On this date, March 23, in history:
In 752, Pope Stephen II was elected to succeed Pope Zacharias. Stephen died just two days later.
In 1540, Waltham Abbey in Essex became the last monastery in England to transfer its allegiance from the Roman Catholic Church to the newly established Church of England.
In 1670, Fathers Dollier de Casson and Galine claimed Lake Erie for France.
In 1743, George Frideric Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah, had its London premiere. The first performance of the work had taken place in Dublin the previous year. During the Hallelujah Chorus at the London performance, King George II rose excitedly to his feet. The audience followed suit and a tradition was born.
In 1752, the Halifax Gazette, Canada’s first newspaper, began publishing weekly. It lasted until 1766 when it was suspended for criticizing the Stamp Act and was replaced by the Nova Scotia Gazette.
In 1775, Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Provincial Convention. According to biographer William Wirt, it was during this speech that Henry declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
In 1848, the first official party of settlers landed in New Zealand, at Dunedin.
In 1893, the first Canadian Club meeting was held in Hamilton, Ont.
In 1903, the Wright brothers applied for a patent on their airplane.
In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded his Fascist political movement in Milan, Italy.
In 1929, Dr. Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, was born. He died on March 3, 2018.
In 1933, the German Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act, which effectively granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers.
In 1944, Montreal Canadiens forward Maurice Richard scored all five goals in a 5-1 Stanley Cup playoff win over Toronto.
In 1944, Germany took control of Romania during the Second World War.
In 1949, royal assent was given to the North America Bill, passed by the British Parliament, for the union of Canada and Newfoundland. It became Canada’s 10th province eight days later.
In 1956, Pakistan was declared an Islamic republic within the British Commonwealth.
In 1964, the federal government endorsed the fluoridation of water to reduce tooth cavities.
In 1965, the first U.S. two-man space flight began as Gemini 3 blasted off with astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young aboard.
In 1966, Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, met in the Sistine Chapel of Rome – the first meeting of a pope and the head of the English church since 1397. They discussed renewing formal relations, severed in the 16th century, between their two churches.
In 1969, Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer died at the age of 84. One of the original members of the Group, English-born Lismer came to Canada in 1911 and met painters Tom Thomson and J.E.H. MacDonald while working in an engraving firm. Widely recognized as a painting teacher, Lismer was the founder of the Children’s Art Centre at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario).
In 1973, the 20,000-tonne freighter Anita disappeared without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle.
In 1983, the first artificial-heart transplant patient died. American doctor Barney Clark lived with the implant for 112 days.
In 1993, Russia’s constitutional court ruled that President Boris Yeltsin violated the constitution by seizing emergency powers. Russia’s parliamentarians began impeachment proceedings but Yeltsin narrowly escaped when the vote on March 28th fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.
In 1994, Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings scored his 802nd career regular season goal, overtaking Gordie Howe as the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history. Gretzky scored in the second period of a home game against the Vancouver Canucks. Gretzky retired after the 1998-99 season with 894 career regular season goals (and a NHL record 122 playoff goals).
In 1998, Titanic sank the competition at the 70th Academy Awards. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Canadian-born director James Cameron. Its theme song, My Heart Will Go On, won best original song and was a huge hit for Canada’s Celine Dion.
In 1998, Prince Charles and sons Harry and William arrived in Vancouver for a week-long, mainly recreational visit.
In 1998, Liberal Senator Andrew Thompson resigned from the Senate, six weeks after the first suspension from the Upper Chamber. Fellow senators suspended him without pay when he failed to return from Mexico to explain his chronic absenteeism. At age 73, Thompson was only two years away from forced retirement. His suspension and resignation did not affect his pension.
In 2000, Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu resigned, plunging the country into its worst political crisis since the 1994 genocide.
In 2002, Ernie Eves, a former Ontario finance minister, was elected to replace Premier Mike Harris as the Ontario Conservative Party leader.
In 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin signed a deal with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox that provided for sweeping co-ordination on security, trade and public health issues.
In 2006, Canadian hostages James Loney and Harmeet Sooden and Briton Norman Kember were freed from their four-month captivity in a multi-national operation involving Canadian special forces soldiers operating for the first time in Iraq.
In 2009, Suncor Energy Inc. and formerly government-owned Petro-Canada unveiled merger plans to create a $46-billion global energy giant. The combined company, which would operate under the Suncor name, would be the largest energy company in Canada and the fifth largest in North America.
In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a US$940-billion landmark health care reform bill, presiding over the biggest shift in U.S. domestic policy since the 1960s and capping a divisive, year-long debate.
In 2011, Oscar-winning film legend Elizabeth Taylor died of congestive heart failure. She was 79. Her enduring fame and glamour made her one of the last of the old-fashioned movie stars. She won Academy Awards for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Butterfield 8 and also played the title role in the historical epic Cleopatra. Taylor was also known for her stormy personal life and eight marriages, including two to Richard Burton.
In 2011, the controversial “faint hope” clause was repealed. It had allowed those convicted of first and second-degree murder to request an early parole hearing after serving 15 years.
In 2013, Montreal-born Joe Weider, a legendary figure in bodybuilding who helped popularize the sport worldwide and played a key role in introducing a charismatic young weightlifter named Arnold Schwarzenegger to the world, died at age 93. He created one of bodybuilding’s pre-eminent events, the Mr. Olympia competition, in 1965.
In 2013, Pope Francis flew to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to meet with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the first known meeting between a current and former pope. Benedict resigned on Feb. 28, the first pope to step down in 600 years.
In 2018, an Islamic extremist gunman killed four hostages being held in a supermarket in France, including a police officer who took the place of female hostage. Earlier in the day, the gunman had shot at six police officers who were out jogging, injuring one.
In 2018, Kaetlyn Osmond became the fourth Canadian to win the women’s world figure skating championship, and the first since Karen Magnussen in 1973.
In 2018, giant pandas Da Mao and Er Shun, and their Toronto-born cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, departed from the Toronto Zoo and arrived in Calgary to prepare for a five-year stay to complete a 10-year loan from China.
In 2020, the federal government rolled out a $30 million ad campaign focused on social distancing and good personal hygiene to help fight COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that Canada is spending $192 million on developing and producing vaccines for the novel coronavirus.
In 2020, new guidelines from Heart and Stroke Foundation said those with no history of stroke, heart or vascular disease should not be taking Aspirin or similar brands as a preventative measure — a major shift from decades-old recommendations. It is still “strongly recommended” that anyone with a history of stroke, or heart or vascular disease continue to take a low daily dose of ASA to prevent another event, if prescribed by their doctor.
In 2020, Transat said it had temporarily laid off about 3,600 staff as a result of a decline in commercial air travel due to COVID-19. The layoffs included all flight crew personnel — about 70 per cent of its workforce in Canada.
In 2020, the founder of Shaw Communications died at 85 years old. The company said JR Shaw passed away peacefully. Shaw stepped down as CEO in 1988 when his eldest son, Jim, took over.
In 2020, Canada’s top public health official issued a warning against the use of untested drugs to treat COVID-19 — specifically the anti-malaria medication chloroquine. U.S. President Donald Trump caused a stir when he touted it as a possible treatment.
In 2020, the city of Toronto declared its own state of emergency over COVID-19 as some people continued to ignore stern warnings from health authorities.