John’s Believe It Or Not… February 16th

Fioravanti stands in front of the classroom blackboard with his hands on his hips. Picture was taken in August, 2006.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* Founding of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada in 1967. (The commission’s mandate was to inquire into and report on the status of women in Canada and to make specific recommendations to the federal government to ensure equality for women in all aspects of society. The Commission was launched at a time when the women’s movement was in full swing, and other governments worldwide were addressing similar issues.)

* Magistrate William Matthews arrests Black refugee John Anderson for the 1854 murder of Missouri farmer, Seneca Diggs, who tried to prevent his escape to Canada and sell him to bounty hunters in 1861, Brantford Ontario. (Anderson lived and worked in Canada West (Ontario) from 1854 to April 1860, managing to keep a low profile; when a Canadian court stipulated that he should be extradited to the US, John A. Macdonald made use of public funds to foot the bill for Anderson’s appeal; when the British Court of Queen’s Bench attempted to interfere by sending a writ of habeas corpus for him to appear before a court in London, England, he was released due to faulty wording in the warrant.)

Howard Carter opens the inner burial chamber of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb and finds the sarcophagus in 1923. (Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb–golden shrines, jewellery, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing–the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered. Despite rumours that a curse would befall anyone who disturbed the tomb, its treasures were carefully catalogued, removed and included in a famous travelling exhibition called the “Treasures of Tutankhamen.” The exhibition’s permanent home is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.)

Fidel Castro becomes the 16th Prime Minister of Cuba after overthrowing Fulgencio Batista in 1959. (Castro was born in the Oriente province in eastern Cuba, the son of a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune building rail systems to transport sugar cane. He became involved in revolutionary politics while a student and in 1947 took part in an abortive attempt by Dominican exiles and Cubans to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In the next year, he took part in urban riots in Bogota, Colombia. The most outstanding feature of his politics during the period was his anti-American beliefs; he was not yet an overt Marxist.)

Bill Johnson becomes first American to win Olympic gold in downhill skiing in 1984. (At Wengen, Switzerland, he boldly predicted he would take home a gold medal the following month at the Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. To the amazement of the skiing world, the prediction came true on February 16, 1984, when he finished the men’s downhill with a time 1:45:59 and beat Switzerland’s Peter Muller, a favourite to win the race, by .27 seconds. Johnson won two more World Cup races that season. However, his newfound fame seemed to go to his head, and his brash, cocky personality alienated many in the ski community. Additionally, Johnson lived a lavish, hard-partying lifestyle and stopped winning races. In 1988, he was left off the U.S. ski team for the Olympic Games in Calgary.)


Look who was born on this date!

* Vera-Ellen in 1921. (American actress appearing in Wonder Man, Big Leaguer, On the Town)

Kim Jong-il in 1942. (He was the supreme Leader of North Korea and ranked 31st in Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s Most Powerful People. He died in 2011 of a suspected heart attack – succeeded by his son.)

John McEnroe in 1959. (Former World No. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles (three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open), nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title. He also won a record eight season ending championships.)


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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