24 September

C.P.R. Opens Branch Line to Coal Banks, Alberta

By 1885 the C.P.R. had pushed its way beyond Winnipeg. It had passed Pile O'Bones (Regina) and entered Calgary, a "rootin, tootin" cowboy town.

Moving supplies to the workers was a tremendous problem. There was a lucky break when coal was discovered near Fort Whoop-Up, and a company was formed to mine it. The C.P.R. then built a branch line from Dunsmore, on the main line, to Coal Banks, now Lethbridge, and that problem was solved. The branch line was opened on September 24, 1885. One year later, Lethbridge had a population of more than 1,000.

One of the most successful suppliers of beef for the construction crews was Pat Burns, the "cattle king." He was born at Oshawa, Ontario, in humble circumstances, and went to school at Kirkfield. Pat and his brother John decided to go out west. In order to earn money to travel they worked in the bush, but were paid two oxen instead of money. They slaughtered the oxen and sold the meat, earning more money than if they had been paid wages.

This taught Pat Burns a valuable lesson, and when he reached the West, he gradually developed a business, buying cattle (on time) from farmers, and selling the beef to construction gangs. He then began his famous meat packing firm in Calgary.

There arc countless stories about Pat Burns. It is said that he was one of the few people who never made an enemy while making a million dollars. One story tells how he was driving in a parade in Calgary when he saw a little pig walking beside a float as a mascot. It was obviously becoming exhausted so Burns stopped his limousine and took the dejected pig in with him.

Another story tells how he sent men from his Calgary plant to paint his little church at Midnapore. The new paint made the other church at Midnapore look bad, so Burns said "paint that church too."

Prime Minister R. B. Bennett made him a senator on the occasion of a testimonial dinner in 1931. It was Burns' 75th birthday, and 700 people were there. A two-ton birthday cake was cut into 15,000 pieces to send to his friends.


24 September

-1669    Father Galinée and La Salle, going west, met Joliet near the present site of Hamilton, Ontario. Joliet had been trying to find copper in the Lake Superior area.

-1897    An arch bridge was opened over the Niagara River. It was the third bridge. The first was the suspension bridge built in 1855. The second was a cantilever built in 1883.

-1956    Canada, Britain and the United States signed an atomic energy agreement in Washington.

-1959    External Affairs Minister Howard Green addressed the United Nations on disarmament.

-1962    The Garden of the Provinces was opened at Ottawa by Prime Minister Diefenbaker.

-1963    A Canadian delegation, headed by Privy Council President Lamontagne, left for London to attend the Commonwealth Conference on Finance and Trade, preceding the International Monetary Fund Meeting.

-1965    Ojibwa, the Royal Canadian Navy's first 2000-ton Oberon class submarine, was commissioned at Chatham, England, by Canadian High Commissioner Chevrier.

              Major General B. F. Macdonald was appointed to command the newly formed UN India-Pakistan Observation Mission.