TIL Roundup Vol. 28

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.

We’ve been so incredibly busy learning things at The Canadian Encyclopedia that we’ve neglected to fill you in. So here’s what we’ve learned over the past few weeks.

Driving? Just a Fad

Erin James-Abra was keen on learning about traffic history. 1 On 29 August 1919 Prince Edward Island finally decided to allow cars onto all the province’s roads, after dismissing them as a “fad” and restricting them for several years. To be fair, do you see a road in the above photo of a PEI potato farm?

Meanwhile on New Year’s Day 1922 drivers in British Columbia, having been accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, switched to driving on the right side 2 at 2:00 a.m. There were no accidents.

Do Mermaids Sing?

Film editor Andrew McIntosh learned about, Patricia Rozema’s quirky cult hit I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987), one of the most profitable Canadian films ever made. It was made on a meagre budget of around $300,000 and went on to gross more than $6 million worldwide.

Not Fit For Mixed Company

Editorial Assistant Nathan Baker brushed up on his suffragette history. In March 1916, members of the Edmonton Local Council of Women tried to attend the trial of several women who had been arrested as prostitutes. The women were ejected from the court on the grounds that the testimony was “not fit for mixed company.” Emily Murphy was outraged, and protested to the provincial Attorney General.

“If the evidence is not fit to be heard in mixed company,” she argued, “then … the government … [must] set up a special court presided over by women, to try other women.” To her surprise the Minister agreed, and offered Murphy the post of presiding over such a court.

As Worthless as a Canadian Diamond

Web Officer Holly O’Rourke, who reads literally everything that goes on the encyclopedia, found out about “Canadian diamonds” and how at one point the term was synonymous with worthlessness.

Image: Rows of potato plants growing in large farm field at Prince Edward Island. Photo taken on: July 17, 2013. 49851477 © Elena Elisseeva |

  1. Perhaps she was suffering from insomnia.

  2. Also known as the correct side.