James Anderson

One of Canada’s most steadfast but lesser known explorers.


james andersonJAMES ANDERSON, (January 15, 1812 – October 16, 1867), HBC chief factor and explorer, was born in Calcutta India, son of Robert Anderson and Eliza Charlotte Simpson, and died in Sutton West, Ontario, Canada. It is perhaps auspicious that his birth and death years coincide with two important dates in Canadian history, i.e. the War of 1812, and the birth of Confederation in 1867.

Anderson joined the Hudson’s Bay Company the year his father immigrated to Upper Canada in 1817. He was first posted to Moose Factory (James Bay, Ontario) and from there to the Nipigon Post where he was promoted to chief trader in 1847.  From there he headed to the more distant Mackenzie River District (now British Columbia), and in 1855 he was promoted to chief factor while serving at Fort Simpson, North West Territories.

At this time the search was on for Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to find a North-West Passage, and so the British Admiralty asked the Hudson’s Bay Company to check out a report that traces of his expedition had been found along the Great Fish (Back) River, Great Slave Lake District, NWT.

Anderson was therefore put in charge of this expedition, and did indeed find tools and other debris from the Terror, Franklin’s boat. However, the exposure caused Anderson permanent loss of voice, and later his death from tuberculosis.

Sir George Simpson informed him that his expedition had “quite fulfilled all that was expected from it by reasonable people,” the Admiralty awarded him £400 and the polar medal, and extracts from his pithy journal were published at Sir JohnRichardson’s urging in the Royal Geographical Society’s Journal.

In 1863 he retired to Sutton West, and died there in October 1867, survived by his wife Margaret, daughter of Roderick McKenzie, a chief factor in the HBC, and six sons and one daughter.

leacock museumYears later I became well acquainted to one of his grandsons, Howard Anderson, whose farm, in Egypt, Ontario, encompassed the original Leacock homestead […of writer and humorist, Stephen Leacock, fame]. I now live within half a mile Stephen Leacock’s Summer residence.

Small world!


The Family Compact of Upper Canada…

Democracy has never come easily …

Drawing by C.W. Jeffreys. "Rebellion of Upper Canada, 1837."
Drawing by C.W. Jeffreys. “Rebellion of Upper Canada, 1837.”


The Family Compact is the epithet applied to a small closed group of men who exercised most of the political, economic and judicial power in Upper Canada (modern Ontario) from the 1810s to the 1840s. It was the Upper Canadian equivalent of the Chateau Clique in Lower Canada. It was noted and reviled for its conservatism and opposition to democracy.

Upper Canada did not have a hereditary nobility. In its place, senior members of Upper Canada bureaucracy, the Executive Council of Upper Canada and Legislative Council of Upper Canada, made up the elite of the Compact. These men sought to solidify their personal positions into family dynasties and acquire all the marks of gentility. They used their government positions to extend their business and speculative interests.

The First Legislature of Upper Canada, 1955 F. S. Challener (1869-1959) The standing figure is John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
The First Legislature of Upper Canada, 1955
F. S. Challener (1869-1959)
The standing figure is John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada

The origins of the Family Compact lie with overlapping appointments made to the Executive and Legislative Council of Upper Canada. The Councils were intended to operate independently. Section 38 of the Constitutional Act of 1791 referred to the independence of the offices indirectly. While Sir Guy Carleton Lieutenant Governor of Lower Canada pointed out that the offices were intended to be separate, Lord Grenville set the wheels in motion with John Graves Simcoe Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada by pointing out that there was no legal impediment to prevent cross-appointments. Simcoe used the vague statement in Section 38 to make the following appointments:

Executive  Council of Upper Canada: William Osgoode, William Robertson, Alexander Grant, Peter Russell, James Baby

Legislative Coucil of Upper Canada: William Osgoode, William Robertson, Alexander Grant, Peter Russell, Richard Duncan, Robert Hamilton, Richard Cartwright, John Munro.

The Family Compact exerted influence over the government through the Executive Council and Legislative Council, the advisers to the Lieutenant Governor, leaving the popularly elected Legislative Assembly with little real power. As became clear with Lt. Governor Sir Francis Bond Head, the influence of the Family Compact could be quite limited as well. Members ensured their conservative friends held the important administrative and judicial positions in the colony through political patronage.


The centre of the Compact was Toronto, then called York. Its most important member was Bishop John Strachan; many of the other members were his former students, or people who were related to him. The most prominent of Strachan’s pupils was Sir John Beverley Robinson who was from 1829 the Chief Justice of Upper Canada for 34 years. The rest of the members were mostly descendants of United Empire Loyalists or recent upper-class British settlers such as the Boulton family, builders of the Grange.

A triumvirate of lawyers, Levius Sherwood (speaker of the Legislative Council, judge in the Court of King’s Bench), Judge Jonas Jones, and Attorney General Henry John Boulton were linked by professional and business ties, and by marriage; both Sherwood and Boulton being married to Jones’ sisters. Collectively, their extended family (if we include the Robinsons, and James B. Macaulay, Boulton’s former clerk) comprise three quarters of the “Family Compact” listed by Mackenzie in 1833.

