By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
[View the story "Happy birthday Mr. President, and you too Darwin" on Storify]…
By Mark Richardson - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Fifty years ago, WAC Bennett declared the Trans-Canada open at the Rogers Pass
Rogers Pass, British Columbia – Day 48
Trans-Canada distance: 6,479 km
Actual distance driven: 13,912 km
THEN: (Rogers Pass) Happy birthday today to the Trans-Canada Highway! It was opened 50 years ago when BC Premier WAC Bennett declared BC Hwy. 1 open at the Rogers Pass. At that moment, in front of 7,000 people, he snipped a ribbon near Revelstoke, 70 km west of here, and the current road was open to be driven across the country.
There’s no celebration of this here today, though. That’s because Bennett’s provincial ceremony had pipped the federal government to the line – the official opening of the Trans-Canada Highway took place Sept. 3 in front of another 4,000 people, here at the summit of the Pass in Glacier National Park. That’s when Prime Minister John Diefenbaker tamped down a patch of asphalt and declared the Trans-Canada Highway to be open. Except that motorists had been driving it for the previous five weeks.
This was all due to money squabbles. Bennett wanted the feds to pay a greater portion of the cost of construction, but Diefenbaker refused, reasoning that Ottawa was already covering the complete cost of construction through all national parks, including both Revelstoke and Glacier on the run through here to Golden.
“There was one of the most peculiar, self-centred actions that I’ve ever known,” Diefenbaker said later of Bennett’s ceremony.
The national ceremony was not without its own controversy, though. It was snubbed by both Newfoundland and New Brunswick, both of which claimed, not incorrectly, that their portions of the road were far from finished. In Newfoundland, 600 km of the 1,000 km highway had yet to be paved and Joey Smallwood was holding out for more money. Did he get it? Find out more about the “Complete the Drive by ’65” movement here.
The Rogers Pass took six years to construct through some of the most challenging terrain in the country. There was already a CP rail track through the pass, completed just before the last spike was pounded home in 1885, but was a dangerous track – hundreds of people were killed by snowfalls and avalanches before it was pushed underground by the eight-kilometre Connaught Tunnel in 1916. I’ll tell more about the TCH’s remarkable construction here in tomorrow’s blog.
NOW: (Rogers Pass) The Rogers Pass is not the highest point of the highway – that’s the Kicking Horse Pass east of here, which I mentioned yesterday. It’s still plenty high, though, at 1,330 metres (4,364 feet) and gets an average of more than eight metres of snow every season.
Much of the challenge of the road’s completion was to protect it from avalanches. This is done with – among other things – explosive charges to knock out large accumulations of snow before they have a chance to build, and cone-shaped barriers of concrete scattered on the mountainside to dissipate sliding snow.
Most obvious, though, are the snow tunnels: literally, above-ground tunnels that mean any avalanches pass over them and into the valley below, without affecting the road itself. When I drove through here last summer, I assumed these were actual tunnels that cut through the cliff-face, but they’re not. They weren’t created to ease the road’s construction but to prevent its destruction.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: (Rogers Pass) And happy birthday to me, too! I was born at the exact moment that Bennett was cutting that ribbon 50 years ago. People tell me I was born to drive this highway, but I think I’m just up for a good road trip.
You may have heard me explaining this on Monday. If you listen to CBC in the afternoon, there’s a good chance you did: I had 16 consecutive interviews with local radio hosts, each for 10 minutes or so. Phew!
The interviews were booked through the CBC’s syndication service, and then they called to make sure I was still available. The problem was the only fitting place for me to do this was from here on the summit of the Rogers Pass, and I really needed a landline. My cell phone had five bars of connection on it because there’s a Bell tower up here, but then a thunderstorm rolled in and the service dropped off, usually just as I was getting introspective. CBC Charlottetown in PEI lost me during a live broadcast and never did call back – sorry.
There’s a hotel up here though – who knew? – and I booked a room that came with its own phone for the final dozen interviews. It’s an older hotel, built just 18 months after the opening of the pass. A couple of fellow travellers driving home to Vancouver from Halifax met me up here after keeping in touch throughout this journey and they took Tristan off for lunch while I set things up. Thanks, Ed and Bev Frazer.
SOMETHING FROM TRISTAN, 12: (Rogers Pass) Today was my dad’s birthday and I bought him a gift that I think he enjoyed. It is basically a guy riding a motorcycle that you can put a wine bottle in to create the body.
We are staying in a hotel right on the Rogers Pass and he’s definitely happy about that because of the whole “birthday at the same time as the opening of the Rogers Pass” thing.
Also, at our hotel, one of those tourist buses showed up and a whole bunch of people unloaded and were fascinated with the gophers. They took lots of pictures of me because I happened to be feeding the gophers at the time they showed up so maybe I’ll be famous in China.
Today was a great day and maybe and hopefully tomorrow will be too.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
Thanks to a reader for pointing out a mistake in my article on “Happy Birthday”: the song is not, in fact, under copyright in Canada, but entered the public domain in Canada in 1985. (Warner/Chappell sent the reader a letter to this effect in 1997.) I recall being told, in law school, that the song was under copyright everywhere, but apparently this was wrong — which could be taken as further proof that you shouldn’t believe everything lawyers tell you.
To elaborate a little on the Police Squad! anecdote from the article: there’s an episode of Police Squad! where someone says “And now, let’s sing something different” and then the party guests begin to sing “Happy Birthday.” When the show was released on VHS, they didn’t want to pay to use “Happy Birthday,” so somebody got the clever and very ZAZ-esque idea to use the line “something different” as the cue for an original joke song: “Something different, oo-oo…”
When the show was released on DVD, they restored the original version of the episode, but because so many people had first encountered it on VHS, there was a lot of disappointment expressed online over the removal of the “Something Different” joke. I suppose that’s a tribute to whoever came up with that solution in the first place.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM - 1 Comment
All those restaurant waiters singing the iconic tune? Legally, they could owe $20,000.
This is a major anniversary for the woman who composed Happy Birthday, but you can’t afford to sing it to her. June 27 marks the 150th birthday of Mildred Hill, who wrote a short song in 1893 with lyrics (originally “Good Morning To All”) by her younger sister Patty. Long after Mildred was dead, the song was registered with new birthday lyrics, and ever since then, the music publisher has collected a licence fee from any movie or TV show that uses Happy Birthday. When it’s sung in a restaurant, you may be hearing the sound of someone who owes money.
Nobody knows who wrote Happy Birthday to Mildred Hill’s tune, and it was sung that way for some time before anyone thought of charging for it. But ever since it was copyrighted in 1935, what sounds like a traditional song became a privately owned cash cow: the song was used in 10 movies in 2008 alone, and Warner Music Group, which now owns the rights, requires a licence fee of approximately $20,000 for singing even one of the song’s four lines. Producers sometimes save money by substituting public-domain songs like For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow in birthday scenes, or even creating original songs; the first home-video release of Leslie Nielsen’s show Police Squad! recorded over Happy Birthday with a song called Something Different. (When the DVD release restored the original version of the episode, some fans complained about the removal of Something Different.)