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"Boat People" Refugees

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"Boat People" Refugees

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Viola Desmond

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Viola Desmond

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On the evening of 8 November 1946, Halifax businesswoman Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), made an unplanned stop in the small community of New Glasgow after her car broke down en route to a business meeting in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Told she would have to wait a few hours for the repair, she decided to see the movie The Dark Mirror, starring Olivia de Havilland, at the Roseland Theatre. Desmond requested a ticket for a seat on the main floor (“One down, please.”). Without informing Desmond, the ticket seller instead handed her a ticket to the balcony, the section generally reserved for non-white customers.

After being challenged by the ticket-taker, who informed her that her ticket was for an upstairs seat, Desmond returned to the cashier and asked to exchange her ticket for a downstairs one. The cashier refused, saying, “I'm sorry, but I'm not permitted to sell downstairs tickets to you people.” Realizing that the cashier was referring to the colour of her skin, Desmond decided to take a seat on the main floor anyway.

Henry MacNeil, manager of the Roseland Theatre, confronted Desmond. He argued that the theatre had the right to “refuse admission to any objectionable person.” Desmond pointed out that she had been admitted, and had then attempted to exchange her balcony ticket for a main floor one. She had even offered to pay the difference in cost, but was refused. “When she declined to leave her seat, a police officer was called. He dragged Desmond out of the theatre, injuring her hip and knee in the process, and took her to the town lock-up. Shocked and frightened, she maintained her composure, sitting bolt upright in her cell all night long, awaiting her trial the following morning.”

In court, Magistrate Roderick MacKay, the only legal official present, charged Desmond with attempting to defraud the provincial government based on her alleged refusal to pay a one-cent amusement tax ( the difference in tax between upstairs and downstairs ticket prices). Despite her insistence that, at the time, her offer to pay the difference had been refused, he fined her $26. At no point was Desmond provided with counsel or informed that she was entitled to it. Most notably, the issue of race was never mentioned even though it was clear that Desmond's real ‘offence’ was to violate the Roseland Theatre’s implicit segregated seating rule.

On the advice of Mrs. Pearleen Oliver, a regular patron of Desmond’s beauty parlour and the wife of the Reverend William Pearly Oliver, Viola sought support from the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP). Even with the assurance of support from the NSAACP if she appealed the conviction, Desmond’s husband Jack, a prominent businessman in Halifax’s Black community, objected to the appeal. “Take it to the Lord with a prayer,” was his suggestion. Others in the community were more encouraging. Carrie Best, the founder of The Clarion newspaper and an outspoken advocate of racial equality, took a special interest in the case. Her paper closely covered Desmond's story, often featuring it on the front page, and drawing greater attention to the injustice of her conviction. The Viola Desmond Heritage Minute ends with Best asking Desmond whether she plans to appeal her conviction. With courageous determination, Viola Desmond says that she will.

Subsequently, Desmond’s lawyer made two unsuccessful applications for appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, after which legal action on the case ceased. At no point in the Supreme Court proceedings was the issue of racial discrimination ever raised by her legal defense. When dismissing the case, Justice William Lorimer Hall said: “One wonders if the manager of the theatre who laid the complaint was so zealous because of a bona fide belief that there had been an attempt to defraud the province of Nova Scotia of the sum of one cent, or was it a surreptitious endeavour to enforce a Jim Crow rule by misuse of a public state.”

On 15 April 2010, Viola Desmond was granted a posthumous pardon by Nova Scotia Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis. The pardon, accompanied by a public declaration and apology from the province, recognized that Desmond’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice and that charges should never have been laid.

CAST
  • Viola Desmond – Kandyse McClure
  • Carrie Best – Melannee Murray
  • Ticket Seller – Stacie Harrison
  • Henry MacNeil,Theatre Manager – Kevin Rothery
  • Reverend Oliver – Dwight Lane
  • Jack Desmond – Kudjo Fiakpui
  • Police Officer – Jodi Stecyk

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Richard Pierpoint

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Richard Pierpoint

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Richard Pierpoint was born in Bondu (now Senegal) in 1744. In 1760, he was captured and brought to America where he was sold to a British officer. After more than 20 years in America, he won his emancipation by fighting as a member of Butler’s Rangers in the American Revolution.

