Today in History - Dec. 5

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Today in History - Dec. 5

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Today in History for Dec. 5:

On this date:

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued his Witch Bull, ordering an inquisition to systematically discover, torture and execute witches throughout Europe. It led to the ease with which witchcraft was charged and punished, even in the American colonies two centuries later.

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in the United States, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

In 1837, Lower Canada (now Quebec) was placed under martial law during a rebellion that had broken out largely over constitutional issues. The unrest was sparked in part by the control exercised by the largely English-speaking executive government over the elected -- and predominantly French-speaking -- legislative assembly.

In 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie, journalist and politician, led a rebel force down Yonge Street from Montgomery's Tavern hoping to capture Toronto. The force was repelled by Loyalist guards who easily defeated the rebels two days later. Mackenzie fled to the United States for 10 years but returned to Canada after receiving a government pardon. He resumed his journalistic and political careers.

In 1848, U.S. president James K. Polk triggered the Gold Rush of '49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California.

In 1854, the folding theatre chair was patented.

In 1893, the first electric car appeared. Built by Dickson's Toronto, it could travel about 25 kilometres before getting its batteries recharged.

In 1901, movie producer Walt Disney was born in Chicago. He died Dec. 15, 1966.

In 1926, French impressionist painter Claude Monet died.

In 1933, prohibition ended in the United States.

In 1945, five U.S. Avenger torpedo bombers disappeared in the Bermuda triangle in one of the first documented paranormal events associated with the four-million-square-kilometre ocean area roughly defined by Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the southern tip of Florida. Believers say a large number of ships and planes have disappeared in the area under highly unusual circumstances. Skeptics say no more ships and planes are lost there than in any other heavily-travelled area of ocean.

In 1951, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and Ontario Premier Leslie Frost signed a $2-million agreement for the power development phase of the St. Lawrence waterway scheme.

In 1954, Canada announced the recall of its remaining troops from Korea.

In 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to become one of the world's largest labour federations, the AFL-CIO.

In 1962, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain became the first female cabinet minister in Quebec.

In 1968, about 60 windows in the Quebec legislature were broken by snowballs during a demonstration. Thousands of students protested the expected introduction of a bill to safeguard English-language schools in the province. Police estimated 90 per cent of the students were under the age of 16.

In 1970, the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe and Bill Masterton trophies were stolen from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

In 1973, Sir Robert Watson-Watt, British physicist and inventor of radar, died at Inverness, Scotland.

In 1974, Peter Demeter, a wealthy developer from Mississauga, Ont., was convicted in the murder of his wife Christine, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1976, the first four Canadian women Rhodes Scholars were chosen.

In 1977, stung by Arab criticism of his peace initiative with Israel, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat broke diplomatic relations with Syria, Libya, Algeria, Iraq and South Yemen.

In 1978, the American space probe "Pioneer Venus One," began beaming back its first information and pictures of the planet to scientists in California.

In 1981, delegates to the biennial policy convention of the Parti Quebecois in Montreal adopted a resolution saying the PQ "as a sovereignist party does not have to promote the idea of association which is already inscribed in the economic and political reality of the countries of North America which are already moving more and more rapidly toward total abolition of their tariff barriers. …