1 November

Saskatchewan Opens dept. of Municipal Affairs

In 1905, when Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces, thousands of people were flocking to the Prairies. In the first ten years of the century, Winnipeg's population grew from 42,000 to 136,000; Regina's from 2,250 to 30,000; Edmonton's from 2,600 to 25,000; Calgary's from 4,400 to 44,000; and Saskatoon's from 113 to 12,000!

Because of this rapid growth the provincial governments and municipalities were under pressure to provide public services. On November 1, 1908, the Government of Saskatchewan established a Department of Municipal Affairs. Saskatchewan and Manitoba were the first provinces to do so.

The majority of newcomers were taking up holdings on the land, and their huge wheat-growing areas meant that homes were widely separated. Alexander Graham Bell's new-fangled telephone had been fully accepted after a long struggle, and was a blessing to the western farmers. In fact it was so essential to their welfare that a Rural Telephone Act was passed, making it possible for groups of five people to construct, maintain, and operate a rural telephone system. In his book Saskatchewan: the History of a Province, J. F. C. Wright has an amusing story of how the rural telephone systems provided entertainment before radio. One prolonged ring on the line was a signal for all subscribers to lift their receivers and listen. There might be an announcement of an auction sale, dance, or public meeting, or perhaps serious news about a fire or other tragedy.

Telephone conversations were seldom private, and were made with the knowledge that probably most of the other subscribers were listening. Their clocks could be heard ticking, or perhaps the shout of a child at play, or a sudden snore from grandfather asleep in his chair. However, no one ever "let on" that he or she was listening. If someone heard that a neighbour was going to town, he or she would allow an interval to elapse, then phone the neighbour and say "Do you happen to be going to town today? If so, I wonder if you would mind bringing back some groceries for us?" Radio was a blessing in later years but it never provided the intimate entertainment of the country telephone system!


1 November

-1696    Iberville began a march across the Avalon Peninsula to take St. John's (see May 19).

-1788    Bishop Inglis opened an academy at Windsor, Nova Scotia, which later became King's College.

-1813    American General Wilkinson began a move down the St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario to attack Montreal.

-1838    Lord Durham sailed for London after resigning as governor.

-1847    A Normal School was opened in Toronto. T. J. Robertson was headmaster.

-1850    Joseph Howe sailed for London to try to raise money to build a railway.

-1893    A statue of Sir John A. Macdonald was unveiled at Hamilton, Ontario.

-1895    The Independence of Canada Club adopted a platform.

-1915    The Government launched the first Victory Loan Campaign.

-1945    The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization held a conference at Quebec with twenty nations represented.

-1950    Restrictions on consumer credit were put into effect.

-1955    The Honourable L. B. Pearson, then Minister of External Affairs, opened the "Canada Dam" at West Bengal, India.