Monday, 24 February 2014

Creature Features: The history of real animals in horror films


I'm coming for you

In the news this week, a new crazy monster film is getting tons of press with the release of it's trailer. Beaver Zombies! Yes - Zombeaver the movie. Other than the furry beaver jokes, the internet media is happily slapping its tail over this horror film about undead beavers looking for furry vengeance against some campers. Using animals as instruments of horror and death in film - either creating real fear or laughter or both - is not a new concept as we all know: Who has not seen Jaws?

The first horror films made used the supernatural to create fear. The Lumiere brothers in 1895 used dancing skeletons in their spooky tales. Georges Melies created the first horror film we have evidence of in 1896 with a normal assortment of traditional fairy tale characters, devils and ghosts. This continued through to the talkies era of the 1930s with Frankenstein and Dracula. Through the 1930s and 40s, humans morphing into animals became a common trope. Films like the Wolfman and Cat People scared  audiences with makeup and early special effects.

King Kong (1933) was one of the first animal as perpetrator horror films, the giant ape made surreal. The real influx of animal based horror films came after World War Two. Many have argued that escapist film began because people wanted to escape the real horror story of war. Giant animals and bugs continued their creature feature prominence with THEM and The Wasp Woman. Evil squids then came onto the scene in 1955 with It Came From Beneath the Sea, and in the same year more arachnids with Tarantula. The scary animal and bug fetish culminated in The Fly in 1958.

How am I going to go to the bathroom...oh that's how flies do it
The reasons are covered well in many other sources - the atomic age made mutant animals cool. Nature was terrifying, and nature unbound by normal rules as science let it go mad was even more scary to the audiences of the time. So the release of more films with mutated animals, carnivorous insects, and normally harmless animals that turn on the humans continued. One of the best is Attack of the Crab Monster (1957) which John Tebbutt highlights in his great article for FFWD. I wonder though if they truly thought this was scary or just a bit of fun.

One 1960s horror film with really terrifying animals stands out - The Birds from 1963. The real terror of Tippi Hendren and the cast is felt in every scene with the blood-seeking birds. No other film before captured how innocent and beautiful birds could peck someone to death on screen. I dare you to watch this clip and laugh. Unless you like birds trying to kill you.

Why are we so fascinated and horrified over animals in horror films? One theory is that it's an ingrained fear in humans that have kept us alive - animals were trying to kill us for dinner as one of the many slow moving primates on this planet for ages. As mentioned earlier, Jaws in 1975 scared the bed-wetting pants off most people and still does, because none of us still want to be alive while being eaten.

I'm just fulfilling a evolutionary role here buddy.
We all know of many films that take themselves seriously to terrify the audience but end up being laughable. Most film experts blame Jaws for this, as the nature run amok film genre became a bankable idea to many. They rushed out to make their films only to realize they had no money and no idea on how to do anything. One example is Orca (1977), where a killer whale eats a whole Canadian fishing village, and you are rooting more for the Orca. The filmmakers really wanted to scare you with some seriously bloody scenes but end up making a comedy/weird ass film instead.

Excuse me sir, but have you seen your dog anywhere?
It was not until the 1990s that animals trying to eat you was made intentionally funny. Arachnophobia (1990) was one of the first animal as death-bringers comedy horror films. In the film, recently discovered spiders run amok in a small American town, with no intention except to make you laugh as they squeak and sigh along to killing people. The key part is these are not mutants, they are just real spiders fighting for their survival. (If you take their side.) The film was a huge success making over $54 million in its first release. It continued with the worms in Tremors (1990), and the classic Eight Legged Freaks of 2002. The list goes on with Slither, Snakes On A Plane and many more. So as we all wait for the release of the zombie beavers, I wonder if this will create more interest in killer animals again, both in horror and in humour?

Oh yes it did. God damn squirrels.





Sources and Further Reading:

FilmmakerIQ - a brilliant site on all things film, the best one of all of these!

Horror Film History - A decade by decade guide

Natural Horror Films - a long list of films by wikipedia

Best Horror Films - Wired's recommendations, with no animal films making it

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Do you believe we are magic? Words and the history of Etymology

Marilyn Monroe casting spells
Bloody hell - I can't sleep. So I might as well write.