His support for the British in the conflict meant he was rewarded with a land grant in the Niagara region. After 1783, Pierpoint settled in Niagara, where he served as a griot (storyteller) for the local Black community. In the Senegalese tradition a griot listens to stories and associates them with a particular stone. The griot retells the stories by pulling a stone out of his bag and recounting the associated story. Before and after the War of 1812, Pierpoint travelled around Upper Canada listening to and retelling the stories of the Black community.

In 1794, Pierpoint and a number of formerly enslaved men petitioned the government of Upper Canada to grant them land adjacent to each other rather than dispersed among white settlers. The Petition of Free Negroes, as it was known, aimed to create a Black community where members would help and support each other. The petition was rejected for unknown reasons.

In the War of 1812, at age 68, Pierpoint petitioned the military for the creation of an all-black unit, by producing a list of black men in the region who had sworn to fight. The petition was initially rejected, but leadership of the unit was eventually given to Captain Robert Runchey, and the unit was named Captain Runchey’s Corps of Coloured Men. The Corps fought at Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812, (they were among the first reinforcements to arrive on the Heights in support of Mohawk Chief John Norton’s Grand River warriors) and were instrumental to the war effort throughout the Niagara region. In 1813, they were reassigned to the Provincial Corps of Artificers, and served throughout the war building and rebuilding important strategic posts.

After the war, Pierpoint stayed in Niagara, but found life difficult. In 1821, Pierpoint petitioned the government again, this time to be sent on a ship back to his homeland in Senegal. Pierpoint’s petition was again rejected, but he was given a land grant in Garafraxa, near modern-day Fergus. He took up his land and became a leader in the black community, helping formerly enslaved men and women move through the Underground Railroad. In addition, Scottish settlers, in particular James Webster, relied on Pierpoint for help when they first arrived in the Fergus area. Pierpoint died around 1837, aged about 93. Pierpoint was one of thousands of black Loyalists who came to Canada after the American Revolution, and while many faced significant hardships, they nonetheless formed an important part of early Canada. Pierpoint lived an incredible life, and his tireless work in promoting the health and livelihood of the Black community in Upper Canada is remembered in this Minute.

CAST
  • Officer Howard – Ray Kahnert
  • Deaf Moses – Roney Lewis
  • Younger Richard Pierpoint – Oke Nnawuchi
  • Officer Charles – Jordan Van Dyck
  • Richard Pierpoint age 68 – Rudy Webb
  • Narrator – Charles Officer

Nitro

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Nitro

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"They say that for every mile of railway, one Chinese man died," the old man tells his granddaughters. The story of the Chinese people who came to British Columbia in 1882 to work on the final link of the Canadian Pacific Railway is the subject of the Historica Minute Nitro. The experience of these Chinese immigrants, who risked their lives performing the most dangerous jobs on the railway [for half the wages of white labourers!] is only one chapter in the history of the Chinese in Canada. Leaving the poverty and political chaos of their homeland for the promise of a better life in "Gum San," or Gold Mountain, Chinese immigrants found themselves not entirely welcomed. They had to struggle against government restrictions and racist hostility in order to survive long enough to establish themselves and gain respect within this new country.

Gold Fever
When word reached San Francisco's Chinatown in 1858 that gold had been found on the Fraser River in British Columbia, hundreds of Chinese sailed north to seek their fortune. The first Chinese community in Canada took root in Victoria, the jumping-off point to the gold mines of the interior. Two years later, more Chinese sailed directly from China. The Chinese prospectors from California and the inexperienced newcomers from China followed the surge of other eager gold-seekers north and east into the province.

