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April 1, 1873
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April 1, 1873

April 1, 1873

The steamer RMS Atlantic wrecked off Prospect. It was one of the most disastrous shipwrecks that ever occurred on the North American coast — 546 persons of the 957 onboard died. (Image: The Wreck of the RMS Atlantic, Currier & Ives, 1873. E.A. Bollinger. N.S. Archives).
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April 1, 1915

April 1, 1915

The first issue of The Atlantic Advocate appeared. Its masthead read, “Devoted to the interests of colored people.” It was published by Wilfred and Miriam DeCosta, and Dr. Clement Courtenay Ligoure. The last issue was published in May 1917. (Image:  The Atlantic Advocate (1915–1917). N.S. Archives).
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April 1, 1996

The Halifax Regional Municipality came into being, amalgamating four municipalities — Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and the County of Halifax.
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April 1, 1979

April 1, 1979

Atlantic Insight Magazine was launched in Halifax by publisher William ‘Bill’ Belliveau, and editor Harry Bruce.
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April 2, 1955

April 2, 1955

The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge opened. An informative YouTube video on the bridge’s construction and subsequent changes can be viewed at: youtube.com/watch?v=358TuJ09S7U (Halifax Dartmouth Bridge Commission, April 6, 2013). The lives of six men were lost during the bridge’s initial construction: Jean Marie Belanger, Rudolphe LaRocque (21), Louis Benoit Pelletier (26), Arthur McKinley (54), and Yvon Moreau (19). Supervisor, L. J. McMahon, died of a heart attack. (Source: 'Crossings Fifty Years of...
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April 2, 1914

Several outside workers at the Drummond Mine had come into the warm boiler room to eat their lunches. They were sitting directly above No. 5 boiler when it blew up, killing seven men.
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April 3, 1823

Lawrence Kavanagh (Kavanah) (1764–1830), took his seat in Legislature. From St. Peter’s, Cape Breton, he was a prominent merchant, known as “The Emancipator.” He was one of two representatives from Cape Breton, which had joined the mainland House of Assembly in October 1820. He was identified “with the Acadian and Irish.” He came from one of the first English-speaking families that settled on Cape Breton Island after the fall of Louisbourg in 1758. He was also the first Roman Catholic to hold a seat in...
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April 4, 1901

April 4, 1901

The Floral Emblem Act was assented to, making the mayflower the provincial flower. Early American settlers called it mayflower when they found it growing along the East Coast, because they saw it as the first flower of spring. (Painting:  The Nova Scotia official flower — the mayflower. (Painting by Maria Morris. N.S. Archives).
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April 4, 1987

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche died of a cardiac arrest (b. 1939). He had established the Gampo Abbey monastery in Cape Breton in 1983, and his headquarters in Halifax in 1986. He was a supreme abbot of the Surmang monasteries, a scholar, teacher, poet, artist and originator of a radical representation of the Shambhala vision. On the Shambhala tradition, he wrote, “With the great problems facing human society, it seems increasingly important to find simple and non-sectarian ways to work with ourselves and to share our understanding...
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April 4, 1876

The University of Halifax was chartered by the University Act, stating that Dalhousie, King’s, Mount Saint Vincent and Saint Mary’s would be regarded as colleges of the non-sectarian University of Halifax, conferring their degrees in the name University of Halifax. It was meant to be an umbrella institution, like the University of London, England, wherein it would not offer instruction but would examine those who presented themselves and confer degrees if they were successful. But institutional sectarian claims continued to be the preference over collaboration...
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April 4, 1866

April 4, 1866

Queen Victoria wrote in her personal journal: “There will be a great deal to do with the Confederation of N. America which is likely now to be accomplished & which will be a great safeguard against America.” (Image: An 1883 painting of Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901), taken from an 1882 photograph by Alexander Bassano. Hulton Archive/Getty Images).
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April 5, 1874

April 5, 1874

Charles Macdonald was born and raised in Steam Mill (near Centreville, NS). After his years at sea and some time at home in the Annapolis Valley, his travels took him to the mountains of British Columbia, where he worked on the railroad, explored the terrain and painted a number of watercolours. It was during a period in Vancouver that he joined the Socialist Party of Canada. His interest in architecture was honed during his travels abroad at...
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April 5, 1745

