Skip to main content
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 November

Canada's parliament is convened

Nov. 6, 1867 – After Canada's first post-Confederation federal election was held in the fall of 1867, members of the new Parliament took their seats on Nov. 6. The Globe reported that a large crowd turned out to watch Governor-General Charles Monck arrive for the event, and "the corridors were lined with troops through which His Excellency passed to the chambers." After ceremonies in the Senate, members of the House of Commons assembled to elect a Speaker. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, with George-Étienne Cartier at his side, nominated James Cockburn, a Conservative member from the Ontario riding of Northumberland West. Mr. Cockburn got the Speaker's job, even though some members objected on the grounds that he didn't speak French. The Globe didn't like him either, saying in an editorial that "party exigencies" were always more important to Mr. Macdonald than "the fitness of the individual to the office." – Richard Blackwell

The search for Franklin survivors

Nov. 13, 1867 – In 1867, it had been two decades since the disappearance of Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition and his two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Several searches for the men and ships had already taken place, and on Nov. 13, The Globe reprinted a story from the St. John's Chronicle detailing the efforts of Captain Charles Francis Hall (above, centre), an American explorer who had been looking since 1860. Hall meticulously gathered information from local Inuit in order to guide his search. "From these natives he learned that about the time of the loss of Sir John Franklin's vessel, some white men carried a dead body on shore, and built a brick vault, which they carefully cemented, and in which they deposited the corpse," the report said. Hall found many bones and artifacts, but no survivors as he had hoped. It wasn't until 2014 and 2016 that the wrecks of Erebus and Terror, respectively, were finally found. – Richard Blackwell

A debate over knighthoods

Nov. 20, 1867 In the early days of Canada's first post-Confederation Parliament, a heated debate broke out about the British honours bestowed on those who helped create the new nation. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald had been made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (a "KCB"), while his colleague George-Étienne Cartier (above) was offered the slightly lesser recognition as a Companion of the Order (a "CB"). To many in Quebec, including editorialists at the Montreal Gazette, this was a major slight, because they felt Cartier's role in Confederation was equal to, or greater than, Macdonald's. The Globe vehemently disagreed about Cartier's contribution, calling the Gazette's arguments "dreadful nonsense." The Globe also suggested the issue was blown out of proportion: "If any more fuss is made, we shall be set down as a nation of silly idiots who think a title which many Mayors in England have refused [is] a matter of extraordinary moment." Richard Blackwell

The price of a stamp is set

Nov. 27, 1867 – Legislation governing the postal service in the new Dominion of Canada was revealed in late November of 1867. The price for mailing a letter weighing up to half an ounce was fixed at 3 cents, the same as in the United States but higher than Britain. The Globe favoured a lower rate of 2 cents, saying it would encourage more letter writing and thus a higher volume of business for the post office. But the paper acknowledged that 3 cents was still a "very moderate charge … for carrying a letter from Halifax to Windsor or Owen Sound." There was also controversy over the price set for delivering newspapers by post – half a cent each. One letter to the editor in The Globe suggested newspapers should be carried for free because a fee "is a tax on knowledge" and delivering them without cost "would greatly promote the intelligence, the virtue and the happiness of the people." – Richard Blackwell

Canada 150: More from The Globe and Mail