Friday, 11 December 2009

Sorry to break your heart, but...

I have been breaking a lot of hearts this last month or so (no, I’m not being egotistical). It’s just that when I explain to a class that pteranodons and plesiosaurs are not really dinosaurs (they’re extinct flying and marine reptiles, respectively) and that brontosaurus doesn’t exist, I break a lot of hearts. A lot of people name these as their FAVOURITE dinosaurs – but they’re not dinosaurs. Dinosaurs don’t fly and dinosaurs don’t swim and in the case of brontosaurus a mistake was made with the wrong head on the wrong body and he’s actually Apatosaurus.

When I was a kid I was taught all about brontosaurus. The books were full of him. I learned about his diet, his habitat – everything. Now I know most of what I was told is wrong and that in the past #*#&$ years (yeah, like I’m going to admit my age) a lot of what we know about dinosaurs has changed. New discoveries, new ways of looking at old evidence -- this is a major part of paleontology.

The same is and has always been true of history. And I found a great example of this. On Christmas Day 1907 there was a riot here in Lethbridge. The Lethbridge Herald of the time gives a rather interesting description of what happened. But the other day I was researching and found on-line a collection of folk tales from southern Alberta. In there was a description of the riot that differs a lot from the Herald account. Which is the more accurate? I’m not sure at this point.

But the on-line story does suggest an answer to one question. According to the newspaper the riot was started when a Chinese waiter got into a fight with a white customer and hit the customer over the head with a hammer. Rumour got around town that the customer was killed and the riot ensued. No cause is given for why the fight (between the customer and waiter) was started or why the waiter reacted the way he did.

According to the article found on-line two white customers had been drinking heavily and were shooting at tomato cans in the restaurant. They then had to be subdued by the Chinese waiter who hit one over the head with the blunt end of a cleaver. This story certainly has more explanation for why the waiter reacted the way he did.

Any find like this makes me want to go back and see what else I can find so back to researching for me…

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