John’s Believe It Or Not… April 17th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Easter Monday! Did you know…

* 1851 – Launch of Marco Polo, the Fastest Ship in the World. (James Smith launches his square-rigged clipper ship Marco Polo at Marsh Creek, Courtenay Bay; named for its full-length figurehead of the famous Venetian traveller; built with the body of a cargo ship above the water line and the configuration of a much-faster clipper ship below; soon sets a record for the passage from Saint John to Liverpool at 15 days; 1852 The Fastest Ship in the World sets a new speed record circumnavigating the globe from Liverpool to Australia and around in only five months and 21 days. Saint John, New Brunswick)

Image of the Marco Polo at sea

* 1982 – Queen Elizabeth Signs The Canada Act 1982 Into Law. (Queen Elizabeth II signs the Royal Proclamation of Canada’s constitution in a ceremony on Parliament Hill; brings into force the Constitution Act, 1982, effective April 18; ends British authority in Canada, replaces BNA Act; incorporates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Canada remains a constitutional monarchy and member of the Commonwealth. Section 15 of the Charter, on Equality Rights, will officially come into force three years later, on April 17, 1985. Up until this time, Canada’s constitution was the British North America Act 1867 – it remained the property of the British Parliament that created it. As of 1982, that Act was incorporated into the new Canada Act along with an amending formula and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This eliminated the final legal tie to the British apron strings. For the record, Britain had been asking Canada to patriate the BNA Act since our independence in 1931. Federal/Provincial disagreements scuttled all attempts until Pierre Trudeau told Provincial Premiers to get on board or he’d act unilaterally to bring it home. All got on board but Quebec who has a separatist Premier at the time.)

The Queen sits at a table to sign the Canada Act while Pierre Trudeau looks on.

* 1970 Apollo 13 returns to Earth. (With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth. On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blew up in the spacecraft. Swigert reported to mission control on Earth, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth. The astronauts and mission control were faced with enormous logistical problems in stabilizing the spacecraft and its air supply, as well as providing enough energy to the damaged fuel cells to allow successful reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Navigation was another problem, and Apollo 13‘s course was repeatedly corrected with dramatic and untested maneuvers. On April 17, tragedy turned to triumph as the Apollo 13 astronauts touched down safely in the Pacific Ocean.)

Apollo 13 is hoisted by crane from the sea onto the deck of the Navy rescue vessel.

* 1961 The Bay of Pigs invasion begins. (The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure. The failure at the Bay of Pigs cost the United States dearly. Castro used the attack by the “Yankee imperialists” to solidify his power in Cuba and he requested additional Soviet military aid. Eventually, that aid included missiles, and the construction of missile bases in Cuba sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union nearly came to blows over the issue. Further, throughout much of Latin America, the United States was pilloried for its use of armed force in trying to unseat Castro, a man who was considered a hero to many for his stance against U.S. interference and imperialism. Kennedy tried to redeem himself by publicly accepting blame for the attack and its subsequent failure, but the botched mission left the young president looking vulnerable and indecisive.)

Map showing The Bay of Pigs on Cuba

* 1964 Ford Mustang debuts at World’s Fair. (The Ford Mustang, a two-seat, mid-engine sports car, is officially unveiled by Henry Ford II at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, on April 17, 1964. That same day, the new car also debuted in Ford showrooms across America and almost 22,000 Mustangs were immediately snapped up by buyers. Named for a World War II fighter plane, the Mustang was the first of a type of vehicle that came to be known as a “pony car.” Ford sold more than 400,000 Mustangs within its first year of production, far exceeding sales expectations. The Mustang was conceived as a “working man’s Thunderbird,” according to Ford. The first models featured a long hood and short rear deck and carried a starting price tag of around $2,300. Ford general manager Lee Iacocca, who became president of the company in October 1964 (and later headed up Chrysler, which he was credited with reviving in the 1980s) was involved in the Mustang’s development and marketing. The car’s launch generated great interest. It was featured on the covers of Newsweek and Time magazines and the night before it went on sale, the Mustang was featured in commercials that ran simultaneously on all three major television networks. One buyer in Texas reportedly slept at a Ford showroom until his check cleared and he could drive his new Mustang home. The same year it debuted, the Mustang appeared on the silver screen in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger.” A green 1968 Mustang 390 GT was famously featured in the 1968 Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt,” in a car chase through the streets of San Francisco. Since then, Mustangs have appeared in hundreds of movies.)