Like many immigrants who came to Canada, the Chinese were escaping the turmoil of a homeland plagued by war, starvation, and rebellion. Many of them came from Guangdong province on the southeast coast of China, where the first Opium War with Britain (1839-42) had turned the countryside into a wasteland. Commercial life was destroyed, peasants were unable to farm, and labourers could find no work in their principal port city of Guangzhou (Canton). Economic disaster led to lawlessness, culminating in the Taiping Rebellion of 1851. This brutal civil war lasted fourteen years and claimed over 20 million lives. The homeless, jobless, and poor had no choice but to emigrate. If they could scrape together thirty-four dollars they could buy their passage to Canada.

Those who left China for North America were almost entirely men. A few were merchants, but most were peasants and labourers. Some did not survive the hazardous voyage across the Pacific. There were no doctors or medicine aboard the ships during the 60-day journey, and the only food was rice.

As a consequence, many Chinese immigrants arrived in Victoria suffering from scurvy and malnutrition. Yet still they came, and by 1863, four thousand Chinese were mining gold in the Caribou. They kept a safe distance from the white workers, reworking mine sites that others had abandoned. These used claims were easier and cheaper to acquire than new ones, but this strategy was also a protection against the growing hostility towards them.

The Chinese quickly filled other gaps in this new frontier society. They started laundries, restaurants, and vegetable farms to serve the populations of the gold rush. They built roads, drove horse teams through the dangerous canyons, and strung the telegraph wires that connected interior towns to the coast. Later, they worked in newly established fish canneries along the British Columbia coast. On Vancouver Island, the Chinese worked as coal miners.

Roots of Animosity
When the Chinese arrived in Victoria in 1858, they were received with mixed feelings by the English-speaking community. Some regarded the Chinese with curiosity, others with condescension, most with some kind of prejudice. By 1860, the Chinese population was 1,577, almost entirely men. This "bachelor society" was seen by many as an indication that few Chinese immigrants intended to settle in Canada, fuelling the flames of anti-Chinese feelings. But the early Chinese immigrants, who arrived in British Columbia with no knowledge about this new country, saw things differently. Many had borrowed money from relatives to pay for their passage, while others owed a debt to an employment company. On low wages, they worked hard and saved money to pay for room and board, to slowly repay their loans, and to support their families in China. Generally their plan was to bring their wives and children to Canada, but owing to government restrictions this was not easy to accomplish.

As early as 1860 there were calls to impose a $10 tax on every Chinese person in the Vancouver Island colony, but these were ignored because Chinese labour was vital to the growth of the western frontier. Denied citizenship and voting rights, the Chinese were seen only as "living machines." As Matthew Begbie, the first Chief Justice of British Columbia said, "They are generally abused, and yet everybody employs them." Building the Railway
The next major influx of Chinese to Canada began in 1880 with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia. The caucasian population was not large enough to supply the labour force needed for this vast undertaking, so chief engineer Andrew Onderdonk turned to the United States and to China for Chinese recruits. Onderdonk favoured the Chinese because he believed them to be "industrious and steady." Besides, he could pay them a dollar a day, one-half the wage paid to European workers. The 15,000 Chinese who came to Canada between 1880 and the completion of the CPR in 1885 saved Onderdonk's company over $3 million.

During the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the rugged landscape of British Columbia, Chinese labourers were assigned some of the most difficult and dangerous work. They cut through hills, filled ravines, and opened tunnels with explosives. Landslides, careless dynamite blasts, and racial "accidents" caused many deaths. Others died from exposure to cold winters, poor nutrition, and inadequate medical care. At least 600 Chinese workers gave their lives to complete the rail-line across Canada.

Exclusion
The completion of the CPR put thousands of Chinese out of work. They drifted to Victoria, where there was an established Chinese community, as well as to Vancouver. Some headed for Alberta and further, following the rail lines eastward. Chinatowns grew up in Calgary, Moose Jaw, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montréal. By 1911 there were about 28,000 Chinese in Canada, most of them working as cooks, grocers, laundry workers, and servants.

