Bedaux Canadian Sub-arctic Epedition

A truly fantastic adventure by an equally larger-than-life character

bedaux - portraitThe Bedaux Expedition also named the Bedaux Canadian Subarctic Expedition was an attempt by eccentric French millionaire, Charles Eugène Bedaux to cross the British Columbia wilderness, while making a movie, testing Citroën half-tracks and generating publicity for himself.

He set off on this unusual and ill-conceived excursion accompanied by more than a hundred people, including his wife, his mistress who was an Italian Countess, and an Academy Award winning film director from Hollywood, Floyd Crosby, who would later be praised for his work on High Noon. Also along for the trip were several dozen Alberta cowboys and a large film crew. To map the route of the expedition, the Canadian government sent along two geographers, Frank Swannell and Ernest Lemarque. The expedition started off at Edmonton, Alberta on July 6, 1934 and their goal was to travel 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to Telegraph Creek, British Columbia. Much of the trip would have to be made through regions that were relatively uncharted and had no trails.

The Route

The Alberta leg of their journey began at Edmonton, to Athabasca, Grande Prairie and then into British Columbia to Dawson Creek, and Fort St. John. From there the expedition headed north to Montney and then northeast to Halfway River on to Whitewater Post over the Rocky Mountains. From there, Bedaux had planned for the expedition to cross over the Sifton Pass, to Dease Lake and the Stikine River to Telegraph Creek, and ultimately the Pacific Ocean. However, this final leg of the trip was never completed.

The Journey

After enjoying a champagne breakfast hosted by Edmonton’s elite and parading down Jasper Avenue, the expedition was formally sent off by Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor. Just outside of the city, it began to rain. Those dismal weather conditions would accompany the expedition through much of their trip. Despite the weather and poor road conditions, they made good progress and by July 12 they left Grande Prairie and on the 17th were in British Columbia on the trail from Taylor to Fort St, John.

The Citroën half-tracks, designed and supplied by Bedaux's friend, car manufacturer Andre Citroën
The Citroën half-tracks, designed and supplied by Bedaux’s friend, car manufacturer Andre Citroën

The party stayed in Fort St. John until the 22nd, purchasing supplies, repairing the Citroëns, hiring more cowboys and attending banquets. By then, Bedaux had come to the decision that the expedition had to become more newsworthy than it already was and he fired his radio operator and announced that the party would continue without a radio. Furthermore, he decided that the Citroëns were expendable and would create a bigger sensation if they were destroyed on film rather than simply making the trip intact. In August, two of the Citroëns were pushed over a 300-foot (91 m) cliff near Halfway River and a third was floated down river for an explosion scene that didn’t pan out. Nevertheless, Bedaux’s plan worked and Canadian and American newspapers carried the news that three of the cars had been lost and that some of the expedition members had barely escaped death in these terrible “accidents”. The party was lauded for its bravery and determination to continue on despite this terrible setback.

By mid September, the papers were reporting that the expedition would reach its destination in October. But when the expedition arrived at Whitewater Pass, Frank Swannell, then one of the very few men who knew Northern British Columbia well enough to be considered an expert on the terrain, advised Bedaux against traveling further through the snow covered mountain passes. His advice was proven well-founded when the party’s horses began to die of diseases and the route simply proved too arduous to continue. On October 17, the Edmonton Journal reported that the party was turning back. The party reached Hudson’s Hope after nearly four months in the wilderness and a party was thrown in honor of their near achievement, a party which turned out to be one of the biggest celebrations that the town had ever thrown.

Later life

See also: Charles Bedaux’s close association with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; his collaboration with the Nazis, and his suspicious death. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bedaux.

 

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“Stonehenge Ontario”…

Another of Canada’s hidden secrets

Editor’s note: One would think that when you have a natural or possibly man-made phenomenon like Stonhenge Ontario, located at Larder Lake in northern Ontario, you would be marketing it to the max. But not Ontario … Not Canada. So here’s the scoop.

So-called "Stonehenge Ontario." This is the only known photograph published online.
So-called “Stonehenge Ontario.” This is the only known photograph published online.

Stonehenge Ontario is an unusual positioning of eighteen huge boulders, some as high as twelve feet, located on the northern shore of Larder Lake. Although they don’t have the same visual impact as England’s Stonehenge, they’re still a marvel to contemplate. Their alignment matches exactly the rising and setting of the

Mt. Cheminis, a volcanic plug near Larder Lake.
Mt. Cheminis, a volcanic plug near Larder Lake.

sun, and their proximity to Mt. Cheminis, a volcanic plug, suggest that the stones were once a Native American shrine used for worship.

