“The summer night’s fete at Rock Bay was a complete success.”
Hamilton Spectator June 15, 1876
After considerable promotion in the press, the much-anticipated evening of fireworks, rope walking, and music at Rock Bay was a well-attended and much appreciated:
“The attendance was much larger than on the previous occasion, besides the large crowds who crossed the bay by the steamers, a considerable number drove over, while a great many pleasure boats were brought into requisition. All present appeared to enjoy themselves highly. The display of fireworks was very fine and quite worthy of Professor Hand, who furnished them. Prof. Jenkins gave an exhibition of rope walking, performing a number of astonishing feats in a manner which proved him to be no novice in the perilous business. The Maple Leaf brass band was in attendance and added much to the general enjoyment by their performances.”
Not to be outdone, the owners of the steamer Transit also organized a special fireworks event on the bay:
“There will be an excursion around the bay tomorrow (Friday) evening, per the steamer Transit, which promises to be an enjoyable affair. The boat will be handsomely illuminated with Chinese lanterns and Bengal lights, and during the evening, those on board will have an opportunity of witnessing the most beautiful pyrotechnic display offered this season – a grand flight of one hundred rockets at one time. The Maple Leaf brass band will be in attendance. The Transit will leave her wharf at 7:30 p.m.
It was a short item but very important:
“Contractor Thomas McDowell has commenced work on Division 1 in the vicinity of the Water Works. The division extends from the city to the Beach, and the contractor is determined to push forward the work with all possible dispatch.”
The issue of the Hamilton Spectator on June 15, 1876 also carried the following brief items which gave a flavour of life in Hamilton as spring was about to end and summer begin:
- A subject of very general remark – the hot weather.
- An ice wagon collapsed on James street yesterday.
- The Caledonia band play in Prince’s Square tomorrow evening.
- An immense drove of swine passed through the city this morning.
- Garden party at the residence of Mr. John Stuart tomorrow evening.
- And now the average small boy in defiance of parental authority ducketh himself in the Bay.
On June 15, 1876, the Times issued its weekly edition which contained some items that had appeared in the Daily Spectator, sometimes in more depth, or with a different focus.
A very public funeral of an leader of the Loyal Orange Association was reported in the Weekly Times:
“On Sunday afternoon, the remains of the late William Stephenson, for many years a prominent member of the Orange Institution, were interred in Burlington Cemetery. The brethren of the various lodges in the city met in their lodge rooms at two o’clock, and then proceeded to the late residence of the deceased. The body was dressed in the full regalia of the order and placed inside of a handsome casket, trimmed with the silver emblems of the order. After the arrival of the brethren at the house, they entered the room and took a last farewell look of one who, in life, had sat with them in their Lodge rooms for many years. The lid was then screwed down, and the corpse carried into the hearse.
The bands played suitable mournful airs on the way to the cemetery. The streets along the route were lined by an immense concourse of people, and the funeral was one of the largest seen in the city for a long time. The Rev. Canon Hebden read the solemn funeral service of the Church of England at the grave, after which the brethren formed in a circle around the grave, when Bro. S. Fuller, D. M., of 286, read the impressive service of the Orange Order. The brethren then passed round, and each in turn, dropped a piece of orange ribbon in the grave, and thus ended the last solemn rites and respects of the Order to a departed friend.”
Another remarkable funeral was also covered in the issue of the Weekly Times:
“On Saturday afternoon, at three o’clock, the last sad rites were performed over the remains of the late Re. John McColl. Long before that hour, the Central Presbyterian Church was crowded. Most of those present were in mourning, and from the sad look on the countenances of all, it was evident that it was no mere outward mourning. The church, pulpit platform, organ, gaseliers, and the vacant chair were draped in black. On the right was a beautiful broken column made of white flowers, and on the left, an anchor, with the words, “Bible Class,” in darker flowers, written on it. This was the gift of the Bible Class. Both of these beautiful floral offerings were the workmanship of Mr. Townshend, the florist on the corner of Park and Vine.
