3 December

Bowell Named Minister of Trade and Commerce

Among the most interesting jobs in the Canadian public service are those with the Department of Trade and Commerce, which now sends men and women to sixty-six offices in foreign nations.

Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, who had the foresight to establish the department in 1887, said: "The rapidly and largely increasing trade of Canada has made it necessary, or at all events expedient, to appoint a Minister whose time and attention and energy should be applied to the important object of developing and maintaining everything connected with our trade and commerce, whether it be home or foreign trade."

Sir Mackenzie Bowel! became the first Minister of Trade and Commerce on December 3, 1892. One of the first things he did after his appointment was to go on a one-man trade mission to Australia. Even though Prime Minister Macdonald spoke about Canada's largely increasing trade in 1887, the first Department of Trade and Commerce required only a staff of four in Ottawa seven part-time commercial agents abroad. Now, in 1966, the department employs 4,000 people in Ottawa and abroad, including more than 200 trade commissioners at its sixty-six foreign offices.

The expansion is typical of Canada's growth. In 1892, total trade was $250 million. Today it is worth more than $14 billion. Canada now ranks as the world's fifth largest exporter, behind the United States, Germany, Britain, and France. The trade commissioners help Canadian businessmen in every way possible. They supply information and suggestions to increase the sale of Canadian to other nations and they also help Canadians buy products from those nations.

The work is far from routine and members of the Department of Trade and Commerce must be prepared to tackle the unusual. For instance, in 1963, Canada sponsored a large trade exhibit at the International Trade Fair at Sydney, Australia. It received wonderful publicity because it was learned that the only kangaroo in the Calgary Zoo needed a mate, and a red-headed one, at that! Australian newspapers put on a campaign to help, with the result that a giant female red kangaroo was located at Melbourne, and flown to Calgary. The marriage was completely successful, and both kangaroos have been living happily!


3 December

-1653    Nicholas Denys was granted all the land between Cape Canso and Cape Rosier in Acadia.

-1738    Pierre La Vérendrye and his sons entered the village of the Mandans in North Dakota where they hoped to obtain information about a route to the Pacific. They were disappointed (see March 30).

-1827    Presbyterians in Montreal asked for a share of the clergy reserves.

-1839    The Erie and Ontario Railroad, a horse tramway, was opened between Queenston and Chippewa, Ontario.

-1855    The Great Western Railroad was opened between Toronto and Hamilton.

-1861    Fourteen thousand British troops were sent to Canada on account of the Trent affair (see May 20) .

-1919    The Federal Government made $25 million available to enable tenants to purchase homes.

-1951    The Federal and Ontario governments agreed on the St. Lawrence power development.

-1960    Edmonton Airport was opened. It was the largest civilian airport in Canada