The Reform Movement

The primary opposition to the Family Compact came from the reform movement led by William Lyon Mackenzie. His ability to agitate through his newspaper The Colonial Advocate and petitioning was effective. Speeches and petitions led directly to the redress of grievances in Upper Canada that otherwise had no means of redress.

Mackenzie’s frustration with Compact control of the government was a catalyst for the failed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Their hold on the government was reduced with the creation of the united Province of Canada and later the installation of the system of Responsible Government in Canada.

*Source: Wikipedia.


Miles Gilbert “Tim” Horton

The Tim Hortorn behind ‘Tim Horton’s’

time horton - portaitMiles Gilbert “Tim” Horton (January 12, 1930 – February 21, 1974) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player, defenceman, playing 24 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres. He was also a businessman, and co-founder of Tim Hortons.

Early years

Tim Horton was born in Cochrane, Ontario, at Lady Minto Hospital. His parents were Aaron Oakley Horton (a Canadian National Railway mechanic) and Ethel Horton. Tim had one brother, Gerry Horton.

His father of English descent, and mother of Irish descent, the Hortons moved in 1935 to Duparquet, Quebec, returning in 1938 to Cochrane. In 1945, Tim and his family moved to Sudbury, Ontario.


Tim Horton grew up playing ice hockey in Cochrane, and later in mining country near Timmins. The Toronto Maple Leafs organization signed him in 1949 and performed as one of the steadiest defensemen on the blueline throughout his 22 years in the National Hockey League. He played in 1,446 regular season games, scoring 115 goals and 403 assists for a total of 518 points.

He played 17 full seasons and 3 partial seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He served a short stint with the New York Rangers before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. His final years in hockey were with the Buffalo Sabres, where he played a major role in developing the team’s younger players. Tim Horton played on four Stanley Cup teams, was an All-Star player six times, and was honoured in 1969 with the J.P. Bickell Memorial Cup in recognition of his outstanding service to the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club. George Armstrong (legendary defenceman and hockey hall-of-famer) said of Tim, “No finer person, teammate or hockey player ever lived.” In Bobby Hull’s words, “Few players brought more dedication or honor to the game. He was my idea of a pro.”

Tim Horton’s Coffee

tim horton - signOutside the rink, Tim was just as sharp. He realized that his hockey career would not last forever and sought to find a clever way to add to his hockey salary. After many summers of hustling to make an off-season living, Tim decided to try his luck in the coffee and donut business. The first Tim Hortons franchise opened in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1967, with three restaurants in operation, Tim became full partners with former police officer and franchisee of Tim Hortons Restaurant #1, Ron Joyce. Since then, Tim’s signature has become a prominent fixture in the Canadian landscape.

Sadly, Tim did not live to witness the chain’s great success. He was traveling back to Buffalo from a game at Maple Leaf Gardens when he was killed in an automobile accident on February 21, 1974. The Buffalo Sabres retired his Number 2 sweater as a tribute to his memory. At the time of Tim’s death, there were 40 Tim Hortons restaurants.

Tim Horton always considered his good fortune in the proper perspective. He was modestly confident about his abilities, was approachable, generous and considerate. His memory will always be held dear by family, friends, players and business associates alike.


Following Horton’s death, his widow, Lori, of her shares for $1 million, a deal she tried unsuccessfully to re-open years later. One of Horton’s daughters went on to marry Ron Joyce’s son. The company and the legend continue to thrive.

 farmer sewing seed

My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date).

A Scattering of Seeds, “First Lady of the Yukon: Martha black

The Winnipeg General Strike – 1919

The beginning of organized labour in Canada

WinnipegGeneralStrikeThe Winnipeg General Strike, 15 May-25 June 1919, is Canada’s best-known general strike. Massive unemployment and inflation, the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and rising Revolutionary Industrial Unionism all contributed to the postwar labour unrest that fuelled the landmark strike.

Thirty Thousand Strikers

In March 1919 western labour leaders met in Calgary to discuss the creation of One Big Union. In Winnipeg on 15 May, when negotiations broke down between management and labour in the building and metal trades, the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council (WTLC) called a general strike. At stake were the principle of collective bargaining, and better wages and working conditions. Within hours almost 30,000 workers left their jobs. The almost unanimous response by working men and women closed the city’s factories, crippled Winnipeg’s retail trade and stopped trains. Public-sector employees, including policemen, firemen, postal workers, telephone operators and employees of waterworks and other utilities, joined the workers of private industry in an impressive display of solidarity.

The strike was coordinated by the Central Strike Committee, composed of delegates elected from each of the unions affiliated with the WTLC. The committee bargained with employers on behalf of the workers and coordinated the provision of essential services.

Meanwhile, opposition to the strike was organized by the Citizens’ Committee of 1,000, created shortly after the strike began. The committee was made up of Winnipeg’s most influential manufacturers, bankers and politicians. Rather than giving the strikers’ demands any serious consideration, the Citizens’ Committee, with the support of Winnipeg’s leading newspapers, declared the strike a revolutionary conspiracy led by a small group of “alien scum.” Though evidence failed to support its charges that the strike was initiated by European workers and Bolsheviks, the Citizens’ Committee used these unsubstantiated charges to block any conciliation efforts.

