“The ice on the bay has now almost entirely disappeared. At the east end, large piles are banked together, but the main part of the bay is clear of ice. Should the bay remain open all winter, it will cause great disappointment and suffering to many fishermen who depend on spearing throughout the winter for a living. Some of them are already suffering from want, as they have expended a large sum in preparing their boxes and tools.”
Spectator. January 18, 1876
After a few days of cold weather suitable for the month of January, a false spring descended on Hamilton. Warm temperatures, sunshine and no wind combined to drastically alter the situation at the bay.
The ice was gone ending the skating and disappointment was the mood shared by the ice fishermen. Spearing was legal but the fisherman needed thick ice on which to set up their huts in which they would sit, staring intently at a large hole cut in the cut. Any fish that might pass by that hole would be instantly speared and hauled up.
So warm had it become that the Spectator carried the following item about a sighting almost unheard of in January in Hamilton :
“Mr. T. Mitchell, of 44 Florence street, brought to our sanctum today a fully developed butterfly, which he caught in his garden this morning. This is said to be one of the most remarkable phenomena of the kind which has been seen for many years. Butterflies in the middle of January are a singular commentary on the signs of a Canadian winter.”
The Mechanics’ Hall was nearly filled to capacity on a Saturday in January 1876,, the audience being attracted by an entertainment which received the following glowing review by the Spectator’s drama critic:
“On Saturday afternoon, the Garrick Club of this city gave a matinee performance of their amended edition of Guy Fawkes. An unusually large audience for an afternoon performance gave testimony to the public appreciation of the talent of the Club. Burlesque, of course, is not the highest form of the drama; its principal charm is exquisite nonsense, and as a piece of delightful fooling, the Guy Fawkes o’ the Garrick Club must be pronounced a great success even by the more critical. From the first to the last, the audience were kept in a continual state of laughter, varying from the incipient titter to the full vocal guffaw. A feature of burlesque is that it gains very little by the exceptional merits of any individual actor, in it the performer is absorbed by the play; its whimsicalities are belied forth mainly by the general action of the piece, and its greatest success is attained by such a uniformity as does not call attention to any one of its actors. These conditions were admirably followed by the performance Saturday afternoon. The dresses of the performers were a grotesque travesty upon the fashions of the times in which the play is laid. No two of them were anywhere near alike except in a certain harmonious absurdity which was common to all of them and had a good effect. It ought to be no praise even to amateurs to say they had thoroughly mastered the text of the play, but it is not so common as to be unworthy of notice, and in this respect, we are glad to be able to make a favourable report of the performance. With two very telling exceptions, there were no “hitches” that were perceptible to the audience. The tableaux were well arranged and effective, especially that in which the mock conspirators vow fidelity to their cause. The songs and dances were among the most enjoyable portions of the entertainment.
In portions of the piece, the performers abandoned themselves to a hilarity which was brimful of fun without being in the slightest degree indecorous and were greeted with peals of genuine laughter by the audience.
The terrific combat between Guy Fawkes (Mr. J. Howard) and Tresham (Mr. Cavendish) with two tin swords was as thorough a piece of burlesque as we have seen.
For reasons already stated, we shall not refer in this critique to the individual actors. There were differences between them, of course, but all of them were well up to the mark which their respective characters required.
Of the good taste and completeness with which the piece was put on the boards, we cannot speak too highly. As a laughter provoking entertainment, the performance was an undeniable success. The local bits interwoven with the text were palpable and clever and none of them were lost upon the audience. We are sure that the Hamilton public will gladly welcome an occasional repetition of the piece.”
A major event was held at Hamilton’s brand new Great Western Railway station. In the large dining room of that new building, some of the city’s and the railway’s most prominent individuals gathered to eat, drink toasts and give speeches about the Great Western Railway and importance to Hamilton and to Canada generally.
The spectator coverage of that event follows:
“On Saturday evening, Mr. Boughton, General Manager of the Great Western Railway, entertained as many of the employees of the Company as the dining room in the new Passenger Station at Hamilton would seat, on the occasion of the formal opening of the building.
Promptly at eight o’clock, Mr. Boughton took the chair. On his right sat Mr. Roach, Mayor of Hamilton; Dr. Hamilton of Flamboro; Dr. Arnott of the American Express Co.; Wm. E. Edgar, General Passenger Agent of the Company; Mr. White, Assistant General Freight Agent; Mr. Henry Childs, Car Superintendent; Mr. John Hall, foreman of the outside Locomotive Department, and Mr. J.A. Ward of the Mechanical Offices. On his left were Col. Myers, Unites States Consul at this port; Mr. Wm. Hendrie, Cartage Agent of the Company; Mr. Percy, Treasurer; Mr. Lawson, Supt. Air Line; Mr. Butters, Freight Agent at Clinton, and others.