My friend Val asked me if I'd do a blog piece on word origin and idioms in English. I can - but there is so much out there already about the two that I feel like a squirrel re-burying my friend's nuts. I was more interested in the history of giving a crap about words - namely the study of the history of words, their appearance and usage through the ages. I'll put in a few examples to spice it up a bit.

People have always cared how they created their words, as words have power. The idea is that you can use them more effectively if you have power over them and know their origin and meaning. Sounds like a bit of magic to me....what my evil spells could do!

The ancient Greeks and Indians who really got nuts over discourse and word origins, were the first to seriously study the usage of words. The ancient Sanskrit linguists and grammarians of India believed it was sacred to know where your words came from. Isidore of Seville whose Etymologia was the first and best encyclopedia in Europe of first usage until the 16th century.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw the scientific study emerge with the advent of the Age of Enlightenment. The first known systematic attempt to prove the relationship between two languages on the basis of similarity was made in 1770 by Hungarian Janos Sajnovics, based on trying to find out where the hell did Hungarian come from because bugger if he knew. (Despite his great efforts, we're still not sure - might be Ugirc, maybe not?)
The modern study of linguistics and Etymology was Sir William Jones, who returned to the ancient Sanskrit studies and observed its relationship with Greek and Latin, creating the field of Indo-European linguistic studies, of which our current English relies on heavily. My favorite philosopher Nietzche also had a huge impact, saying that morals have historical and cultural origins which change over time. People like Derrida read that and thought it should apply to words as well.

There's an amazing website on the etymologies of lawyer speak. The whole study is devoted to the origin and use of property law terms. Example - accession originated from the Indo-European root word -sed which means walk or go. It first showing up in usage in the 1500s. For a lawyer I can imagine knowing this is pretty powerful stuff. I swear some of them cast spells on the judges and juries - why else would they win their cases and let criminals go free?

Now for a few fun words and their etymologies, taken from the online etymology dictionary!

One of my faves: bugger as in "bugger if he knew"


bugger (v.) to commit buggery," 1590s, from bugger (n.). Meaning "ruin, spoil" is from 1923. Related: Buggered; buggering. buggery (n.) mid-14c., "heresy," later "unnatural intercourse" with man or beast, "carnalis copula contra Naturam, & hoc vel per confusionem Specierum". See bugger (n.) + -y (1). bugger (n.) https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.etymonline.com%2Fgraphics%2Fdictionary.gif&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*Next: Bloody hell I need to sleep, but instead I'm going to write."sodomite," 1550s, earlier "heretic" (mid-14c.), from Medieval Latin Bulgarus "a Bulgarian" (see Bulgaria), so called from bigoted notions of the sex lives of Eastern Orthodox Christians or of the sect of heretics that was prominent there 11c. Cf. Old French bougre "Bulgarian," also "heretic; sodomite." Softened secondary sense of "fellow, chap," is in British English from mid-19c. Related: Buggerly.

Another: Bloody, as in “Bloody hell I can’t sleep”


bloody (adj.) Old Engish blodig, adjective from blod (see blood). Common Germanic, cf. Old Frisian blodich, Old Saxon blôdag, Dutch bloedig, Old High German bluotag, German blutig.It has been a British intensive swear word since at least 1676. Weekley relates it to the purely intensive use of the cognate Dutch bloed, German Blut. But perhaps it ultimately is connected with bloods in the slang sense of "rowdy young aristocrats" (see blood (n.)) via expressions such as bloody drunk "as drunk as a blood."

Partridge reports that it was "respectable" before c.1750, and it was used by Fielding and Swift, but heavily tabooed c.1750-c.1920, perhaps from imagined association with menstruation; Johnson calls it "very vulgar," and OED writes of it, "now constantly in the mouths of the lowest classes, but by respectable people considered 'a horrid word', on par with obscene or profane language."The onset of the taboo against bloody coincides with the increase in linguistic prudery that presaged the Victorian Era but it is hard to say what the precise cause was in the case of this specific word. 
 
Bloody Hell, you buggers! That's my new spell to curse you!
Attempts have been made to explain the term's extraordinary shock power by invoking etymology. Theories that derive it from such oaths as "By our Lady" or "God's blood" seem farfetched, however. More likely, the taboo stemmed from the fear that many people have of blood and, in the minds of some, from an association with menstrual bleeding. The term was debarred from polite society during the whole of the nineteenth century.

