Saturday 31 March 2012

April 1, 1876

“The James street market today was the largest since Christmas. The square was crammed with sleighs and the passages were choked by a constantly swelling stream of visitors and purchasers. All the sleighs were well-loaded, and almost all kinds of produce were represented. A large number of Indians were in the neighbourhood selling whip stocks and baskets.”
          Hamilton Spectator . April 1, 1876
The first market day of April, 1876 was marked with a lot of goods available to, and purchases made by, Hamilton residents. Farmers were generally better able to bring their wares to the market square on Saturday April 1, 1876 than they had been able to do for several weeks. At the same time, as the snow, fallen during the previous week’s storm, had become less of an impotence to those wanting to get to market.
Saturdays still held regularly scheduled sessions at the police court before Police Magistrate James Cahill. There were very few cases for the magistrate to deal with on Saturday April 1, 1876 but the day being as it was on the calendar, there was, as reported in the Spectator, a bit of humour in the usually staid court room:
“There was nothing new at the Police Court this morning save that Sergeant McMenemy was in bad humour as he had been badly sold on April Fool’s day license.
A few drunk and snow cases were disposed of.”
The major story of the day in the Spectator concerned the turmoil on the Six Nations Reserve in reaction to a concerted effort to move residents of the reserve out so that their land could be controlled by a private company :
“A few days ago we published an article stating that a company had been formed for the purpose of removing the Six Nations Indians from the banks of the Grand River further north. Towards the end of the article referred to, an opinion was expressed that the removal would be a difficult matter to accomplish, as the leading Indians were opposed to it, and that the Government would look jealously on such action. It appears, however, that the company, under the direction of the President, Mr. Rufus Scarce of Bay City, Mich., and Mr. Walter, of Quebec, is meeting with great success, and has succeeded in prevailing upon two-thirds of the Indians settled on the Grand River to remove to better hunting and fishing grounds further north. The most bitter opposition was offered to the scheme by the leading Indians, who are determined o remain on their farms, but the lazy, miserable Indians who trust to a little, miserable farming, thieving and trapping are determined to go. This at least will be a great advantage to that part of the Province bordering on the Indian Reserve, as the farmers in that District have, ever since their settlement there, been pestered with sneak thieves and trapping intruders, who never fail to invent trouble. The farmers who intend to remain, are some one hundred and fifty in number, with a few hangers on. Every effort has been made by the Chiefs to keep their tribes together, and Chief Owondawhoa has issued the following circular which has been freely distributed throughout the district:
                                                      March 20th, 1876
To the people of Six Nations :
Children, an army of designing white men have leagued together for the purpose of robbing us of our fair lands on the banks of the Grand river, and removing us to a northern country of which we know nothing. Hearken to the counsel of an old Chief and remain upon the lands for which your forefathers shed the warmest blood in their heart. Forsake not the graves of your fathers, but remain here and live in peace with your fellow men. Your enemies are liars and thieves and would rob you, and your counsellor is an old Chief in whose veins the blood of great warriors runs warm.
          The Indians are willing to put the thing to a vote, sign a contract transferring the right of possession to the company, and are willing to accept $15 an acre for their land, providing they get double the amount in their future home, and have the expenses of their trip paid. Further than that, those who remain are to enjoy the privilege of British citizens; and the parties purchasing the district are to exercise no control over their land. The company are willing to remove a party of eight hundred persons early in May. That some trouble will arise from this contract is undoubted, even in the mind of Mr. Scarce, the President of the Company with whom our reporter had a conversation yesterday. Those wishing to remove are principally the Payans and the half-civilized classes who are greedy for the ready cash, which will be placed in their hands for their ground, and who believe that an easier living can be made in the hunting grounds further west and north. That these people will be dissatisfied is probable. That this generation of Indians, unused to large forests, will be unsuccessful as trappers is very probable, and that the yearly allowance from the Government will be taken away from them should they remove is certain. It is also likely they will be constantly wandering back to their wealthy friends on the Grand river seeking for relief, and will ever be a source of annoyance to the white men and a cause of anxiety. A number of Chiefs met yesterday and elected a deputation to go to Hamilton and Toronto and engage the very best lawyers in the country to oppose the scheme of removal on legal grounds. The litigation will certainly be an important one, but for the present we defer giving an opinion in the matter.”

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