Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28 - Terry Fox

On this day in history in 1981, Terry Fox passed away at New Westminster, British Columbia.

Terry Fox was a distance runner and basketball player for his high school and university teams. After a diagnosis of osteosarcoma in 1977, his right leg was amputated. He continued to run using an artificial leg. He went on to play wheelchair basketball in Vancouver, winning three national championships.

Terry Fox is perhaps best known for his humanitarianism and cancer research activism. In 1980, he began a Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. His hope was to raise one dollar for each of Canada's then-24-million people.

His marathon began on April 12, 1980, when he dipped his right leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John's, Newfoundland. He filled two large bottles with ocean water, intending to keep one as a souvenir, and pour the other into the Pacific Ocean upon his arrival at Victoria, British Columbia.

Terry Fox had become a national star by the time he reached Ontario, making public appearances with businessmen, athletes, and politicians in his effort to raise money.

He was forced to end his run outside Thunder Bay when the cancer spread to his lungs. He passed away 9 months later.

Terry Fox, a national hero, is perhaps one of Canada's proudest sons, living forever in history with annual Terry Fox runs, and the many buildings, roads, and parks named in his honour across the country.

Today we remember his great struggles and perseverance, and thank him for everything he gave us.

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

- Samuel de Champlain explored Iroquois country in 1609, entering the Rivière des Iroquois (Richelieu), paddling upriver and reaching a great lake that would later bear his name.

- The French colony of Guadeloupe was established in the Caribbean in 1635.
- A separate government was established for St. John Island in 1769. (It was not named Prince Edward Island until 1799).

- Queen Victoria's coronation occurred in Westminster Abbey, London in 1838.

- Fire struck Saint-Jean, Québec in 1845, jumping from house to house and destroying 1300 homes. In total, more than 18 000 people were left homeless.
- The Saxophone was patented by Antoine Joseph Sax in 1846.
- Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo by young Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip in 1914, the casus belli of World War I.
- The Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement imposed on Germany after World War I, was signed near the French capital at Versailles in 1919. It took effect on January 10.
- FDR ordered a federal gold vault be built at Fort Knox Kentucky in 1935.
- North Korean forces captured Seoul, South Korea in the opening phase of the Korean War in 1950.
- Playwright Brad Fraser, who blossomed into an international star with the production of Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, was born in Edmonton in 1959.

- UNICEF chose rock group Kansas as ambassadors of goodwill in 1978.
- The Access to Information Act was passed by the House of Commons in 1982. It came into effect in July of 1983. Also in 1982, Prince Charles and Lady Diana gave William his name.
- Federal, Provincial, and First Nations representatives agreed to create a treaty commission to co-ordinate treaty negotiations in British Columbia in 1991, marking a fundamental change in the provincial government's policy toward First Nations.
- Queen Elizabeth II made her 22nd visit to Canada in 2010, visiting 5 cities over 9 days.

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

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