Archaeologists who have dug in the area have found evidence that Indians lived in the area 6.000 years ago and there is evidence present that suggests they had established a huge quarry nearby. Archaeologists continue to work in the area to find more clues to the mystery of the stones.

That’s it … All that is available online for an unique phenomenon that remains as mysterious as the original.

“Canada has a rich and colourful history that, for the most part, is waiting to be discovered.”

Alexander “Molly” Wood

 “One of Toronto’s most distinguished founding citizens.” ~ The Canadian Colonist, 1844.

 

alexander wood - statueAlexander Wood, businessman, militia officer, jp, and office holder; b. 1772 and baptized 25 January in Fetteresso, near Stonehaven, Scotland, son of James Wood and Margaret Barclay; d. unmarried 11 Sept. 1844 at Woodcot in the parish of Fetteresso.

Wood came to Upper Canada as a young man, settling in Kingston about 1793 and investing £330 in the Kingston Brewery in partnership with Joseph Forsyth and Alexander Aitken. He moved to York (Toronto) in 1797 to establish himself as a merchant. He and William Allan became partners; “neither advanced any money which brought us on a fair footing,” but they built their shop on Allan’s land. When the partnership was dissolved on 13 April 1801 its assets were divided with difficulty, so that neither partner wanted to renew their intercourse “by the exchange of a single word.”

Alexander Wood's original house and shop located at King and Frederick Streets
Alexander Wood’s original house and shop located at King and Frederick Streets

Wood immediately opened his own shop. Each autumn he ordered a wide assortment of goods from Glasgow or London, stressing quality and careful packing rather than price.

In 1810, Wood found himself at the centre of a scandal when he investigated a rape case. The victim, referred to as Miss Bailey, came to Wood claiming that she did not know the identity of her attacker, however she had scratched her assailant’s penis during the assault. In order to identify the assailant, Wood personally inspected the genitals of a number of suspects for injury. There is no evidence on the public record that Wood acted improperly during the investigation, nor indeed of Wood’s actual sexual orientation; however, contradictory rumours began to emerge about his conduct, including allegations that Miss Bailey never existed at all and that Wood had fabricated the rape charge as an opportunity to fondle and seduce young men.

When confronted with the charges by his friend, Judge William Dummer Powell, Wood wrote back, “I have laid myself open to ridicule & malevolence, which I know not how to meet; that the thing will be made the subject of mirth and a handle to my enemies for a sneer I have every reason to expect.” Wood became the subject of ridicule and was tagged with the nickname “Molly Wood”, “Molly” then being a derisive slang expression for a homosexual man. John Robinson, at the time a young law clerk in Powell’s office, called Wood the “Inspector General of private Accounts.”

Judge Powell buried the potential sodomy charges on condition that Wood leave Upper Canada, and Wood left for Scotland in October 1810.

Wood returned to York by 1812, resuming his prior appointment as a magistrate. He fought in the War of 1812 and was on the boards of several organizations. His life in York continued without incident until 1823, when Rev. John Strachan, a longtime friend of Wood’s, recommended him for a position on the 1812 War Claims Commission. Judge Powell was the appointing authority and refused Wood on moral grounds due to the 1810 scandal. Wood sued Powell for defamation and won, but Powell refused to pay and subsequently published a pamphlet attacking Wood even further.

Wood remained in York, continuing his service in civic duties for the next seventeen years. In 1827 he purchased 50 acres (0.2 km²) of land at Yonge and Carlton Streets, which was referred to as “Molly Wood’s Bush” throughout the 19th century.

Legacy

The area once known as Molly Wood’s Bush is now part of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley gay village, and contains an Alexander Street, a Wood Street and an Alexander Place.

In 1994, playwrights John Wimbs and Christopher Richards launched a play entitled Molly Wood, based on Wood’s life. This production garnered Dora Awards for Best New Play and Best Production in 1995.

In 2005, the Church and Wellesley business association erected a statue of Wood in the neighbourhood, honouring him as a forefather of Toronto’s modern gay community. The statue by sculptor Del Newbigging was unveiled on May 28, 2005. The $200,000 cost was shared by the business association and the City of Toronto. The statue incorporates a rose on the lapel of Wood’s coat, in a secondary nod to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the prime minister who first decriminalized homosexuality in Canada.

Also in 2005, the business association launched a beer named for Wood. Alexander Wood Lager was brewed by Lakes of Muskoka Cottage Brewery and was marketed exclusively to bars in the Church and Wellesley area.

