Soul of Canada History Blog

Canadians have not lost their interest in history, but have been discouraged by long, wordy tomes which cater to scholars instead of general Canadians. We seek to change that, providing short historical abstracts of pivotal people, companies, events and projects which showcase what Canada was and how it has changed.

The Alaska Highway - 75th Anniversary 2017

Soul of Canada - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Proposals to link Alaska to the United States by highway originated in the 1920s. The Great Depression and Canadian concern over neutrality in the event of a war between Japan and the U.S. prevented any progress on the plan. The attack on Pearl Harbor and start of the Pacific Theater in World War II, coupled with Japanese threats to the west coast of North America and the Aleutian Islands, changed the priorities for both the now allied nations. On February 6, 1942 the construction of the Alaska Highway was approved by the United States Army and it received authorization from the U.S. Congress and President Roosevelt to proceed five days later. Canada agreed to allow construction as long as the United States bore the full cost and that the road and other facilities in Canada be turned over to Canadian authority after the war ended. View Full Post...

Jumping Pound Field discovered by Shell

Soul of Canada - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Drilling for oil led instead to a gas field studded with gas industry firsts View Full Post...

Horses witnessed the birth of the oil patch in the Canadian West

Soul of Canada - Friday, April 07, 2017

Starting in the late 1800s in Western Canada, horses played a major role in many areas of oil and gas development. They participated in oil discovery, equipment and petroleum hauling, drilling, well site construction, surveying, oil pumping, and pipeline and refinery construction. View Full Post...

Arrival of the Mechanical Road Monsters

Soul of Canada - Friday, August 26, 2016

They were called a lot of things: Tin Lizzies, motor carriages, high-speed road locomotives, horseless carriages, motor wagons, auto buggies or auto mobile wagons. In 1898, John Moodie imported the first gasoline-powered automobile into Canada, and by 1903 there were 178 registered. View Full Post...

Saskatchewan Trail; the West’s most famous

Soul of Canada - Monday, August 15, 2016

The Saskatchewan Trail was the main artery for all the westward trails and was also one of the earliest trunk routes. This well trodden trail of some 1,600 kilometres led from Fort Garry to Fort Edmonton via Portage la Prairie, Fort Ellice, Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt. The trail, known by many names including the Hudson’s Bay Trail, Carlton Trail, Edmonton Trail and Old Saskatchewan Trail, was used from the early 1800s on. View Full Post...

Horses integral to Edmonton’s development

Soul of Canada - Thursday, August 04, 2016

At the heart of Edmonton lies Rossdale Flats, an ancient First Nations traditional gathering place and a natural fording spot across the North Saskatchewan River for them and their horses. Here, in 1802, two fur-trading companies relocated their competing fur-trading posts, before merging operations in 1821 to become the Hudson’s Bay Company. View Full Post...

Reginald Hunt, Birth of Aviation in Edmonton

Soul of Canada - Thursday, June 23, 2016

Six years after the Wright Brothers astonished the world and less than a year after John A.D. McCurdy’s historic Canadian flight in the Silver Dart; a local Edmonton carpenter became a part of Canadian aviation history. Reginald Hunt, working from his west end carpenter shop, was determined and convinced he could match the efforts of the Wright Brothers. For three years he studied, planned and eventually constructed his first airplane. His plans hit a snag, when he couldn’t find a suitable engine to power his machine; Hunt’s answer was to build his own. View Full Post...

Shay Geared Locomotives

Soul of Canada - Thursday, June 02, 2016

Geared locomotives opened up the use of steam traction to many industries, including logging and mining. In a standard locomotive, the drive wheels are directly attached to the pistons of the engine, meaning there is no way to control the ratio of maximum speed to torque. Industrial uses often require low speeds and high torque to maximize the traction of the locomotive, which can be achieved through the use of smaller and smaller drive wheels. This, however, makes the piston stroke too short to give any real power to the engine. View Full Post...

Hillcrest Mine Disaster

Soul of Canada - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Early on the morning of June 19, 1914 in the rich coalfields of Crowsnest Pass, two hundred and thirty-five men went into the tunnels of the Hillcrest Mine. Only forty-six would survive. View Full Post...

Horses dragged tonnes of logs from the forest

Soul of Canada - Monday, June 22, 2015

The construction of roads and railways and the establishment of pioneer settlements created the Canadian West, and a demand for lumber that lasted into the 1950s. Timber, scarce in many parts of the world, was abundant and economical in the new continent. Although not as durable as stone, wood was used for buildings of all kinds, trestle bridges, flumes, canals and culverts, boats of all sorts and sizes, and hundreds of smaller products. Wood products were the building blocks of Canada. View Full Post...