Wednesday, November 21, 2007

American Thanksgiving Holiday

I am on the road for the next four days for the American Thanksgiving holiday. This will be my last post until next week. I wish my American readers (who according to my statistics are the majority of my hits) a happy turkey day.

I understand much of the world does not have this holiday. I also realize the Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving in October! I gave one of my colleagues from Canada a hard time for leaving in the middle of the semester to celebrate "fake Thanksgiving" as I had to cover her class!

Looking for a good site on Thanksgiving? Try The First Thanksgiving. It is from Scholastic Books and features a picture timeline from 1620-1621, and discusses what life was like in Plimoth (Plymouth) for the first Thanksgiving. It blends the traditional view of the holiday with the politically correct version which probably gives a good pass at what really happened.

For those travelling, have a safe trip.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Ghost Ship of the Arctic

I found this fun short article at As the site allows for the reproduction of articles by blogs and other websites, I am going to go ahead and reprint it here. The article is by Debra Cruz.


In 1914, the Hudson Bay Co. built the Baychimo, a steel cargo ship designed to withstand the dangerous ice packs and stormy waters of the Canadian north. Her purpose was to deliver food and supplies to the Eskimo community in exchange for pelts, and thus, was a pioneer in the Eskimo fur trade. On July 6, 1931, she set off on her usual 2,000 mile round trip to the Victoria Islands, arrived safely and left the Victoria coast back towards Vancouver. On October 1, ice packed around the Baychimo, leaving her stalled and frozen.

Luckily, it was not far from a small Alaskan village and the ship's captain ordered the men to walk across the ice to the huts seen in the distance. After 2 days in the frozen Alaskan winter, the crew saw the ice begin to loosen and boarded the ship once again. After 3 hours, the ice gathered around her again. On October 8, the captain sent out an SOS. October 15, two aircraft rescued all but 15 men, who stayed onboard waiting for the ice to melt. Preparing for a long, hard winter, the men built a wooden shelter on the ice. On November 24, a great blizzard trapped the men in their shelter and after the storm, the men emerged to find the Baychimo gone. Somehow the men trudged across the ice and reached the mainland.

Now here is where the story gets amazing!

- A few days later, the ship was found 45 miles south of where she was lost, but was again ice-packed.

- After several months, she was spotted again but about 300 miles to the east.

- In March 1932 of the following year, she was seen floating peacefully near the shore by a man travelling to Nome with his dog-sled team.

- A few months after that, she was seen by a company of prospectors.

- March of 1933, she was found by a group of Eskimos who boarded her and was trapped on-board for 10 days by a freak storm.

- August 1933, the Hudson Bay Co heard she was still afloat, but was too far a-sea to salvage.

- July 1934, she was boarded by a group of explorers on a schooner.

- September 1935, she was seen off the Alaskan coast.

- November 1939, She was boarded by Captain Hugh Polson, wishing to salvage her, but the creeping ice floes intervened and the captain had to abandon her.

- After 1939, she was seen floating alone and crewless numerous times, but always eluded capture.

- March of 1962, she was seen sailing along the Beaufort Sea coast by a group of Eskimos.

She was found frozen in an ice pack in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned, and this is the last recording sighting of the ghostly Baychimo. In 2006, the Alaskan government began work on a project to solve the mystery of "the Ghost Ship of the Arctic" and locate the Baychimo, whether still afloat or on the ocean floor. As of yet, she has not been found.

Looking for more interesting history? Check out my Hub Page for more amazing stories.

Article Source:

Monday, November 19, 2007

History of Madagascar

History of Madagascar. This is a short essay on the history of this African nation. Yes, this is were the lemurs come from.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes,"Republic of Madagascar , Malagasy Madagasikara or Repoblikan'i Madagasikara , French Madagascar or République de Madagascar country lying off the southeastern coast of Africa. It occupies the fourth largest island in the world, after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo. Located in the southwestern Indian Ocean, it is separated from the African coast by the 250-mile- (400-kilometre-) wide Mozambique Channel."

From the site:

The written history of Madagascar began in the seventh century A.D., when Arabs established trading posts along the northwest coast. European contact began in the 1500s, when Portuguese sea captain Diego Dias sighted the island after his ship became separated from a fleet bound for India. In the late 17th century, the French established trading posts along the east coast. From about 1774 to 1824, it was a favorite haunt for pirates, including Americans, one of whom brought Malagasy rice to South Carolina.

Beginning in the 1790s, Merina rulers succeeded in establishing hegemony over the major part of the island, including the coast. In 1817, the Merina ruler and the British governor of Mauritius concluded a treaty abolishing the slave trade, which had been important in Madagascar's economy. In return, the island received British military and financial assistance. British influence remained strong for several decades, during which the Merina court was converted to Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and Anglicanism.

The British accepted the imposition of a French protectorate over Madagascar in 1885 in return for eventual control over Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) and as part of an overall definition of spheres of influence in the area. Absolute French control over Madagascar was established by military force in 1895-96, and the Merina monarchy was abolished.