Friday 13 January 2012

January 14, 1876

The skating season has now opened in earnest, and the boys and girls should get their skates ready for the fun in the future. The skating on the bay is also very good as long as the skaters keep away from the mouth of the canal.”
  Hamilton Spectator, 1876-01-14
After an unusually mild start to the year 1876 in Hamilton, the thermometer had dipped below the freezing mark.
Frozen roads were a good not a bad thing. A hard, if slippery, was preferable for horse drawn wagons.
And the colder temperatures signalled the start of the skating season. In a city in which skating was very popular at the time, this was very good news.
While it would take a few days for the rinks in the downtown core to be fully readied for skaters, the frozen surface of the bay was accessible, and no tickets were necessary to be purchased.
The only danger spot in the first few days of the frozen bay was the area near the Desjardins canal where the moving water froze less readily.

An accident occurred on John street involving, a young man bringing a delivery of wood to the Haymarket Square at the Hunter/John area
As described by a Spectator reporter who witnesses the incident :
        “This afternoon a wagon loaded with wood broke down on John street. The team was driven by a boy of about fourteen years, who came from Binbrook, and who seemed almost broken-hearted at the accident which had befallen him. Another friend on the market helped him to unload and put things to rights.”
          The Hamilton Police Court proceedings on Friday January 14, 1876 were brief. Samuel Wilson, the drunk who had caused so much mayhem the day before at the Great Western Railway station was before Magistrate Cahill who gave him two sentences to be paid immediately or to be served at the Barton street jail, one after the other. Wilson got $10 or 60 days for being drunk and $10 or 30 days for the damage to GWR property he caused during his inebriated rampage.
          Six vagrants were sent to jail for 30 days. For the vagrants, also commonly referred to as vags at the time, jail was okay with them. In fact, it was not uncommon for such members of the many, many unemployed men in the winter months to deliberately break the law so that they would have a warm, dry place to stay until the weather got warmer.
       A sport that was very popular for both participants and spectators in 1876 Hamilton was rifle shooting. In the winter months, Heck Secord’s shooting gallery at 19 Hughson street was a well used facility for shooting contests. In the evening hours of January 13, 1876, a indoor shooting competition involving ten marksmen was held at Secord’s gallery, Joe Gains winning the silver cup.
          Hamilton’s main amateur theatrical organization was the Garrick Club, and in the January 14, 1876 issue, an advertisement for the upcoming presentation was carried. That paid advertisement was complimented by the following promotion for the event which appeared on the news page:
By our advertisement columns, it appears that the Garrick Club will repeat this delightful entertainment tomorrow afternoon at three o’clock Mechanics’ Hall. The Club with kind consideration has sent invitations to the Boys’ Home, Industrial School and Orphan Asylum, so that the children of those refuges may have a spectacular treat. We hope to see a large turnout of old and young. Guy Fawkes is a historical character, and though burlesqued, the play exhibits the chief points of the celebrated Gunpowder Plot. The fee for admission is 25 cents to all parts of the Hall. We hope to see a large house, as in that case, the net surplus for the poor will be considerably increased. Tickets can be had at Grossman’s.”


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