Saturday 17 March 2012

March 17, 1876 - Part Two

Tomorrow evening, the great billiardists, Dion, Earnler & Adolphe, will visit this city and give several exhibitions of fancy shots in the Royal Hotel. Lovers of the noblest of indoor games should not miss the opportunity of seeing three of the greatest billiardists in the world.”
            Hamilton Spectator  March 17, 1876.
          The billiard tournament was about to take place and to promote the event, three of the most famous players of the game were scheduled to give an exhibition at the fanciest billiard room of the day in Hamilton, the Royal Hotel on James Street North.
          The local news column of the March 17, 1876 was dominated by the account of a Spectator reporter tour of the huge new building which had just been completed. The warehouse of the McInnes Brothers’ firm completely filled the block on the west side of John street, between King and Main streets :
A walk through the large wholesale establishment of Messrs. McInnes Bros. & Co. of this city, at the present time, affords a sight which is pleasant to gaze at. It looks like the harbinger of better times, er, at least, that better times are hoped for by this spirited firm.
          The establishment has just been put in order for the spring trade, and its fine stock of goods is arranged in the most artistic and convenient manner to please the eye and facilitate inspection.
          During his recent visit to England, Mr. D. McInnes, the senior partner of the firm, purchased a hydraulic hoist of the most approved pattern which present experience has sanctioned. The machine has been fitted up in the establishment and is driven by the city water works. Its working is a marvel of simplicity and efficiency. From cellar up to the fifth floor, it travels with a load which is practically unlimited, and there is no room for the most unskilful to make a mistake in working it. Because of the facilities afforded by the hoist, the whole of the fifth floor of the large building has been turned into a packing and entry room, with excellent results in the way of economy and convenience. The size of the room is such that no accumulation of packing cases is a hindrance to work, and consequently none of them need be destroyed to get them out of the way, each one of them can be saved, until the particular occasion for its use turns up. Isolated from the general affairs of the establshment, the attention of the employees is not distracted from their work, and all the litter and racket of packing are kept by themselves, instead of disfiguring the first floor, as is generally the case in wholesale establishments.
          The cellar is stored with a large assortment of stable cotton goods, Canadian, English and American, heavy Scotch linens and the like.
          The ground floor in the main building is devoted exclusively to Canadian tweeds, drawn from every manufactory in the Dominion, and offering to customers a profusion of choice which must satisfy the most fastidious taste. The exquisitely ordered arrangement of the goods on this floor gives it a very handsome general appearance, the admiration of which is greatly increased by an examination of the quality of the goods. Twenty-five years ago, almost the sole representative of this branch of Canadian manufactures were the old “Canadian gray,” but here are goods , which, in fineness of texture, good taste of pattern and excellence of dye, may challenge comparison with similar goods of any country’s manufacture.  For many years past, this firm has made a speciality of this line of goods, and thereby have given very practical encouragement to home manufacturers. It may be safely said that this branch is not equalled by that of any other house in the Dominion.
          The second floor contains the dress goods, shawls, silks, etc., a well selected stock of beautiful goods, purchased by the buyers of the firm in the markets of their production, and, consequently, on the most advantageous terms. Their variety is too manifold to admit of detailed enumeration. Fancy dress goods, black and Turquoise silks are largely represented in the very latest styles and patterns.
          On the third floor, we met with the foreign cloths, Scotch and English tweeds, and with a full assortment of all the etceteras connected therewith. As in the department of Canadian Tweeds, this is a splendid stock, thoroughly suited to the Canadian market, rich in its variety and containing every kind and quality of goods in the line, also English, and American prints, Bleached cottons, etc.
          On the fourth floor, we come upon the Haberdashery and small Wares department, a bewildering array of all that is unique and handsome in that line, which, in reportorial language, must be seen to be appreciated.
          Adjoining the first floor already mentioned, a room has been set apart especially for carpets, to which the firm are devoting particular attention. The room is a very large one, and gives intending purchasers an opportunity of seeing exactly how a carpet will look when laid in its place. The stock on hand is large and well assorted, containing Brussels tapestry, three-ply and all other kinds for which there is a demand in Canada.
          When it is stated that each of the floors, of which we have given but an imperfect sketch, is 160 feet long by 52 feet wide, and each completely filled with goods, some idea of the immense business done by this firm will have been given, and the advantage of dealing with it will also have been made apparent. For many years, this establishment has taken the front rank among the wholesale dry goods houses of the Dominion, and from the present preparations made for the present spring trade, it is evident that the enterprising firm mean to retain the position they have gained.”
A smaller physical item was also highlighted in the Spectator that day. The new book of poetry by Harriet Annie Wilkins, a beloved Hamilton poet whose work had been featured in local newspapers for many, many years :
       We have here a very beautiful and fragrant bouquet of “Wayside Flowers,” by our well-known citizen, Harriet Annie. Miss Wilkins has been before the reading and literary public for many years, and is well-known as a writer of very pleasing and elegant verse. The volume, now on our table, is a collection of some of her more choice and select effusions, and one which does her infinite credit. Some of these “Flowers” are indeed rare and of exquisite beauty. An air of Christian grace and purity pervades almost every poem, while many of the pieces will be found instinct with the true poetic life. Where all is excellent, we feel it difficult to particularise, but we may mention “A True Story,” “The Catacombs of Rome,” “Panthea,” and others as especially spirited and thrilling. The volume contains 255 pages of very superior typographical work, and the binding is superb. We are sure the popular publishers never issued a book whose “get up” did them greater honour than this. It is simply a marvel that such a volume can be offered for the low sum of one dollar. A very large circulation must be indispensable to make it pay financially. If, however, its sale be at all proportioned to its merits, a whole edition will be run off in this city and vicinity.”
          On March 17, 1876, despite the recent wintry weather, there was an air of anticipation concerning the upcoming baseball season. The expectation would have been heightened by the publication issued by the Maple Leaf Baseball Club, reprinted in full in the Spectator of March 17, 1876 :
       The following circular, issued by the Maple Leaf Base Ball Club, has been received by the Secretary of the Standard Baseball Club. We hope the young men of this city will give our home club their generous support and enable it to enter the lists successfully. Surely Hamilton can send out a well equipped and appointed nine if such places as London, Kingston, and Guleph can. The Standards will hold its next meeting on Tuesday evening, the 21st inst., when the subject will be discussed, and, no doubt, a favorable answer returned. The following is the communication:

