Monday, August 4, 2008

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it...or something along those lines!

Funny post from the Victoria Times. Who said Canadian history is boring?

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it -- poorly
Jack Knox, Times Colonist Published: Sunday, July 13, 2008

The 2008 National Historica Fair is in Victoria this week, 165 students from across the country taking part in history's equivalent to a science fair. It inspired me to dredge up my own recollection of Canadian history class.

Here's what I remember:The first contact between aboriginal Canadians and the seafaring foreigners known as wetbacks came in 1000 BC when the Minnesota Vikings played an away game at L'anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. Fearing this NFL invasion would lead to the demise of the Canadian Football League, aboriginals sent the Vikings packing. It wasn't until 1497 that Europeans would return to Canadian shores in the person of English television actor Sebastian Cabot, also known by his Italian name, Mr. French.

French exploration continued with the arrival of Jacques Cartier, who established a chain of fur-trading posts and fine jewelry stores along the St. Lawrence River. It was Cartier who first heard the Huron-Iroquois word Canada, meaning "big pink bit on the map. Western exploration and the fur trade were both soon taken over by the British in the form of the Hudson's Bay Co., though the latter soon found itself in a long, bitter struggle with such rivals as the North West Co. and Canadian Tire, which provided the wheels for the Red River carts that became emblematic of Manitoba settlers.

Meanwhile, the West Coast was reached in 1778 by Capt. James Cook of HMS Enterprise, who had set out across the Pacific "to boldly go where no man has gone before." Cook defeated both the Klingons and the Spanish, whose influence is still reflected today in such places as Cortes, Quadra and Galiano islands and the Strait of Wanda Fuca, the latter named for the daughter of Queen Isabella. Deterred by high ferry fares, Cook stayed on Vancouver Island, so it wasn't until 1837 that the mainland coast was reached by firebrand explorer William Lyon Mackenzie who, travelling overland from Ontario, reached the Pacific near Bella Coola (Spanish for "beautiful refrigerator"). En route he discovered Canada's highest peak, Mount Logan, named after Sir Horace Mount, inventor of the horse.

Confederation came on the Fourth of July, 1867, following the Charlottetown Conference in Quebec City, which was then known by its native name, Regina, or "Pile of Bones." The first prime minister, Sir John A. Appleseed, opened up the west to farming by building a railroad that was completed when Pierre Berton drove the Last Spike in the Klondike, an event that lives on in Gordon Lightfoot's 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'. Alas, the Klondike was soon stripped of gold, just like Ben Johnson at the Seoul Olympics, leading to a national malaise known as the Great Depression.The funk didn't lift until the assassination of Louis Riel sparked the First World War, where Canada came of age at Vimy Ridge but, lacking proper ID, was sent home without liquor. This was known as Prohibition.

The First World War was so successful that they held a sequel, just like Wayne's World II, though the latter was a bigger bomb. Speaking of bombing, it wasn't until the Japanese attacked the domestic car market that the U.S. agreed to join Canada in the war on Germany, signing an agreement known as the Otto Pact. But this call to arms was ignored by Quebecers who, objecting to the air force's use of the Planes of Abraham, merely turned over in their beds and went back to sleep (the Quiet Revolution). This highlighted the schism between French and English Canada, a rift that was only healed in 1984 when the two solitudes joined together in chucking Pierre Trudeau on the political dungheap (leading to his famous declaration "Just wash me"). Trudeau was eventually replaced by Brian Mulroney, best-known for bringing in the NAFTA agreement that sent Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a softwood-lumber tariff.

Those wishing to learn more about our country are advised to dust off a copy of the CBC's 30-hour documentary Canada: A People's History. The rest of you can go back to watching American Idol.

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