Before the service commenced, all the clergy, elders of the church and friends, went to the house to take a last look at their deceased pastor and friend. Shortly after three o’clock, the mournful procession began to move from the Manse to the church. The pall-bearers were Messrs. Hugh Young, Wm. Hendrie, George Rutherford, John Bell, Robert McKay and John M. Gibson. As the solemn procession entered the church, the choir, who were all in deep mourning, sang most feelingly “Palestrina.” As soon as the coffin, on which some lovely wreaths of flowers were placed, had been laid on the catafalque prepared, the Rev. A. Grant, the Moderator of the Hamilton Presbytery, who presided, commenced the solemn service by reciting a portion of the 90th Psalm, which was afterwards sung by the choir. The Rev. L.C. Fraser of Thorold read a portion of the 15th chapter of the 1st Corinthians. The Rev. Alexander Dawson, of Beamsville, led in prayer, in which earnest and affectionate petitions were offered up on behalf of the widow, children and friends of the deceased, and also on behalf of the congregation. The Rev. D. H. Fletcher, of the Macnab Street Presbyterian Church, was called upon to give a short address. The Rev. gentleman said :
I have been asked to say a few words on this solemn occasion. Although there are older members of the Presbytery present who have been most intimate with our deceased brother, there is, perhaps, a propriety in my saying a few words, for I have known, more or less intimately our departed friend for the long period of eighteen years. I have been closely associated with him in various departments of Christian work during the last four years. I have enjoyed the privilege of speaking to him of our Blessed Saviour, and of praying with him during the few days it pleased the Lord to spare him to us after his return home. This is not the time to speak of the valuable services which the deceased rendered as a member of the Hamilton Presbytery. The members of that body know and appreciate the faithfulness, wisdom, and diligence which characterised him in the discharge of the duties committed to him. The afflicting hand of God hath been severely laid upon us as a Presbytery during this year. The removal by death of Mr. Rennelson and Mr. McColl so soon after one another hath made a sad blank in our number. We bow in humble submission to God’s will and pray that this afflictive dispensation may be sanctified to us all. I will not speak of the labours of our friend as a pastor of the large congregation which worship in this sanctuary. The members of the congregation know better than I do with what faithfulness, affection and success, he discharged his numerous pastoral duties; neither will I speak of the willingness, readiness and ability with which he responded to the calls upon him by the various benevolent institutions of this city, suffice it to say that he was always ready to oblige and benefit his fellow citizens. I shall content myself in saying a few words about the close of his life, which to those who loved him were beautiful and comforting. Last fall, on the advice of his physician, he left us to spend the winter in the milder climate of California. Although the communications received from him from time to time were far from being encouraging, yet we fondly hoped the Lord in His great mercy, would bring him back to us greatly restored to health and strength. But it hath pleased Him who doeth all things wisely and well, to bring him back to us to die in our midst, not to labour again in His vineyard, but to pass away from scene of his labours to that blessed rest that remaineth for the sons of holy toil. I saw him soon after reaching home. He then gave me to understand that he felt sure his life was ebbing fast away, that there was no hope of ultimate recovery. Among other things he said, “This will be a sad disappointment to my dear people, who have been so kind to me. I should feel thankful if God would enable me to preach the Gospel to them again, but he hath evidently ordered otherwise. Well, there are no disappointments with God. His plans and His ways are all perfect. I wish you to speak to me of heart religion and the wonderful love of Jesus.” After praying together, he said, “Come and see me as often as you can and speak to me of Jesus and His love. On Monday morning, after giving him at his own request, the substance of the sermons I preached on the preceding Sabbath, he said, “O brother, what a wonderful privilege it is to preach the gospel of God’s grace. O what honour, God confers on feeble imperfect men when he calls them to be co-workers, together with him, in saving men. I should rejoice to preach the gospel of God’s love again, but, let God’s will be done. His will is the best. Death hath made sad blanks among our dear friends since I went away. It is still at work. Oh, what a glorious reunion awaits the friends of Jesus in the home above, where there shall be no death and no parting! Early on Wednesday morning, while we were praying with him, pleading with the Blessed Master to strengthen and comfort His servant in the valley of the shadow of death, he fell asleep in Jesus. There is one remark which I wish to say, and it is this, during my interviews with our departed friend, I felt that his long illness was greatly blessed to him – that in his affliction he was greatly sanctified, grew much in heavenly-mindedness, ripened for glory. It is sad to see one, comparatively young in years, taken away in the midst of his numerous cares, usefulness and responsibility, and leave a sad blank behind. It is sad to see the reaper laying down his sickle and called home to rest, while the harvest is ripe and heaviest and the day requires every worker to be up and doing. To us, the death of these seems strange and mysterious, but to God, it is precious, and we could draw aside the mysterious veil which conceals the future, we should see that God hath made everything beautiful in its season, and that no believer dies an untimely death. While we express our tenderest sympathy with the sorrowing relatives and friends in their sad loss, we bid them remember that their cup of affliction is mingled with mercy, inasmuch as God hath brought back their beloved one to die in his own home, surrounded by his nearest and dearest friends. We bid them feel thankful that they are not let to mourn as those with no hope.
A hymn was sung, and after that the Rev. Dr. Topp, of Toronto, a former pastor of Mr. McColl, delivered a very feeling address. The Rev. J. C. Smith, of St. Paul’s Church, closed the mournful service with the benediction. The funeral cortege then passed down the aisle. As the procession moved out, the organist, Prof. Garret, the organist, played “The Dead March in Saul” in the most touching and thrilling manner, and a glance round the large church showed that there was scarcely a dry eye in the building. On reaching the cemetery, the Rev. J. C. Smith led in prayer, and the mortal remains of the Rev. John McColl were consigned to their last home.
His Worship the Mayor, A. T. Wood, Esq., M.P. B. Charlton, Esq, John Winer, Esq., and a large number of prominent citizens were also present, and the funeral was one of the largest ever seen in the city.”
There was a major transition in the Wentworth County Court with the welcome and installation of a new chief judge. The lengthy Weekly Times account of the occasion also included an indictment against the City of Hamilton:
To His Honour James Shaw Sinclair, Esquire, Judge of the County Court of Wentworth :
The members of the legal profession practising in the County of Wentworth desire to take this opportunity, at the opening of County Court and General Sessions, to extend to your Honour a cordial welcome, and to tender to you their congratulations upon your appointment to the Bench.
At the same time, they feel that they must congratulate themselves, and the County of Wentworth upon their good fortune in the selection which has been made of a Judge so fully capable of doing justice to the varied and important interests which have to be dealt with in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the civil and criminal courts over which you now preside.
The additional duties and responsibilities which have of late years been thrown upon the Judges of the County Courts render the position you now occupy as the judicial head of the local courts of the City of Hamilton and County of Wentworth almost, if not quite, equal in difficulty to that of a Judge of the Superior Courts; and we trust that the Government may duly appreciate the value of the services which the Judge of this very large district is called upon to perform.
The short experience which the Bar has had of your Honour’s judicial administration has given them the highest satisfaction, and while your impartiality, learning and ability have earned the respect of the profession and the public, your courtesy and consideration under all circumstances have won their hearty good will, and they confidently hope that the cordial good feeling which now exists towards your Honour on the part of both the public and the profession will continue unbroken.
The members of the profession will deem it both a duty and a pleasure to render to your honour every assistance in their power in the discharge of your onerous and responsible duties, and trust that they may always be found ready to do their share of the work and that by united forbearance and consideration they may relieve you as far as possible from all difficulties that are not necessarily involved in the decision of the cases which come before you.
On behalf of the legal profession of the County.
M. O’Reilly, Q.C.
Thos. Robertson, Q.C.
F. Mackelcan, Q.C.
E. Martin, Q.C.
The Hon. John Hillyard Cameron, Q.C., who was present, desired to add a few words. He said that, as head of the Law Society of Ontario, he congratulated Judge Sinclair on his elevation to the Bench. He felt happy that he should be here by accident to listen to the testimonial just read. He had been associated with Mr. Sinclair for some time as a Bencher, and he felt proud that he should be elevated to such a high position, inasmuch as he was qualified to fill it.
In reply, Judge Sinclair said :
Mr. O’Reilly and Gentlemen of the Wentworth Bar :
I thank you sincerely for the kind expressions of good will in the address which you have presented me, and I receive with much pleasure the kindly welcome which you gave me, and your congratulations on my elevation to the Bench, on the opening of my first sittings of the County Court and General Sessions in this County.
I am pleased to know that my appointment has given hat satisfaction which you express: and it shall be my earnest desire to maintain that confidence in my administrations of law in this county, which, in the address you have just read, you say already exists. As you remark, the interests which I have in charge are varied and important, and, so far as in me lies, I would strive to consider these interests by a fair, and I hope, an impartial administration of law The duties of a Judge of this County, no doubt, are onerous but, if spared my health, I hope to be able to fully perform them.
I am glad to know that my judicial career so far has given the satisfaction you mention, and if my conduct on the Bench has been characterised by those virtues you speak of, it is to me a pleasing satisfaction to receive such a commendation from gentlemen, among whom are so many lawyers as are to be found at the Bar of the County of Wentworth. I am also glad to know that courtesy, which should always be the characteristic of those in a judicial position to the profession and the public, has been experienced at my hands. I shall strive to continue it, and by a kindly forbearance on the part of the Bench and Bar, the cordial good feeling which now exists between us will, I hope, continue. I feel doubly pleased that the Hon. John Hillyard Cameron, the head of the Canadian Bar – a Bar which ranks first among the nations of the world – should pay me so high a compliment, and I thank him most cordially for the kind words he has said, regarding me.
The Sessions then adjourned till tomorrow at 9.30.