For more word fun, may I also suggest a really cool map of similar words in Europe? Church and Bear really get around!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

From Wood to Cyber: The American Civil War and the Advancement of Prosthetics




This week I read an article in the MIT Review (December 2013) on how a new prosthetic hand can now send signals to its wearer. The Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University (big enough name!) has developed a hand that can sense touch and not squeeze things to mush by stimulating nerve bundles—which died or were lopped off—in the prostetic hand. 

A video shows a man who lost his right hand in an accident three years ago using the hand to pick up and remove stems from cherries. How it does it is the force detectors on the fingers of the hand convey touch information directly to three pea-sized nerve interfaces surgically implanted in his lower right arm. The wearer controls the hand through a technology called a myoelectric interface, which uses signals from the muscles in his lower arm.

Wow. Big departure from wearing a peg leg! How did we get here? Thank the Americans and their Civil War. (1861-1865) Before that...

 
Egyptian Fake Toe - and the foot still attached. Ummmm….

Prosthetic limbs have existed ever since people needed a helping hand or foot. Romans use to make limbs out of iron for soldiers who lost bits in battles. Further developments in movement, wearability and realism continued, but the biggest jump was during and after the Civil War. New advancements of technology in weapons, especially riffles which could now be loaded quicker and now used round balls that exploded on impact, which led to a huge level of shrapnel and disfiguring, not killing, wounds. Diseases as well such as gangrene also rotted away bodies but did not always kill. Estimates from records are that over 60,000 amputations were done.

Four years of death and dismemberment resulted in many men needing artificial limbs to go back to some normalcy. This created a rise in manufacturing of limbs. Hello capitalism!

About 150 patents were issued for artificial limb designs between 1861 and 1873. To be able to afford a new appendage, the Federal government allocated in 1862 Union veterans $75 to buy an artificial leg and $50 for an arm, and by 1864 the Confederacy was also providing financial assistance for such purchases. The payments usually covered the cost of the device and travel to a showroom for it to be fitted. Others refused to wear them however as a sign of their sacrifice and a reminder. The idea , however, that false limbs could be functional and look natural was born of this period.

nullBefore wood and steel were the materials, but the discovery and commercial use of rubber with its resiliency, flexibility, and more natural appearance was more appealing to veterans. With fingers that could move under pressure, some had lifelike action to hold small objects like a fork or pencil. The odder adaptations were making the limb into a Swiss Army knife, where you could detach it and add hooks, brushes, sawing attachments, or other accessories. In this picture the mass manufacturing of limbs, which gives a new meaning to arms factory. (You know I was going to go there eventually)

Left, one of James Hanger’s early patents from 1891 shows his novel hinged mechanism. Image courtesy Hanger.com. Right, Samuel Decker was another veteran who developed his own mechanical arms, and later went on to become an official Doorkeeper at the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

 
There's more to the project as well. Kevin has hosted talks and historical walks as well. In January of 2014 he and Third Street Theatre organized a Cabaret to celebrate Club Carousel - the first formal gay social club in Calgary. It was sold out! The patch above was the Club's emblem.

The Other Blog In My Life

Calgary's Gay History Project is the other blog and history project in my life right now. Spearheaded by Kevin Allen, myself and Dale are his co-researchers. How did I get involved? I saw Kevin present at the library about a year ago and was hooked. I'm always for the local underdog history projects.

Calgary's GLBTQ history is short compared to some cities like San Fransisco but it is there. Since the 1950s the city’s gay community has existed as a underground culture. There has been little academic work done on the growth of this community which has spurned Kevin on. We're curious about what life was like for gay people in Calgary in the middle of the last century to the modern era. Though oral history interviews, primary source documents such as newspapers and magazines, we hope to record and present the stories of queer/gay seniors before they are gone.

The main office for the project is the Old Y Centre for Community Organizations. Please talk with us if you have a story to share!
Contact-
Kevin Allen
kevinallencharles (AT) gmail.com,
403-890-7278

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Re-imagining Death: World War I With Martians 

A still from the tv movie The Great Martian War - History Channel UK

I've just watched The Great Martian War, on how the martians attacked earth in 1913. The film, produced by History Channel UK, is a combination of science fiction and alternative history of World War One. Using a convincing Specialist Factual Documentary style with interviews with 'experts, survivors and veterans', and making the film look archival in nature, the viewer is successfully pulled into the war with the martians.