Source(s)

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Wood_(merchant)

Dictionary of Canadian Biography – http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/wood_alexander_7E.html

♣♣♣

My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date). You can add your favourites, too. Just send me a note with your choice, title and author, to gerrybbooks@yahoo.ca

Charles William “C.W.” Jefferys

Canada’s chronicler of the pioneer past.

“Every sincere picture, in addition to any art quality it may possess, has value as a record; a value not subject to the fluctuating standards of taste, or the caprice of fashion in art criticism.” ~ C.W. Jefferys

C.W. Jefferys - portraitBorn in Rochester, England, on August 25, 1869, Charles William Jefferys immigrated with his family to Philadelphia in 1875. He moved to Canada in 1878 and settled in Toronto three years later. He took evening classes at the Ontario School of Art and Design (now known as the Ontario College of Art and Design), had a five-year apprenticeship with the Toronto Lithographic Company, and received art lessons from accomplished Canadian painter George A. Reid. Under the instruction of C. M. Manly of the newly formed Toronto Art Students League, which he joined in 1888, Jefferys gained fundamentals and sound practices that were the foundation of his work throughout his life. He became Canada’s earliest and most influential historical illustrator and muralist.

When Jefferys first journeyed to the Prairie Provinces, the vastness and simple beauty of the landscape shattered his stifling commitment to detail, a commitment engendered by his career as a reportage illustrator and spare time spent capturing the rugged yet intricate details of the Ontario landscape. Jefferys’s first Prairie visit marked the beginning of a prolific and creative episode in his artistic life.

Christmas, Toronto, 1883. Note the Globe building in the background where C.W. worked.
Christmas, Toronto, 1883. Note the Globe building in the background where C.W. worked.

During the early 1900s Jefferys journeyed across Canada as an official illustrator for numerous Canadian magazines, playing a key role in recording the development of the West. When he first arrived in the southern regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta Jefferys was awestruck by the wide-open spaces and expansive skies. The subtle but complex palette of prairie colors offered artistic opportunities that rivaled other rocky outcroppings of the Canadian Shield.

His first Prairie painting, Afternoon in the Wheat Fields (1906), was completed during a visit to Portage-La-Prairie in northwestern Winnipeg, Manitoba. This work inspired his first large oil painting, entitled Wheat Stacks on the Prairie (1907), and both are examples of his exploration of this newly discovered and rich palette. Also from this period and in this vein are Western Sunlight (Last Mountain Lake) and A Storm on the Prairie (Allegro Maestoso), both from 1911. The latter two oils mark the artist’s maturation in this subject matter.

A pioneer in Canadian landscape painting, Jefferys inspired the Group of Seven and their followers through his support of native Canadian subject matter. He died in Toronto on October 8, 1951.

Source: Encyclopaedia of The Great Plains – http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.art.038

More C.W. Jefferys illustrations:

"The Order of Good Cheer," was a French Colonial Order founded by Samuel de Champlain
“The Order of Good Cheer,” was a French Colonial Order founded by Samuel de Champlain
This illustration is titled "Logging Bee." It depicts the co-operative effort of pioneers helping one another. An anchor stone of Canadian culture.
This illustration is titled “Logging Bee.” It depicts the co-operative effort of pioneers helping one another. An anchor stone of Canadian culture.
Balls were very popular occasions in pioneer Canadian life, and people would come from miles to attend.
Balls were very popular occasions in pioneer Canadian life, and people would come from miles to attend.
Jeffreys was meticulous about detail, and it is thanks too him that we have an understanding of pioneer methods.
Jefferys was meticulous about detail, and it is thanks too him that we have an understanding of pioneer methods.
This is an illustration of the Battle of Batoche, part of the Metis uprising in what is now Manitoba.
This is an illustration of the Battle of Batoche, part of the Metis uprising in what is now Manitoba.

There are so many more works of genius by this largely forgotten illustrator, so I encourage you to research them for yourself.

Dionne Quintuplets

Five children and a media circus

dionne babiesDionne quintuplets, the five daughters—Émilie, Yvonne, Cécile, Marie, and Annette—born prematurely on May 28, 1934, near Callander, Ontario, Canada, to Oliva and Elzire Dionne. The parents had 14 children, 9 by single births. The quintuplets became international celebrities during their early years—making three feature films for Twentieth Century-Fox, providing profitable endorsements for products from cod-liver oil to typewriters and automobiles, and attracting hordes of tourists to northern Ontario. The attending physician, Allan Roy Dafoe (d. 1941), also became a celebrity. In 1935 Ontario made the quintuplets wards of the government, and Dafoe became their primary caretaker. A hospital was built for them to live in, and “Quintland,” as it was known, became a popular tourist destination. Their father regained custody in 1941; in 1998 the sisters successfully sued the government for separating them from their parents.

