TODAY IN HISTORY:
Lincoln ends slavery
In 1862, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia.
In 1874, Provencher MP Louis Riel was expelled from the Commons as a fugitive. The Metis leader was wanted in Ontario for the 1870 execution of Orangeman Thomas Scott during the “Red River Uprising.”
In 1887, a rebuilt and enlarged Welland Canal opened for navigation between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
In 1895, the city of Chatham, Ont., was incorporated.
In 1907, the McGill University medical building in Montreal was destroyed by fire.
In 1912, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She used a Bleriot monoplane to travel from Dover, England to Hardelot, France.
In 1917, Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia after years of exile following the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II.
In 1947, the French ship “Grandcamp,” carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer, blew up at the harbour in Texas City, Texas. Another ship, the “High Flyer,” exploded the following day. The blasts and resulting fires killed nearly 600 people.
In 1962, Walter Cronkite made his debut as anchor of “The CBS Evening News,” succeeding Douglas Edwards. Cronkite lasted 19 years at the anchor desk before Dan Rather succeeded him in 1981.
In 1962, Bob Dylan debuted his song “Blowin’ in the Wind” at Gerde’s Folk City in New York.
In 1973, Paul McCartney starred in his first TV special, titled after his given name, “James Paul McCartney.”
In 1976, a plan aimed at ending civil war in Lebanon was announced in Damascus following a meeting between Syrian President Hafez Assad and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.
In 1992, David Milgaard was released from a Manitoba prison after serving nearly 23 years for the 1969 murder of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. The Saskatchewan government declined to retry Milgaard after the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial. DNA evidence cleared Milgaard in 1997, and he later received $7 million in compensation from the federal and Saskatchewan governments.
In 1995, a deal was reached to end a turbot fishing dispute between Canada and the European Union. The agreement gave Spain a higher turbot quota in the North Atlantic in return for tougher quota enforcement measures.
In 1999, Wayne Gretzky announced that he was retiring from pro hockey after 20 phenomenal NHL seasons. The announcement, at a packed news conference in New York, came less than a day after an emotional farewell game on Canadian soil at the Corel Centre in Kanata, Ont.
In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a mentally-disturbed student, killed two people in a dormitory at Virginia Tech University and then two hours later, opened fire in a classroom building on campus before taking his own life. In all, 32 people were killed in the worst school shooting rampage in U.S. history. Montreal-born Jocelyne CoutureNowak, a teacher, was among the victims.
In 2013, Rita MacNeil, a singersongwriter from Big Pond, Nova Scotia, whose powerful voice explored genres from country, to folk, to gospel, died following complications from surgery. She was 68.
In 2013, Canadian-born gospel singer George Beverly Shea, the booming baritone who sang to millions of Christians at evangelist Billy Graham’s crusades during a decades-long career, died at the age of 104. He won a Grammy for Best Gospel Recording in 1965 for his album “Southland Favorites,” and received one in 2011 for lifetime achievement.
In 2014, more than 300 passengers, mostly teenagers on a school trip, were killed in the sinking of a ferry off South Korea, causing nationwide grief and fury. Officials blamed crew members’ negligence, untimely rescue efforts and corruption by the ship’s owners for the tragedy.