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Canada 150

In celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary, Richard Blackwell takes a look back at some of the country's most memorable moments in the month of January

Prince of Wales touted as governor-general

Jan. 2, 1867 – As Canada's Confederation year began, there was speculation about the changing relationship between the emerging nation and its "mother country." The Globe said a smart move would be to name Queen Victoria's eldest son and heir, Albert Edward, as governor-general. That would be a "graceful act, greatly endearing our beloved mistress to her transatlantic subjects," the paper said in an editorial. The Prince of Wales was "young, active, popular," it noted, and the job would give him "more serious employment" than attending parties, balls and ceremonies. The man who would become Edward VII (but not for another 34 years) had already been to Canada in 1860, laying a cornerstone for the new Parliament buildings and opening the Victoria Bridge in Montreal. In the end, the job stayed with Viscount Monck, who had been governor-general of the Province of Canada since 1861. – Richard Blackwell

Prostitutes get steep penalties

Jan. 9, 1867 A hundred and fifty years ago, newspapers discreetly referred to brothels in their police court reports as "disorderly houses." But the women running them or working in them got heavy-handed treatment from the courts. Early in the new year, 30-year-old Elizabeth Glover was fined $50 for running such an establishment in Toronto, then sent to jail for defaulting on the payment, The Globe reported. Other women who worked in the house drew big fines or were "put out of the way for a while." One was given a few days to pay a fine, "the object being to make her leave the city." Two workers at another disorderly house were sent to jail for staggering sentences of 30 days and six months. The men who were in the brothel making use of the services? They were discharged. Richard Blackwell

Globe bulks up for Confederation

Jan. 16, 1867 With 1867 likely to be "the most eventful year in the history of the British North American provinces," The Globe told its readers it would beef up its journalistic chops. In a front-page notice, proprietor George Brown said the paper would set up "a large corps of short-hand reporters" to file from the new federal and provincial legislatures. Arrangements had already been made to get same-day European news via the Atlantic cable, and special staff would be sent to London to follow the Confederation bill through the Imperial Parliament. "No expense will be spared in the employment of able correspondents at important points, and in dispatching reporters to distant places whenever their services may be required," Brown said. New printing presses were to be added, and a better quality of paper used. But the subscription price was unchanged: $6 a year for the daily and $2 for the weekly edition. Richard Blackwell

Railways expand in Nova Scotia

Jan. 23, 1867 Railways were the physical links that held together the settlements of a new nation. In January, 1867, the eastern rail network was expanding as engineer Sandford Fleming worked to finish an extension of the existing Nova Scotia Railway line between Halifax and Truro, to reach Pictou on the Northumberland Strait. More than 20 miles was complete, The Globe reported, and everyone who rode the new stretch noted its "remarkable smoothness and ease with which the cars travel" and the "immense strength as well as the beauty of the masonry along the line of road." Work was about to begin on another branch to the Annapolis Valley – a project that "in conjunction with Confederation, would certainly double land values in Western Nova Scotia," The Globe said. The NSR became part of the Intercolonial Railway that linked the Maritime provinces to Ontario and Quebec. – Richard Blackwell

Accused killer is acquitted

Jan. 30, 1867 – Salacious murder trials were popular newspaper fare in the mid-19th century, as they are today. In late January, 1867, there was widespread coverage of the trial of Rev. Jeremie Babin, a Church of England minister in the village of Buckingham, Que., on the north shore of the Ottawa River. He was accused of killing his disabled sister, Mary, who had come to live with him and his wife. In April, 1866, Mary was taken out of their house in the middle of the night under mysterious circumstances, and her body was later found in a nearby river. Circumstantial evidence pointed to Babin, although he claimed he had hired a man named Leduc – who was never found – to take his sister to live in Ottawa. Still, no direct proof directly linked Babin to the crime and church officials “testified to his good character,” The Globe reported. After a four-day trial, the jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes and he was acquitted. – Richard Blackwell