The Dionnes had five previous children, Ernest, Rose Marie, Thérèse, Daniel, and Pauline, who was only eleven months older than the quints. In total, the farming family consisted of ten children, five of whom were infants. The Dionnes also had three sons after the quintuplets: Oliva Jr., Victor and Claude. The five identical sisters were born from a single egg in 1934. They were abused for the beginning of their lives into their teenage years, both by the Ontario government and, they claim by their father.

The Media Circus

dionne childrenThe news of the unusual birth spread quickly.  Before long, people all over North America were offering assistance. Individuals sent supplies and well-meant advice  and one hospital sent two incubators. Oliva, already poor was approached by fair exhibitors for Chicago’s Century of Progress exhibition within days of their birth, who wished to put the Quintuplets on display. The parents were persuaded to agree, and although the contract was revoked before it was put into effect, it raised the issue of exploitation of the children. After four months with their family, the girls were made wards of the King for the next nine years under the Dionne Quintuplets’ Guardianship Act, 1935. In the same year the Ontario government had intervened and found the parents to be unfit for the quintuplets (although not for their previous children).  The government recognized the massive public interest in the sisters and made them into a tourist attraction.

Exploitation

dionne quintlandAcross the road from their birthplace, the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery was built for the five girls and their new caregivers. The compound had an outdoor playground designed to be a public observation area. It was surrounded by a covered arcade that allowed tourists to observe the sisters behind one-way screens. The girls were beautifully dressed, their hair curled, and they were provided with a plethora of toys. Meanwhile across the street their siblings, unnoticed by tourists and the media, lived in abject poverty.

The quints were constantly tested, studied, and examined with records being taken of everything. The Dionne sisters, while living at the compound, had a somewhat rigid lifestyle. Cared for primarily by nurses, the children had limited exposure to the world outside the boundaries of the compound except for the daily rounds of tourists who, from the sisters’ point of view were heard but not seen. They also had occasional contact with their parents and siblings across the road. The quintuplets were allowed to leave the compound only a handful of times. Their parents were allowed to visit but to the girls they were simply two more visitors who had to wear surgical masks to keep from spreading germs.

Return home

dionne mansionIn November 1943, the Dionne parents won back custody of the sisters. The entire family moved into a newly built house within walking distance of Quintland. The yellow brick, 20-room mansion was paid for out of the Quintuplets’ fund. The home had many amenities of the time, including telephones, electricity and hot water. The mansion was nicknamed “The Big House.” The building is now a retirement home.

While the parents claimed that they wished to integrate the quintuplets into the family, the sisters frequently travelled to perform at various functions, still dressed identically. According to the accounts of the surviving sisters, the parents often treated them at home as a five-part unit, and frequently lectured them about the trouble they had caused the family by existing. They were sometimes denied privileges the other children received, and were more strictly disciplined and punished. They also received a heavier share of the housework and farm work. They were unaware for many years that the lavish house, the expensive food and the series of cars the family enjoyed were paid for with money they themselves had earned.

In particular, the father was resentful and suspicious of outsiders as a result of his having lost custody of his children. In 1995, the three surviving sisters asserted that their father had sexually abused them during their teenaged years.

Adult years

dionne grown upsThe quintuplets left the family home upon turning 18 years old in 1952, and had little contact with their parents afterwards. Marie went on to marry and have children  — Cécile having twins Bruno and Bertrand. Yvonne and Émilie never married; Émilie devoted her brief life to becoming a nun. Yvonne finished nursing school—she turned to sculpting, and later she became a librarian. Cécile had five children, (one of whom died in infancy). Annette had three sons; Marie, two daughters. Émilie and Marie both died before reaching middle age, with Émilie dying as a result of a seizure at 20, and Marie dying at 35. Émilie had a series of seizures while she was a postulant at a convent. She had asked not to be left unattended, but the nun who was supposed to be watching her thought she was asleep and went to Mass. Émilie had another seizure, rolled onto her belly and, unable to raise her face from her pillow, accidentally suffocated.

In 1970, Marie was living alone in an apartment and her sisters were worried, because they had not heard from her in several days. Her doctor, whom she was seeing at the time, went to her home and found her in bed. She had been dead for days. Her estranged husband quickly reported to the media that there had been a blood clot in her brain.

Annette and Cécile both eventually divorced; by the 1990s, the three surviving sisters (Annette, Cécile and Yvonne) lived together in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville.

Source: Wikipedia, and others.