In the 2016 census, 1,440 people reported having Kaska ancestry.

Article

Francophones of Manitoba

Manitoba’s “francophonie” is the term used to designate French-speakers in Manitoba, historically referred to as “Franco-Manitobans.” Changes in 2017 to the name of the Société de la francophonie manitobaine (formerly the Société franco-manitobaine) and the definition of “francophone” in the provincial law on French language services reflect the changing nature of the community itself. The core of Manitoba’s francophones is formed by descendants of voyageurs as well as settlers from Québec and Europe, but since the early 2000s the community has seen a growing number of immigrants from non-European countries as well as an increasing integration of francophones for whom French is not their first language.

Excerpt

People on the Margins of the Halifax Explosion

In the early 20th Century, most North End residents of Halifax perceived themselves as being collectively disadvantaged, compared to wealthier South End residents. However, within the North End certain groups — notably racial minorities, the elderly, non-British immigrants, members of the military, and unmarried women with children — stood out as being particularly vulnerable. They were among the hardest-hit in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

Article

Malcolm Troup

Malcolm Troup. Pianist, teacher, b Toronto 22 Feb 1930; PH D musicology (York, England) 1968, honorary LL D (Memorial) 1985. He studied under Norman Wilks and Alberto Guerrero at the RCMT and made his debut at 17 with a CBC Toronto orchestra playing Rubinstein's Concerto in D.