Today in History: June 3rd

1999:  Canada and the United States sign a treaty governing the conservation and sharing of the Pacific salmon that migrate between waters of the two nations.

1992: Start of Rio Summit or Earth Summit held by the UN. See also Ozone Layer clip for @Issue.

1989: A natural-gas pipeline explodes in Russia, just as two trains pass, killing more than 500 people. Although pressure in the pipeline had dropped, a sign of a possible leak, instead of following procedures and checking for leaks, pipeline workers instead pumped in more gas to keep the pressure up. The gas leaked and ignited when the trains passed by.

Today in History: May 31st

2003: Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay is elected leader of the federal Progressive Conservative party. He will lead the move to unite with the Canadian Alliance, which later becomes the Conservative Party.

1985: Tornadoes hit central Ontario, including Barrie and Orangeville, killing 12 people, injuring hundreds and damaging or destroying at least 1,000 buildings. Damage is estimated at more than $150 million.

1929: After two years of visits and negotiations, the Ford Motor Company signs a landmark agreement to produce cars in the Soviet Union. At the time the U.S. government did not formally recognize the USSR in diplomatic negotiations, so the Ford agreement was groundbreaking.

Today in History: May 29th

1988: President Ronald Reagan travels to Moscow to begin the fourth summit meeting in the three years with Soviet leader Mikhail Grobachev.

1917: John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, is born.

Political Conventions K E Double N E D Y

1914: Heavy fog causes a collision of boats on the St. Lawrence River that kills 1,073 people, making it one of the worst maritime disasters ever. An investigation finds that several critical precautions that would have saved many lives were ignored.

Today in History: May 23rd

1967: Ernest Manning’s Social Credit Party is re-elected in Alberta, with a ninth consecutive majority. Social Credit wins 55 of the 65 seats, but popular vote drops to 45 percent.

1960: A tsunami caused by an earthquake near Chile travels across the Pacific Ocean and kills 61 people in Hawaii. Warnings are issued six hours before the wave’s expected arrival, but some ignore the warnings, and others head to the coast to view the wave. More than a day after the earthquake, the tsunami reaches Japan, killing 180 people.

1949:  The Federal Republic of Germany – known as West Germany – is formally established as a separate nation. Following  World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones, with the British, French, Americans, and Soviets each controlling one zone. But there were differences between the communist and non-communist controlled sections. East and West Germany, symbols of Cold War animosities, were reunited in 1990.

Today in History: May 19th

1967: The Soviet Union ratifies an agreement banning nuclear weapons from outer space. With the advent of the space race in 1957, some begin to fear that outer space might be the next frontier for the expansion of nuclear weapons. With this action, outer space is officially declared off-limits for nuclear weapons.

1958: United States and Canada military formally establish the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) to coordinate continental defence.

1939:  King George VI becomes the first reigning monarch to address the Canadian Parliament.

Today in History: May 16th

2001:  The Liberals in British Columbia, under Gordon Campbell, come to power with a landslide victory, winning 77 of the 79 seats, while the NDP wins only two seats. It is the most lopsided win in B.C history.

1961: U.S. President John Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, begin a state visit to Ottawa. The President addresses Parliament. A crowd of 50,000 people gather on Parliament Hill in hopes of seeing the new President and his wife.

1960: In the wake of the Soviet downing of an American U-2 spy plane on May 1, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev lashes out at U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower at a Paris summit meeting between the two heads of state. Khrushchev’s outburst angers Eisenhower and dooms any chances for successful talks or negotiations at the summit.

Today in History: May 14th

1991: Two diesel trains carrying commuters crash head-on, killing more than 40 people and injuring 400 in Japan. An investigation faults workers for allowing a train to depart without a green signal, an action found to be dangerous and illegal.

1955: The Soviet Union and seven of its European satellites sign a treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact, a mutual defense organization that put the Soviets in command of the armed forces of the member states. The treaty is signed in Warsaw, and includes the Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria as members.

1940: John Diefenbaker takes his seat in the House of Commons for the first time. He later becomes Prime Minister.

Today in History: May 7th

1960:  Leonid Brezhnev is selected as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet – the  Soviet equivalent to the presidency. This was another important step in Brezhnev’s rise to power in Russia, a rise that he later capped by taking control of the Soviet Union in 1964.

1915: The British ocean liner, Lusitania, was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, killing 1,198 (including 128 Americans) of the 1,959 people on board. The sinking of the Lusitania appalled many and contributed to the decision by the United States to eventually get into World War One.

1902:  Mount Pele on the French Caribbean island of Martinique begins the deadliest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The following day, the city of Saint Pierre is virtually wiped off the map. Residents failed to heed warnings and evacuate. The city was buried within minutes and virtually everyone died instantly. In all, about 30,000 people died.

Today in History: April 26th

1986:  The world’s worst nuclear accident to date occurs at the Chernobyl nuclear plant near Kiev in Ukraine. Thousands of people died and as many as 70,000 suffered severe poisoning. Up to 4,000 clean-up workers died from radiation poisoning. Birth defects among people living in the area have increased dramatically. Thyroid cancer has increased tenfold in Ukraine since the accident.

1982: Grant Devine leads to Progressive Conservatives to power in Saskatchewan, defeating Allan Blakeney and the NDP. The Conservatives take 55 of the 64 seats. The NDP vote falls to its lowest level since 1938.

1954: The Geneva Conference opens in Switzerland, to try to find a way to unify Korea and restore peace in Indochina. The Soviet Union, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and the People’s Republic of China take part.

Today in History: April 12th

1980:  Terry Fox dips his artificial leg into the Atlantic to start his cross-country ‘Marathon of Hope’ to raise money for cancer research.  He covers 5,373 kilometres and raise $1.7 million. Fox will end his run on Sept.1 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and dies on June 28, 1981.

1961: Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut, becomes the first person in space, as well as the first to orbit the Earth.

1917: After three days of fierce combat and over 10,000 casualties, Canadians seize the previously German-held Vimy Ridge in France. Historians have pointed to this victory as a moment of greatness for Canada, when it emerged from Britain’s shadow to attain its own measure of military achievement and earning a reputation for efficiency and strength on the battlefield.

See also Canada in Space, the Resurgence of Russia