Chiang Kai-shek moved the seat of his government on this day in 1949 from Nanjing, in the newly founded People’s Republic of China, to Taipei, in Taiwan, the Republic of China. Born in Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, Chiang was the son of a salt merchant who died in 1895, leaving his third wife – Chiang’s mother – to bring up the young boy. Chiang was born on October 31, 1887, sharing a birthday with one of Canada’s great ice hockey players, “Newsy” Lalonde …

Edouard Cyrille Lalonde was an Ontario-born forward whose first job was in a newspaper plant, hence his less-than-sporty nickname.
Despite his strapping constitution – at five foot nine inches, he weighed 168lbs at his peak – Lalonde died five years earlier than the slight, short Chiang, who lived to the age of 87. Lalonde spent most of his sporting career with the Montreal Canadiens, a Quebecbased team owned by one of the province’s most affluent clans: the Molson family …

Responsible for Canada’s first steamboat, a major national bank and the country’s largest brewery, the émigrés had arrived in Canada from Lincolnshire, in England, in 1782. Four years later, they founded the Molson Brewery, one of the oldest companies in Canada. Today known as Molson Coors, it owns Czech-produced Staropramen and United States firm Coors. The latter recently caused a stir with an ad in which a Coors mountaintop ice bar is hand-sculpted by the hulking Jean-Claude van Damme …

The Belgian actor was enrolled in martial-arts school at the age of 10 by his accountant father, and had earned a karate black belt by the time he was 18. His film career spans three decades and is influenced by his self-defence skills. His 1988 ninjutsu film, Bloodsport, was partly filmed in Kowloon’s Walled City the year after the government announced it would be demolished. The movie’s main martial-arts showdown, however, was shot in the Bahamas, where a plane crash 13 years later claimed the life of R&B singer Aaliyah …

Brooklyn-born Aaliyah Dana Haughton never got to realise her silver-screen ambitions; she died, with eight others, in the crash, shortly after shooting Hollywood hit Romeo Must Die. That year, Aaliyah became one of the most popular names for baby girls in the US. The name originates from a Hebrew word meaning “highly exalted” or “sublime”. Her body was interred in a silver-plated coffin at New York’s Ferncliff Cemetery, the resting place of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, American actress Judy Garland and Soong May-ling …

May-ling was the youngest of three Soong sisters, who were descended, on their aristocratic mother’s side, from a prominent Ming dynasty mathematician. In the 1930s, May-ling and her sister Ai-ling were the richest women in China and fierce supporters of the Nationalist cause. In 1943, she visited America to lobby for political support and her appearances drew crowds of 30,000. May-ling was already famous in the US, after appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1931, with her husband, Chiang Kai-shek.