In 1885, the last spike was driven at Craigellachie in B.C.'s Eagle Pass, completing the Canadian Pacific Railway's transcontinental line. Donald Smith, a principal CPR shareholder, did the honours. Though the line -- stretching from Montreal to Port Moody, B.C. -- was expected to take 10 years to construct, it was completed in less than five.
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In 1659, the Pyrenees were designated as the boundary between France and Spain, thus ending a 24-year war between the two countries.
In 1665, the “London Gazette” was published for the first time.
In 1781, the last public burning by the Spanish Inquisition took place in Seville.
In 1793, during the French Revolution, Christianity was abolished. Reason was deified, and as many as 2,000 churches were destroyed throughout France.
In 1804, Napoleon declared himself emperor, thus ending the First Republic of France.
In 1807, the Lewis and Clark expedition sighted the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
In 1836, three men from Britain flew 770 kilometres from London to Germany in a balloon. The trip took 18 hours.
In 1867, Marie Curie was born Marie Sklodowska in Poland. She shared the Nobel prize for physics in 1903 with her French husband for their work in radioactivity. She won a second Nobel prize for her discovery of radium in 1911. She died July 4, 1934.
In 1873, the Liberals formed their first federal government under Alexander Mackenzie. John A. Macdonald's Conservatives had resigned two days before due to a bribery scandal.
In 1874, the Republican Party was symbolized as an elephant in a cartoon drawn by Thomas Nast in “Harper's Weekly.”
In 1879, Leon Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein. A Russian Communist leader who played a leading role in both the 1905 revolution and the October Revolution in 1917, he was removed from all positions after the death of Lenin in 1924. Trotsky was driven into exile and assassinated in Mexico in 1940.
In 1893, the state of Colorado granted its women the right to vote.
In 1898, Her Majesty's Theatre opened on Guy Street in Montreal with “The Ballet Girl,” a musical comedy. The theatre remained in operation for 65 years, with presentations of operas, concerts and ballets occupying its stage. The building was demolished in 1963.
In 1900, the federal election sustained Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals: Liberals 133; Conservatives 80.
In 1900, three Canadian cavalrymen won Victoria Crosses as part of a Canadian detachment that covered a British retreat during the Boer War.
In 1906, Canada's first movie theatre opened in Toronto.
In 1910, Count Leo Tolstoy, author of “War and Peace,” died in Astapovo, Russia. He was 82.
In 1916, Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
In 1917, Russia's Bolshevik Revolution began when workers and soldiers seized key points in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg).
In 1918, evangelist Billy Graham was born in Charlotte, N.C. Graham became the single greatest evangelist of the modern era, reaching millions on radio, television and film. The son of a farmer, Graham was ordained in 1939. Ten years later, he turned to large-scale evangelism and toured the United States and Europe.
In 1944, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term in office, defeating Thomas E. Dewey. A later amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms.
In 1950, the first contingent of Canadian troops for the Korean War landed at Pusan.
In 1962, Richard M. Nixon, having lost California's gubernatorial race, held what he called his “last press conference,” telling reporters, “You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore.”
In 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt died in New York at 78. The wife of the 32nd U.S. president was one of the most admired women of her time through her support of liberal and humanitarian causes.
In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that offshore mineral rights on the west coast belonged to the federal and not the British Columbia government.
In 1982, Iona Campagnola was elected president of the federal Liberal party.
In 1983, the world's first successful single-lung transplant was performed in Toronto. Tom Hall, a 58-year-old hardware executive, lived for another six years after receiving the lung of a 13-year-old car accident victim.
In 1989, the entire 44-member East German cabinet resigned amid a deepening political crisis and exodus of citizens to the West.
In 1990, Mary Robinson, a 46-year-old lawyer, was elected Ireland's first woman president. She later became the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She left that post in September, 2002.
In 1991, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive and was retiring immediately from the NBA. He went on to play for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Dream Team. He atttempted a comeback in the 1992, participating in the NBA's pre-season games but retired again before the regular season began. He returned to play the final 32 games in the 1995-96 season before retiring a third and final time.
In 1992, the architect of the Prague Spring reforms in Czechoslovakia that were crushed by Soviet troops in 1968, died following a car accident. Alexander Dubcek was 70.
In 1995, Canadian Rohinton Mistry won the Giller prize for his novel “A Fine Balance.”
In 1999, Tiger Woods became the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win four straight tournaments.
In 2000, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood won the Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary award, for her 10th novel “The Blind Assassin.”
In 2000, U.S. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton won a Senate seat in New York state, defeating Republican Congressman Rick Lazio. She was the first wife of a U.S. president to seek public office and was the first woman to win a New York Senate seat.
In 2000, the U.S. presidential election was held. The election was disputed because of the close race in Florida, which both George W. Bush and his Democratic rival, Al Gore, needed to win. The election was settled five weeks later, when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened on Bush's side by ending recounts in that state.
In 2001, Air France and British Airways resumed Concorde trans-Atlantic service, about 15 months after the supersonic jets were grounded by a deadly crash near Paris.
In 2002, Lucille Poulin, the 78-year-old spiritual leader of a rural P.E.I. commune, was sentenced to eight months in jail for beating children. The former Roman Catholic nun, who claimed she received divine guidance to beat children, had been convicted of five counts of assault against children aged 6 to 12.
In 2002, four former members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the hippie-era U.S. terror group, agreed to plead guilty to murder in the shotgun slaying of a bank customer during a 1975 holdup, to avoid a possible sentence of life in prison. The four were William Harris, his ex-wife, Emily Montague, Michael Bortin and Sara Jane Olson. Coincidentally, James Kilgore, the last unaccounted-for member of the group, was arrested at his home in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and spent six years in prison.
In 2004, former St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton from Brampton, Ont., was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for a failed murder-for-hire plot to kill his agent David Frost. He was granted full parole in September, 2009, but during the parole hearing it was learned that his father was the intended victim.
In 2004, baseball player Jason Bay from Trail, B.C., became the first Canadian and first Pittsburgh Pirate to be chosen the National League's rookie of the year.
In 2005, Omar Khadr, a Canadian teen held at the Guantanamo Bay prison, was formally charged with terrorism-related crimes -- including murdering a U.S. soldier. (In 2011, he withdrew his not guilty plea and entered a guilty plea, in a deal that would see him serve only eight years.)
In 2006, CFL legend Jackie Parker died at the age of 74 after a battle with throat cancer.
In 2006, Republicans suffered stinging losses in the U.S. mid-term elections, losing control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to the Democrats.
In 2006, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was named winner of the presidential election in Nicaragua.
In 2007, the Saskatchewan Party led by Brad Wall won a majority in the Saskatchewan election, winning 37 of the 58 seats in the legislature and ending 16 years of NDP rule.
In 2007, an 18-year-old gunman killed eight people before shooting himself at a school in southern Finland.
In 2007, B.C. politicians voted 63-4 in favour of the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty, Canada's first urban land-claims treaty.
In 2007, the Canadian dollar closed at US$1.10 -- the highest level since 1950.
In 2008, the Conservative government canceled the Portrait Gallery of Canada project. The gallery was announced by the Liberal government in 2001, and was to open in 2005. It was originally projected to cost $22 million, but that figure ballooned to $45 million.
In 2008, at least 92 people died, many of them children, after a school on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince collapsed.
In 2009, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach received 77 per cent support in a leadership review vote by Progressive Conservative delegates meeting in Red Deer.
In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a landmark health-care reform bill that would extend health insurance to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and enact dramatic changes to America's medical system.