This Month in Cascadian History

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By Alex DeVeito

May 1, 1970 – Protests erupt in Seattle, Washington, following the announcement by President Richard Nixon that U.S. Forces in Vietnam would begin officially pursuing enemy troops into the neutral country of Cambodia.

May 2, 1843 – A general meeting is held at Champoeg, Oregon, where a proposal for forming a provisional government is discussed and eventually put to a vote. The tally is 52 votes in favor versus 50 votes against, thus creating the Provisional Government of Oregon.

May 3, 1867 – The Hudson’s Bay Company gives up all claims to Vancouver Island.

May 4, 1974 – Expo ’74, the first environmentally themed World’s Fair, opens in Spokane, Washington, which becomes the smallest city yet to host a World’s Fair. This event transforms Spokane’s downtown, removing a century of railroad industry that built the city and reinvented the urban core. The fairgrounds would later become the 100-acre (0.40 km2) Riverfront Park.

May 5, 1945 – The most tragic incident involving Japanese balloon bombs occurs at a picnic near Bly, Oregon, where Reverend Archie Mitchell’s wife and five children are killed when one of the children triggered a bomb while trying to remove a it from a tree it was caught in.

May 6, 1898 – T. D. Evans, commanding the Yukon Field Force, which consists of 203 volunteers from the Canadian Militia, leaves Vancouver, B.C. for Dawson City, Yukon, to keep law and order in the gold fields.

May 7, 1986 – British Columbia native Patrick Morrow becomes the first person to climb each of the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each continent.

May 8, 1880 – The Victoria and Esquimalt Telephone Company, the first in British Columbia, is founded in Victoria.

May 9, 1896 – Film designer Richard Day is born in Victoria, British Columbia. He will serve as the art director and production designer of hundreds of Hollywood movies from 1922-1970.

May 10, 1790 – Spanish captain Francisco de Eliza y Reventa takes possession of Nootka Sound, B.C., and builds a fur-trading fort.

May 11, 1910 –Glacier National Park established in Western Montana.

May 12, 1792 – American merchant captain Robert Gray finds the mouth of the Columbia River, and becomes the first Westerner to enter the river. He names it for his ship, the Columbia Rediviva.

May 13, 1960 – Hundreds of University of California, Berkeley students congregate for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Thirty-one students are arrested, setting the stage for the Free Speech Movement protests.

May 14, 1880 – Renowned construction contractor Andrew Onderdonk sets off a dynamite blast in Yale, B.C., to start construction of the British Columbia portion of the Canadian Pacific Railway

May 15, 1850 – The Bloody Island Massacre (also called the Clear Lake Massacre) takes place on an island at the north end of Clear Lake, California. A large number of the Pomo First Nation, mostly of women and children, are brutally murdered by the 1st Dragoons Regiment of the United States Cavalry, led by the infamous Nathaniel Lyon.

May 16, 1851 – James Douglas is appointed Governor of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.

May 17, 1970 – Mixed martial artist, Olympic wrestler, and Oregon politician Matthew James Lindland is born in Oregon City, Oregon.

May 18, 1980 – Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage. The blast is heard across the Pacific Northwest, including parts of British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, and northern California.

May 19, 1908 – Olympic gold medal sprinter Percy Williams is born in Vancouver, B.C.

May 20, 1859 – George Barstow, future government director of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, is elected Mayor of Nanaimo, B.C., with only one vote cast.

May 21, 1901 –John Claus Voss sails west in his Nootka Indian canoe, the Tilikum, from Victoria, B.C. This will begin a voyage which will take three months and 12 days, during which he will navigate 65,000 km via Australia and New Zealand, eventually reaching England.

May 22, 1987  – After a 26-month trek, logging more than 40,000 km through 34 countries on four continents, British Columbian paraplegic athlete and humanitarian Rick Hansen completes his “Man in Motion World Tour” at  Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium to cheering crowds of thousands. Hansen’s journey raises $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives. The song “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” is later written in his honor, as is the film “Heart of a Dragon”.

May 23, 1853 – The name “Seattle” appears on official Washington Territory papers when the first plats for the village are filed. It is credited to David Swinson (“Doc”) Maynard, one of Duwamps’s founders, who was the primary advocate to rename the village “Seattle” after Chief Sealth of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes.

May 24, 1898 – The Second Oregon Volunteer Infantry, mustered into service in Portland, Oregon, sails for the Philippines.

May 25, 1907 – After a hotly contested election, West Seattle annexes Youngstown, Alki, and the adjacent community of Spring Hill. Seattle officials promptly petition for annexation of West Seattle. The measure passes easily, and West Seattle officially becomes part of Seattle one month later.

May 26, 1793 – Captain George Vancouver explores the Pacific Coast, circumnavigating the island bearing his name. He just misses meeting explorer Alexander Mackenzie, who has come over land.

May 27, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County, California.

May 28, 1892 –John Muir first organizes the Sierra Club in San Francisco, California.

May 29, 1985 – Amputee Steve Fonyo completes cross-Canada marathon, finishing in Victoria, British Columbia after 14 months.

May 30, 1948 – A dike along the flooding Columbia River breaks, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes. Fifteen people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.

May 31, 1790 – Spanish Peruvian explorer, cartographer and naval officer Alferez Manuel Quimper explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca (The Salish Sea).