17 November

Charlottetown Looted, Governor Taken Prisoner

When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, the Americans invaded Canada, but very politely. General Philip Schuyler commanding troops from New York was ordered by Congress to "take possession of St. Jean, Montreal, and any other parts of the country . . . if General Schuyler finds that it is practicable and that it will not be disagreeable to the Canadians."

Later in the year, General George Washington heard that two ships had sailed from Britain with arms and supplies for Quebec. Two armed schooners, under Captains Broughton and Selman, were sent to patrol the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Their instructions were: "Should you meet with any vessel, the property of the inhabitants of Canada, not employed in any respect in the service of the ministerial army, you are to treat such vessel with all kindness, and by no means suffer them to be injured or molested."

Unfortunately Broughton and Selman were little better than pirates. Instead of patrolling the St. Lawrence, they spent three weeks capturing fishing vessels off the coast of Nova Scotia. Then they sailed for the Island of St. John (now Prince Edward Island) which they knew was unprotected. Arriving at Charlottetown on the morning of November 17, 1775, they rejected a friendly greeting by Acting Governor Phillips Callbeck, and took him prisoner. Then they looted stores and homes while searching for Mrs. Callbeck. She was the sister of a British admiral, and they were going to cut her throat. Fortunately Mrs. Callbeck had gone to a farm several miles inland.

The prisoners were eventually taken to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the headquarters of the American Army. General Washington was furious with Captains Broughton and Selman, and made arrangements for the Canadians to get back to the Island of St. John. Later, Callbeck wrote to Washington thanking him for his kindness, but he also wrote to General Howe, commanding the British forces in New York: "These monsters, bloodthirsty, sought out Mrs. Callbeck for the purpose of cutting her throat . . . these brutal violators of domestic felicity have left her without a single glass of wine, without a candle to burn, or a sufficiency of provisions of the bread kind, most of the furniture of her house taken away and, for what I know, all her clothes."


17 November

-1623    A road to Upper Town was completed at Quebec.

-1815    The Chippewa Indians ceded 250,000 acres, now part of Simcoe County, Ontario.

-1856    The Grand Trunk Railway was completed between Guelph and Stratford, Ontario.

-1874    The Carnarvon terms were announced for settling a dispute between British Columbia and the Federal Government.

-1896    Sir Clifford Sifton was made Minister of the Department of the Interior (see November 27).

-1903    The Northwest Mounted Police occupied Herschel Island and raised the British flag.

             Silver was discovered at Cobalt, Ontario (see July 11).

-1959    The Soviet bloc in the United Nations agreed to the Canadian proposal to study the effect of radiation from atomic explosions.

-1960    The Honourable Lester B. Pearson was presented with the Medallion of Valour of the State of Israel for his -outstanding role in the deliberations of the United Nations which led to the judicious consideration of the differences between the State of Israel and the Arab nations."