April 5, 1745

New England colonial forces, under the command of William Pepperrell (1696–1759) and Commodore Peter Warren (1703–1752), arrived at Canso en route to Louisbourg. They began their attack on May 11. Louisbourg surrendered six weeks later on June 28. One hundred and one New Englanders were killed and over 1,200 would later die of disease and the cold through the winter occupation of 1745–46. The English governor put in charge of the Fort after its surrender, Charles Knowles, wrote, “I...
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April 6, 1779

Henry Alline was ordained in Falmouth. He became a noted evangelist, hymnist and theologian (1748–1784). He arrived with his family from Rhode Island in 1760 to settle in Falmouth, where he became an itinerant preacher and evangelist in rural and frontier Nova Scotia, beginning in 1776. He became a leader in the province of the Great Awakening and the establishment of New Light churches.
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April 6, 1764

The north suburbs of Halifax petitioned to be called Gottingen by application of residents.
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April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

Mi’kmaw Elder Noel Knockwood died at age eighty-one (b. 1932). Born in Shubenacadie, he was a Korean War veteran and a respected spiritual leader of the Mi’kmaq people. He also served as the first Aboriginal sergeant-at-arms for the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 2000 to 2005, and served on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council (from 1975). In 2002 he was awarded the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his efforts to strengthen Mi’kmaq heritage and spirituality. (Photo: Mi'kmaq Elder Noel Knockwood. Nova Scotia House...
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April 8, 1820

Sir John Wentworth (1737–1820) died in Halifax at the age of eighty-four. He served as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1792 to 1808. He had been close friends with John Adams and was also a former governor of New Hampshire. He married Francis Atkinson (1745–1813), née Deering, in 1769 and they were forced to flee Portsmouth, NH, for Halifax in April of 1776 during the American Revolution. However, his wife Francis was not happy with Halifax...
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April 8, 1943

April 8, 1943

Paul MacEwan was born in Charlottetown, PEI (d. 2017). He became an MLA for Cape Breton Nova (1970–2003) and later was the Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly (1993–1996) and an author. He was first elected as an NDP member under the leadership of Jeremy Akerman in 1970. They were the first two NDP MLAs elected in the history of Nova Scotia. MacEwan was expelled from the NDP in 1980 for criticizing a party executive member. He established the Cape Breton...
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April 9, 1917

April 9, 1917

The First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge began on Easter Monday. By April 12, the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) of the 4th Canadian Division had control of the ridge, capturing Hill 145 in their first battle. The battle had cost the four Canadian divisions 10,602 casualties (3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded). Four members of the Canadian Corps received Victoria Crosses for their actions during the battle. On April 9, 2017, the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge was remembered at...
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April 10, 1800

April 10, 1800

The cornerstone of St. George’s (Anglican) Round Church was laid by Sir John Wentworth — a cylindrical wooden church designed in the Georgian style with Palladian elements. The design was a concept from Edward, the Duke of Kent, who was commander of the British forces in Nova Scotia at the time. He was a son of King George III, and played an active role in the planning of the new building. Though the first service would be held in July 1801, the building...
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April 10, 1841

The City of Halifax was incorporated. The original Mi’kmaq name for the area was K’jipuktuk. Earlier versions used Chebookt, meaning 'chief bay or harbour'. The area was considered sacred by the Mi’kmaq, who used it for camping and trading. In 1749, 2,547 settlers from England, Ireland and Scotland arrived (also see; Cornwallis, June 21, 1749). A third of the settlers who arrived didn’t make it through the first winter, and many left for New England. Later, others arrived...
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April 10, 1989

April 10, 1989

The Maritime Music Awards (later called the East Coast Music Awards — ECMAs, in 1991) were first staged at the Flamingo Café and Lounge in Halifax. There were nine award categories. Musician John Gracie was the inaugural winner for Male Artist of the Year in 1989. Gracie commented of the first ECMA event in 1991; “I remember...the first year the (ECMAs) awards were held at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. Andree (Gracie’s wife) and I...
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April 10, 1930