The completion of the railway saw the introduction of the first major law attempting to limit Chinese immigration to Canada. For years, they had been accused of threatening white labour because they worked for lower wages. Newspaper articles denounced the "yellow peril" that would take over Canada. The federal Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 made it almost impossible for Chinese men to bring their families to Canada. The Act imposed a $50 head tax on Chinese immigrants and stated that no ship could carry more than one Chinese per fifty tons. The head tax was raised to $100 in 1900, and to $500 in 1903. The head tax was finally abolished in 1923 and was replaced by a new Chinese Immigration Act. July 1, 1923 was named "Humiliation Day" by the Chinese, for this new Act virtually closed the door to immigration.

Ironically, racist attitudes and government exclusion served to tighten the bonds within Chinese communities. As early as 1884, the Chinese Benevolent Association was formed in Victoria to help immigrants in need. These associations sprang up in every community to look after the needy, control fighting within Chinese communities, and to oppose racial outbreaks and discriminatory laws.

After the Second World War, the Chinese began to gain their civil rights. Immigration was liberalized and in 1947 they finally received federal voting rights. Post-war communities grew, but it took many years for Canada's Chinese population to regenerate. It was not until the immigration law changed again in 1967 ? opening the way for an influx of highly educated and professional immigrants ? that the Chinese people received the respect they deserved within a multicultural Canadian society.

CAST
  • Cochrane – John Tench
  • Smith – Frank Turner
  • Old Leung – Han Tsai
  • Young Leung – Yee Jee Albert Soo
  • Chinese Worker – Tom Wong
  • Chinese Worker – Jimmy Tai
  • Additional Cast – William Samples

Dextraze in the Congo

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Dextraze in the Congo

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Canada has a long history of international peacekeeping and has been part of every major peacekeeping operation. Although the UN has been involved in missions since 1948, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson popularized the term "peacekeeping" in the late 1950s. Pearson's efforts won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.

In 1956, when Israel, France and the United Kingdom were trying to stop Egypt from taking control of the Suez Canal, Pearson proposed a peacekeeping force to be deployed to the region. This was the first major initiative by the UN whose goal was to stabilize the situation and to permit the withdrawal of the attackers. After Suez, Canadians came to feel that peacekeeping was their métier.

In July 1960, a newly independent Congo erupted in violence and quickly collapsed into anarchy. Brigadier-General Jacques Dextraze arrived in 1963 as second-in-command of the mission. Known as "Jadex" or "Mad Jimmy," Dextraze was a daring leader. Undertaking a number of risky rescues, he once landed his personal helicopter to pick up four missionaries and was forced to keep the rebels at bay with his machine gun until escape was possible. General Dextraze went on to become the Chief of Defense Staff in Canada.

Canada continues its commitment to keeping peace. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1988 and the subsequent ethnic conflicts, there have been no fewer than 36 UN operations to bring some form of military peace as well as humanitarian aid to the area. Canadian peacekeepers made up roughly 10% of the total force. In the last decade, Canadians peacekeepers have served in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Angola, the Balkans, Cambodia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kuwait, the Western Sahara, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Georgia, Liberia, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia, Chad, Guatemala, Tadjikistan, Zaire, Croatia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Ethiopia and Eritrea.

CAST
  • Jacques Dextraze – Graham Harley
  • Reverend Carmine – Bernard Browne
  • Kalanata – Arnold Pinnock

Maurice Ruddick

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Maurice Ruddick

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While Maurice Ruddick rode the trolley to begin his afternoon shift, he sang "The Shiek of Araby" in his lusty baritone. This did not surprise his fellow miners, for Ruddick, one of the few black men employed at the Springhill mine, had quite a reputation for his singing. On the afternoon of October 23, he was cheerfully thinking of his tiny seven-day old daughter, his twelfth child.

The explosion that ripped through the mine several hours later left Ruddick and six others trapped in a small tomb, 4,000 metres underground. And for nine seemingly endless days, Maurice Ruddick cheered his comrades with his singing. He sang hymns, popular tunes, told jokes, anything to keep up their spirits.

"I cried quietly in the darkness, but I made sure nobody else heard me," admitted Ruddick later. "It might have broken their resolve to live."

