Happenings on the April calendar

As we explore some miscellany about this brand new month of April, let’s start with a little test of your trivia knowledge. See if you can remember how the following names, events or dates relate to this month of the year: Titanic, Vimy, Pierre, Ford, seaway, 1906 and Yuri.

• Titanic? Like the movie? The actual historical event took place on April 14, 1912. Titanic, the “ocean-liner to end all ocean-liners,” was thought to be unsinkable. Yet, 1,517 lives were lost when she struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York.

• Vimy? Canadian troops won an important First World War battle at Vimy Ridge, France, on April 9, 1917.

• Pierre? Could be any Pierre, I guess. But in this case, it’s the beginning of Pierre Elliot Trudeau as Canadian Prime Minister. “Trudeaumania” culminated with his election as our 20th prime minister on April 20, 1968.

• Ford? That would be the car-guy, Henry Ford, who drove his first automobile on its first road test on April 17, 1903. Ford, who was the originator of the mass production method for automobiles, also died in the month of April in 1947.

• Seaway? It’s the St. Lawrence Seaway, of course, and it opened to shipping on April 25, 1959.

• 1906? That’s not much of a clue is it? But if I added, San Francisco, you might say: “Oh, the San Francisco earthquake!” Right. It was on April 18, 1906, that the city by the bay was flattened by “the big one,” followed by fires that destroyed half the city. 

• Yuri? The first man to orbit the earth was Russia's Yuri Gagarin. It shocked us all when we heard that he was orbiting above us on April 12, 1961. Not letting the grass grow under their astronauts, the Russians did it again, four months later, with Gherman Titov. The U.S. went into “space overdrive” and six months after Titov, John Glenn also went into orbit in February of 1962.

Also from the month of April:

• April 3 — Good Friday and April 5, Easter Sunday.

• April 4 to10 — Passover. Around the world, members of the Jewish faith will celebrate the Festival of Freedom, recalling the exodus of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Passover is the oldest Jewish festival and has been observed annually for about 3,000 years.

• April 22 — Earth Day. This is the day to treasure our planet and remember that we should be taking better care of it. Obviously, every day should be Earth Day, since we need to make changes in our lifestyle that are kinder to this tiny planet.

And we better keep on recycling and re-evaluating our environmental consumption, right? Otherwise, this is going to be a pretty sorry little place for our ancestors of the distant future. If, indeed, there even is a distant future. 

• April 23 — St. George’s Day. St. George became a martyr in the year 303 when he was beheaded for complaining about the emperor's severe and bloody edicts. He’s the patron saint of England and also the hero of the Saint George and the Dragon legend. 

Also on this day, in 1348, at a royal ball in England, the Countess of Salisbury was dancing with King Edward III when one of her garters slipped off. The king retrieved it and put it on his leg. Actually, this was just one of the legends associated with the beginning of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of English knighthood. 

• April 30 — The ever-popular tax return deadline. 

As the guy said, “The government should be grateful that we taxpayers have what it takes!”