The three tables running the lengthwise of the room were presided over respectfully by Sir Watson, General Superintendent, Mr. Hobson, Chief Engineer, and Mr. Ortton, Acting Superintendent of the Locomotive Department.
Over a hundred sat down to supper, which was most creditably put on the table by Mr. Moore, the Caterer of the station. After the physical wants of the inner man had been duly satisfied, the Chairman rose and gave in succession the usual loyal toasts, The Queen, The Prince and Princess of Wales and the other members of the Royal Family, the Governor-General and Lieut. -Governor. These were accompanied by appropriate remarks from the chairman and were heartily responded to.
In proposing the health of the President of the United States, the chairman said that however proud we might be of the historic grandeur of England, we must all acknowledge that the United States was a marvellous country, marvellous in its extent and in the rapid progress it has made. Situated as the Great Western was, its officers came in frequent contact with the officers of the American Customs department, and he was glad to be able to say that the latter had given every facility for the transaction of the company’s business with them, which a faithful discharge of their duty would permit. No unpleasantness of any kind had marred their friendly relations, and he hoped that that pleasant state of things would continue.
Col. Myers responded. In the course of his remarks, he said that the Americans knew the Great Western well and had a friendly regard for it. Of course, it came into competition with some of their own railways, and it was in Yankee nature to compete keenly but good-temperedly. If the Canadians succeeded in beating them, the Yankees would call them jolly good fellows for doing so. (Laughter). He assured them that everything he could do to enable them to make all the money they might wish would be done. It was a principle of his people to give every man a fair chance; and it was in order to make the intercourse across the line as easy as possible that there were so many consuls located along it. (Applause) Mr. Boughton was a comparative stranger among them, but he (Col. Myers) felt that he (Mr. Boughton) would show the people in England that he could run a railway as cheaply in Canada as anyone could – (applause) – and he (Col. Myers) was sure everyone of them would do everything in their power to aid him to carry out his plans to make money for the proprietors of the Great Western (Applause).
Dr. Hamilton said he had been called upon to propose a toast which he was quite sure they would most cordially and heartily respond to. It was that of “The Directors of the Great Western Railway.” (Applause.) The Great Western Railway was one of the most important enterprises in Canada that had ever been entered into during his lifetime; he could only say that to it was chiefly due that progress and prosperity that the country along its whole line was this day enjoying. Like everything else, it had its period of depression as well as its period of prosperity; but he was quite sure that there was no man in Canada, nor outside of it, who had ever lost confidence in it as a valuable and good property. Let no one despair of its success. When he saw what the chairman, though a comparative stranger among them, was doing for the proprietors of the Great Western Railway, he (Dr. Hamilton) said that he (Mr. Broughton) was upon the right road to make it a success. (Applause.) No doubt the Great Western had strong rivalry from other railways; but whatever might be the inflation for a time to make business, no railway could continue to run very long at a loss. He expected to see things revert before long to such a position that these enterprises would receive, at all events, a fair and reasonable compensation for the work they do. (Applause.) He had the greatest confidence in the Great Western Railway. It was the most direct route between the east and west; it was kept in the most admirable order, and it was acknowledged not only in the United States, but in England, to be one of the best lines on the continent of America. There was, therefore, no danger that it would not get its share of the trade of the great western country, and that it would not earn enough to give the proprietors something on their investments. He had the utmost confidence that the Directors had their whole hearts in the work, and were employing their whole energy to make the Great Western line, including all its branches, a success; and he was sure, from what he had seen himself, that they were the right men in the right place.
Mr. Percy, the Treasurer of the Company, responded on behalf of the Directors. He said that the little intercourse he had had with them left no doubt upon his mind that they were a high-minded and honourable administration. He believed that they would be greatly pleased at the enthusiastic manner in which the toast had been received.
The Chairman next proposed “the commercial and manufacturing interests of the Dominion.” He need hardly tell them that when these interests were depressed the interests of the Great Western Railway Company, in common with those of other railway companies, must be depressed too. In England they looked upon the published statements of the railway receipts exactly as a barometer in showing the state of trade, except at Christmas and other festive times, when they were not quite reliable as a barometer. They all knew that the trade of this country had not been as prosperous as it was previously. In consequence of this state of affairs they had suffered in common with the whole railway community. However, he thought there were signs of better times. Let them hope that things had got to the worst, and that they were beginning to see a little sunshine through the dark cloud which had been over them for some time. He gave them the toast of “the commercial and manufacturing interests of the Dominion,” coupling it with the city of Hamilton and the name of Mayor Roach.