On the fourth day of their ordeal, Ruddick created a birthday party for 29 year old Garnet Clarke. The men divided their last stale sandwich, and poured their last water into equal sips, while Ruddick led them in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday."

When the draegermen finally broke through the tunnel on the morning of the ninth day, they found Ruddick singing at the top of his lungs. He greeted them with "Give me a drink of water and I'll sing you a song."

Maurice Ruddick modestly underplayed his leadership role, but others felt differently. "If it wasn't for Maurice," declared the mother of one of the miners, "they'd all have been dead."

Maurice Ruddick, along with the other survivors, enjoyed the spotlight briefly in public tributes. But for the black miner, his heroism could not overcome the racial prejudice of the time. The most telling tale of tribute came from the Governor of the state of Georgia. He generously invited the nineteen survivors to vacation at one of his state's luxurious resorts, usually reserved for millionaires. When the Governor discovered that one of the miners was black, he explained that while Ruddick was still invited, he would have to be segregated from the others. "It is the law here that Negroes must be separate," said the Governor.

When the miners heard this, they were reluctant to accept the offer. "There was no segregation down that hole, and there's none in this group," said one miner. But Ruddick agreed to go on the Governor's terms, knowing how much the others really wanted the vacation.

This well-loved, brave, and selfless man died in 1988, an all-but-forgotten hero.

CAST
  • Maurice Ruddick – Ardon Bess

John Humphrey

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John Humphrey

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Eleanor Roosevelt called it "the Magna Carta of Mankind." Pope John Paul II described it as "the Conscience of Mankind." Adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized fundamental rights and freedoms throughout the world, and influenced national legislation, including the Canadian Bill of Rights and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A Canadian commemorative stamp was issued on October 7, 1998, marking the 50th anniversary of the Declaration and honouring its author, New Brunswick-born John Peters Humphrey.

A Cornerstone
The creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was one of the United Nations' greatest achievements. It espouses non-discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, and politics. Its adoption sparked a revolutionary change in how international law was practiced by recognizing that human rights are a matter for international concern. Most controversial was its assertion that individuals have a fundamental right to health care, education, and work. Though its principles are routinely violated, the Declaration is significant because it has become part of the customary law of nations.

John Peters Humphrey
The author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian born in the village of Hampton, New Brunswick. A product of a tragic childhood, in which he lost both parents, Humphrey attended Rothesay Collegiate and Mount Allison University. He eventually transferred to McGill University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree and, subsequently, a Law degree. After practising law in Montréal for a few years, he joined the McGill faculty. In 1946, he was offered the position of Dean of Law at McGill, but instead chose to take up a post at the United Nations, which had been founded only the year before.

Humphrey became Director of the Human Rights Division in the UN Secretariat and was given the task of drafting the Declaration. Writing such a revolutionary document, then pursuing its adoption through committee after committee in the tense climate of the early Cold War was a demanding ordeal that tested Humphrey's character and commitment. Nevertheless, he was successful.

Unfortunately, his contribution somehow became obscured. A representative from France was credited as the "Father of the Universal Declaration" and awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize, while Humphrey modestly remained silent.

The Draft Document
Many years later, when researchers examined Humphrey's papers at McGill University, they uncovered the original draft of the Declaration, scrawled in Humphrey's handwriting. Humphrey was belatedly honoured with a UN Human Rights Award. Ever humble, Humphrey explained to an interviewer, "To say I did the draft alone would be nonsense... The final Declaration was the work of hundreds." Humphrey stayed with the United Nations for 20 years, overseeing the implementation of 67 international conventions and the constitutions of dozens of countries. He worked in the areas of freedom of the press, status of women, and racial discrimination. Upon retirement from the UN, he resumed his teaching career at McGill. He established the Canadian Federation for Human Rights, founded the Canadian Society of Amnesty International, worked as a director of the International League for the Rights of Man and served as a member of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. He died in March of 1995, a week after his McGill retirement party.