While beautifully rendered, amazing technology of the martians, and a great story, I felt still very uncomfortable about watching this 90 minute re-imagining. I had to ask myself::  

Is it exploitation of the war? Or is it one way to bring their story to a wider audience and honour the dead?

In order to answer this question, I wanted to know more about the film maker's intentions and approaches to the material. I found a Q & A with the producers, they address the issue of World War One directly, saying:

"We all agreed it could only work and be worthwhile if the story we set out to tell honoured the experience of the people who really lived through the horrors of the WWI era and in some way used convincing science-fiction as the way to tell some truths about the nature of the war, the enslavement of mankind by the machinery of war and its terrible and lasting consequences."

Part of this was to do their homework, and become well versed in the events before, during and after the war. The placed these real events in their narrative, such as: The United States remains neutral for much of the war, women throw themselves into the construction of munitions, and have the final blow of the Spanish Flu at the end of the war.

The producers also state that they decided it was not proper to use real archival footage of fighting or the dead. They did, however, choose to use images of men in trenches, soldiers on the march or training. They re-created first person accounts with excellent actors. That was a smart decision: if they had many families of the men, as well as historians alike would cry exploitation.

Wounded at Amiens
Canadians wounded at the Battle of Amiens lying outside of the 10th Field Ambulance Dressing Station. George Metcalf Archival Collection, Canadian War Museum.

But, does The Great Martian War trivialize World War One? We have seen this argument before in reference to past historical events. In the 1980s and 1990s, many people found the influx of movies on the holocaust of World War II very wrong. One was Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. He asked in his piece for the New York Times:

"Why this determination to show ''everything'' in pictures? A word, a glance, silence itself communicates more and better. How, after all, can one illustrate famine, terror, the solitude of old people deprived of strength and orphans robbed of their future? How can one ''stage'' a convoy of uprooted deportees being sent into the unknown, or the liquidation of thousands and thousands of men, women and children? How can one ''produce'' the machine-gunned, the gassed, the mutilated corpses, when the viewer knows that they are all actors, and that after the filming they will return to the hotel for a well-deserved bath and a meal?"

But World War I is not the holocaust. It has no veterans left alive to point out that they like or don't like film adaptations of 'their conflict'. Enough time, a hundred years, has passed. Our collective memory is not as raw as it is with World War II and the holocaust. Even then, we have tons of movies and video games set in both world wars such as Sergeant York and Stalingrad.

Personally, at no time did I feel like the intention of the film makers was to dishonour the dead, or minimize the impact of the real war. My answer then has to be The Great Martian War was done with a lot of sensitivity and understanding.

However, it did leave me cold.

I kept looking at the faces of the real men in the archival footage that had been alive, asking "I wonder if they made it? Did they end up dying in the mud?" I could not divorce myself from the real events long enough to be fascinated or appreciate the effort the film makers did. I did have to study it a great deal in my undergrad, and afterwards as well.

So is it too soon? Maybe it's not a matter of time. Maybe it's more that they used archival footage at all. That the release of the TV movie comes now at the anniversary might be too calculated? The use of the interviews as well: I could imagine real veterans talking about their horrors too well. I kept asking myself: how would the real veterans of the war see this film?

We can't ask them.

Monday, 3 February 2014


History of Canada's Citizenship Act and Calgary!



A magazine cover from 1880 - white and tiny people welcomed to Canada
 The Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper announced on February 3rd of 2014, the Citizenship Act will be reformed.

As reported by CBC News last month, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will introduce sweeping changes which are "the first comprehensive reform to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation​". The more controversial changes include new rules that would allow the government to strip dual nationals of their citizenship in "extreme cases," such as in cases of "treason" or "acts of terrorism."

"We need to be able to take citizenship away from dual nationals in extreme cases, where they've crossed a line that I think all Canadians will agree are grounds for that kind of move," Alexander told CBC News on Jan. 23.

The new rules will also look to right a wrong and give Canadian citizenship to "Lost Canadians" who had seen it denied from them for one reason or another over the years."Some are children of war brides, some have other complicated circumstances which should never have barred them from citizenship, and we have to fix the legislation," Alexander told CBC News.



