Today in History for Oct. 17:
On this date:
In 1483, Pope Sixtus IV launched the Spanish Inquisition, placing it under the joint direction of the Catholic Church and state. Tomas de Torquemada, 63, was appointed Grand Inquisitor in charge of removing Jews and Muslims from Spain.
In 1760, the British began destroying fortifications at Louisbourg, N.S. The British used powerful explosives on the French fortress they had captured in 1758. Their aim was to render the site useless as a military base in the event of reoccupation by the French.
In 1961, Parks Canada began reconstruction of Louisbourg based on the colony’s well-preserved historical records and archeological investigation. It is now a major visitor attraction.
In 1777, British general John Burgoyne surrendered to American forces at Saratoga, N.Y., giving the Americans their first major victory of the revolutionary war.
In 1854, British and French forces began the siege of the Russian fortress of Sevastopol in the Crimea.
In 1878, John A. Macdonald was sworn in as prime minister of Canada for the second time. He held the post until his death in 1891.
In 1907, public transatlantic wireless service was begun with a message sent to Britain from Table Head, N.S.
In 1910, the first cruiser of the Royal Canadian Navy, “HMS Niobe,” arrived at Halifax.
In 1933, Albert Einstein arrived in the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
In 1938, Trans-Canada Airlines, created by an act of Parliament the year before, was ready to start carrying mail and freight between Montreal and Vancouver.
In 1954, Col. Juan Peron staged a coup in Buenos Aires and became the absolute ruler of Argentina.
In 1956, the Queen opened the world’s first full-scale nuclear power station at Calder Hall, England.
In 1963, Canada’s old age pensions were increased to $75 a month.
In 1964, Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., was opened by Gov. Gen. George Vanier.
In 1967, the front page of the “London Daily Express” was transmitted directly by satellite to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the first time a communication satellite had been used for full-page facsimile transmission.
In 1968, External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp announced in Ottawa that Canada had cancelled all ministerial exchanges and visits “of a political content” with the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The measure was in response to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
In 1969, the federal government, under Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, introduced the Official Languages Act. The legislation forced all federal departments, commissions and agencies to use both English and French in dealings with the public.
In 1970, Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte’s body was found in the trunk of a car in St. Hubert, Que. He was a victim of FLQ terrorism.
In 1977, West German commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa airliner at an airport in Somalia and freed all 86 hostages aboard.
In 1977, day-to-day television coverage of the House of Commons in Ottawa began.
In 1978, Jean Amery, Holocaust survivor, Austrian writer and commentator on current affairs, committed suicide. He had been in the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bregen Belsen in the years 1943 to 1945 where he was tortured. His concept, contained in such works as “At the Mind’s Limits,” was his main contribution to understanding the Holocaust and the violations of humanity.
In 1988, thousands of mentally handicapped Canadians won the right to vote in federal elections.
In 1989, an 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook San Francisco. Sixty-two people died in the quake, which damaged a portion of the Nimitz Freeway, causing part of the roadway to collapse on to a lower deck. Among the thousands of buildings damaged was Candlestick Park, which was full of baseball fans awaiting Game 3 of the World Series between San Francisco and Oakland. The game was postponed until Oct. 27, at which time the A’s resumed their four-game sweep of the Giants.
In 1994, Queen Elizabeth arrived in Moscow, becoming the first British monarch to set foot in Russia.
In 1994, Israel and Jordan reached a peace accord clearing the way for regular diplomatic relations.
In 1995, the Toronto Raptors made their debut, at the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto, in an exhibition game against the Atlanta Hawks.
In 1996, Laura Sabia, founder of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, died in Toronto at age 80.
In 1998, Brian Dickson, a former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice, died in Ottawa at the age of 82.
In 1998, a pipeline explosion in Nigeria, apparently sparked by thieves siphoning off oil, led to an inferno that killed more than 700 people and destroyed villages and cropland.
