Winter 1999 CSANews Issue 34  |  Posted date : Mar 04, 2007.Back to list

At midnight on December 31, 1999, we will become part of a worldwide fraternity. Though membership will number in the billions, we are the ones who will be fortunate enough to experience and comprehend the coming of a new millennium ... and, as a smaller group, the ones who can remember and appreciate the changes that have occurred within the last century. While it would be impossible to list all of the milestones of the past 100 years, we're taking a look back at some that have impacted on all of our lives.

In an era of Lear jets and Concordes, it's hard to imagine that it all began with a 12-second flight on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The fantastic vision of two bicycle-builders, Orville and Wilbur Wright, has opened the skies ­ and the heavens - to us all. By 1907, the technology had advanced so greatly that the Wrights were able to submit a bid to the U.S. army for a military plane. The contract was won in 1908 and the aeronautical field has never looked back.

In 1908, $850 would buy the newest Model T Ford. Not long after, Henry Ford revolutionized an already-revolutionary industry by introducing an automobile assembly plant, and soon the famed Tin Lizzie was being produced at the dizzying rate of one every 24 seconds. The era of the horse-drawn carriages had drawn to a close.

We fought in the war to end all wars, with far fewer men returning home than could ever have been anticipated. Nearly nine million soldiers lost their lives between 1914 and 1918 in the first war to use the weapons of abject destruction that are still used today. Two decades later, duty called again and Canada sent her boys overseas. When those last troops were finally allowed home, countless mothers, wives and sweethearts were left with empty arms and broken hearts. The world was left with the knowledge that man's inhumanity to man could never be underestimated.

Two of Canada's most famous physicians, Drs. Banting and Best, have earned the daily blessings of millions of diabetics around the world. Their discovery of insulin (made prior to Dr. Best entering medical school) has enabled those with diabetes to lead normal lives. Drs. Banting and Best shared the 1923 Nobel Prize for their invention and, in 1934, Dr. Banting was knighted.

Through the work of Dr. Jonas Salk, the fears of millions of parents were finally alleviated with the 1955 (U.S.) release of his polio vaccine. Prior to his discovery, the warm weather of summer had parents in the grip of terror, lest their children be stricken with polio...and death, paralysis or confinement to an iron lung as the result. The origins of the disease were was how it was passed on. Parents kept their children away from swimming pools and lakes. Scientists were at a loss to explain the connection with summer...but it wasn't the season that caused the outbreaks, but rather the warm weather inviting greater social contact. Dr. Salk's discovery of the vaccine set parents free from fear and, within the first five years of it being used, it virtually eliminated poliomyelitis.

On December 1, 1955, tired after a long day at work...and more tired still of the racial climate of the day, 42-year-old Rosa Parks steadfastly refused to give up her seat (in the segregated black section of a bus) to a white man. Her courage and determination in an era of suppression have long made her one of the heroes of the black civil rights movement. Four days later, the black community of Montgomery found alternate means of transportation...and did so for the next 381 days. The Montgomery Bus Boycott ­ a peaceful protest - garnered national attention and finally, in November 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. Mrs. Parks was free to ride wherever she pleased.

The last century has seen us evolving from gathering around the radio on Sunday nights to gathering around 60-inch television screens. From General Electric Theater and The Ed Sullivan Show to 60 Minutes and the X-Files, television has quickly become an integral part of our everyday lives. For the first time, we saw the moon's surface at the same time as the astronauts, and were allowed a glimpse of war from the safety of the sidelines as the Gulf War dominated every broadcast. Television has opened the windows of the world's many cultures and has helped to make it a slightly smaller planet.

The race to the stars ­ and beyond ­ began in earnest in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite to achieve orbit. The U.S. followed shortly thereafter with Explorer 1 and, from that point on, the two super powers were neck-in-neck to conquer the galaxy. Millions watched the scratchy image of Neil Armstrong's first steps onto the moon's surface, and his oft-quoted, "One small step for man..." speech will remain part of our collective memories to be passed on to younger generations.

In 1972, Team Canada's Paul Henderson got the goal heard 'round the world as he scored in the final seconds of the game to secure Canada's victory in the Summit Series tournament against the USSR.

Canada has had political leaders who, while extremely well-known and respected for their leadership skills, were also known for their quirks. O Prime Minister who guided the country through the dark days of World War II, Mackenzie King, relied on the advice of his mother, grandfather and his predecessor, Sir Wilfred Laurier. It mattered little that none were alive at the time ... seances were the communication vehicle of choice.

Dr. Charles E. Best (Pic 1) and Sir Frederick Banting (Pic 2), Co-discoverers of insulin (CP PHOTO) 1999