“Last evening the spacious dining room of the Royal Hotel presented a scene of deep interest on the occasion of the Mayor’s dinner. Around the handsomely furnished tables were seated the city fathers and many other gentlemen directly or indirectly concerned with the welfare of the city.”
Hamilton Spectator February 9, 1876
At 9 p.m., February 9, 1876, a gathering of many, if not most, of Hamilton’s leading citizens gathering in the main banquet room of the Royal Hotel on the invitation of Hamilton Mayor George Roach.
The meal served was deemed to be fully worthwhile and compliments to the staff of the hotel were many.
After the cloth had been removed, His Worship the Mayor proposed the usual loyal toasts, which were well received and drunk with enthusiasm.
“In response to the “Army, Navy and Volunteers,” Dr. White of the Hamilton Field Battery, delivered an able speech, as also did Major Grant, who, in a humorous style, alluded to the past exploits of the Volunteers of Canada, but assured the company that should they ever be called into the field again they will be prepared to handle themselves in a different manner.”
“The Mayor proposed “The County Council.” In doing so he said it was now the sincere wish of all that the county and the city should be on the most friendly terms. He hoped that whatever little differences existed between them were now dissipated, and he felt that this was so, as the last deputation to Toronto composed of members of the City and County Councils got along most harmoniously in regard to the jail and courthouse matter. As long as he was in the Council, it would be his constant aim to keep on the best terms with the County. He felt glad of the honour of the Warden’s presence tonight; he would have glad to see all of the members of the Council present tonight, but that had been an impossibility. He hoped, however, the Warden would convey to his Council the best wishes of this Board. (Cheers).”
The Warden of Wentworth County was the next speaker :
“Differences had had certainly arisen in days gone by, but those were gradually being healed, and in their place was the good feeling which should exist. He felt that if those differences would be brought before such a board as this, they would soon melt away. (Laughter and cheering.) He assured those present that the County Council was fully alive to the fact that whatever affected the city affected them. After some further remarks expressive of the good will of the county towards the city, Mr. Carpenter resumed his seat amid great applause.”
At this point in the proceedings, Mayor Roach sprang a surprise to the assembled, saying :
“Mr. Vice-Chairman and Gentlemen :
One of the objects of our gathering together this evening is to do honour to one of our rising professional young men, who has been our Resident Physician of the Hospital for nearly nine years, during which time he has gained the respect and esteem of all with whom he has come in contact, and by his energy and ability has obtained the management of one of the largest hospitals in the Dominion.
Dr. O’Reilly : We congratulate you on the appointment for many reasons, for I believe you stand higher in the estimation of our citizens than you have ever done. Tonight we have met to give you this presentation to testify to the high respect and esteem we entertain for you; I regard it a privilege to be entrusted by the subscribers with a discharge of a duty of such an agreeable character. In handing it to you, I can assure you it is offered by us as a tribute of our high regard and admiration, and I am sure I am only echoing the sentiments, the sympathy and the desire, and uttering the words, of all presnt when I say I hope God may prosper and bless you.
He then read the following address :
To Charles O’Reilly, Esq. M.D., late Resident Physician to the Hamilton City Hospital, and Medical Officer to the Board of Health.
DEAR SIR : We feel that we ought not to allow the occasion of your retiring from your official position as Resident Physician of the City Hospital and Medical Officer of the Board of Health, to pass without expressing both our regret in parting with you, and our entire satisfaction with the manner in which you have discharged the duties of your offices.
Under your management as Resident Physician, during the past nine years, our Hospital has acquired more than a local reputation as a model institution, and your attention and courteous demeanour to all who have been brought into contact with you, either officially or otherwise, have gained for you many ardent and admiring friends.
We beg you will accept, as a token of our kindly feelings towards you, and of our appreciation of your past valuable services, the accompanying Service of Plate, and in saying goodbye, we assure you that you have our warmest wishes for your success in the new sphere of duties upon which you are about to enter.
Signed on behalf of the Corporation,
The present was a most handsome one, composed of six highly finished and ornamented pieces of silver, on each of which the following as engraved : - “Presented to Charles O’Reilly, Esq., M.D., on his retiring from the position of Resident Physician of Hamilton Hospital and Board of Health, by the Mayor and Aldermen, as a token of their esteem and regard. Dec., 1875. George Roach, Mayor.
