In 1872, Lt.-Col. John McCrae, physician, poet and author of the famous war poem “In Flanders Fields,” was born in Guelph, Ont. The poem was first published in “Punch” magazine in December, 1915. It quickly came to symbolize the sacrifices of all who were fighting in the First World War. Today, it is part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada and other countries. McCrae died Jan., 28, 1918 of pneumonia, and was buried at Wimereaux Cemetery in France.

 

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In 1667, Irish writer and satirist Jonathan Swift was born.

 

In 1782, a preliminary peace treaty ending the American War of Independence was signed between Britain and the United States.

 

In 1803, Spain completed the process of ceding Louisiana to France, which had sold it to the United States.

 

In 1810, U.S. industrialist and manufacturer Oliver Winchester was born. He developed the first fully functioning and reliable repeating rifle.

In 1824, construction began on the Welland Canal connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

In 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote under the name Mark Twain, was born in Florida, Mo.

In 1840, Henry Birks, founder of the Birks jewellery chain, was born in Montreal.

In 1842, Hanna Maria Norris was born in Canso, N.S. Her 1869 decision to become a missionary led to the founding of the Woman's Baptist Missionary Union of the Maritime -- Canada's first women's missionary aid society.

In 1847, Modeste Demers was consecrated the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Vancouver.

In 1872, the first international soccer game was played when Scotland hosted England before 4,000 fans in Glasgow.

In 1874, future British prime minister Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England.

In 1874, Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in Clifton, P.E.I. She had been earning money with her writing since the late 1890's, but her first novel, “Anne of Green Gables,” published in 1908, put her on the literary map. In 1911, she married the Reverend Ewan Macdonald and moved to Ontario. Montgomery published seven more Anne stories, as well as the autobiographical Emily trilogy and approximately 500 short stories and 450 poems. Montgomery's ear for dialogue and insight into human nature has made her Canada's most enduring literary export. She died in Toronto in 1942.

In 1900, Irish dramatist Oscar Wilde died in Paris at 46.

In 1933, Sir Arthur William Currie, the first Canadian appointed commander of the Canadian Corps during First World War, died.

In 1936, London's famed Crystal Palace, constructed for the international exhibition of 1851, was destroyed by fire.

In 1939, the Russo-Finnish War began as Soviet troops invaded Finland.

In 1957, the Grey Cup between Hamilton and Winnipeg was the first to be covered on coast-to-coast television. But it would best be remembered for a play in which Hamilton's Ray Bawel intercepted a pass and raced down the sidelines with a clear path to the end-zone. Dave Humphrey, a spectator standing on the sidelines near the Winnipeg bench, stuck his foot out and tripped Bawel and prevented the touchdown. Hamilton eventually scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive and easily beat Winnipeg 32-7.

In 1962, U Thant of Burma (now Myanmar), who had been acting secretary-general of the United Nations following the death of Dag Hammarskjold the year before, was elected to a four-year term.

In 1966, the former British colony of Barbados became independent.

In 1969, Russ Jackson threw a Grey Cup-record four touchdown passes as he led the Ottawa Rough Riders to a 29-11 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In 1976, the Anglican Church of Canada ordained its first six women priests. Due to time zone differences, the first to be ordained was Mary Mills, who had become the Church's first woman deacon on Dec. 22, 1969 in London, Ont.

In 1981, a report by an Ontario task force on vandalism recommended that vandalism be specifically defined under the Criminal Code.

Also in 1981, the U.S. and the Soviet Union opened talks in Geneva aimed at reducing nuclear weapons in Europe.

In 1982, a letter bomb mailed to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher burst into flames in the mail room of her official residence. An office worker was slightly injured.

In 1983, a three-and-a-half-year session of Parliament ended -- the longest in Canadian history.

In 1985, trade unions joined forces to form South Africa's largest black-led labour federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and gave President Pieter Botha six months to get rid of pass laws, a key element of apartheid or “we will burn all the passes of the black man.”

In 1986, Liberal Leader John Turner received a strong vote of confidence from the federal Liberal Party when delegates to the national Liberal convention in Ottawa voted 2,001-622 to reject a call for a leadership review.

In 1988, Justice Gerald Le Dain retired from the Supreme Court of Canada due to stress in deciding cases in the era of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 1988, the Ontario government introduced legislation to restrict smoking in the workplace, the first legislation to control smoking in private offices of any Canadian province.

In 1988, in the largest takeover at the time, RJR Nabisco Inc., was sold for a reported US$24.74 billion to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

In 1993, the Netherlands allowed doctors to perform mercy killings if they complied with strict guidelines.

In 1993, the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies released its report after four years at a cost of $28.2-million. It recommended banning surrogate motherhood, sex-selection techniques, sale of human eggs, sperm, embryo, fetuses etc., banning research into genetic alteration and use of embryos for cloning, allowing reproductive procedures to be performed only in public clinics and giving the new commission power to override provincial jurisdiction in the field of reproductive technologies.

In 1994, the ill-fated “Achille Lauro” cruise liner caught fire off Somalia, forcing hundreds of passengers and crew members to flee in lifeboats. The vessel sank two days later. The Italian ship made headlines in 1985 when it was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists who killed an elderly American passenger.

In 1998, Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard won a comfortable majority in the Quebec election, but his party was denied popular support that could have triggered a snap referendum on sovereignty.

In 1998, Bob White announced his resignation as president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

In 1999, protesters demonstrating against free-trade and globalization, thwarted the opening ceremonies of the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, sparking a day of anarchy in the streets.

In 2000, Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau began the last of his three space flights as the shuttle “Endeavour” was launched on a 12-day mission. Garneau operated the Canadarm to move solar panels from the shuttle payload bay to the International Space Station. In 2001, Garneau became president of the Canadian Space Agency.

In 2001, the first person to receive a fully self-contained artificial heart died in Louisville, Ken. Robert Tools, who was 59, had lived with the device for 151 days.

In 2003, Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, died in Wyckoff, N.J., at age 98.

In 2004, author, reporter, historian and broadcaster Pierre Berton, whose numerous books on history and culture contributed to Canada's collective identity, died in Toronto at age 84.

In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush arrived in Ottawa on his first official visit to Canada.

In 2005, French surgeons confirmed they had performed the world's first partial face transplant. It was done on a woman who was disfigured by a dog bite.

In 2006, Colin Thatcher, the former Saskatchewan cabinet minister convicted of murdering his ex-wife, was granted full parole in Regina after 22 years in jail.

In 2007, motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel died in Clearwater, Fla., at age 69.

In 2009, former CBC farm commentator George Atkins died in Wiarton, Ont., at age 92. Atkins, who owned and managed a small farm after graduating from the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ont., was CBC's farm and gardening host in the 1950's and 60's. He was also the founder of Farm Radio International, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in May.

In 2009, Serena Williams was fined a record US$82,500 and two years of probation for her profanity-laced, finger-pointing outburst toward a line judge after a foot-fault call at the end of her semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open in September.

In 2009, the last of the eight unions voted to accept an agreement with the management at Montreal's La Presse, resolving a major labour dispute which ensured the survival of the 125-year-old newspaper.

In 2009, retired Ohio auto worker John Demjanjuk went on trial in Munich, Germany, accused of helping to kill 28,060 Jews as a Nazi death camp guard. (In May 2011, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, but was released pending appeal.)

In 2010, Canada's “Man in Motion,” Rick Hansen, kicked off an eight-month tour in Amman, Jordan to mark the 25th anniversary of his historic effort to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries.