Wednesday 18 April 2012

April 19, 1876

“Duck shooting is the principal amusement enjoyed in along the lake shore. Large numbers of duck flock in the small inlets and along the Beach. Pigeons are also plenty, and an occasional flock of wild geese passes overhead.”
                    Hamilton Spectator      April 19, 1876
Flocks of passenger pigeons were still a phenomenon in the Hamilton as spring took hold, although their numbers were beginning to show a catastrophic decline.
The weather was helping searchers for the remains of drowning victim Thomas Ireland. As reported in the Spectator :
“The grapplers have given up searching for the body of the late Thomas Ireland. They intend to wait until the creek has fallen to its usual level. The water has already fallen eight feet so that the shallows are easily discernible.”
Out in Ancaster Township, activity in the rural areas had begun :
“Several farmers in Ancaster occupying high lands have had their plows going for the last few days. The land is quite dry, although still frozen in shady spots. The wheat is badly winter killed. It is feared that much harm has been done to the fruit trees.”
Also out in the rural areas north west of Hamilton, a change was being made to the streetscape in the village of Rockton:
“Mr. Wallace Macdonald, the Township Clerk of Beverly, has set laborers to work to tear down McCrisker’s old tavern in the village of Rockton. This is the oldest building in the village, having been erected in 1820. For a number of years, there was no other building within six miles of it.”
Back in the city, the change of seasons had uncovered a few less than pleasant scenes on downtown streets :
“A handsome dead dog ornaments the corner of Walnut and Maiden Lane. The others, one of the a “yeller” dorg, waste their sweetness on the desert air of Queen street. The first mentioned purp has been lying there all winter. It is painful to think that the city sausage makers are so unenterprising. The Board of Health should look after these defunct canines. “
In the Wentworth County Court House, a new amenity had been added to the main court room :
“A long felt want has been supplied, in the shape of a handsome new clock, placed against the east wall of the court room. People in indigent circumstances were often a loss to know the time of day in a room that looks more like a tomb than anything else. Another improvement has been completed; this is a witness box on the same floor with the Crier and Clerk of the Court. This is a vast improvement on the old way, when the witness stood on a platform with the Judge, so that important individual had to strain his head and neck upwards and to one side so as to get a glimpse of the witnesses’ face. These improvements are due to Sheriff McKellar’s taste, to whom the reporters of the city press owe much in the shape of a comfortable desk.”
An unusual case of fraud was documented in the Spectator of April 19, 1876 :
“For the last week or so a woman accompanied by an old blind man with a plank on his breast upon which is painted “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord,” has decorated the principal street corners of this city. They stood in the sun all day holding a plate to the passing public, the tender hearted portions of which would slip them pieces of money as they passed by. Yesterday afternoon a sick woman living on Caroline street sent word to the police that a drunken couple were raising a disturbance in her house. Constables Littlehales and Parks were dispatched by the Chief to see into the matter. When the officers arrived, they found the blind man and his wife tumbling about the woman’s house in a state of intoxication. They arrested them, and had them before the police magistrate this morning who sent them to jail for forty days.”
Finally, a tale of an odd individual who came to Hamilton and within a week or so, his behaviour landed him in an institution :
“Some ten days ago there came to one of our west end hotels a respectable looking Englishman of good address and fine appearance, and engaged one of the best rooms in the house. After the first three days, during which nothing peculiar was noticed about him, it was remarked that he was an eccentric individual. This eccentricity grew on him more and more till inside of a week he showed symptoms of unsound mind. On one occasion he wanted to jump out of the third story window, saying that he thought it would do him good. He insisted on dining in the hall and dining hall, and finally took to presenting bill-heads of the hotel at the banks, wishing to draw large sums of money. As he was getting worse and worse, the proprietor of the hotel applied to the proper authorities and had him conveyed to the asylum.”

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