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CALVIN, DILENO DEXTER – Volume XI (1881-1890)

d. 18 May 1884 at Garden Island, Ont.


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

A Nation Transformed

Significant industrial and technological development over the first two decades of the 20th century altered the social character of Canada. Radios, telephones, automobiles, heavy machines, new construction materials, and innovations in infrastructure – all contributed to a transformed country. Among the people who helped shape this new world – one that the Fathers of Confederation would have found both familiar and strange – was inventor Alexander Graham BELL:

“Bell returned to Canada later that summer [1876] and made the world’s first long-distance telephone call on 3 August, from Wallace Ellis’s general store in Mount Pleasant to Tutelo Heights, four miles away. He used the line of the Dominion Telegraph Company, which he connected to his father’s house with stove-pipe wire. His tests culminated in an eight-mile-long trial between Brantford and Paris on the 10th, when listeners in Robert White’s boot and shoe store heard voices, music, and singing come in over the wire from the Bell home. The test, which ‘afforded much pleasure and information to those present,’ according to the Daily Expositor, attracted more attention to the inventor, including a report in Scientific American (New York)….

“Bell’s vision of flight was as sweeping as his grand concept of the telephone. He predicted in 1907 that it would not be long until ‘a man can take dinner in New York and breakfast the next morning in Liverpool.’ He foresaw too the strategic importance of military air power and wrote, in a magazine in 1908, ‘The nation that secures control of the air will ultimately rule the world.’ Over a 31-year period that began with his sponsorship of Langley’s work, Bell and his associates would conduct more than 1,200 flight-related experiments, most of them at Baddeck.”

Significant advances in science and medicine came at the turn of the century, including those made by Harriet BROOKS (Pitcher), who was the first woman awarded a master’s degree in physics at McGill University:

“In 1900 Brooks commenced work that went in a new direction: the study of the emanation given off by radioactive substances such as thorium. At the time, this material was variously believed to be a gas, a vapour, or a fine powder. Brooks showed that the material was, in fact, a gas, of significantly lower molecular weight than thorium. Thus, it could not be simply a gaseous form of the same element. Her discovery led Rutherford and chemistry instructor Frederick Soddy to realize that one element had transmuted into another. Brooks was the first person to characterize the gas, now known as radon.”

To learn more about Canada’s development in the early 20th century, see the biographies in the following lists. 

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