CAST
  • Humphrey 42 yrs. – Paul Stewart
  • Humphrey 82 yrs. – Charles Balovarac
  • Chinese Delegate – Luis De Cespedes
  • Chinese Delegate – Zhenhu Han
  • Swedish Delegate – Philip Spensley
  • French Delegate – Jean-Marc Moneclet
  • Emilie – Léni Parker
  • Agent – Neil Kroetsch
  • Reporter – Sylvie Potvin

J.S. Woodsworth

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J.S. Woodsworth

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"I submit that the Government exists to provide for the needs of the people, and when it comes to choice between profits and property rights on the one hand and human welfare on the other, there should be no hesitation whatsoever in saying that we are going to place the human welfare consideration first and let property rights and financial interests fare as best they may." - J.S. Woodsworth, 1922

James Shaver Woodsworth, the "conscience of Canada," helped create Canada's social-security system. His combination of leadership, determination, and an unrelenting desire for social reform changed the lives of all working Canadians.

Born in Etobicoke, Ontario in 1874, J.S. Woodsworth was educated at Victoria College and Oxford University. He later worked with urban immigrant populations, was a staunch democratic socialist, and an ardent supporter of trade-union collective bargaining.

Woodsworth maintained his controversial views at great personal expense. In 1917, he resigned from his government position because of his opposition to conscription. Two years later, he was arrested for his participation in the Winnipeg General Strike. His fortunes changed in 1921 when Manitoba's voters elected him to the House of Commons with the Independent Labour Party slogan "Human Needs before Property Rights." He mastered parliamentary procedure and effectively used the House of Commons to focus awareness of the unemployed, the elderly, immigrants and farmers. His parliamentary genius helped establish a multiparty political system and forced the government to recognize the labour movement.

In 1926, Woodsworth realized his lifelong ambition when he and fellow Labour Party MP A.A. Heaps guaranteed Prime Minister Mackenzie King a coalition government in return for Mackenzie King's creation of Canada's Old-Age Pension plan. The following year, the plan was introduced and became the cornerstone of Canada's social-security system.

In 1933, Woodsworth became the leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, forerunner to today's New Democratic Party. Ever the adamant pacifist, Woodsworth won his last election in 1940 by a scant majority. He subsequently suffered a stroke and died in 1942.

CAST
  • Woodsworth – Colin Fox
  • King – William Lyon
  • Heaps – Daniel Kash
  • Charles Bowman – Peter Van Wart
  • Additional Cast – Ann Page

Louis Riel

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Louis Riel

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What thoughts ran through Louis Riel's mind as he stood on the scaffold, waiting for the trap door to open to his death? Perhaps he thought about the turmoil that surrounded him, a turmoil that still surrounds the controversial Métis leader today. Even now, Louis Riel is a hero to many, a visionary, the fiery leader of a downtrodden people. To others he is a madman, a traitor, or a misguided zealot.

Riel was born in the Red River Colony of what is now Manitoba, the son of a prominent Métis leader and a French Canadian mother. He was educated as a lawyer in Montréal, but he returned to his home at the age of 24, just as Canada was preparing to acquire the vast territory called Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company. Since the Red River Colony was part of Rupert's Land, the Métis people feared that they would lose control of their own homeland.

The Métis are the proud descendants of French Canadian coureurs de bois and voyageurs and Indigenous mothers. They were great buffalo hunters of the plains who saw their way of life threatened by the arrival of English-speaking Canadians from the East.

Riel gathered others around him to stop Canadian representatives from entering the settlement. They formed a "provisional government" to negotiate with the Canadian government. Their actions, known as the Red River Rebellion, led to the creation of the province of Manitoba in 1870.

Though there was also no bloodshed in the Rebellion, the provisional government did execute one unruly prisoner named Thomas Scott. The heated reaction the execution created in Ontario forced Riel to flee for his safety. He spent years in Québec, New England and in the American Midwest. Though he was twice elected a member of Parliament, he did not dare take his seat in Ottawa.

