Tuesday 20 March 2012

March 20, 1876 - Part One

“Paddy’s famous remark that in Canada “they had summer all year round and winter in the Spring,” seems to have more truth than poetry in it.”
Hamilton Spectator   March 20, 1876.

As the first official day of spring for the year 1876 was imminent, the weather developing over the course of the day, March 20, 1876, was anything but spring-like.
Just a the typesetter was finalizing his work for the evening edition of the Hamilton Spectator, he was asked to include the following :
“As we go to press a heavy fall of snow is taking place which promises to make good sleighing.”
Before the snow began to fall in earnest, an amusing incident to some, but not all involved, from the village of Ancaster “
“This morning Mr. Megs, the driver of the Ancaster stage, must have got up too early or something happened to him, as he started off this morning without the usual mail. He never discovered his mistake till he reached the halfway house, when he found that he was too far away to turn back. As soon as the people in Ancaster found that the mail was left behind, Mr. Henderson hitched up his horse and drove like mad into the city with it fearing he would be late. All manner of jokes were got off on Megs for his little blunder. “
On James Street North, the former Christ’s Church, enlarged to become Christ’s Church Cathedral was in the news :
“At the several special services in the Christ Church Cathedral yesterday, in aid of the Building Fund, the church was crammed to its fullest extent. The Rev. John Gomley, assistant minister of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Ontario, preached the morning and evening service, at which over sixty persons, principally ladies, were confirmed into the English Church. The service was most impressive and beautiful, and proved indescribably interesting. At the close, a collection was taken up, a large sum being realized. Tonight a public meeting will be held in the Sunday School Room, when a statement of accounts will be submitted by the Building Committee. Addresses by the Bishop (who will occupy the chair) the Rev, John Gomley, the Vicar and others.”
In Dundas , a young “swell” with his trained dog, was less successful than wanted in raising some money in the Dufferin House:
“The other evening a young gentleman brought a dog into the Dufferin House, Dundas, and made him show off before the usual crowd of gossipers. He placed crackers upon the dog’s nose and made him toss them into the air and catch them in his mouth. He finally placed a half dollar on the dog’s nose and was very anxious that the crowd would bet a quarter that the dog would catch it. The animal in tossing it up caught it in his mouth and swallowed it. The man got disgusted and led his dog out and now has him tied up.”
On the previous Saturday afternoon, there were two accidents which drew attention in the Spectator:
“On Saturday afternoon as two young ladies were standing on James street across Gore street a young man in a cart drove along suddenly and knocked one of the ladies down. His excuse was that he had not seen them. Had a policeman been near the ladies would have had the careless young scoundrel arrested.
“On Saturday while Chris John’s hack was standing before the Robson House, a boy running across the road scared them to run away. The animals ran for some distance dashing the hack against a wall breaking four bolts. The horses were captured before any further damage was done.”
Even in the cold ground of the yard at the Barton street jail, Michael McConnell was still the subject of items in the press:
“A movement is on foot to afford some assistance to the widow and children of the late Michael McConnell who, by his death, have been left in very poor circumstances. It is hoped that our citizens will assist liberally in the worthy scheme.”
Never a dull moment in the Hamilton Police Court.
A case involving a family objecting to the autumn-spring romance of the family’s patriarch drew considerable attention:
“On Tuesday evening of last week while our colored citizens were holding a temperance meeting and a festival in the Temperance Hall on the corner of James and Rebecca streets, a quarrel took place which resulted in a most disgraceful scene. It appears that an old negro gentleman named Jackson, over whose head the suns of sixty summers have risen and set, and whose has been a widow only about nine months, has been paying his attention of late to a gay and dashing damsel of some twenty years of age, housekeeper for a man named Weaver. Jackson’s children, full grown people, did everything in their power to break up the match, which they feared had been made between them, without avail, and, on Tuesday night, to their great disgust, the girl, Wobson, insisted on trotting the old man up and down the hall to the great scandal of the family of Jackson. Finally the old man’s son, David, made a rush at the pair, pulled Wobson away from his father, knocking her down on the floor at the same time, and concluded by dragging the old man out by the labels of his coat and sending him home. This funny act caused great laughter in the hall and scandal in the neighbourhood, and the consequence was that the girl Wobson preferred a charge of assault against young Jackson and had him fined $4 and costs. This will teach this festive crowd to behave themselves in a Temperance Hall in the future and that an old man of sixty has as much right to courting as anyone else.”

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