1964 Ford Mustang

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of Marguerite Bourgeoys* Marguerite Bourgeoys in 1620. (French First Canadian Saint:  Founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal in the colony of New France. Also developed one of the first uncloistered religious communities in the Catholic Church, and has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.)



Head shot of Garner* Jennifer Garner in 1972. (American Actress: Gained recognition for her performance as CIA officer Sydney Bristow in the ABC thriller drama series “Alias”, which aired for five seasons from 2001 to 2006. For her work on the series, she won a Golden Globe.)




Head shot of Beckham* Victoria Beckham in 1974. (English Singer: Member of the all-female pop group “Spice Girls” and star of various reality television programs like “Being Victoria Beckham” and “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America”. Beckham is also an internationally recognized style icon and successful fashion designer.)



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.

14 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 17th”

  1. Hey John,

    Intrigue and interest served once again as a hearty slice of history. Perhaps a little young to recall the Apollo 13 Mission I thoroughly enjoyed the 1995 movie. I have no idea how accurate a depiction of true events the film is, I am led to believe by what I have read that extensive use was made of reference material available. Tom Hanks seems to always turn in a good performance.

    Victoria Beckham, Posh Spice as she is affectionately known over here in Blighty is alleged to be far less pouting in real life than her media profile might suggest. I have never met her, but if she and Beck’s ever call by I’ll let you know.

    Enjoy your week John and the ‘decking season’. Take care.

    Namaste 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying these posts, Dewin. It’s been too cool these last two days to do much ‘decking’, and the next couple of days will be rainy. April weather here is rarely great or consistent. At least it ain’t snow!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey John,

        Perhaps Merlin could have a wee word with the atmospheric prognosticator and ask for a little sunshine to be cast your way? I heard they were a friend.

        I recall a Bill Cosby line relating to the current seasons….something along the lies of:

        April showers bring flowers in May,
        Mayflowers brought the Pilgrims.

        If it’s any consolation we too have slate skies, drizzle and mizzle and an immediate outlook unlikely to change. Wales is a very green, moist and fertile Land as a consequence. Gratefully I have a large umbrella.

        Loaf long and prosper my friend. Enjoy a snow-free day as it unfurls for you.

        Namaste 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hark! Merlin has wrought his magik! The celestial orb is casting rays of yellow gold across yonder landscape! Alleluia! Unfortunately, it is -2 C. Sigh. You can’t have everything. Canadians are a greedy bunch! Of course, it won’t be long before I’ll be complaining about the heat and humidity. Loaf long and prosper, too, my friend. But not in front of the boss!

          Thanks for the Cosby ditty – that’s cute.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hey John,

            ‘Excellent’ said Merlin musing a smile.
            ‘Sunshine to warm spring’s Muse.’
            ‘We had a word, obviously heard.’
            ‘For a little Light on winter’s blues.’
            ‘I admire your form, the cut of your nib.’
            ‘Your words harking to another time.’
            ‘I admire the Magik sought to be brought’
            ‘To glisten in your lyrical rhyme.’



            Away in the night from a far lofty tower,
            4 bells ring out upon the hour.
            In perfect time they sing “fin du jour,”
            and close their toll behind them.
            And so must I now slip away, and
            head for bed to slumber.
            For even though the mornings here,
            my sleep I must not encumber!
            Enjoy the evening in merriment,
            perhaps sip a beer or two.
            Your day has been a busy one, and
            one beer would be one too few!
            ~ + ~

            Best wishes my friend. Thanks for sunshine on a temperate day 🙂

            Namaste 🙂


            Liked by 1 person

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