Mayor Roach said that if he felt a little out of place in being called on to reply to this toast, as he were neither a commercial man nor a manufacturer. Still, it gave him an opportunity of saying that Hamilton claimed to be the Birmingham of Canada; and that its merchants and manufacturers were among the most enterprising and honourable of the Dominion. As proof of this he had but to mention that during this great depression that is now on the land there had been fewer failures in Hamilton in proportion to its inhabitants than in any other city. (Applause). And there was very little distress and poverty in it in comparison with what is existing in all the other towns in the Dominion. (Applause). The distress here was not one-half of what it was this time last year. (Hear. Hear.) This was, he thought, a good indication that the great cloud of depression which is hanging over us is about to disperse. He need not tell them that the citizens of Hamilton had always felt a great interest in the Great Western Railway. In 1850, when the road was first talked of, there was great difficulty in making financial arrangements, but Hamilton by a by-law voted $400,000 towards the stock of the road. At that time, there were a little less than ten thousand inhabitants in this city; but a few of the prominent men felt so great a confidence in the prosperity of the Great Western railway that they were willing to tax every man, woman and child about $40 each in order to aid the enterprise. They had seen no reason to regret that that had been done. They knew that the interests of the Great Western railway and those of Hamilton were identical, and the citizens of Hamilton were, he (the Mayor) was sure, pleased that Mr. Boughton had built this new station. Mr. Boughton had been sent out to do the best he could for the corporation he represented, and he (the Mayor) had no doubt the retrenchment and the changes that gentleman had been obliged to make had been very painful to his feelings, but three were brighter days in the future, and he (the Mayor) had no doubt they would soon see the Great Western enjoying some prosperity as in former times. (Applause)
The chairman then proposed “the Press.” Mr. D. McCulloch of the SPECTATOR was called upon to respond. He referred to his old connection with the service of the company and he expressed the pleasure it gave him to meet so many old friends around the table, with whom he was for many years in the company’s service.
The chairman then said that the toast he had now to give was the toast of the evening. At first sight, it might appear that he was asking them to dri nk to their noble selves; but that was not the case, as he would explain to them. First let him say to them how glad he was to see so many of them present. He had been telling their honoured guest, the Mayor, that he thought he (Mr. Broughton) did not know above one-third of them present. He had only been here about six months, and the Great Western Railway Company had some 4,500 employees scattered over some 750 miles of road. When he proposed the toast of “the employees of the Great Western Railway” he meant the whole of the staff; and therefore there would nothing egotistical in their drinking it. The Great Western Railway extended as he had stated 750 miles, including its branches; and upon that property had been expended something like $12,000,000, most of which had been found in England. He did not want to depreciate Canada and exalt England in mentioning this; but to point out to them that the investment of that amount of capital in this railway showed that a large number of the people of England had confidence in Canada, and also those who had the management of the Great Western Railway. It meant that a number of the people of England who had invested their all in the enterprise - for that was the fact - relied upon the efforts and honor and integrity of the servants of the Company, to make the railway yield them that which would enable them to maintain themselves and their families. Let him put it this way – not to them alone, but to the whole staff to whom whom he was speaking through them. Let them think how great a trust this was to have left in their hands, and how strong the obligation they were under to discharge the duties it imposed upon them, with efficiency and fidelity. He would suppose the position reversed and assume that many of them with saved their thousand dollars, bought a lot and built a house on it, should instead send their money to England, three thousand miles away, to be invested in some enterprise, how anxious they would be to know what return they were going to receive from it; how anxious they would to know who were managing their affairs there – whether they were capable and honest. Well, the shareholders in England of the Great Western Railway had invested their money in an enterprise three thousand miles away, and they looked to the servants of the Company to make it productive for them. How were the employees to fulfil the trust which had been reposed in them? What means we they to take to make the road answer to the expectations of those people who had invested $43,000,000 of English money in this country? He (Mr. Broughton) replied – and he trusted he said with becoming modesty – that a good deal depended upon, a good deal also upon those gentlemen who were his immediate assistance, and those who were their assistants again; but a very great deal more depended upon those he was addressing and upon the four thousand people who were under them. The first thing for them to do undoubtedly was to exercise great care in the selection of men to work for the Company. The next thing was to see when they had selected them if any of them were unworthy or unfit for their