In 2000, the Colorado Avalanche’s 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals in overtime, gave goaltender Patrick Roy his 448th career victory, breaking Terry Sawchuk’s record for most regular season victories by a goaltender in NHL history. Roy retired in 2003 with 551 career victories. On March 17, 2009, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur surpassed Roy with his 552nd win and retired with 691.
In 2007, newly elected members of the Northwest Territories legislature chose Floyd Roland as the new premier.
In 2007, comedian Joey Bishop, the last of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack,” died in Newport Beach, Calif., at age 89.
In 2008, in the first speech ever delivered by a French president in the Quebec National Assembly, Nicolas Sarkozy said that Quebec’s deep ties with France should never become the wedge that divides a united Canada.
In 2009, Danielle Smith, a former journalist and TV host, was picked as the new leader of Alberta’s upstart Wildrose Alliance Party.
In 2009, Greg Salinger was elected to replace Gary Doer as the NDP leader and premier of Manitoba at the party’s leadership convention in Winnipeg. (Salinger was sworn in on Oct. 19 and remained in power until his party was defeated by the Conservatives in the 2016 election.)
In 2010, Pope Benedict XIV formally canonized Montreal’s Brother Andre, a small, humble Roman Catholic brother. He became Canada’s first saint of the 21st century. He was the founder of St. Joseph’s Oratory and was credited with miracle healings before his death in 1937.
In 2011, Ottawa announced that Sable Island, a 40-kilometre long crescent-shaped island in the North Atlantic about 300 km southeast of Nova Scotia, was designated a national park. (It became a National Park Reserve in 2013.)
In 2015, Mississauga, Ont.’s Zhe Wang won Lotto 6/49’s $64 million grand prize, the largest lottery jackpot in Canadian history.
In 2017, Gord Downie, the poetic lead singer of The Tragically Hip whose determined fight with brain cancer inspired a nation, died at age 53. One of Canada’s most revered singer-songwriters, Downie penned a steady stream of 1990s rock radio staples including “New Orleans is Sinking,” “Blow at High Dough,” “Courage,” “Ahead By a Century” and “Bobcaygeon.”
In 2018, Canada ushered in a seismic cultural shift as it became one of the few countries in the world to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use. Provinces were left to set regulations for consumption and sales, with differing rules across the country. Only one provincially licensed retailer was open in B.C. and sales in Ontario were restricted to an online site while the province worked out rules for privatized sales. In less than 24 hours, some private retailers in other provinces were either sold out of supply or were tending to long lineups and expected to run out by the end of the day.
In 2018, serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo told the National Parole Board that low self-esteem drove him to commit his horrific crimes and that he no longer poses any threat to the public. Bernardo’s pitch for parole was turned down by the panel hearing the case after just 30 minutes of deliberation.
In 2018, an 18-year student opened fire with a shotgun at his vocational school in Crimea, killing 19 students and wounding more than 50 others before killing himself.
In 2018, Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican middleweight champion, signed an 11-fight deal for $365 million that his promotional company said was the richest athlete contract in sports history.
In 2019, the actor who starred opposite Bea Arthur in the 1970s sitcom “Maude” died at 97. Bill Macy’s role as Walter Findlay on CBS’ “Maude,” which aired from 1972 to 1978, was his highest-profile in a long stage, film and TV career as a character actor. He made dozens of guest appearances in series including “Seinfeld,” ”How I Met Your Mother“ and ”ER.“ His movie credits included ”The Holiday,“ ”Analyze This” and ”My Favorite Year“ starring Peter O’Toole.
In 2019, Alicia Alonso, the revered ballerina and choreographer whose nearly 75-year career made her an icon of artistic loyalty to Cuba’s socialist system, died at age 98. She died at a hospital in Havana. As founder and director of the National Ballet of Cuba, Alonso personified the island’s arts program under Fidel Castro’s communist rule and she kept vise-like control over the troupe past her 90th birthday despite being nearly blind for decades. Alonso also drew criticism for her longtime support of Castro’s government. Defecting dancers said they were stifled by extreme discipline, a lack of artistic freedom due to her near-stranglehold over Cuban ballet and the inability to travel freely abroad.
(The Canadian Press)