                                                                                      Guelph, March 9th, 1876.
Secretary Standard B.B.C.
Sir - Enclosed find our proposition in regard to the way Championship Base Ball matches shall be played this season. Let me hear your Club’s views on the subject and oblige,
                                                                                      Geo. Sleeman,
                                                              Manager, Maple Leaf B.B.C.
“As the championship silver ball has now been held by the Maple Leaf the allotted time to entitle them to retain it, it was proposed to amend the rules for competition for clubs entering for the same shall deposit a certain sum, with some responsible party, which shall be devoted to purchasing an emblem to be awarded to the champions at the end of the season. It was also proposed that each club competing for the championship shall provide suitable enclosed grounds, and that the championship shall be decided by a series of games, instead of one as heretofore. An equal number of games being placed on the grounds of each competing club. In case of a tie, the decided game to be played where agreed on. The President of the Maple Leafs will communicate the proposed alterations to the principal Canadian clubs, and after their replies are received another meeting of the directors will be held to finally decide the question.”
          An ongoing, contentious matter between politicians with the City of Hamilton and the County of Wentworth over the cost-sharing obligations for the Barton Street Jail and the Court House on Main Street, became the focus of a public debate:
       A Debating Society at Bullock’s Corners (which has over thirty members on its roll at present), met for their semi-monthly debate last Monday night, at their rooms. Subject, “Resolved, that it would be beneficial for the County of Wentworth to separate from the city for jail and judicial purposes.” Mr. Stephen Smith acted as leader on the affirmative, and Geo. Wishart on the negative side. The chairman, Mr. Charles Macartney, after careful review of the arguments advanced, gave his decision in favour of the negative.”
          Finally, the Spectator carried a poignant description of an American Civil War veteran who was making his presence known in the Valley Town of Dundas :
       Col. King, of the United States army, who is just now out on furlough, paid a visit to Dundas last week. He carries a tin whistle and is a first class musician. He performed in most of the places of public resort in town during his stay, and generally brought up at police headquarters at night. The town, having become oppressed with his music, and his presence, he was brought before the Mayor and allowed five minutes to leave, which he accepted, but not before he treated his Worship to “the girl I left behind me” on his tin whistle. The Col. says he fought through the war for the Union, and draws an annual pension of $12,000 which he devotes to the cultivation of his wonderful musical talent and the amelioration of a chronic state of dryness in his throat.”

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