Legislation that created the Nova Scotia Police came into force. The force was eventually organized into seven districts and comprised almost one hundred officers. But by April 1, 1932, due to increased costs, the Nova Scotia government entered into an agreement with the RCMP to take over provincial policing, with most members of the Nova Scotia Police being absorbed by the federal force. The RCMP assigned 175 officers to Nova Scotia. As of 2017, the RCMP “H”...
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April 11, 1885

April 11, 1885

The Halifax Provisional Battalion left Halifax to fight in the North-West Rebellion against a force of Métis under Gabriel Dumont. Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel James J. Bremner, the battalion would be gone for three months. The wrought-iron gates at the Halifax Public Gardens were made in the battalion’s honour. (Photo: The Halifax Provisional Battalion in Medicine Hat, District of Assiniboia (1885). Library and Archives Canada).
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April 11, 2016

Bay Ferries Ltd. released its fees for their high-speed Nova Scotia-to-Maine ferry service. Nova Scotia taxpayers were expected to support the service for $32.7 million over two years to refloat the previous ferry service, including a ten year agreement to cover any cash deficiencies the company might incur — if Bay Ferries lost money, those losses were to be reimbursed by taxpayers. A previous operator, Nova Star Cruises, failed to meet passenger targets and used up $39.5 million in provincial subsidies during its two-year...
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April 11, 2016

Mi’kmaw educator Elsie J. Basque died (b. in the Acadian community of Clare, Digby County, May 12, 1916). She was a graduate of the Provincial Normal College in Truro (1937), the first Mi’kmaw person to receive a teacher’s licence and to teach in a non-native school. She was a recipient of the Order of Canada in 2013.
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April 11, 1914

April 11, 1914

Birth of Robert L. Stanfield (d. 2003). He was the seventeenth premier of Nova Scotia (1956–1967) and later the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. A graduate of Dalhousie University and Harvard Law School in the 1930s, Stanfield became the leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party in 1948 and, after a rebuilding period, led the party to government in 1956, going on to win three straight elections. (Also see 'G.I....
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April 12, 1791

April 12, 1791

Provo William Parry Wallis was born in Halifax (d. 1892). He became a notable Royal Navy officer who took part in the capture of the USS Chesapeake by the frigate HMS Shannon. After many exploits at sea and in battle, he became Admiral of the British Fleet in 1875 and died at the age of one hundred. (Also see The victorious Royal Navy, June 6, 1813.). (Painting: Sir Provo William Parry Wallis (1791–1892), painted by Robert Field, c 1813. National...
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April 12, 1918

Grand Chief John Denny Jr. died. Born on the Eskasoni reserve in 1841, he served the Mi’kmaq people for thirty-seven years. He was the last of the Mi’kmaq hereditary grand chiefs — he was the son of Grand Chief John Denny and Elizabeth Marshall, and the great-grandson of Grand Chief Toma Dennis.
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April 12, 1861

The American Civil War began (1861–1865). It would claim over 750,000 Union and Confederate soldiers and an undetermined number of civilians. Over two hundred Nova Scotians who fought in the war (est. 40, 000 Canadians) have been identified, but it is thought that up to two thousand men migrated to the US before 1860.
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April 12, 1936

April 12, 1936

The Moose River Gold Mine disaster occurred. “The roof of the mine collapsed, trapping three men, Herman Magill, Dr. David Robertson and Alfred Scadding, 150 feet down for 11 days. The men were reached by drilling a borehole on the sixth day to send food, water and a telephone till the rescue was completed. Robertson and Scadding survived and Magill died on the seventh day. The event was broadcast by J. Frank Willis of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting...
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April 13, 1905

