Thursday 29 March 2012

March 30, 1876

 Tuesday noon, the severest storm that has visited the city for a long time commenced and lasted through the afternoon and night. Snow fell on the level to a depth of nearly two feet, and in some places the drifts were fully six or seven feet deep.”
Hamilton Weekly Times March 30, 1876
The major snow storm that had begun the previous Tuesday was the lead story in the Hamilton Weekly Times, published on Thursday March 30, 1876, as well as in the Hamilton Daily Spectator published the same day.
The Times’ account read as follows :
 “The Hamilton & Northwestern train which left at 4:20 p.m. only reached the top of the mountain, when, notwithstanding the efforts of a body of workmen who had been taken out to clear the track, and two engines, it had to return to the city, to the great disappointment of some of the passengers, who had set out to Buffalo to see Sothern. The train, which should have arrived at 8:30 did not come at all, passengers having to drive in from Hagersville. The G.W.R. trains kept fair time. A party of gentlemen coming in from Bullock’s Corners were five hours in accomplishing the task, the drifts in some places being over the horses’ heads. For the first time since the building of the street railway, the cars had to cease running, notwithstanding the indefatigable efforts of the Superintendent (Mr. Rutherford) and his assistants. Today the aid of Mr. Nowlan’s large sleigh has been called in. The weather is milder today, but the snow is still falling, and shows no signs of ceasing.”
In the Spectator, there were several stories documenting the effects of the spring snow storm on local residents :
“More upsets occurred yesterday afternoon than during the whole preceeding part of the winter. The high banks of snow on each side of the street were constantly overturning rigs, always with ridiculous results. Sometimes, however, the upset was the start of a runaway, but these were fortunately few.
This morning at nine o’clock a lad named James Smith was accidentally run over by a cutter. The runner struck him in the forehead inflicting a deep gash. The boy was carried into the St. Nicholas Hotel, and under the skilful treatment, the bleeding was soon stopped. He was carried home and is doing well.
          Last evening several parties of young men took advantage of the quantity of snow to try the strength of their muscles at snow shoeing. A party of eight left the residence of a gentleman in the west end, and we are informed that a couple of ladies had a trial of the shoes also.
          Every arrival in the city has accounts of mishaps occasioned by the late storm. Messrs. Bradley & Flatt, lumbermen, were six hours clearing four miles on the night of the storm. The Ancaster stage driven by Mr. Megs was upset and a young lady passenger thrown out. In falling she struck her face against the stage blacking her eye. The stays under the verandah near Lee’s fruit store on King, was sprung yesterday by the weight of the snow. The noise of the breaking timbers caused quite a scare on the street.

