Long distance travel across Canada was initially done via rivers and lakes. Overland excursions were difficult due to the harsh terrain and thick bush that travellers encountered. Early road systems serviced the immediate areas, such as villages, towns, or larger urban settings. Many were built for military use.
Despite the terrain challenges, fees or taxes were collected from citizens and put toward road construction and maintenance. Roads began to complement waterways for the transport of people and goods. One of the earliest road types was the corduroy or skid road. Main pathways between settlements were planked with logs placed side-by-side and perpendicular to the pathway. These rudimentary roads aided travel inland during harsh weather, or on rough terrain, and opened up new settlement areas across Canada.
Firefighters have the intense job of fighting and extinguishing fires that threaten lives, property, and the environment. Their schedule is demanding and the work is dangerous, but the service they provide is crucial. Fire has been as much a danger to human life as it has been essential to advance society.
Firefighting in Canada began as a collective effort. Citizens and soldiers worked together to fight flames with water and axes. New settlements in Canada were constructed with wood, in tight quarters, leaving them vulnerable to the very fire used by settlers to heat their homes and cook their food. Firefighting evolved to deal with the threat of fire, with the first organized fire department opening in Halifax in 1754 and the first fire engine operating in Montreal in 1765.
Established towns continued to enhance their capabilities, creating volunteer firefighting companies after the 1824 Upper Canada Parliament fire. Firefighting transitioned into a career after the addition of new machinery, equipment and horses required a full-time staff. A shift toward relatively sophisticated fire protection occurred at the end of the 19th century with the introduction of improved building codes, professional fire departments, fire hydrant systems, steam fire engines and horse-drawn apparatus. Firefighting has since continued to evolve in the face of new challenges.
During the Second World War, Canadian women were mobilized to serve in the armed forces. Approximately, 50,000 women enlisted and a majority of them served with the Canadian Army. A variety of tasks were assigned to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) formed in 1941. These women enrolled from a sense of patriotism or a desire to see the world, no different from their male counterparts of the time.
However, they faced skepticism and harassment at home and abroad. Their perseverance coupled with wartime labour demands enabled women to work in numerous fields of work, such as mechanical and technical repairs, communications, drafting, or driving vehicles. The Canadian government and the Department of National Defence in 1943 started a recruitment drive and public relations campaign to support women contributing to the war effort. Over time their salaries increased, and public and military opinions began to change in favour of women serving in the armed forces.
The thousands of women who served their country during wartime gained new skills and expertise, confidence, and a much improved respect and support from Canadians. The CWAC was an opportunity and milestone for those choosing to step away from traditional gender roles in Canada.
Few Canadian authors have achieved the universal appeal of Lucy Maud Montgomery, whose iconic series “Anne of Green Gables” continues to resonate with book lovers of all ages.
Swimming is an important survival skill. However, it wasn’t considered a sport or leisure activity until organized competitions were held in countries like Japan in the 1600s, and eventually in Europe in the 1800s. Men’s swimming was included in the 1896 Olympic Games, and women competed in the 1912 competitions, cementing its place as a sport. Various associations around the world were created to support and promote swimming as a leisure activity and sport. Canada was no different, in this regard.
Over time, a variety of pool facilities appeared across Canada, near natural bodies of water and purpose-built ones in more populated urban centres. Examples include in Vancouver near English Bay, Toronto’s Lakeshore Drive, and Montreal’s Bain Maisonneuve and Bain Généreux. Swimming and its facilities eventually evolved into places of fitness, hygiene, leisure and community gathering.
Few dentists were available during Canada’s early colonial period. Individuals made claims of dental expertise, however, it was “buyer-beware” if someone needed care. Professional dentistry in Canada was far behind professional and medical developments in Europe at the time.
During the 1800s, Canada benefited from the arrival of dental practitioners from the United States. These professionals started a movement for better education, training and practices in the country, which sparked the first Canadian publication on dentistry, The Summum Bonum, in 1815 by L.S. Parmly based in Montréal. Eventually, medical expertise took root in Canada and various associations were formed such as the Ontario Dental Association (1867), and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons (1868).
As standards of practice and education evolved, the inclusion of dental schools into university programmes cemented dentistry’s standing in the medical professions. Dental practices and services continued to spread and became available in cities and towns across the county. Care was also provided to our soldiers outside of the country during times of conflict such as during the First and Second World Wars.
Peter Rindisbacher was an artist that immigrated to Canada from Switzerland with his family when he was just 15. Living in the Red River Colony from 1821 to 1826, he became the first artist to paint and sketch the Canadian west.
Fore-edge images are painted images on the edges of book pages. The pages are either fanned or closed for the image to be visible. These types of paintings can be found as far back as the 10th century. Early images were symbolic or decorative, but the art evolved into scenic landscapes or portraiture by the 18th century. Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) Rare Book Collection has 12 volumes that are known to have fore-edge paintings.
Jean-Joseph Girouard (1794–1855) was a notary, an amateur artist, and a member of the Parti Patriote in Lower Canada during the first part of the 19th century. The Parti Patriote was a political party that sought political reform and rallied for French Canadian cultural heritage, rights and interests.
Girouard was incarcerated twice for his role in the Rebellion. He maintained a notarial office and, unexpectedly, an artist’s studio while imprisoned in Montreal.
Charles William Jefferys (August 25, 1869 – October 8, 1951) determined that Canada needed a visual history and a national mythology and he would create it. He chose to portray Canada’s epic events of discovery, courage, war and nation-building. His images placed an almost mythological importance on the nation’s historical events.
In the early 20th century Canadians struggled to define what it meant to be Canadian and how to express their budding feelings of nationalism. Jefferys’ work reflects this and; his historical illustrations are an expression of this growing nationalism. They are representative of the period, and may not be how we would define ourselves today.