April 13, 1905

Robert William Chambers was born in Wolfville. He loved drawing as a child. He later became a well-loved, award-winning editorial cartoonist whose work spanned a fifty-three-year career, appearing regularly in the Chronicle Herald. In the early 1920s, he studied art in New York, returning to Nova Scotia in 1932 to work as an editorial cartoonist. He died in 1996, two weeks before his ninety-first birthday. A range of his work can be viewed online at bobchamberscartoons.blogspot.ca. (Photo:  Bob Chambers, 1941. N.S. Archives).
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April 13, 1954

April 13, 1954

Premier Angus L. Macdonald died while in office (b. 1890). A First World War veteran, “He served as the Liberal premier of Nova Scotia from 1933 to 1940, when he became the federal minister of defence for naval services. He oversaw the creation of an effective Canadian navy and Allied convoy service during World War II.” After the Second World War, he returned to Nova Scotia from Ottawa and was elected premier once again in 1945. (Photo: Angus L. Macdonald (centre) with his...
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April 14, 1912

April 14, 1912

The largest passenger steamship in the world, Titanic, collided with an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The vessel sank at 2:20am on the morning of the 15th. Of 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died in the sinking (including 132 Canadians), making it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in modern history. One hundred and fifty Titanic victims were buried in Halifax in the Fairview Lawn, Mount Olivet and Baron de...
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April 15, 1924

Murdock Maxwell MacOrdum (1901–1955) submitted his MA thesis, entitled Survivals of English and Scottish Popular Ballads in Nova Scotia: A Study of Folk Song in Canada, at McGill University. He was inspired and influenced by William Roy Mackenzie’s book The Quest of the Ballad. (Also see William Roy Mackenzie, February. 14, 1883.) Dr. Helen Creighton would likewise be influenced by both Mackenzie’s and MacOrdum’s work. MacOrdum was born in Marion Bridge. He would become president of Carleton College (1947–1955). The library at Carleton University was named...
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April 15, 1923

“Keep to the Right” was instituted on NS highways, thereby changing from left-hand drive.
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April 16, 2013

April 16, 2013

Rita MacNeil died (b. in Big Pond, Cape Breton, in 1944). Starting in 1975, she released twenty-six albums and won dozens of awards over her musical career. She was also a Member of the Order of Canada (1992) and the Order of Nova Scotia (2005). (Photo credit: SOCAN.ca).
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April 16, 1930

April 16, 1930

Jerry Lonecloud died. Also known as Germain (or Jeremiah) Bartlett Alexis, Jerry Bartlett or in Mi’kmaq as Slme’n Laksi (Haselmah Luxcey), he was born in Belfast, Maine, in 1854 and became a well-known Mi’kmaw guide, herbalist and folklorist. Both his parents were from Nova Scotia and he later settled for a time in Bear River. He passed on many oral histories and folk tales to Harry Piers, curator of the Provincial Museum (see January 24, 1940), and to Clarissa Archibald Dennis (see February 26,...
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April 16, 1945

April 16, 1945

The minesweeper HMCS Esquimalt was sunk by U-190, a German U-boat, a few miles off Chebucto Head. It sank in five minutes with the loss of thirty-nine men. It was the last Canadian warship to suffer that fate during the Second World War. (Photo: HMCS Esquimalt. N.S. Museum).
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April 17, 2011

April 17, 2011

Award-winning artist Joseph Purcell (b. 1927) was honoured in a ceremony organized by the Saint Patrick’s Church Restoration Society, held at Saint Patrick’s Church in Halifax. In 1951, Purcell painted a series of murals high above the high altar at the church. Joseph and his wife, Tela, were married in the church, as were his parents and grandparents. From age fifteen, Purcell developed an early interest in painting and exhibiting his work. (Painting:  Oldham, by Joseph Purcell. 1986).
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April 17, 1915

April 17, 1915

First World War prisoners began to arrive at the Amherst Prisoner-of-War (POW) Internment Camp from Halifax aboard armed trains. The camp was the largest POW camp in Canada during the war — holding a maximum of 854 prisoners. Besides Amherst, there were also internment camps at Melville Island on the Northwest Arm of Halifax, and at Citadel Hill (Fort George). There were twenty-four camps across the country. The Amherst camp closed on September 27, 1919. One notable prisoner at the camp was Russian leader...
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April 17, 1969

