History & Heritage

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The sacrifice of the ten million men who lost their lives during the conflict, which endured from 1914 to 1918, is well known. Less well known is the price paid by the estimated eight million horses that perished in the Great War, a fact lamented by Private James Robert Johnston, a horse transport driver who served with the 14th Canadian Machine Gun Company, in his memoir, Riding into War: “Very little has been said about the horses and mules that were used and what they suffered is beyond all description.”

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By Margaret Evans - In the National Army Museum in London, U.K., a special exhibit features a curious box. The walls on the inside of the box are mirrors, each one reflecting another. Placed inside the box are dozens of cut-out horses. They are all white, unnamed, undefined. But as they reflect back and forth on the mirrors, the little cut-out horses are multiplied into infinity. The image, so simple, is a profound reminder that over eight million horses on all enemy sides died in the horrors of the First World War.

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By Margaret Evans - As leaves fall and tears flow, horrors of another time sear the collective consciousness. Each Remembrance Day we think of lives forever changed, forever lost. And many of us think of the four-legged ones by their side.

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A Treasure for 350 Years - Good things were happening in New France in 1665. The New World colony had been under the tight control of the Company of One Hundred Associates since 1627. It capitalized on the fur trade while expanding French colonies along the Gulf of the St. Laurence and the river valley. But they were sporadically under siege from either native Iroquois tribes disrupting the fur trade, turf wars with the British, or conflicts with Quebec settlers resenting the company’s monopoly on trade.

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How Humans Reshaped the Horse Through Millennia - When horses became domesticated in Kazakhstan and neighbouring regions some 5,500 years ago, it was a game changer for the human race. With horses, people had a more efficient means to travel, explore, hunt, farm, pack, and trade. They could journey by horse to socialize with others, engage in bartering, and share ideas, knowledge, language, and beliefs. With horses valued at so many levels of society, they gave rise to the very first concepts of an ancient technology transfer system.

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How the Horse Changed the West - When horses galloped across the U.S. border onto Alberta’s rolling prairies in the 1720s, it was a bit of an overdue homecoming. It had been roughly 10,000 years since the province’s expansive grasslands shuddered under hard equestrian hooves. Fossils indicate that North America is the original home of the horse, where it first appeared millions of years ago.

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The Death of a Legend - Blanco, the angelic white horse who was the primary equine actor to play Gandalf’s mythical steed Shadowfax in the blockbuster Lord of The Rings (LoTR) movies The Two Towers and The Return of The King, was euthanized on March 24, 2014. One of the most beloved animal stars to ever emerge from Hollywood films, the 25-year-old Andalusian gelding suddenly fell critically ill while at home with owner, horse behaviour and positive training expert, Cynthia Royal.

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