While these and other changes will be decided on, the idea that your citizenship is a fluid construct on which the government can change and control is not new. What will be the impact on the patterns of immigration to Canada, no one can tell. We only know through our history that policies of who could be Canadian and who could not really shaped the country. We can see that in one city specifically - Calgary.

Between 1901 and 1914, over 750,000 immigrants entered Canada from the United States. While many were Canadians, about one–third were newcomers of European extraction—Germans, Hungarians, Norwegians, Swedes, and Icelanders—who had originally settled in the American West – settled in the West.

Galician Immigrants upon arrival to Canada, 1900s, LAC Archives





One large group that came to Calgary was ethnic Germans. The statistics for Calgary in 1901 are indicative of this: approximately 200 ethnic Germans called Calgary home. Listing their place of birth, 8 Austria, 37 Germans, 32 Russians, and 20 Americans has all settled in the town. Interestingly, the people who stated they were born in Canada including the 58 from Ontario, stated that their parents were German. 
In Calgary, certain areas of the city were settled by ethnic groups of new immigrants. The Chinese settled in downtown near centre street, immigrants of German descent settle mostly in Riverside which is now a part of Bridgeland. The reason was simply because of shared language and culture of these people, and a more welcoming and accepting community. A great deal of suspicion and prejudice existed in Calgary of new immigrants, and many believed it was best if these new immigrants stayed within their own groups. 
  
Italians arrived in two waves to Calgary, the first from 1900 to 1914, and the second after 1940s because of World War Two. The first arrivals came as temporary and seasonal workers, often returning to southern Italy after a few years. Other became permanent urban dwellers, especially when the First World War prevented international travel. From the outset they began to have an impact on the cultural and commercial life of Calgary. They settled mostly in Bridgeland which was then called "Little Italy" up until the 1980s.


Chinese men posing, 1920s, LAC Archives

One group did not fit this narrative of a European settled Southern Alberta: the Chinese. Many had come from the Canton region of China, then the United States for work on railroads and gold mines. They migrated north to Canada to work on the building of the railroads. When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, unemployed Chinese men came to Calgary. The first Chinese laundries opened near the railway station. They also took jobs as cooks at ranches or started their own cafes. While most people were accepting of the newcomers, certain active anti-Chinese groups began to appear. In August 1892, a group of 300 men attacked the laundries, smashing doors and windows and set fires, all in an effort to chase the Chinese out of town. The NWMP put down the attack and patrolled the city for weeks after to make sure no further violence occurred. Despite the racist fuelled attack, the small community of 200 Chinese stayed. Some brought over their families from China. However, due to anti-Chinese immigration policies in Canada, that number increased very little.
 
Although immigration to Canada between 1919 and 1925 was largely restricted to newcomers from Canada’s traditional source countries, there were two notable exceptions. One involved the Russian Mennonites, who were fleeing persecution in their homeland. The government of Canada wanted them to settle in the west, as they were farmers. Most headed to southern Alberta. Their descendants moved into local towns including Calgary, which has to this day many Mennonite churches with large congregations.
Joseph, Luba and Ida Roginsky, Jewish Immigrant Family, 1925 

 The other exception was Russian Jews. Even though the Department of Immigration and Colonization was generally hostile to the idea of admitting Jews, placing various impediments in their way, approximately 40,000 Jews did succeed in entering this country between 1920 and 1930, most being admitted by special permit. In 1923, the Canadian government agreed to admit 5,000 Jewish refugees who had fled from Russia to Romania between 1918 and 1920 and had subsequently been ordered to leave their adopted country. Many of these immigrants would choose to join the Jewish community in Calgary. Calgary had a small but active Jewish community since the later 1890s. Most of them were of Russian origin and came to Calgary through the United States or from Eastern Canada. By 1907, the Jewish population in Calgary was about 400. After the influx in the 1920s and 30s, that population grew to over 1200.

            The 1930s, however, saw the sharp reduction of immigrants into Calgary. This was due mostly to the recession across Canada. Jobs were scarce, wages were low, and many families had very little to live on. In 1933, almost one–quarter of the labour force in Canada was unemployed. Prospective immigrants as well as immigrants already established in Canada became the targets of opposition. Many established Canadians of all backgrounds opposed the idea of new immigrants, as they believed that the newcomers would take their much needed jobs. The government agreed and limited immigrant entry into Canada.

