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A look at the history of ‘Silent Night’ as the carol turns 200

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CTVNews.ca Staff , with a report from CTV Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis


Published Monday, December 24, 2018 10:00PM EST

One of the most enduring Christmas carols turns 200 years old this Christmas Eve.

“Silent Night” was written in German by the Catholic priest Joseph Mohr and his schoolteacher friend Franz Gruber between 1816 and 1818.

Originally called “Song From Heaven,” the carol debuted on Dec. 24, 1818 at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

U.S. musicology professor Sarah Eyerly writes that “Silent Night” was conceived at a time when Europeans were reeling from the Napoleonic Wars and widespread crop failure.

“Mohr’s congregation was poverty-stricken, hungry and traumatized, so he crafted a set of six poetic verses to convey hope that there was still a God who cared,” she writes.

The song quickly spread through western Europe and was performed in 1839 by a group of family singers at the Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York City.

“Silent Night” continued to be sung decades later. In 1914, when a Christmas truce was reached on the western front in the First World War, newspaper headlines referenced the tune.

In 1935, Bing Crosby released what may be the most famous version. His single, along with re-recordings, went on to sell more than 30 million copies.

Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra — even Boys II Men — have also covered the song, which has been translated into about 300 languages, including Inuktitut.

The Kroll Family Singers, from Austria, recently performed the song at Trinity Church in New York in order to mark the anniversary.

One of the singers, Elisabeth Frontull, said she believes its enduring popularity has to do with the fact that it’s “easy to learn.”

Sigrid Pichler, spokeswoman for New York City’s Austrian Tourist Office, said she believes the song “touches people deeply.”

“It’s a very simple song, it has an eternal message of peace,” Pichler added. “It is also something that the whole world needs to hear.”

With files from The Associated Press

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LIFESTYLES

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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LIFESTYLES

Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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LIFESTYLES

OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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