Chronicles from the past: Canada’s first air hostess hailed from Chemainus and a Ladysmith dentist who once used unique Japanese dental techniques to extract patients’ teeth

Ed Nicholson revisits events from Novembers past in his monthly column.

November 1912

An advertised sale in the Chronicle was held for 123 lots in the downtown area of Port Alberni. The lots were sold at a fixed price of $171. All lot purchasers were also given a draw entry for a National five-passenger touring car worth $4,300 (which was actually equal to the price of 25 lots!).

A minor earthquake centered in the Burrard Inlet area resulted in a severe shaking felt both on Vancouver Island and on the Vancouver mainland. Two severe tremors which occurred on the evening of Nov. 9 caused pictures and shelf contents to drop to the floor, but no serious damage or injuries were reported. The earthquake also caused a great swell of water in Georgia Strait, with a number of large waves striking Island shores. The paper also reported a number of aftershocks.

The Chronicle reported that the first mechanical device “to prevent the busy man from forgetting any of his engagements” had just been invented in New York. “The new memory device is operated by a large spring, released at predetermined intervals by a desk clock attached to three sets of pigeon holes, one for the months of the year, another for the days of the month, and a third for each quarter of an hour of the day. The businessman makes a note on a card, drops it in the appropriate slot and when that time comes, the card automatically drops down before him.”

November 1937

Miss Margaret Radcliffe, 25, was appointed as Canada’s first air stewardess. She was born and raised in Chemainus and attended Royal Victoria High School in Montreal where she received her nursing degree. Miss Radcliffe began her career with American Airlines in 1937 on the Montreal to New York City run. [Note: Stewardesses were required to be “pretty,” weigh no more than 120 pounds, no taller than five feet five inches and be graduate nurses.]

An Arctic owl was spotted on Monday night on the flagpole by City Hall. The Chronicle expressed hope that the sighting of this creature might indicate the arrival of new wisdom for the mayor and city councillors in light of some of their recent decisions.

An interesting article on Japanese dental practices also appeared in the November Chronicle. It seems that their tooth extraction process begins with the patient lying down on the floor. The Japanese dentist then kneels alongside and reaches into the patient’s mouth where he gets a firm grip on the troublesome tooth. One quick pull and the tooth is out. According to the Chronicle, up to seven teeth can be extracted in this manner with just one appointment! Apparently, the Japanese dentists underwent rigorous training using a variety of wooden boards ranging in density from cedar to oak. The boards had wooden pegs inserted into previously drilled holes, and all pegs had to be be removed with just one pull if the dentist was to be qualified. [Note: The article does help to explain how and where one former Ladysmith dentist may have received his basic training.]

November 1962

A 10-year-long disagreement between Ray Knight, Scoutmaster of the First Ladysmith Troop, and Commissioner C. Lonsdale of the Mt. Brenton District Scout Council finally came to a head in November. Scout Leader Knight was asked to resign by the District Council because he steadfastly refused to have his boys dress in the traditional short pants uniform, which Knight felt were “impractical for our area and climate.”

At the time, there was some confusion as to whether long pants were an acceptable alternative to the ‘official’ uniform. However, Mr. Lonsdale insisted that “he could sympathize with any Scouter who did not want to wear short pants, but he could not sympathize with a man who joined the organization and then broke the rules.”

At the Nov. 13 Scout meeting at the United Church Hall, a motion was narrowly approved that supported Mr. Knight as leader. However, Ray Knight responded by stating “he would not join the Scout movement again ‘without an apology in the press from Mr. Lonsdale and the Scout Council.’” Knight, along with a majority of the local Scout leaders and Scouts, then left the Boy Scout meeting and went downstairs to the church hall basement to form Ladysmith’s first Junior Forest Warden Program.

Compiled by Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith Historical Society

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