The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City. It’s been sitting amid the chaos of midtown Manhattan since it opened in the early 1920s, a luxury hotel that still attracts visitors from all over the world. And it was right here at the Roosevelt in 1929 that a Canadian changed the way Americans celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Our story begins — as all the most exciting stories do — with the glitz and glamour of an international postage conference. And with a Canadian cabinet minister who accidentally made Christmas history.
It’s four in the morning. A spring night in 1915. In the muddy desolation just outside the crumbling Belgian town of Ypres, the guns are roaring. For ten minutes, the German artillery bellows. Then, it stops. And a new horror begins.
A famous cookie-baking family gave rise to one of Canada’s most disturbing ghost stories. Robert Christie, you see, had a mistress. And while he was living in the Christie Mansion with his family, he decided she should live there too. He kept her hidden in a secret chamber behind the wood paneling in the library. They call it Room 29.
It’s been called “The Horse of Steel” and “The Little Iron Horse.” It’s a distinctly Canadian breed, with roots stretching back more than 300 years to the early French-Canadian pioneers. It had to be a rugged breed to survive the rigours of the Canadian climate — but as strong as it is, the Canadian Horse has barely survived: more than once, the National Horse of Canada has nearly gone extinct.
Today, the church is known as Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, but its had several names over the years. Through them, you can trace the history of the city — and of the warring empires that have shaped the story of Canada.
It's Christmas Eve, 1781. And in the town of Sorel, Québec, the Riedesels are throwing a party. The family has a lot to celebrate: this is the first Christmas in four years they've been able to enjoy the holiday in freedom. They've been through a harrowing ordeal of horror and bloodshed. But now, it's finally over.
If you want to trace the show back to the very, very beginning, to the person who more than any other is credited with the creation of Doctor Who, well, then you have to travel back to Canada, back to downtown Toronto, back to a brand new baby boy born in the city during the First World War.
In the 1760s, strange reports began to appear in a French-Canadian newspaper. There was, according to the Gazette de Québec, a vicious beast preying on the population of the colony: a werewolf had come to town.
"O Canada" has a long and bizarre history. The song didn't become our national anthem until 1980, but it was written a hundred years earlier. And today, Anglophones and francophones are singing two very different national anthems.