          The most frightful incident involving travellers during the snow storm involved a father and daughter who lost their way trying to get to Hamilton from Guelph. Their journey began under relatively benign conditions, but they soon ran into difficulties.
          The following is the full account of their experiences as told to a Spectator reporter :
“On Tuesday at noon, a father and daughter by the name of Armstrong left their home in the township of Kramosa for the purpose of driving into this city, where they intended stopping a few days and then go on to Caledonia. The rig was a clumsy top buggy, drawn by a heavy farm horse, which could not be induced under any circumstances to travel faster than
                             FIVE MILES AN HOUR
          Mr. Armstrong is a jolly old gentleman of sixty years of age, and told the story of his adventures on the night of Tuesday and on Wednesday morning with apparent relish. As stated above, the two left home about noon and reached Guelph some time in the middle of the afternoon, where they put up with a brother of Mr. Armstrong’s  and had hot coffee. The storm did not look very formidable when they started out and they drove along quite smoothly for ten or twelve miles. While passing through Morriston, Mr. Armstrong took it into his head to turn into the township of Nassagaweya, and spent the night at a sister-in-law’s. This was about five o’clock, and as soon as they turned off the Brock road, the roads became bad, and the horse refused to go any faster than a walk.
                             THE STORM
also increased, and pelted in the faces of the unfortunate travellers. The horse twice attempted to turn on the road, as he refused to face the storm; but was twice urged forward into one of the worst gales of the season. Darkness came on with astonishing rapidity, so that Mr. Armstrong could not see where he was going; in fact it was hard to distinguish his horse from the surrounding objects. After driving for about a mile in this way, Mr. Armstrong found himself passing through a low piece of
                    CEDAR SWAMP
over a very rough corduroy road. Any person who has travelled through Nassagaweya will probably remember this swamp road which is nearly a mile and a half long, and runs north and south through the township. The snow was drifting into the narrow cut in the swamp and filling up the road with astonishing rapidity and totally discouraging to the horse. Three times the buggy stuck, and three times Mr. Armstrong got out into the snow and helped the horse to drag the vehicle through. This went very well till they commenced to enter a sort of clearing where the wind had a clear sweep and crossed the road in
                   A PERFECT GALE
A high snow bank had been thrown across the road a hundred years south of this clearing, and as soon as the horse struck this he stopped sharp, and stupidly shaking the snow off his ears, refused to budge an inch. No amount of whipping or coaxing would induce the animal to move, and on receiving a few violent cuts across the quarters, he lay down in the snow. Imagine the position of the father and daughter! Lost in a lonely swamp without an idea where they were. Stuck in the growing snow bank, in the beginning of the night without either wine or food along with them. The position was more appalling as one of the parties was a corpulent old man, who was not at all able to struggle through the snow, and the other was a frail woman, to whom a journey of a mile through the storm would have been fatal. Mr. Armstrong got out, and after taking a look at the surroundings, expressed his determination to walk down the road and look for help. The young lady would not hear of it, as she would be left alone in the dark, and when he father insisted on going, she
                             UTTERED A SCREAM
and fainted away in the buggy. The old gentleman was, therefore, obliged to stay, and commenced to make preparations to pass the night in the rig. The obstruction which the horse and top buggy offered to the storm sweeping down the road was such that a high snow bank was built around them, forming a most valuable protection. Mr. Armstrong hung a horse blanket from the top of the buggy to the dashboard, and wrapping himself and his daughter in the buffalo skin and the other trappings, sought a comfortable position in the buggy and went to sleep. Not a sound disturbed them, save the
                             HOWL OF THE STORM
as it struggled with the forest trees, and the uncomfortable snort of the horse as he blew the snow from his nostrils. All night long the storm continued, and when the morning broke, nothing could be seen except the black top of the ill-fated carriage. Mr. Armstrong awoke about  half past six o’clock, and on looking out, saw, not two hundred yards distant, a barn, and a short distance further on a house with a woman shovelling snow from the door. Mr. Armstrong crept out, and struggling manfully though the drifts, reached the house and informed the inmates of his adventure. In an instant, a glass of
                             HOT SCOTCH WHISKEY
was placed before him, and four stout young fellows soon shovelled a way to the rig. The young lady was wrapped up and carried into the house where a cup of hot tea and a warm fire soon revived her. The strangest part of the adventure was the horse. The unfortunate brute was found under four feet of snow, no part of his body being visible. The heat of his body had melted two feet of snow from under him and he was found in a pool of mud. A dab from
                             A PITCH FORK
soon brought him to his feet, but he instantly fell again, as he has lost all use of his hind legs. A great amount of rubbing, however, brought the blood into circulation again, and the animal was finally able to limp to the stables. After spending the greater part of the day at the farmer’s house, a “scout” came in and informed them that the road was open, whereupon the party resumed their journey and reached the city late last evening. Mr. Armstrong is suffering from a severe cold, but he does not fear that it will amount to anything serious.

          While it is unclear whether the option of a visit to the new Turkish Baths which had just opened on James Street North was suggested to Mr, and Miss Armstrong, the following account of the benefits of some time in the Turkish Baths might have been very good for them:
          This fine institution was opened most successfully last evening. The whole force of heat was turned on and the proper degree obtained without any difficulty. Ladies will have the use of them between 2 o’clock and 6 p.m. and gentlemen from that time till 10. The following is what the celebrated Dr. Eramus says about the baths under the heading of
                   WHAT DOES THE BATH DO ?
It cleanses the skin and removes all effete matters that accumulate upon its surface. It opens the pores and establishes a healthy action of the perspiratory tubes. It removes from the blood the impurities which cause disease. It equalizes the circulation of the blood. It renders the skin less susceptible to changes of the weather. It promotes absorption and removal from the system of superfluous deposits that have accumulated in the tissues. It strengthens and toughens the tissues of the whole body, greatly lessening the liability to disease. It soothes and strengthens the nerves, promotes sleep, and preserves health. It aids digestion and assimilation, and tends to establish a healthy action of all the organs of the body.
          Many of the most able physicians in Europe and in this country recognize the remedial powers of these baths, use them for themselves and families, and advise them for their patients.

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