It was during these confusing years that Riel's religious feelings, which had always been strong, grew to a steadfast conviction that he was sent by God as the prophet of a new North American Catholicism.

In 1884, Riel was teaching school in Montana when some Métis from Saskatchewan asked for his help in their difficulties with the Canadian government. Like the Red River Métis, they feared that their lands would be taken. Riel wrote petitions and letters to Ottawa. Then in 1885 the Métis lost patience and claimed a provisional government of their own. On March 26, about 300 Métis, led by Riel, clashed with about 100 North West Mounted Police and volunteers, touching off the Northwest Rebellion.

The Canadian government responded quickly with a force of 8,000 men. The armies met on May 9, 1885 at Batoche, and by May 12, the overpowered Métis were defeated, and Riel surrendered.

CAST
  • Riel – Roy Dupuis
  • Additional Cast – Lynne Adams
  • Additional Cast – Mark Bromilow
  • Additional Cast – Donald Jordan
  • Additional Cast – Anthony Robinow
  • Additional Cast – Mark Trafford
  • Additional Cast – Alain Zouvi

Jennie Trout

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Jennie Trout

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The names of women are conspicuously absent from the lists of famous Canadian medical pioneers. During the 19th Century, while male physicians and surgeons were exploring new treatments and innovative medical procedures, Canadian women were struggling for the mere right to practice medicine. For them, acceptance into a medical school was a major achievement. The two women most responsible for breaking down the barriers and advancing medical training for women in Canada were Emily Stowe and Jennie Kidd Trout.

In 1875, Jennie Trout became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada. Born in 1841, Jennie grew up on a farm near Stratford, Ontario. A quiet, reserved child, Jennie excelled in school. Upon graduation, she took one of the few career paths open to women and began teaching in a public school. She taught in Stratford until she married Edward Trout in 1865.

A lengthy illness occupied the next six years of Jennie Trout's life, but when she recovered, she decided to take up a career in medicine. Jennie's plans were encouraged by her husband, as well as by her longtime friend and mentor, Emily Stowe, who had been practising medicine in Toronto since 1867 although she was not licensed by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Entering a Man's World
During most of the last century professional medical practice was exclusively a male domain. Hospitals were designed for the poor, since wealthy people could afford home treatment. In most hospitals, nursing care was provided by nursing sisters, or nuns. In cases where lay women acted as nurses, they were treated as little more than servants, with no professional respect. Florence Nightingale's campaign to create a nursing profession only began to have an impact in Canada late in the nineteenth century.

In this climate, it is not surprising that the male medical establishment was hostile to the idea of educated and paid female doctors. When the Toronto School of Medicine reluctantly allowed Jennie Trout and Emily Stowe to attend lectures, it was on the condition that they "make no fuss, whatever happened." Plenty happened. Trout and Stowe were the only women in a lecture hall filled with men. Led by the lecturers themselves, the male students jeered at the women. Obscene sketches had to be white-washed from the walls four times in the course of the lectures.

Finally, Trout went to the United States for her medical education. She returned to Canada in 1875 with a medical degree from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Licensed to Practice
Back in Ontario, Jennie Trout passed an examination before the College of Physicians and Surgeons, who complimented Mr. Trout for having "such a talented wife." Jennie Trout went on to practice medicine at Toronto's Therapeutic and Electrical Institute until 1882, when poor health forced her to retire. Still, she did not abandon the work she had begun, and her next objective was to establish a college for the medical education of women in Canada. After a long campaign to gather support for the college, Trout had another fight to see that women could sit on the college's board of governors. Finally, the Women's Medical College at Kingston opened on October 2, 1883, partly supported by a large financial contribution from Trout herself. The heroic struggles of Jennie Kidd Trout - the quiet woman whose life's aim transcended personal ambition - opened the door for the many Canadian women doctors who came after her.

CAST
  • Trout – Anik Matern
  • Stowe – Linda Sorgini
  • McFarlane – Aren Tager
  • Rude Student #1 – Teddy Lee Dillon
  • Rude Student #2 – Michel Perron

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