Dec 12, 1942 – 99 civilians and military personnel died and over 100 were injured in a arson attack on the Knights of Columbus Hall in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The hall broke several fire codes at the time, with doors that opened inwards and obstructed paths to and from those faulty doors. The fire is said to have spread rapidly, with all the lives lost in less than 7 minutes, and was reportedly set by a German spy.
Dec 13, 1871 – Canadian artist Emily Carr is born in Victoria, British Columbia. Carr is most famous for her later work, which incorporated Aboriginal themes and forest scenes in her native British Columbia.
Dec 14, 1837 – 1400 regular soldiers and Montreal volunteers, under Sir John Colborne – head of the British army in Canada, defeat a force of 400 rebels in the Battle of St-Eustache, during the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion. Almost 100 members of the rebel force were killed.
- 1943 – Paul Triquet, then a Captain in the Royal 22e Régiment, is awarded the Victoria Cross for actions at Casa Berardi during the Italian Campaign of the Second World War.
All the company officers and 50 per cent of the men were killed or wounded. Showing superb contempt for the enemy Captain Triquet went round reorganizing the remainder and encouraging them with the words ‘Never mind them, they can’t shoot’. Finally when enemy infiltration was observed on all sides shouting ‘There are enemy in front of us, behind us and on our flanks, there is only one safe place – that is on the objective’ he dashed forward and with his men following him, broke through the enemy resistance.
Four tanks and many enemy machine gun posts were destroyed in this advance, and Triquet and a force of only 15 men held their positions until the next day, when they were relieved. Listen to Radio Canada’s broadcast about Triquet (En français) or read again from his citation.
Throughout the whole of this engagement Captain Triquet showed the most magnificent courage and cheerfulness under heavy fire. Wherever the action was hottest he was to be seen shouting encouragement to his men and organizing the defence. His utter disregard of danger, his cheerfulness and tireless devotion to duty were a constant source of inspiration to them. His tactical skill and superb leadership enabled them, although reduced by casualties to a mere handful, to continue their advance against bitter resistance and to hold their gains against determined counter-attacks. It was due to him that Casa Berardi was captured and the way opened for the attack on the vital road junction.
circa Dec 15, 1891 – James Naismith, born in Almonte, Ontario, invents the game of Basketball while at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Dec 16, 1964 - The Flag Act, which proposed adopting a new, national Canadian flag, was passed in Canadian parliament. The Royal Assent and raising of the new Canadian flag, with a red maple leaf at centre and two red bars on either side, took place in January and February of 1965.
Dec 17, 1939 – The British Commonwealth Air Training Program is established. Between the opening of the program in 1940 and its conclusion in March, 1945, 360 schools and units were established at 231 different locations across Canada. The BCATP had 131, 553 graduates – a number that made up approximately half of the Commonwealth aircrew, an incredible contribution that had United States President Roosevelt referring to Canada as “The Aerodrome of Democracy.”
Dec 18, 1813 – 560 British regulars, led by Colonel John Murray, attacked the American-held Fort Niagara during the War of 1812. By the next day, 65 American soldiers were killed, with 16 wounded and 344 captured. British forces would hold the fort for the remainder of the war. For more on this attack and the war, visit here.