Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24 - Discovery Day

On this day in history in 1497, Giovanni Caboto (otherwise known as John Cabot) discovered the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovery Day (also known as Cabot 500 Day) is celebrated annually on the nearest Monday to June 24th - which is today!

Discovery Day has been celebrated since 1997, the 500th anniversary of the Discovery.

Cabot left Europe on May 20th, 1497, aboard his vessel the Matthew. The small ship was reportedly fast an able, consisting of an 18-person crew. He landed near present-day Bonavista on June 24th 1497, leaving around July 20th of the same year.

Discovery Day is a paid holiday for government employees in Newfoundland and Labrador (lucky them). Celebrations for the day include a visit to the Matthew Legacy Site, a "Kids Walking Parade", talent shows, and a motorcade involving more than 100 cars.

Happy Discovery Day, Newfoundland and Labrador! I hope it's an awesome day!

Today is also International Fairy or Faerie Day, St. Jean Baptiste Day, and Celebration of the Senses Day!

Here are some interesting things that happened on this day in history:

- The 10th recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet occurred in 451.
- In the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Scotland regained independence from England.
- A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance in 1374 caused people in the streets of Aachen, Germany to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapsed from exhaustion.
- As stated above, John Cabot landed on the Atlantic coast of North America in 1497, claiming it for England. Cabot's discovery led to England's interest in what is now Atlantic Canada, especially the fishery.

- Henry VIII was crowned King of England in 1509.
- Father Denis Jamet performed the first mass ever celebrated in New France on the Île de Montréal in 1615.
- Kingston, Jamaica was founded in 1692.
- John Graves Simcoe arrived in Upper Canada in 1792. He reached Kingston July 1 and took office July 8.

- Caugnawaga and Mohawk warriors ambushed an American force at Beaver Dams in 1813. British general James Fitzgibbon persuaded the Americans to withdraw, though he had only 50 soldiers in the area.
- The St-Jean-Baptiste Society was founded by journalist Ludger Duvernay in 1834, who wanted to stimulate a nationalist spirit among his compatriots and encourage them to defend their linguistic and cultural heritage.
- An American Fur Company boat arrived at Fort Union in 1837, setting off a smallpox epidemic across the prairies, killing an estimated three-quarters of the Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee and Assiniboine peoples of the prairies.

O Canada, composed by Calixa Lavallée, was first performed at a banquet attended by the governor general, the Marquis of Lorne in 1880.

- The decision to hold modern Olympics every 4 years was made in 1894.
- Full Cabinet government was established in the North-West Territories in 1897; F.W. Haultain formed its first government.
- Mary Pickford became the 1st female film star to receive a million dollar contract in 1916.
- With declining business, the Great Gorge and International Railway began using one-person crews on trolley operations in Canada in 1928.
- Publisher and nationalist Mel Hurtig, who first published The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985 and 1988), was born in Edmonton in 1932.

- The entire Jewish male population of Gorzhdy, Lithuania was exterminated in 1941.
- In 1943, BC premier John Hart announced that the government had allocated $6 million to link Prince George with the Alaska Highway.
- Flying saucers were reportedly sighted over Mount Rainier by pilot Ken Arnold in 1947.
- "I Love Lucy," last aired on CBS-TV in 1957.

- Figure skater Barbara Underhill, a world gold medalist with skating partner Paul Martini, was born in Pembroke, Ontario in 1963.
- FTC ruled that health warnings must appear on all cigarette packages in 1964.
- During St-Jean-Baptiste Day riots in Montréal in 1968, 290 people were arrested and 130 injured. Prime Minister Trudeau was showered with rocks and bottles in the reviewing stand.

- In 1974, Prime Minister Trudeau declared that Canada would not seek the extradition of the FLQ members who had fled to Cuba and then France.
- Billy Joel received an honorary diploma from Hicksville Hightschool at the age of 43 in 1992.
- An estimated 2000 people rioted in Québec City after a rock concert, looting shops and damaging the National Assembly building in 1996.
- Female athletes were allowed to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics for the first time in 2012.

Stay tuned for our next, "On This Day in History"!

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