Ottawa Intervenes

Afraid the strike would spark confrontations in other cities, the federal government decided to intervene. Soon after the strike began, Senator Gideon Robertson, minister of labour, and Arthur Meighen, minister of the interior and acting minister of justice, went to Winnipeg to meet with the Citizens’ Committee. They refused requests from the Central Strike Committee for a similar hearing. On Citizens’ Committee’s advice, the federal government swiftly supported the employers. Federal workers were ordered to return to work immediately or face dismissal. The Immigration Act was amended so British-born immigrants could be deported. The Criminal Code’s definition of sedition was also broadened.

On 17 June the government arrested 10 leaders of the Central Strike Committee and two propagandists from the newly formed One Big Union. Four days later, a charge by Royal North-West Mounted Police into a crowd of strikers resulted in 30 casualties, including one death. Known as “Bloody Saturday”, it ended with federal troops occupying the city’s streets. Six of the labour leaders were released, but Fred Dixon and J.S. Woodsworth arrested. Faced with the combined forces of the government and the employers, the strikers decided to return to work on 25 June.

Sympathy Strikes

The General Strike left a legacy of bitterness and controversy among organized labour groups across Canada. It sparked a wave of increased unionism and militancy, and sympathetic strikes erupted in centres from Amherst, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia.

Seven Winnipeg strike leaders were eventually convicted of a conspiracy to overthrow the government and sentenced to jail terms ranging from six months to two years. The charges against Woodsworth were dropped. It would take another three decades before Canadian workers secured union recognition and collective bargaining rights.


[Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia.]

Who says Canada doesn’t have super heroes?…

Step aside Captain America!


canadian super heroes - supermanYes, that Superman. Superman was the creation of Joseph “Joe” Shuster, a Canadian-American comic book artist who, along with writer Jerry Siegel, first published the iconic super hero in Action Comics No. 1 (June 1938). Shuster was involved in a number of legal battles concerning the ownership of the Superman character, eventually gaining recognition for his part in its creation. His comic book career after Superman was relatively unsuccessful, and by the mid-1970s Shuster had left the field completely due to partial blindness. He and Siegel were inducted into both the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2005, the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association instituted the Joe Shuster Awards, named to honour the Canada-born artist.


candian super heroes - guardinGuardian (James “Mac” MacDonald Hudson, Jr.), also known as Weapon Alpha and Vindicator, is a fictional character, a Canadian superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe who was the leader of Alpha Flight. He was created by John Byrne, and first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #109 which was co-plotted by Byrne and his long-time collaborator Chris Claremont. He was designed to be the Canadian equivalent of Captain America, hence his costume markings are modeled after the Canadian flag.


canadian super heroes - wolverineConsidering his current popularity, the character had a relatively non-descript debut, battling the Hulk and a furry Canuck monster called the Wendigo over a few issues of “The Incredible Hulk” in 1974. But from the very beginning, being Canadian was an essential part of Wolverine’s DNA. Originally introduced as a superhuman government agent of the Great White North, then-Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas asked writer Len Wein to design a character named Wolverine with the following specifications: make him small, angry, and from Canada. So much for that old stereotype of the “polite Canadian.” In the ensuing years, Wolverine was brought back as a member of the X-Men, but was almost cut from the team until a fellow Canuck saved him. Artist John Byrne, who went on to create the Avengers-like Canadian super-group Alpha Flight, fought to keep Wolverine around. And with that important civic duty, Byrne helped ensure his fictional countryman’s eventual place in the superhero pantheon.

Captain Canuck

canadian super heroes - captain canuckCaptain Canuck is a Canadian comic book superhero. Created by cartoonist Ron Leishman and artist/writer Richard Comely, the original Captain Canuck first appeared in Captain Canuck #1 (cover-dated July 1975). The series was the first successful Canadian comic book since the collapse of the nations comic-book industry following World War II. Three characters have worn the maple leafed costume of Captain Canuck. Described as a cross between Captain America and Flash Gordon, the first Captain Canuck patrols Canada in the (then) futuristic world of 1993, where “Canada had become the most powerful country in the world.” He was the costumed agent of the Canadian International Security Organization (CISO).


canadian super heroes - deadpoolMouthy mercenary Wade Wilson, whose true identity is known only to Canadian government officials, may be the world’s least apologetic Canuck. He’s also one of the most popular anti-heroes in the Marvel universe, and for his only big-screen appearance – in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine – he was appropriately played by Canada’s own Ryan Reynolds.


canadian super heroes - equinoxEquinox is the latest super hero to come on the scene. She is a 16-year-old Cree whose civilian name is Miiyahbin. Her powers are seasonally based and connected to the Earth, and Jeff Lemire (her creator) hopes to use her stories to share the world of the Cree. He took multiple trips to Moosonee and Moose Factory and enlisted the help of actual Cree people to help him get away from stereotypes and into the real heart of the people. The ultimate goal? “We need diversity and we need different personalities,” Lemire said. “Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males.”