Today's highlight in history:

In 1956, the transatlantic telephone cable system between Britain and North America was inaugurated with a three-way exchange of greetings between London, Ottawa, and New York. The $42-million network, which linked Oban, Scotland, to Clarenville, Nfld., consisted of two lines -- one each for east and west-bound calls -- laid 32 kilometres apart on the ocean floor.

Also on this date:

In 1493, Christopher Columbus set sail from Cadiz, Spain, with a flotilla of 17 ships on his second voyage to the Western Hemisphere.

 

In 1513, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean.

In 1555, the Peace of Augsburg was signed, officially dividing Europe into the Roman Catholic church and the new Lutheran, or Protestant, church. Charles V, the Holy Roman emperor, conceded lands to Protestantism to end the religious divisions in the empire.

In 1670, Dutch inventor Jan Van Der Hieda first demonstrated a fire engine using a water hose.

In 1690, “Publick Occurrences,” the first American newspaper, published its first -- and last -- edition in Boston.

In 1726, Acadians signed a British oath of allegiance, on condition that they did not have to fight against the French.

In 1759, the ship “Tilbury of St. Esprit” was lost off Cape Breton with 200 lives.

In 1775, American Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen was captured by the British as he led an attack on Montreal. (Allen was released by the British in 1778.)

In 1789, the first United States Congress adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 10 of which became the “Bill of Rights.” They guaranteed such freedoms as speech, expression and religion.

In 1888, the first letter from the serial killer known as “Jack the Ripper” was received at the Central News Agency in London.

In 1890, polygamy was officially banned by the Mormon Church. The announcement followed on the heels of an 1890 Supreme Court ruling denying all privileges of U.S. citizenship to Mormons who practiced this outlawed form of marriage.

In 1897, novelist William Faulkner was born in Mississippi. Among his novels were “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying.” He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. He died July 6, 1962, at age 64.

In 1920, the names of eight baseball players involved in the “Black Sox Scandal” were made public. The Chicago White Sox players were bribed to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series. They were acquitted in court, but banned for life from baseball.

In 1940, Vidkun Quisling became leader of Nazi-occupied Norway.

In 1973, the American “Skylab Two” made a safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean after spending 59 days in orbit.

In 1973, Gordie Howe made his first pro hockey appearance with sons Mark and Marty in a WHA exhibition game for the Houston Aeros. Mark set up his dad for a goal 21 seconds into the game against the New England Whalers.

In 1977, thousands attended the funeral of black South African activist Steven Biko, who had died in prison.

In 1978, a Pacific Southwest Airlines Boeing 727 and a Cessna private plane collided in the air over San Diego, Calif., killing 150.

In 1979, the “Montreal Star” newspaper folded after 110 years of publication.

In 1980, the Cuban government finally ended the exodus of refugees after some 125,000 had fled to the United States.

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor was sworn in and took her seat as the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1985, federal Communications Minister Marcel Masse resigned pending an investigation into election overspending. He rejoined cabinet Nov. 28 after the charges were dropped.

In 1988, a Toronto surgical team peformed the first human sciatic nerve transplant on a nine-year-old boy.

In 1989, Robert Bourassa led the Liberal party to a majority election victory in Quebec.

In 1991, Stan Waters -- Canada's first “elected” senator -- died of brain cancer. His victory in Alberta's 1989 election for a Senate nominee injected life into the debate over Senate reform. Waters, a member of the Reform Party, was appointed to the Upper Chamber by prime minister Brian Mulroney.

In 1991, Klaus Barbie, known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” died in a French prison hospital at 77. The former Nazi Gestapo chief was serving a life sentence.

In 1992, the U.S. launched an unmanned spacecraft bound for Mars, the first flight of its kind in 17 years.

In 1998, Frenchman Benoit Lecomte became the first person to swim the Atlantic Ocean. He had set off from Cape Cod, Mass., and reached the coast of Brittany after 72 days.

In 2000, Roy Romanow, 61, Canada's longest serving current premier, announced he was leaving politics after 35 years, the last nine of them at the helm as premier of Saskatchewan. He was later succeeded by Lorne Calvert.

In 2001, Michael Jordan ended his second retirement from the NBA, signing a two-year contract with the Washington Wizards.

In 2003, Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Canada's largest meat processing company, bought the second largest packaged meat company Schneider Corp. in a $413 million deal.

In 2003, U.S.-based Levi Strauss announced it would shut down its remaining three plants in Canada in Edmonton, Alta., Stoney Creek and Brampton, Ont., and shift the production to lower-wage countries, throwing 1,180 people out of work.

In 2003, author, journalist and editor George Plimpton died in New York at age 76.

In 2003, France reported a staggering death toll of 14,802 from the summer heat wave.

In 2003, Nobel prize winning economist Franco Modigliani died in Cambridge, Mass., at age 85.

In 2005, Don Adams, the comedian who played Maxwell Smart in the TV-series “Get Smart,” died at age 82.

In 2006, the Air India inquiry, headed by Justice John Major, opened in Ottawa with testimony from the relatives of some of the 329 people killed when Flight 182 was blown up in 1985 off the coast of Ireland.

In 2007, Warren Jeffs, the polygamist leader of a Mormon sect in Utah, was convicted as an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl follower who was married to a 19-year-old in 2001. Jeffs was later sentenced to five years to life in prison.

In 2007, Toronto experienced the warmest Sept. 25 on record as the temperatures reached 33 C. It was also the highest temperature for any fall day dating back to the beginning of record keeping in 1840.

In 2008, a 20-year-old man was convicted in a Brampton, Ont., courthouse of conspiring in a group plot to bomb several Canadian targets, including Parliament Hill, RCMP headquarters and nuclear power plants. The accused, who was 17 when he committed his alleged offences, became the first person in Canada to be convicted under the Anti-terrorism Act passed by Ottawa in 2001.

In 2008, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., (founded in 1889), with $307 billion in assets, became the largest bank to collapse in U.S. history under the weight of its enormous bad bets on the mortgage market.

In 2008, Kay Armstrong, the Vancouver teacher and choreographer whose 1951 ballet “Etude” was the first Canadian choreography to enter the repertoire of the National Ballet, died in Vancouver at age 87.

In 2008, New Brunswick artisan Gordon Dunphy, whose wood-turned vessels are held in collections in Canada and abroad, died at age 74 after a battle with cancer.

In 2009, Quebec filmmaker, writer and outspoken sovereigntist Pierre Falardeau died in Montreal at the age of 62. Known as a colourful character, Falardeau made a name for himself creating documentaries and writings that focused on the political identity of Quebecers.

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