The outcome of this decision would have long term and devastating consequences. Among those barred from entering Canada during the 1930s were thousands of desperate refugees, many of them Jews fleeing persecution at the hands of the Nazis. Two years after Canada introduced its new exclusionary immigration policy, National Socialists seized power in Germany and began waging ruthless warfare against Jews and other minorities, such as pacifists, Communists, gypsies, and Freemasons. Many of these people were murdered then or were killed by the Nazis in World War Two (1939-1945).

 
European Immigrants greeted by Red Cross, late 1940s , LAC archives


After World War Two, there was a slow but steady increase again of immigrants into the Calgary area. The laws changed: the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947 allowed a lowering of immigration barriers. Although it could have been a land of hope and promise for Europe’s war–weary and oppressed, Canada admitted few bona fide immigrants and displaced persons (the label given to those individuals who had been uprooted or displaced in their own homeland by war) during this period. Immigration barriers also blocked the entrance of most refugees (people who had fled totalitarian regimes before the outbreak of the war and those who, starting in 1945, had left East European countries that had come under Communist control).

Nearly 250,000 displaced persons and other refugees were admitted to Canada between 1947 and 1962.Of the 165,000 refugees who entered this country between 1947 and 1953,Poles comprised the largest group (23 percent of all those refugees admitted). In descending order of numerical strength were Ukrainians (16 percent), Germans and Austrians (11 percent), Jews (10 percent), Latvians (6 percent), Lithuanians (6 percent), Magyars (Hungarians; 5 percent), Czechs (3 percent), Dutch (3 percent), and Russians (3 percent). All told, these groups comprised 86 percent of the Europeans allowed to enter Canada in this period.

Notable among the new arrivals to Calgary were British war brides who had married members of Canada’s fighting forces. During and after the war, some 48,000 of them arrived in this country, often with tiny babies in their arms and toddlers clinging to their skirts. Although most of the war brides and their approximately 22,000 offspring settled in Canada’s towns and cities, some of them made their homes in rural or remote regions of this vast land, including Calgary.

Another large group that settled in Calgary was hundreds of Hungarian refugees. This represents one of the few times in Canadian history when Canadians have whole–heartedly welcomed immigrants. This can be attributed directly to the pressure created by the Canadian public, whose sympathies were aroused by the plight of over 200,000 Hungarians fleeing their homeland after Russian tanks brutally crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956. This sympathy seemed to open the door to other groups. Now the majority of new arrivals came from continental Europe, especially Germany and Italy, which were originally barred from coming to Canada due to being ‘the enemy’ in World War Two.

Continued changes in Canadian immigration policies led to more diversity in immigration. Even until the 1950s, the emphasis remained on having ‘white’ immigrants come to Canada. In 1966, 87 percent of Canada’s immigrants had been of European origin. But four years later, 50 percent came from quite different regions of the world: the West Indies, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and Indochina.
Cambodian Chhayam drum players at rally, 2009

This again was due to two governmental changes: one being the removal of racist guidelines from the Immigration Act in 1962. Also, the introduction of the points system, a method designed to eliminate caprice and prejudice in the selection of independent immigrants, was created in 1967. In the points system, immigration officers assign points up to a fixed maximum in each of several categories, such as education, employment opportunities in Canada, age, the individual’s personal characteristics, and degree of fluency in English or French. The points system was incorporated into new immigration regulations that went into effect in 1967.

Because of these changes, Calgary saw a huge spike in immigrants from these parts of the world. Many were fleeing their homes that were besieged by civil wars and mass murders. One example is South Americans. Between 1973 and 1978, nearly 13,000 Chileans fled to Canada to escape persecution and the authoritarian rule of General Pinochet. By 1978, Chilean immigration to Canada represented nearly 2.5 percent of the national total. In response to these and many other world crisis, the government announced in July 1979 that it would admit 50,000 refugees to Canada by the end of 1980. The decision provided for both privately sponsored and government–sponsored refugees, the government initially agreeing to match each refugee that individuals and church and other voluntary groups supported. Some 77,000 Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees entered Canada between 1975 and 1992, with over 1/4th of these refugees settling in Calgary.

 For more information, check out this great site Immigration History of Canada.