April 17, 1969

The 4th ESTATE newspaper began publishing. It was created when father and son team Frank and Nick Fillmore left a still less-than-a-year-old paper called The People to form their own paper. At the time, it was considered a “radical” newspaper, providing a feisty and combative tone to many stories that impacted people across Nova Scotia. It published till 1977. (Photo: The 4th ESTATE  newspaper. Halifax Examiner).
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April 18, 1958

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU ) opened its founding convention, with ninety-five delegates representing thirteen divisions with occupational and regional representation. The NSGEU is an active affiliate of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the National Union of Public and General Employees and the Canadian Labour Congress. It represents over 31,000 public and private sector employees in Nova Scotia.
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April 19, 1864

Nova Scotia became the first province to pass legislation, the Free Schools Act, to remove schools from “dependency on charity by guaranteeing a free education” for all Nova Scotia children. By 1883, “local school boards were permitted to oblige children between seven and 12 to attend school for at least 80 days per year and to fine parents who did not send their children to school.”
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April 20, 1912

April 20, 1912

The Chronicle Herald confirmed that well-known Halifax property developer and philanthropist George Henry Wright (b. 1849) had died on the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic, age sixty-three. His body was not recovered. His will left his residence on the corner of Inglis and Young Street (number 689) to the Council of Women of Halifax to further the cause of women’s suffrage (their right to vote), and the rest to relatives. (Photo: The Local Council of Women...
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April 20, 1900

April 20, 1900

David Joseph Manners (born Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom) was born in Halifax. He moved with his family to New York City as a young boy and later became a well-known actor in Hollywood during the beginning of the talking film era. One of his most notable roles was that of Jonathan Harker in the 1931 film Dracula, which also starred Bela Lugosi in the title role. He retired from screen acting in 1936, performing occasionally on stage, and writing. He died in...
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April 20, 2014

Author Alistair MacLeod died (b. North Battleford, SK, July 20, 1936). He was an award-winning author and academic whose stories evoked the beauty of Cape Breton and its resilient characters. His book No Great Mischief (1999) was voted Atlantic Canada’s greatest book of all time. It also won the 2001 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. “I think we should realize that ‘story’ is much older than literacy, you know, and that all kinds of people tell...
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April 20, 1970

While searching for the crew of the missing herring seiner Enterprise, the CN rail ferry Patrick Morris sank off Cape Breton during a vicious gale. Forty-seven crew were rescued, but the captain, Roland Perry, aged fifty-four, and three officers were lost. The Enterprise crew of eight were also lost.
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April 21, 1947

April 21, 1947

Agnes Dennis died (b. 1859). A former president of the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), from 1901 to 1946, and the Red Cross, she mobilized nurses and relief efforts during the First World War. She also helped in coordinating assistance after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. She was considered part of a growing cadre of affluent, educated and experienced Nova Scotian women who sought social change for women. She was the mother of ten children. One of her daughters was Clarissa (Clara) Archibald Dennis,...
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April 22, 2001

April 22, 2001

The Nova Scotia–based Canadian mockumentary television series Trailer Park Boys premiered on Showcase. Directed by Mike Clattenburg, the series follows the shady exploits of Ricky (Robb Wells), Julian (John Paul Tremblay) and “Bubbles” (Mike Smith). The series ran on Showcase till 2007, and was later revived on Netflix in 2014. Three feature films were also released. In November 2016, it was announced that the Canadian licensed producer of medical cannabis, OrganiGram, based in Moncton, New Brunswick, had officially partnered with TPS productions, a company owned...
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April 22, 1910

Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company was incorporated. By 1998, it merged with the Island Telephone Company (PEI), NBTel and NewTel Communications (NL) to form Aliant — or Bell Aliant.
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April 23, 2016

April 23, 2016

Nova Scotian award-winning visual artist, curator, poet, playwright, arts founder/organizer, director and writer David Woods received the 2016 Harry Jerome Award for entertainment by the Black Business and Professional Association of Canada. Born in Trinidad in 1959, Woods immigrated with his parents and four siblings to Dartmouth in 1972. “As a teenager, Woods was a gifted student and initially planned a career in law, but after working with Black youth in Preston he turned his attention to creating drama and performance, literature and painting as a...
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April 23, 1762

