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Article

Giant Beaver

The giant beaver (Castoroides ohioensis) is an extinct rodent that lived in North America between 1.4 million and 10,000 years ago. It was a distant cousin to modern beavers, but in many ways may have been more similar to modern capybaras. The giant beaver was one of the largest rodents ever to roam the Earth, and one of approximately 30 extinct genera of beavers. Only two beaver species survive today: the North American beaver and the Eurasian beaver. The giant beaver received its scientific name after remains were found in 1837 in Ohio. In Canada, giant beaver fossils have been found on Indian Island, New Brunswick; in Toronto and near Highgate, Ontario; and in Old Crow Basin, Yukon. They live on in the oral history of many Indigenous peoples, including the Innu, Seneca, eastern Cree, Chippewa and Vuntut Gwitchin.

Article

NORAD

The North American Air Defense Agreement (NORAD) was a pact made in 1957, at the height of the Cold War. It placed under joint command the air forces of Canada and the United States. Its name was later changed to the North American Aerospace Defense Command; but it kept the NORAD acronym. Canada and the US renewed NORAD in 2006, making the arrangement permanent. It is subject to review every four years, or at the request of either country. NORAD’s mission was also expanded into maritime warnings. The naval forces of the two countries remain under separate commands.

Article

Northern Bottlenose Whale

The northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a toothed whale found in the northern regions of the Atlantic Ocean. In Canadian waters, there are two populations: one off the coast of Nova Scotia, known as the Scotian shelf population, and the other off the coast of Labrador, known as the Baffin-Labrador population. The Scotian shelf population is endangered while the Baffin-Labrador population is considered “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The northern bottlenose whale is the largest beaked whale in the North Atlantic. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

Article

Royal Union Flag (Union Jack)

Before the adoption of the maple leaf–designed National Flag of Canada in 1965, Canada, first as a colony and later as a dominion, was represented by a succession of royal flags — the flag of France, the Cross of St. George, the first version of the Royal Union Flag (combining the English and Scottish flags), and, finally, the current Royal Union Flag (combining the British and Irish flags, and also known as the Union Jack).

Article

Dorothy Lutz (Primary Source)

At the age of 16, Dorothy Lutz served in the Second World War as an electrical welder in the Halifax shipyards. During the Second World War, Lutz and millions of women worked with military machinery and equipment. Listen to Lutz’ achievements as a trailblazer on the home front.

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

Ross Rifle

In the early 20th Century, the Ross rifle, a Canadian-made infantry rifle, was produced as an alternative to the British-made Lee-Enfield rifle. The Ross rifle was used during the First World War, where it gained a reputation as an unreliable weapon among Canadian soldiers. By 1916, the Ross had been mostly replaced by the Lee-Enfield.

Article

Flatfish

Flatfish is the common name for fish belonging to the order Pleuronectiformes. There are 14 families of flatfish and over 800 species worldwide. In Canadian waters there are approximately 39 species of flatfish, from five families. These families are Pleuronectidae, Bothidae, Paralichthyidae, Scophthalmidae and Cynoglossidae. Familiar flatfishes found in Canada include halibut, plaice, flounder and turbot. Among their distinguishing features, flatfish have both eyes on one side of their body.

Article

École Polytechnique Tragedy (Montreal Massacre)

On 6 December 1989, a man entered a mechanical engineering classroom at Montreal’s École Polytechnique armed with a semi-automatic weapon. After separating the women from the men, he opened fire on the women while screaming, “You are all feminists.” Fourteen young women were murdered, and 13 other people were wounded. The shooter then turned the gun on himself. In his suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life. The note contained a list of 19 “radical feminists” who he said would have been killed had he not run out of time. It included the names of well-known women in Quebec, including journalists, television personalities and union leaders.

Article

"Alouette!"

