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TIL Roundup Vol. 27

When you edit an encyclopedia, you learn something new every day. Sometimes it’s mundane, but other times it’s something fascinating that must be shared, like the fact that not all beavers have tails. Therefore we’re collecting all of the fascinating things we’re learning as we comb through and edit The Canadian Encyclopedia. Here’s this week’s roundup of our “Today I Learned” (TIL) moments.

Arts Editor Andrew McIntosh learned about the Seven Oaks Incident in 1816 in a roundabout way, through song. The bloody fight was immortalized in the songs “La Chanson de la Grenouillère” and “La Danse des bois-brülés” by Métis balladeer Pierre Falcon.

Science, Industry and Geography Editor Erin James-Abra unearthed some gruesome details about early surgical hygiene in the History of Medicine article: “[In the mid-1800s], surgeons at the Toronto General, like surgeons everywhere, operated in frock coats, usually holding their knives, when not in use, in their mouths.”

Special Projects Editor Eli Yarhi read about the weird and perplexing decision to send Canadian voyageurs to paddle the Nile in 1884-1885.

More scintillating topical tidbits from Erin: “In January 1979, service stations started pricing and dispensing gasoline and diesel fuel in litres.”

Social Media & Outreach Editor Zach Parrott learned about Bertram Brockhouse, Canadian winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994. Brockhouse won the prize for his pioneering work in use of thermal neutrons to study structural, dynamical and magnetic aspects of the behaviour of condensed matter systems at an atomic level. So, just the basics, then.

Image: James Saper, flickr/cc.