In 1954, the Canadian icebreaker HMCS “Labrador” completed a 29,000-kilometre trip around the continent via the Northwest Passage and the Panama Canal. It was the largest vessel to have circled North America, and the first to traverse the Northwest Passage from west to east within a year. The Arctic patrol ship travelled from Halifax to Esquimalt, B.C., via Panama, and through the Northwest Passage back to Halifax.
Also on this date:
In 1766, the first theatre in the U.S. -- the “Southfork” -- opened in Philadelphia.
In 1783, the first free flight was made by two men who rose 100 metres above Paris in a hot-air balloon.
In 1784, Thomas Carleton, New Brunswick's first governor, arrived at Parrton (now Saint John) to proclaim the new province.
In 1877, Thomas Edison announced he invented a “talking machine” -- something that became known as the phonograph.
In 1902, hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt was born in Toronto. Hewitt, who coined the phrase, “He shoots, he scores,” called the first game from Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens when it opened in 1931. Hewitt died in 1985.
In 1907, American journalist Jim Bishop was born. He gave new life to great historical moments through his “day” books, including his 1957 chronicle of “The Day Christ Died.” He died July 26, 1987.
In 1916, 40 people died when the Royal Navy hospital ship HMS “Brittanic” was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea. Like its sister ship, the “Titanic,” it never saw New York.
In 1922, Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.
In 1927, picketing strikers at the Columbine Mine in northern Colorado were fired on by state police. Six miners were killed.
In 1929, a tidal wave caused by an underwater earthquake in the Atlantic Ocean off southeastern Newfoundland, killed 29 people who drowned in wooden homes that were swept into the sea.
In 1942, the Alaska Highway across northern Canada was formally opened.
In 1950, a troop train collided with a CNR passenger train at Canoe Lake, B.C., killing 21 people and injuring 53. A transport board inquiry found the accident had been caused by conflicting orders delivered to the conductors of the trains.
In 1959, Alan Freed, at the time the top disc jockey in the U.S., was fired by New York station WABC after he refused to sign an affidavit that he had participated in bribes. Freed was the prime target in the payola investigations launched by the U.S. Congress. He was blackballed by the radio industry after the WABC firing, and by the time he pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial bribery, taking money from record promoters, in December 1962, he was a broken man. Freed never worked again, and died of uremia in January, 1965.
In 1967, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Air Quality Act.
In 1979, Pierre Trudeau resigned as Liberal leader. He postponed his retirement, however, when Joe Clark's minority Tory government was defeated Dec. 13 on a non-confidence motion against its first budget, tabled by Finance Minister John Crosbie, forcing an election. Trudeau returned five days later, on Dec. 18, and led the Liberals to a majority government in the Feb. 18 election. Clark's term as prime minister lasted just nine months.
In 1980, fire in the 26-floor MGM Grand hotel casino in Las Vegas killed 84 people and injured over 700. Improper ventilation and several safety code violations were blamed for the disaster.
In 1981, an estimated 100,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest high interest rates. The demonstration, initiated by Canadian Labour Congresss president Dennis McDermott, was the largest demonstration ever held on Parliament Hill.
In 1983, in the N.W.T. election, native politicians won a majority of seats on the 24-member Territorial Council, the N.W.T. legislative body.
In 1986, five senior officials of the Manitoba Telephone System resigned or were dismissed over the failure of the telecommunications venture that may have cost Manitoba taxpayers $25 million in losses.
In 1986, veteran U.S. stuntman Dar Robinson, who jumped successfully twice from the CN Tower in Toronto, died in a motorcycle accident during the filming of a movie in Page, Ariz.
In 1988, the Tories under Brian Mulroney defeated the Liberals under John Turner and Ed Broadbent's NDP in a federal election. The key issue was the Conservatives' free-trade agreement with the United States.
In 1989, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed a joint declaration saying that both countries respect the rights of Europeans to pursue paths of political and economic change without outside interference. But they also agreed that political reforms should not lead to instability and that NATO and the Warsaw Pact should remain as military alliances for the foreseeable future.
In 1989, the proceedings of Britain's House of Commons were televised live for the first time.
In 1990, American junk bond king Michael Milken was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He had been accused in the insider-trading scandal that came to symbolize a decade of excess on Wall Street. Milken pleaded guilty to lesser charges of violating U.S. securities and tax laws and served 22 months.
In 1991, the UN Security Council chose Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt to be the new Secretary-General. He was the first African and first Arab to hold the post, serving until 1996.
In 1991, French adventurer Gerald d'Aboville became the first man to row across the Pacific from west-to-east. He needed 134 days to make the 10,000-kilometre crossing from Choshi, Japan to Ilwaco, Wash.
In 1995, leaders of Bosnia's three warring factions, Muslims, Serbs and Croats, accepted a U.S.-brokered peace plan designed to end 43 months of bloody fighting in Bosnia. The warring factions agreed to maintain Bosnia's current boundaries but with control divided between a Serbian state and one controlled by a Croat-Muslim federation. Under the deal, people charged with war crimes would be barred from political office.
In 1995, Lucien Bouchard announced he would resign as leader of the federal Bloc Quebecois to become leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois and Quebec premier.
In 1995, Bruno Gerussi, the actor who starred in the long-running CBC series “The Beachcombers,” died in Vancouver at the age of 67.
In 1996, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled governments aren't constitutionally obliged to fund religious schools. It ruled the funding of Catholic schools in Ontario was a separate matter because it was guaranteed at Confederation.
In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the most expensive in Canadian history at $51.2 million, released its report after five years of studying almost every facet of aboriginal life. It said Canada must give its aboriginal people a sweeping new deal, including new lands, resources, respect and real self-government or face risk of violence.
In 1998, convicted kidnappers Christine Lamont and David Spencer arrived in Toronto after being released from a Sao Paulo jail under a prisoner-transfer agreement, to complete their sentences in Canadian prisons. They had spent eight years behind bars for the kidnapping of a Brazilian businessman.
In 1999, Amintore Fanfani, a six-time Italian premier, died at 91.
In 2002, in a 9-0 majority decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada's spy agency, CSIS, can withhold information in its files about citizens in the name of national security.
In 2002, Princess Anne pleaded guilty to allowing her English bull terrier to run loose and attack two children, becoming the first member of the Royal Family in modern times to be convicted of a criminal offence. She was fined the equivalent of C$1,240 and ordered to pay C$620 in compensation for violating the Dangerous Dogs Act.
In 2002, NATO leaders formally invited seven former communist countries to join the alliance at the NATO summit in Prague, Czech Republic. The Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania joined former communist states Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia as the next wave of countries invited to become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In 2002, North Korea said that the 1994 nuclear agreement with the United States had collapsed because of the U.S. decision to suspend deliveries of fuel oil.
In 2002, Canada's oldest public broadcaster CKUA, established as Alberta's provincially-owned educational radio station affiliated with the University of Alberta, celebrated its 75th anniversary.
In 2005, General Motors announced plans to cut 30,000 jobs in North America, closing nine assembly plants including two in Oshawa and St. Catharines, Ont., employing 3,900 people.
In 2006, Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., was named American League MVP.
In 2007, engineer Herbert Saffir, who created the five-category system used to describe hurricane strength, died in Miami at age 90.
In 2009, an explosion in a coal mine in northern China killed at least 87 people.