"Alouette!" The most popular Canadian folksong. It also has become a symbol of French Canada for the world, an unofficial national song identifiable from the first few measures of its lively chorus in 2/4 time. Marius Barbeau is of the opinion that "Alouette" originated in France, but James J. Fuld, in The Book of World-Famous Music (New York 1966), points out that the first written version, "Alouetté," appeared in A Pocket Song Book for the Use of Students and Graduates of McGill College (Montreal 1879). The song was published later as "Alouette" in the McGill College Song Book (Montreal 1885). The first known printed version in France dates from 1893: it appeared in Julien Tiersot's Revue des traditions populaires, vol 8 (Paris). The words and music are found in many anthologies and collections in Canada, the USA, and even Europe, notably in William Parker Greenough's Canadian Folk-life and Folk-lore (New York 1897). Several versions exist in Canada. Marius Barbeau summarizes the different texts in a work appropriately named Alouette (Montreal 1946). However, in all versions of the song, with its enumerations and frequent recapitulations, the idea remains the same: the lark's feathers are plucked from its head, wings, back, tail, and so on.

Article

Elizabeth Wettlaufer Case

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is a former nurse who murdered eight elderly patients and attempted to harm six others in southwestern Ontario between 2007 and 2016. One of the most prolific serial killers in Canadian history, she was sentenced to life in prison for the murders in 2017. The case prompted widespread public outrage and made headlines internationally. It later resulted in lawsuits against Wettlaufer, and the nursing homes she worked for, and a sweeping provincial inquiry into flaws in Ontario’s long-term care system.

Article

Allan Legere Case

Convicted murderer Allan Joseph Legere escaped custody in 1989, and for 201 days terrorized the residents of the Miramichi region of New Brunswick, brutally killing another four people. Known as the “Monster of the Miramichi,” Legere became the object of one of the most intense manhunts in modern Canadian police history.

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

Article

Michael Wayne McGray Case

Michael Wayne McGray once boasted of being Canada’s worst serial killer. He was convicted of seven homicides but claimed to have committed as many as 11 other murders in Canada and the United States between 1985 and 1998.

Article

Everett Sylvester Cromwell (Primary Source)

Everett Sylvester Cromwell was a member of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps during the Second World War. Cromwell was tasked with transporting ammunition, food, and gasoline from depots to the frontlines, risking attacks by enemy paratroopers and planes. Listen to Cromwell's story as he explains the arduous and dangerous work that he had to complete.

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

Randolph George Hope (Primary Source)

Randolph George Hope was a member of Canada’s merchant navy, supplying Allied areas of operation around the globe. The merchant navy made more than 25,000 voyages during the Second World War, including the vital supplying of the Soviet Union at Murmansk. Learn about why Randolph left the sugar refinery where he worked in order to serve on the high seas.

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

Robert Pickton Case

Between 1978 and 2001, at least 65 women disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Robert Pickton, who operated a pig farm in nearby Port Coquitlam, was charged with murdering 26 of the women. He was convicted on six charges and sentenced to life in prison. In a jail cell conversation with an undercover police officer, Pickton claimed to have murdered 49 women. The murders led to the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history, and Pickton’s farm became the largest crime scene in Canadian history. The case became a flash point in the wider issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. In 2012, a provincial government inquiry into the case concluded that “blatant failures” by police — including inept criminal investigative work, compounded by police and societal prejudice against sex trade workers and Indigenous women ­— led to a “tragedy of epic proportions.”

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

Article

Canada and the Development of the Polio Vaccine

During the first half of the 20th century, poliomyelitis, a.k.a. polio or “The Crippler,” hit Canada harder than anywhere else. Successive polio epidemics peaked in a national crisis in 1953. By that time, however, scientists at Connaught Medical Research Laboratories of the University of Toronto had made key discoveries that enabled American medical researcher and virologist Jonas Salk to prepare the first polio vaccine. Connaught Labs also solved the problem of producing the vaccine on a large scale. Canada went on to play an important role in the development of the oral polio vaccine and international efforts to eradicate the disease.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

Article

Margaret Marie “Marge” Plante (Primary Source)

Marguerite Marie “Marge” Plante left Alberta to join the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving as a timekeeper and typist during the Second World War. Read and listen she describes her enlistment, the death of her brother in Italy, interacting with prisoners of war, and the V-E Day celebrations.

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

Nellie Rettenbacher (Primary Source)

Nellie Rettenbacher joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in June 1943 and served until 1946 as a military police officer. As a corporal during the Second World War, she spent her time enforcing leave passes and military decorum among other enlisted women, many of whom she stayed in touch with after the war. Read and listen to Rettenbacher’s story as she explains her duties, friendships, and experiences in the military.

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.