In 1883, the first operation of Standard Time in North America began at midnight in eastern Nova Scotia. Scottish-born Sir Sandford Fleming played a major role in introducing the concept around the world. Fleming, who was also Canada's foremost railway surveyor and construction engineer of the 19th century, first proposed the international standard time measurement at a Toronto conference in 1879. The rest of the world adopted the idea in 1884. (Note for trivia buffs -- Fleming also designed Canada's first postage stamp, the 1851 “three-penny beaver.”)

 

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In 1095, Pope Urban II called 600 men to the Council of Clermont, where he asked Europe to recapture the Holy Land from the Turks. A vast crusading army was deployed.

 

In 1626, the newly rebuilt Basilica of St. Peter was consecrated in Vatican City, Rome.

 

In 1791, the Constitutional Act, creating the jurisdictions of Upper and Lower Canada, was proclaimed. It came into effect Dec. 26th.

 

In 1903, the United States and Panama signed a treaty granting the U.S. rights to build the Panama Canal. Exactly five years later, the treaty was ratified.

In 1929, an earthquake in Cape Breton sent a 15-metre tidal wave onto Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula. The wall of water killed 27 people and did $2 million in damage.

In 1936, the “Toronto Globe” bought the “Mail and Empire” and formed “The Globe and Mail.”

In 1936, Germany and Italy recognized the Spanish government of Francisco Franco.

In 1958, the cargo freighter “SS Carl D. Bradley” sank during a storm in Lake Michigan, claiming 33 of the 35 lives on board.

In 1961, the Saskatchewan legislature passed a law giving that province Canada's first pre-paid medical care plan.

In 1963, the Nova Scotia government closed the province's last segregated school for blacks.

In 1966, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays outside of Lent.

In 1972, a massive rock slide destroyed 30 metres of scenic walkway along the Whirlpool Rapids, three kilometers downstream from Niagara Falls.

In 1975, the Ontario government introduced legislation to lower highway speed limits and make the wearing of seat-belts mandatory.

In 1976, Spain's parliament approved a bill to establish a democracy after 37 years of dictatorship.

In 1978, U.S. congressman Leo Ryan and four other Americans were killed by members of the People's Temple commune in Jonestown, Guyana. Shortly after, more than 900 members of the sect, including leader Jim Jones, committed suicide.

In 1980, Conn Smythe, 85, founder of the Toronto Maple Leafs, died in Caledon, Ont. He started as a hockey coach for the University of Toronto team, the Varsity Grads. With the help of some associates, Smythe raised $160,000 to buy the Toronto St. Pats and change their name to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was largely responsible for the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens.

In 1981, the Hudson's Bay Company announced the closure of its 65 Ontario catalogue stores.

In 1986, the Ontario legislature passed a bill extending government services in French to almost all of Ontario.

In 1987, George Ryga, one of Canada's most acclaimed playwrights, best known for his 1967 work “The Ecstasy of Rita Joe,” died in Summerland, B.C., at the age of 55.

In 1987, the U.S. Congressional Iran-Contra committee issued its final report, saying U.S. President Ronald Reagan bore “ultimate responsibility” for wrongdoing committed by his aides.

In 1987, a fire beneath King's Cross subway and railway station in London killed 31 people.

In 1992, Church of England envoy Terry Waite was released by Lebanese captors after being taken hostage in 1987. An American professor -- Thomas Sutherland, kidnapped in 1985 -- was also released.

In 1992, Superman, alias Clark Kent, died after 54 years as one of North America's greatest superheroes. Superman was killed by Doomsday, a supervillain he had fought in D.C. Comics. You can't keep a good Man of Steel down, however -- and Superman was ressurrected within a year.

In 1994, the Quebec government officially shelved the controversial $13.3 billion Great Whale hydro electric project.

In 1996, J. J. Robinette, renowned as a top courtroom lawyer, died in Toronto at age 90.

In 1996, the Ontario legislature voted 63-33 in favour of video lottery terminals in the province. All opposition Liberals and the NDP voted against Bill 75.

In 1997, Jane Urquhart won her first Governor General's award for fiction for her book “The Underpainter.”

In 1998, Toronto-based theatre production company Livent Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection and fired company co-founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb. Livent's New York-based management team, which had taken over the previous April, said Drabinsky and Gottlieb “fraudulently manipulated” the company's financial records to hide losses of as much as $100 million. The company filed suit against the pair for $225 million in damages. Drabinsky and Gottlieb counter-sued for $200-million, claiming they did nothing wrong. Among Livent's productions were the hit musicals “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats.”

In 1999, Allan A. Lamport, former mayor of Toronto, MLA, alderman, controller and TTC chairman, died at 96.

In 1999, Paul Bowles, U.S. author of “The Sheltering Sky,” the book named one of the best English-language novels of the 20th century, died in Tangiers, Morocco at age 88.

In 1999, a traditional pre-football game bonfire at Texas A&M University in College Station, Tex., toppled, crushing 11 students to death.

In 2002, in the biggest U.S. media merger since the AOL Time Warner Inc. combination in 2001, Comcast Corp. became the world's largest cable company after purchasing AT&T's cable systems for US$58.7 billion.

In 2003, George W. Bush became the first U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson in 1918 to be given a full state visit to Britain.

In 2003, a judge in Modesto, Calif., ordered Scott Peterson to stand trial for the killing of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son. (Peterson was later convicted and sentenced to death.)

In 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin fired Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish from caucus after she said she had no loyalty to the Liberal party and she wouldn't shed a tear if Martin lost the next election.

In 2004, Montreal writer David Solway was named winner of the 36th Grand Prix du Livre, a $15,000 book award presented by the city of Montreal. Solway was the first anglophone to win the prize.

In 2004, Jack Horner, an Alberta MP for more than two decades, died at age 77.

In 2006, the Montreal Canadiens retired the number 18 of defenceman Serge Savard.

In 2007, a methane blast ripped through a coal mine in eastern Ukraine, killing 101 miners.

In 2008, Toronto author Nino Ricci won a Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction for his novel, “The Origin of Species.” He also won in 1990 for his debut novel, “Lives of the Saints.” Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford picked up the non-fiction prize for her book about Afghanistan. Her colleague at the newspaper, John Ibbitson, received the children's literature prize for “The Landing.”

In 2009, former Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin testified before a special House of Commons committee, that all of the prisoners Canada handed to Afghanistan's notorious intelligence service in 2006-07 were tortured, and many of them were likely innocent.

In 2009, Alberta passed legislation allowing the province to sue criminals and tobacco companies to recover health-care costs.

In 2009, thousands of people lined both sides of a downtown Halifax street to watch Sidney Crosby, the captain of the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins, run his portion of the Olympic torch relay as it made its way across Canada. (Note: Crosby later scored the overtime winner for Canada to win the gold medal in men's hockey.)

In 2010, N.L. Premier Danny William announced a $6.2-billion deal to develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador with help from Nova Scotia.

In 2010, General Motors returned to life as a public company in North America's largest initial public offering worth US$23 billion. The federal and Ontario governments, who owned a combined 11.67 per cent of GM since the previous year's bailout, reduced their stake to below 10 per cent by selling about 35 million shares.

In 2010, the Canadian Forces took what was believed to be an unprecedented step in burning the uniform of sex killer Russell Williams. Military clothes and other gear retrieved from his Ontario cottage where he committed one of his murders was burned at CFB Trenton -- the same base the former colenel once commanded.