places, and if they found any so, to remove them, no matter how painful a duty that might be. The third, and he thought the most important point, was by every possible means to encourage those who remained, and by promoting them, to show them that they might on the Great Western rise to the highest position obtainable on any railway either in this or the adjoining country. He had had during the few months he had been here a good many letters recommending persons, and his answer had almost invariably been, “I object altogether to believe that the public at large know the sort of men who can manage railways.” He liked to promote the men who had come in at the bottom, and to pick out those whom he thought suitable and push them on. That is how he had got on himself. He was almost afraid to tell them that it was 35 years ago that he had entered into railway work at eight shillings a week. From that time until now, he not owed a single promotion to the influence of friends. Nothing but industry and an honest attempt to do his duty had pushed him gradually along. (Applause.) In addition to what he had mentioned, the railways required cordial co-operation of every class of the employees. There should be no envy or jealousy on the part of one department with regard to another. They must have departments; but the men of all of them should feel that they were all serving the same employers. The Great Western had experienced a period of difficulty in common with other railways. A great deal of the traffic had fallen off; it had a good geographical position, and so long as they had plenty of stock, and they had upwards of two hundred engines and plenty of wagons and cars – so long as they had staff anxious to do their duty to their employers and to serve the public, sober, prudent and zealous, he thought they might defy opposition, and be able to send home a dividend to their shareholders. He gave them, “The employees of the Great Western railway.”
Mr Percy responded. In doing so, he thanked the chairman for having brought about this reunion; and said that in England and Scotland he had learned how important it was to have social gatherings like this, which enabled the employees to become better acquainted with each other. When he left England, he did not know he could become so much attached to a service as he had become to that of the Great Western in the course of a few months. In all the departments of the Great Western railway he found – and he had some opportunity of forming an opinion - an amount of industry, ingenuity and intelligence that it thought made it second to no service that he had previously been acquainted with. He hoped that their chairman’s advice to them would be heartily followed, and that their progress in the future would be a prosperous one. (Applause.)
Mr. Hess replied on behalf of the Engineer’s Department, and in doing so he said that he was confident that at no other time was the railway of the Great Western in a better condition than at present. Notwithstanding the financial depression, it had been kept in a state of complete efficiency, and was in a position at any time to do a large business.
Mr. Ross, Bridge Inspector, also replied on behalf of the same department.
Mr. Ortton and Mr. Hall, replied on behalf of the Locomotive Departments in well-timed and eloquent speeches.
Mr. Watson spoke on behalf of the Traffic Department, and expressed his confidence that with the return of prosperity and increased business, the staff of the road would be able to grapple with it in a manner that would be satisfactory to the General Manager and the Directors.
Mr. White, Mr. Kraft, agent at Detroit, Mr. Butters, agent at Clifton, replied on behalf of the Freight Department. In the course of his remarks, Mr. White said he was glad to be able to tell them that the local freight was picking up considerably, and that there was also some improvement in the through freight.
Mr. Hendrie then proposed the health of the Chairman and expressed the opinion that social gatherings as these would do much to promote harmony of feeling in the staff, and foster a spirit of co-operation among its members. He alluded to the admirable manner in which the Chairman had discharged his duties, and he hoped that at no distant day his management would be crowned with the success of satisfactory dividends to its proprietors. The toast was honoured with great enthusiasm.
Mr. Broughton replied in a speech which was brimful of humour and good advice. He spoke of the arduous labours he had to perform since he had come to Canada, but he hoped that as he became better acquainted with them, they would take some of the work off his shoulders which at present rested upon them, and so enable him to enjoy again the society of his family, whose acquaintance he had almost lost during the last few months. (Laughter.) He would impress upon them all the duty of fidelity and zeal in the company’s service, with these qualities in the staff, he believed that their united exertions would yet pull the Great Western through, and place it in a position that would make them all proud of it.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Mr. Broughton was loudly applauded.
“The Ladies” was the last toast, and it met with a felicitous response from Mr. T. Tandy of the General Manager’s Office, who dimly hinted at something in his future career which would be interesting to a number of young ladies, were he at liberty to disclose it.
The Company then joined in singing “Auld Lang Syne,” led by Dr. Hamilton and separated at a few minutes before midnight.
The evening was a thoroughly enjoyable one and the genial manner in which Mr. Broughton discharged the duties of Chairman left a most favourable impression upon the members of his staff. “