John’s Believe It Or Not… April 12th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…

* 1980 – Terry Fox starts ‘Marathon of Hope’ for Cancer Society. (Marathoner, cancer crusader, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, July 28, 1958. Fox grew up in Port Coquitlam, BC. In 1977, while studying physical education at Simon Fraser University, he was afflicted with osteogenic sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and lost his right leg 15 cm above the knee. Fitted with an artificial limb of fibreglass and steel, he learned to walk, drive a car and play golf. Inspired by the suffering of children with cancer in the hospital, he decided to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society by running across Canada. He started his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope in St. John’s on April 12, 1980, to raise money to fight the disease.)

Map of eastern Canada showing the marathon route.

* 1967 – House of Commons chooses ‘O Canada’ as the national anthem. (“O Canada” (French: Ô Canada) is the national anthem of Canada. The song was originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony; Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which, words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The lyrics were originally in French; an English version was created in 1906. Robert Stanley Weir wrote in 1908 another English version, which is the official and most popular version, one that is not a literal translation of the French. Weir’s lyrics have been revised twice, taking their present form in 1980, but the French lyrics remain unaltered. “O Canada” had served as a de facto national anthem since 1939, officially becoming Canada’s national anthem in 1980 when the Act of Parliament making it so received royal assent and became effective on July 1 as part of that year’s Dominion Day (now known as Canada Day) celebrations.)

Image of a parchment scrool with the words of O Canada printed in English and French

* 1861 The American Civil War begins. (The bloodiest four years in American history begin when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard open fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.” In February 1861, delegates from those states convened to establish a unified government. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was subsequently elected the first president of the Confederate States of America. When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, a total of seven states (Texas had joined the pack) had seceded from the Union, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.)

Painting depicting the battle at Fort Sumter

* 1917 Canadians capture Vimy Ridge. (After three days of fierce combat and over 10,000 casualties suffered, the Canadian Corps seizes the previously German-held Vimy Ridge in northern France on April 12, 1917. Many historians have pointed to the victory at Vimy Ridge during World War I as a moment of greatness for Canada when it emerged from Britain’s shadow to attain its own measure of military achievement. As a result of the victory earned despite the failure of the larger Allied offensive of which it was a part, Canadian forces earned a reputation for efficiency and strength on the battlefield.)

Canadian soldiers at Vimy in German wire entanglements
Canadian soldiers at Vimy in German wire entanglements.

*  1981 First launching of the space shuttle. (The space shuttle Columbia is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, becoming the first reusable manned spacecraft to travel into space. Piloted by astronauts Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young, the Columbia undertook a 54-hour space flight of 36 orbits before successfully touching down at California’s Edwards Air Force Base on April 14. On September 17, 1976, NASA publicly unveiled its first space shuttle, the Enterprise, during a ceremony in Palmdale, California. Development of the aircraft-like spacecraft cost almost $10 billion and took nearly a decade. In 1977, the Enterprise became the first space shuttle to fly freely when it was lifted to a height of 25,000 feet by a Boeing 747 airplane and then released, gliding back to Edwards Air Force Base on its own accord.)

Picture of the Space Shuttle launch.

Look who was born on this date!

Head shot of Ron Maclean* Ron MacLean in 1960. (Canadian CBC Sportscaster:  Best known as the host of Hockey Night in Canada with Don Cherry from 1987 to 2014, and is also a hockey referee.)




Head shot of Doherty* Shannen Doherty in 1971. (American Actress:  Known for her roles as Brenda Walsh in “Beverly Hills, 90210”, and as Prue Halliwell in “Charmed”.)




Portrait of Henry Clay* Henry Clay in 1777. (American Legislator and Orator:  Served three different terms as Speaker of the House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He forged compromises that held off civil war for decades.)

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.

13 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 12th”

    1. That’s an interesting observation, Mae. When I was a kid in school back in the 50s, “God Save the Queen” was the official anthem. By our choice, she is also Queen of Canada and our Head of State – represented here day-to-day by the Governor General. We also sang “O Canada” as well. In 1967, we were celebrating our Centennial, so it was decided to make O Canada the official anthem (nationalism, eh!). This year we are celebrating our 150th anniversary – there’ll be a big bash in Ottawa and around the country on July 1st – that’s Canada’s birthday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fascinating! I never knew any of that, John. And I never would have guessed the Queen of England was also Queen of Canada. I bet July 1st is going to be huge. 150 years! What a fun celebration that will be!

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        1. Many of the British Commonwealth countries kept the British Monarch as their Head of State after independence – Australia is another. When the Queen is acting as Queen of Canada, she is not representing the British government in any way. I was in high school in 1967 – the big centennial celebration was that Montreal hosted the World’s Fair. That was some party! Now I just have to figure out how to be around for our Bicentennial in 2067… I’ll be 216 years young!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. LOL! You are a wealth of information, John. I had no idea about Australia either. I was a wee bit younger in 1967–5 years old–which probably explains why I’ve always heard O Canada! as your National Anthem.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s one of the reasons why the Royal Family is so busy! Did you know that Queen Elizabeth has more than 365 public appearances each year – often with several in a day. The Commonwealth is all that’s left of the old British Empire – many of the former colonies remained in concert as independent nations and many of those adopted the British monarch as their own. So, the monarch’s crown is quite heavy with responsibility – it’s why I have enormous respect for the Queen. She is a total class act. As a Canadian, I’m proud that she is my Queen. Thanks for your comments, Mae!

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Yes, that’s true, Mae! It is just one of many things that make our two peoples very close. We share a common history, ancestry, and a continent. Our popular culture is almost indistinguishable. When the chips are down we always have each other’s backs. On 9/11, thousands of first responders streamed across the border and headed to NYC. Nobody had to ask. You guys are family.


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