Happenings on the January calendar

Have you ever wondered how this new month of the New Year 2016 came to be called January?  Well, like a lot of things, it dates back to the Romans.  The month was named after the Roman god Janus. Appropriately, Janus had two faces that looked in opposite directions, one looking back on the past, the other looking forward to the future — the New Year.

So, let’s take a hint from one face of Janus and have a quick look back through a few Januarys past:

• January 1998 — The Eastern Canada ice storm. This unbelievable icy nightmare started on January 5. Five consecutive days of freezing rain pounded down on southwestern Quebec. The monstrous storm also affected eastern Ontario, the Maritimes and the northeastern U.S.

Ice accumulated on power lines and tree branches, causing them to break. Hydro towers crumpled under the weight of the ice-buildup.  Power outages lasted up to nine days in Montreal and up to 33 days elsewhere in the region. At the blackout’s peak, half the population of Quebec — three-million people — had no power.

The ice storm caused 30 deaths and cost an estimated $5 billion in property damage costs and business losses.

• January 6, 1950 — Nova Scotia native Hank Snow made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.  Later that year, his recording of I’m Movin’ On stayed on the country chart for 44 weeks, selling more than a million copies. Hank Snow died in 1999.

• January 14 — New Year’s Day on the Julian calendar.

• January 22, 1868 — Weird stuff at Niagara. Extremely cold weather earlier in the week formed an ice bridge below Niagara Falls. Hundreds of people walked along the ice to get a spectacular view of the falls with its ice-loaded trees and rocks that formed from the falls’ spray.

• January 23, 1944 — One of the most embarrassing scores in the history of the NHL — 15-0.  Detroit Red Wings had the 15 and the New York Rangers were stuck with zip. The Ranger’s defence was the proverbial sieve, allowing Detroit an amazing 58 shots on goal.  In jest, hapless New York goalie Ken McAuley observed: “Where would all those Red Wings have been without me. I gave them the confidence they needed to become big stars!” Right, Ken, way to go. Great work. Fine job.

• January 28, 1956 — A young singer named Elvis Presley appeared on the CBS-TV variety series Stage Show.  This is usually cited as his first TV appearance, but in fact he was on a local Louisiana TV station a year earlier. Stage Show, however, certainly represents his first exposure to a national television audience, as he performed Shake, Rattle and Roll alongside hosts Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Elvis’ Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan TV appearances were yet to come.

• January 28, 1887 — Montana had a snowfall, but what a snowfall! The snowflakes were reported to be 15 inches across.

And, speaking of the white stuff, here’s another fluffy one of more recent vintage. On January 19, 1977, the residents of Miami, Florida, saw snow for the first time in recorded history. The oranges were not impressed.

• January 30, 1730 — Talk about dreadful timing. On his wedding day, Peter II, Czar of Russia, died of smallpox.

• January 31, 1919 — The birth of Jackie Robinson, the amazing individual who later became the first black man to play in Major League Baseball. In the process, he quietly endured unspeakable racism, but what he accomplished laid the groundwork for many who followed.  Jackie Robinson died in 1972.