Thursday 15 March 2012

March 16, 1876 - Part Two

“The most unpleasant storm of the season commenced this morning and threatens to last for some time.”
Hamilton Spectator  March 16, 1876
With the Ides of March 1876 just a memory, Hamiltonians might well have started to think that there would be no more severe weather that winter.
As described vividly by a Spectator reporter, a March storm of extreme intensity adversely affected the city of Hamilton:
 “A hard sleet or hail fell all morning, driven furiously through the streets by a high east wind. The fall was very unpleasant and kept the streets almost bare of pedestrians all day, besides clearing the market at an early hour." A gentleman from Brantford said that a similar storm was experienced there on Monday
“The neighbourhood of the Hamilton Station was anything but comfortable today. Tremendous drifts of hard sleet were whirled across the bay and scattered indiscriminately about the railroad yard. The station was almost deserted and but few passengers came off the trains. The cars were loaded with ice and presented a dismal appearance. All the trains were late, the one from the west being an hour behind time. “
Attendance at the Soup Kitchen and Dormitory  was heavy because of the weather :
       The late inclement weather has had the effect of drawing on the hospitality of this institution both for bed and board. Many strangers have been flocking into the city from the report having gained currency that immediate railway employment was to be had for all. Many of these are said to be men apparently much above the average of respectability of former applicants for relief of former applicants for relief, and many have gladly paid a trifle for the accommodation they have received. Three hundred and forty meals have been distributed during the week, and 180 lodgings have been provided for the 72 applicants.”
          A caring resident in the city made a kind gesture to some feathered residents being affected by the storm :
“A week ago blue birds and robins were chirping in all our streets, and it is a question among many where they have sheltered during the storm.  This forenoon a gentleman in the west end placed a ladder against the side of his house and climbed to the eaves to fasten a board which was thumping against the house t every gust of wind. While working he discovered on the plate beyond the eaves, three blue birds alive and in good health. They allowed him to handle them, and after being shown to the family they were out back in the eave and fed. “

The storm even stirred the poetic abilities of a Spectator reader known only by initials M. E. F. :

“For the SPECTATOR : In Memoriam”
       The snow lies heavy on thy breast, beloved,
            The first pure white snow since thou has rested there;
          Cold, cold above thy pulseless heart it lies,
             Above closed lips and eyes, and soft, white hair.

          The pure white snow is resting on thy grave;
             Ah! When it fell but one short year ago
          Thy heart and mine alike, were warm and light;
             Now thine is cold, cold as the drifting snow.

          I never dreamed that death could come to thee,
             I dreamed not that our last farewell was said;
          Night passed and day in happy thoughts of thee,
             But I awoke – awoke and found thee dead.

          My love! my love! My heart in wildest wor
             Cries out for thee. Oh! I would share thy rest;
          One year ago, one little year ago,
              Rich in thy love. I was so blest, so blest.

          Now all is changed, and the cold winter wind
             And the wild storm are beating on thy grave;
          And I, alas! Must stifle thought after thought,
              For if I dare think, I rave, I rave.

          Even in death, Michael McConnell was in the pages of the Hamilton Spectator on March 16, 1876 :
       Mr. A G. Burnes, of Toronto, book agent for Messrs. A. Fullerton & Co., publishers of Edinburgh and London, informed our reporter today that he found the late Michael McConnell one of his best customers. In the summer he subscribed for a beautiful work entitled “A History of the Highlands and the Highland Class” taking them in numbers at two dollars each. The work is in eight numbers, and McConnell had paid for seven, and was to receive the eighth  and last the day of the murder. Mr. Burns said that he had found McConnell to be a man of extraordinary intelligence and a man well posted on almost every subject. He could talk learnedly on the history of Scotland, and could describe the different planets quite easily. He found him to be a student of phrenology, a good penman, and an excellent grammarian. He often made silly remarks, and appeared unstable in his character.”

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