By the numbers: anniversaries that stand out in 2016

Shakespeare. Trench warfare. Cloning. Here are 2016’s biggest anniversaries.


MIKAN 2837593: The Second Battle of Ypres. (Library and Archives Canada)

Four centuries of posthumous Shakespeare readings. One century of horrifying trench warfare. And two decades since Dolly, the sheep who proved that cloning worked. Here are some of 2016’s biggest anniversaries.

400 years ago…

In March 1616, William Shakespeare wrote his last will and testament, leaving his wife, Anne, his “second best bed.” The next month he died. With three dozen plays—including Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear—to his name, as well as more than 150 sonnets, he is widely proclaimed as the greatest writer in the English language.

Now: Though some doubt that he authored all those works, no one can challenge the brilliance of the creations published under his name. Centuries later, his wording, both invented and adapted, is still commonplace. So while it’s possible for write about a “band of brothers” with “hearts of gold” wanting to “break the ice” with “one fell swoop” in a “brave new world,” perhaps it’s “a foregone conclusion” to remember that, as the Bard wrote, “brevity is the soul of wit.”

100 years ago…

The opening day of the Battle of the Somme during the First World War would bring heartache and sorrow to Newfoundland. At Beaumont-Hamel, France, on the northern end of the Allied front, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment started its advance at 9:15 a.m. on July 1, 1916. Many were cut down before ever reaching enemy territory. Of the 22 officers and 758 others who took part in the advance, all the officers and 658 troops were killed or wounded. The regiment’s divisional commander wrote of their effort: “It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault failed of success because dead men can advance no further.”

Now: The sacrifice at Beaumont-Hamel is seared into the memory of everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador. The land on which so many died was purchased by its colonial government after the First World War and is today a National Historic Site and one of the largest intact battlefields. There, amid the rolling hills, cemeteries and preserved trenches, stands a bronze caribou stag on a crag, facing toward the regiment’s former foe.

85 years ago…

Canada became truly independent on Dec. 11, 1931, with the Statute of Westminster. Following several imperial conferences, in which Dominion politicians, including Canadian prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, pressed for greater autonomy from London, the British statute gave Canada (and other dominions such as Australia and New Zealand) the right to pass, amend and repeal its own laws without British interference, while British law no longer applied in Canada. Henceforth, the dominions would be equal to Britain in terms of political stature.

Now: Amendments to Canada’s Constitution were specifically exempted from the statute. That changed in 1982 when Canada formally patriated its Constitution from Britain. Now full constitutional powers rest within the borders of the Queen’s northern realm.

70 years ago…

Jackie Robinson was a brilliant, competitive baseball player—yet his most important achievement was breaking the colour barrier. In 1946 he joined the Montreal Royals, the Triple A farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Familiar with the ever-present racism of the United States, his wife, Rachel, later recalled the “blissful” way in which Montreal treated the couple. On April 15, Jackie Robinson was called up the majors, becoming the first African-American player in the 20th century to take the field. Facing intense hatred with equanimity, the second baseman led Brooklyn to six pennants and its only World Series.

Now: On Robinson’s death in 1972, basketball great Bill Russell told the New York Times, “To most black people, Jackie was a man, not a ballplayer. He did more for baseball than baseball did for him. He was someone young black athletes could look up to.” Every April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball, when everyone on every team wears his number, 42.

50 years ago…

Star Trek’s special effects were cheesy, its plots infamous for clunky dialogue and rank sexism. The original series, created by Gene Roddenberry, debuted on Sept. 8, 1966, and featured a debonair Canadian, William Shatner, as Capt. James T. Kirk. He and the crew of the Starship Enterprise were in the midst of a five-year mission “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” The show lasted 79 episodes.

Now: Reborn as a series of movies (12 to date) as well as four spinoff TV shows, Star Trek and its universe of humans, Klingons, Romulans and the Borg are now one of the most enduring franchises in entertainment history. A new film will be out in July, and a new TV series will start in 2017. Resistance truly is futile.

20 years ago…

On the night of July 5, 1996, the most famous lamb in history was born near Edinburgh, Scotland. Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned. Seven months later, scientists at the Roslin Institute showed her off to a world that previously had largely relegated cloning to the realm of science fiction.

Now: Dolly spent her life at the institute, where, bred with a ram, she gave birth to a single lamb, then twins and finally triplets. Suffering from arthritis and a lung ailment, Dolly was euthanized in 2003. She was 6½, half the lifespan of a typical Finn Dorset sheep. While at least 20 other animals have since been cloned, including cats and pigs, the ethical argument over the procedure endures.

10 years ago…

Jack Dorsey made history on March 21, 2006, when he published the following message: “Just setting up my twttr.” He was the co-creater of Twitter. Defined as “a short burst of inconsequential information,” the name, and its 140-character limit, would soon become famous.