The service consisted of eight pieces of silver set, consisting of a silver urn, coffee pot, tea pot, sugar bowl, butter cooler, slop bowl, and cream jug. They were procured at the establishment of Mr. Thos. Egan on James street.”
In response, Dr. O’Reilly seemed almost overwhelmed by his feelings, saying in part :
“Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen – Allow me to assure you I had no anticipation that, on my departure from Hamilton for another sphere of professional labor, you intended to pay me so high a compliment as you have done me this evening by the presentation of such a beautiful and costly testimonial of your regard and esteem as that before me now, and of your appreciation of my services in connection with the Hamilton City Hospital. prove a most efficient officer.
“Personally, gentlemen, I feel confident in your friendship and your good wishes for my success, and, officially, I am sure a greater compliment could not have been paid me than that of which you have made me the honoured recipient this evening. I expected to leave Hamilton quietly, but this you have now effectually prevented by your great kindness and liberality on this occasion. I can assure you it is a hard task to leave my native city, and to say goodbye to those whose friendship has stood the test so many years, but whose kind and heartfelt wishes will go with me, I am sure, to my new home. Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen, in leaving Hamilton I required no such substantial proof to make me think of the past and of the many happy years spent among you and in your employ, but I can assure you that I shall always feel proud to look upon this magnificent and splendid souvenir, which you, in your generosity and kindness have presented me with this evening, and throughout all my coming years, I shall look back upon this as one of the red letter days of my life. Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen I again repeat, and I trust you will accept my most heartfelt thanks for the honor you have conferred upon me this evening.”
The Vice-Chairman, Ald. Fitzpatrick, then proposed “The agricultural, commercial and manufacturing interests of the County,” coupled with the names of Mr. Thos. Stock and Ald. Fields and Mitchell. The toast was drunk enthusiastically.
Mr. Stock said, in reply, that it was one of the most important subjects upon which he could speak. In the early stages of the county, the agricultural interests were the most important as they laid the foundation of the future success of the county. Differences sometimes arose between the manufacturing and agricultural pursuits, but he did understand that as he could not see the dividing link. As for himself, he had been doing business with the commercial men of Hamilton, And he never had the slightest difference with them. (Cheers.) Before sitting down, he asked leave to propose the toast of “The Mayor and Corporation.” This was received with unbounded applause, the company singing, “For they’re all jolly good fellows.”
The mayor called upon Ald. Field and Mitchell to respond to the commercial interests before he would respond to that of the Mayor.
Mr. Field made a very hopeful speech, in which he said that although a gloom of depression was hanging over the city at present, it was being rapidly dispersed, and hoped would be soon dissipated forever. Ald. Mitchell said that he agreed with the sentiment expressed by the last speaker that the gloom was being dispersed. The commercial interests of the country had not been shaken. He was proud to say that this Dominion stood the third nation in the world in a maritime point of view. (Tremendous cheering), and he felt that the people should be well-satisfied with their progress. He believed that the prosperity of the country depended on the protection of her industries, and pointed out the great success of the United States of America was owing to their unwavering protective policy.
In response to the toast of “The Mayor’” His Worship said that he had been highly honoured by the city by placing in him such an important trust, but he felt that any success he achieved was due not to his own abilities or forethought but to the wise counsel of his colleagues. He regretted sincerely that Ald. Chisholm was not present, as he would have liked to have seen him here very much. He had sent him an invitation but had received no reply, but he thought that this was perhaps owing to the fact that Ald. Chisholm often suffered from sudden attacks of indisposition, and it was probable that sickness prevented him from being present this evening. He would address them at any length, as there were many of his old colleagues here present who would reply to the toast.
Ald. Crawford, in response to repeated calls, said that he came into the Council fourteen years ago. He had always endeavoured to do his duty and to act honestly, and probably this was the reason his constituents had returned him so often. He had always done best for his own ward in particular – (Laughter.)
Judge Smart proposed the “Press,” which was acknowledged by Mr. Eastwood of the Times and Mr. McCulloch of the SPECTATOR.
Several volunteer toasts were then given, and, at an early hour, the merry company broke up, singing “Auld Lang Syne.”