April 23, 1762

Joshua Mauger (1725–1788) was appointed Nova Scotia Agent in London. By December 1763 he was no longer the agent, though “he remained the colony’s unofficial spokesman, with more apparent influence than a succession of governors.” Besides being active in the Halifax liquor trade, Mauger was also involved in the slave trade. (Image: Just imported and to be sold by Joshua Mauger. N.S. Archives).
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April 23, 1851

April 23, 1851

Canada’s first official stamp, the Three-Pence Beaver, was issued — designed by Sandford Fleming (age twenty-four). (Also see Sandford Fleming, July 22, 1915.). (Image: The Three-Pence Beaver stamp. © Canada Post).
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April 23, 1826

Construction began on the Shubenacadie Canal and waterway with the arrival of forty-four Irish stonemasons from Scotland, all experienced in the construction of British-style granite locks. Labourers — many of them also essentially stonemasons — were also brought in from Ireland. The remnants of their work camps were left along the canal as it winds its way through Dartmouth’s Shubie Park.
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April 24, 1895

April 24, 1895

Mount Hanley, Annapolis County, native Joshua Slocum (b. 1844) set out from Boston in the Spray on his voyage around the world. He would arrive back at Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898, after a voyage of 46,000 miles. He published a best-selling memoir on his journey in 1900 — Sailing Alone Around the World. (Photo: Joshua Slocum. He protected himself from pirates by spreading carpet tacks on his deck every night before going to sleep. SailMeOM.com).
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April 25, 1894

April 25, 1894

Annie Isabella Hamilton (1866–1941) became the first woman to graduate from Dalhousie Medical School. She worked closely with Dr. Maria Louisa Angwin (1849–1898), a Newfoundland-born, US-trained doctor, who became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Nova Scotia, and a dedicated feminist. Annie practised medicine in the North End of Halifax for about a decade before deciding to emigrate to China as a medical missionary in 1903 (she had learned Chinese while studying at Dalhousie and had been a...
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April 25, 1978

The Maritime Sikh Society was incorporated in Nova Scotia and aided in the building of the Sikh Gurdwara (a place of worship), opened in Halifax on November 19, 1978 — the only Gurdwara east of Montreal (the foundation stone was laid June 4, 1978).
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April 26, 1918

The Nova Scotia Franchise Act received royal assent in Nova Scotia — women were granted the right to vote in provincial elections, the first province to do so in Atlantic Canada (this did not include Indigenous women). A month later, the federal government, under Prime Minister Robert Borden, passed legislation for the whole country to allow women to vote. It wouldn’t be till 1953 that Nova Scotia enacted fair employment laws, and 1956 that the province enacted equal pay legislation. The Human Rights Act was...
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April 27, 2017

Bill No. 59, An Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia completed Third Reading and became law. First introduced on November 2, 2016, by Minister of Community Services Joanne Bernard, the bill went through a series of public consultations, meetings and amendments. With the Act passed, the Nova Scotia Department of Justice was deemed responsible for accessibility compliance and enforcement.
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April 28, 1827

April 28, 1827

William Hall was born (d. 1904.) (Also see William Hall, November 16, 1857.) He was the son of Jacob and Lucy Hall, former slaves who fled the US and landed in Halifax as refugees of the War of 1812. The Halls eventually moved to Horton Bluff, on the Minas Basin in Nova Scotia, where William and six other children were born. Hall joined the British Navy in 1852, obtaining the Victoria Cross in 1857, and served till...
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April 29, 1863

Dalhousie College was re-established. Though founded in 1818 by Lord Dalhousie, when he was later appointed governor general of Canada his influence waned, and the college did not actually offer a consistent program of studies till 1838. The program was only offered intermittently till 1863 when the college was reorganized and opened with six professors to undertake teaching efforts. The first degrees were offered in 1866, with twenty-eight students for degrees and twenty-eight occasional students.
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