Now: From around 400,000 tweets a quarter in 2007, it now generates that same number every minute. A lifeline of real-time information during disasters and political upheavals, it has 320 million monthly active users—yet still hasn’t made an annual profit.


By the numbers: anniversaries that stand out in 2016

  1. They said I’ll be able to talk with 800BC and/or 1200BC Greeks when the time comes to discuss usurping tyranny. I assume that will be next April. I have the choice of an excellent adventure talking to someone around the time of a policeman who was the 9th or so greatest person ever. Or the Sung dynasty. Whenever I want to have the conversation. The latter was a river civilization vulnerable to invasion by Hordes unless Russia. The latter had no incentive to pump out the bottom of a mine; would just have people bring out the water or find another mine. I’m assuming technology is why I’ll talk to a Greek who is known to us (not Homer). I’d need to read my Old English historians for the former. I’m amenable to being bribed by diamond-less quantum encryption investment and/or neutrino beam investment. QE can secure virology labs and apparently when a neutrino and an anti-neutrino nearly collide, the direction of a neutrino is altered without breaking entanglement with its pair we sent out to locate WMDs. I know China wants to know of her grand history….I’ve figured out Naval investment helped lead to UK avoiding the EU army balance of power, with investment instead going to human capital. Apparently the Church was the smartest people in the world (via Monasteries) 500AD to 1100AD. I suppose there was no way for progressive Sung monasteries to set up away from the hordes, Maybe if the rivers were closer to Indonesia? I suppose the Islam world could’ve benefited from an Archipelago extending from the Red Sea out to the Indian Ocean; Al Ghazali ending of progressive Islamic thought might not have happened and you might have gotten Protestantism and Knox and Vimy Ridge instead of a fear of cartoons that resembles the Catholic Church fear of writing out 1/3. Wpg is the only city in North America with two large rivers. Where Harper is wrong in cheerleading right to religion is that is what makes immigrants inferior among first generation Canadians now days: they are too religious. Harper didn’t care much about this world. I guess I’m stuck reading boring stuff for quite some time. COTEofF 2150 is simply that it will be smart brave Wpggers contacted. About one born every 5-10 years is fit. Probably T.Greenway is a big part of the reason it isn’t (Catholic) Loyalists.

  2. Achilles hunter: 5’1″ 240lbs. He was not even able to visit any other city other than Athen’s precursor settlement around 100 yrs before a man called Homer. And they did not know eachother at all but Homer was able to speak with people who knew Achilles personally. Achilles was easily the most feared human being on Earth as well as the smartest. He was not even literate so he had to memorize every detail about hunting as well as how to make bows and arrows as well as knife objects as well as well as how to gut an animal as well as how to win any fight from a challenger who would’ve been inferior enough to even have turned the whole civilization backward to a tyranny.
    And Achilles didn’t want tyranny because he was the reason a whole bunch of people decided to come together and annihilate the Minoan civilization that was nothing more than a tyranny. And Achilles wanted people to be able to think of a better way of living than putting a moronic man in power and he had a lot of time on his hands to think of how to destroy Minoan civilization because the forest was a peaceful place for him as well as for me. Achilles preferred to be alone because he knew the poeple who were living in his present were not aware of how easily they had let themselves be distracted by meaningless customs.
    The turth of the matter is Achilles was arrogant enough to let his (left foot) injury get infected because he heard a voice say to him to wash his wound with scalding water and he didn’t want little germs to be worried about. Now those little germs are going to be here in 3 or 4 decades if we listento market forces tell us what to invest in. Don’t make synthetic biology and don’t make any biochemistry that is potentially a WMD. And don’t make any type of nanotechnology that is only for useless purposes and don’t stop worrying about AGW. There will be more to say throughout the yr 100 yrs after Canada came together to defeat tyranny.
    Without coming together the world would’ve been run by Germans who wanted a tyranny over the aliens as well as any other actors in reality including and gods that might be real. Trust them, our country did the aliens a favour not hesitating to iron out differences in opinion to defeat germany with a little bit of ingenuity and a lot of bravery just like Achilles did in defeating Minoan cvilization. And afterwards, the whole area thought about what they should make of the entire nation of Greece. And they wanted people to be able to think of what to make of all of Greece without being forced to move a bunch of rock around day after day just like in Germany.
    Around 100 years ago The War was going badly for every other nation except one nation that was able to endure the bloodshed without even hesitating to be the only country actually making new ideas really happen on the battlefield. And it is easy to win a war when you can imagine the whole world could be a bit like Ancient Greece, just like Achilles wondered what the future would be like after he conquered the Minoan tyranny.
    Now the past and the future are happening in the present because we learn from history as well as make the future and it is up to us to remember the past while we create the future. That is why Wpg-gers are the only ones likely to be contacted in the event I fail. No one else in Canada has an entire history section of their library devoted to the bravest humans who lived (sale is good kindling).

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