INDICTMENT AGAINST THE CITY
The following is the indictment against the city of Hamilton on account of the cells and for which a true bill was found this morning:
COUNTY OF WENTWORTH, TO WIT
The jurors for our Lady the Queen, upon their oath, present that, from a date prior to the 28th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1873, there was, and yet is, a certain lock up house, situate on King William street, in the city of Hamilton, in the said county, used by the police officers and other authorities of the Municipal Corporation of the city of Hamilton as a and for a lock up house or place of confinement for the detention and imprisonment for not more than ten days, under any by-law of the Council of the said city, and of persons detained for examination on a charge of having committed any offence, and of persons detained for transmission to any common jail or house of correction, either for trial, or in the execution of any sentence, and that the said lock up on the 28th day of April, in the year of our Lord 1876, and continually afterwards until the day of inquisition, was and is in a foul, noxious and unwholesome state for want of due reparation, cleansing and amendment of the same, so that prisoners and persons placed therein in the course of administration of the law for any of the purposes aforesaid during the time last aforesaid, could not remain therein without great danger to their lives and injury to their health, to the great damage and common nuisance of any of Her Majesty’s liege subjects placed therein in the course of the administration of the law for any of the purposes aforesaid, and that the Corporation of the City of Hamilton in the said County of Wentworth, the said lock up house as aforesaid, so, aforesaid, being foul, noxious and unwholesome, ought to repair, cleanse and amend when and so often as it should and shall be necessary.
B. B. Osler, Q. C.
The Knights Templar event which had been reported in the Spectator during the previous also was covered in the Weekly Times with some additional detail:
“On Thursday, the Knights Templar commandery, No. 1, of Detroit, arrived at the station on their homeward journey. They were met there by Right Worshipful Brothers Brierley, D. D. G. M.; E. Mitchell, P. D. D. G. M. ; J. J. Mason, Grand Secretary; Hugh Murra, P. G. J. W.; V. W. Bro. W. T. Munday, F. G. Assistant Secretary; and other Masons of the city, with the band of the 13th Battalion. The meeting was a most cordial one. A procession was formed at the station, the ladies of the party being driven in cabs, accompanied by several of our leading citizens. The 13th Band followed, and a number of the Lodges of the city were represented in the procession. Garner’s Flint City Band headed the Knights, and, with their very handsome uniform, presented a really fine appearance. “The Knights Templar,” in their cocked hats, black coats and pants, and handsome accoutrements, looked extremely well, and the manner in which they had been drilled, as shown by their different manoeuvres, called forth loud expressions of praise. The route taken from the depot was up Stuart street to Bay; along Bay to King, down King and around the Gore, where after a short halt in front of the fountain near the College, they marched up John street as far as Prince’s Square, then along Main and down James to the Mechanics’ Hall. Here the Hamilton Masons opened out and saluted their brethren as they entered the hall, the band meanwhile playing. About an hour was spent in the hall, and the Knights expressed themselves charmed with the building and arrangements. Time being short, the procession was reformed and a start was made for the station. A large crowd accompanied the Knights and the platform was thronged. While waiting for the train, the bands played alternatively, and a good opportunity was given to judge of the comparative merits. The American band is an excellent one, but, without flattery, we can say the 13th Band held its own. It would be discourteous to our visitors to say anything else. The special train, with the Knights and their friends on board – under the special care of Mr. Domville, Locomotive Superintendent, G. W. R., Mr. Edgar, General Passenger Agent, G. W. R., Mr. Vardy, and the Conductor, Thomas Meston – drawn by two engines, moved off amidst running cheers, when the 13th Band played “Auld Lang Syne” and “Yankee Doodle.””
Finally two stories relating to fire events in Hamilton in June 1876 received attention in the Weekly Times:
“Some time during the early part of this week, the Italian Warehouse, on James street, had a very narrow escape from being burned to the ground. The facts are briefly these: Mr. Sewell’s employees are in the habit of cleaning the counters in the establishment with oiled rags, and on Saturday night last, as usual, placed the rags in a small box in the cupboard or small room underneath the stairway. In the box, which fortunately was closely covered, was also a pint bottle of turpentine, and a quantity of linseed oil. The rags ignited, burned through the bottom, and half through the shelf on which it had been placed, and neither the turpentine nor oil took fire: if that had, a disastrous conflagration might have resulted, because below the shelf was a large can full of coal oil. It is thought that the fire was extinguished for want of air. It is very fortunate that matters turned out as they did, and if the occurrence will have the effect of preventing others from leaving combustible and inflammable materials and fluids in such close proximity, it will not have happened in vain.
“On Saturday evening, between7 and 8 o’clock, a tramp called at the residence of Mrs. Henry Beasley, 81 George street, rang the bell, which was answered by the servant, and demanded something to eat. The girl said all they had was bread and butter, which the fastidious gentleman refused to take, but said he preferred bread and meat. The girl said there was no meat cooked. The cool scoundrel threatened in the most blasphemous language that if bread and meat were not given him, he would burn the house down. The door was closed and locked immediately. About twenty minutes later, the neighbours warned Mrs. Beasley that the wood shed was on fire, and it was discovered that the wood had been saturated with coal oil. Fortunately there was plenty of water on hand, and, after considerable exertions, the fire was put out. The man who undoubtedly did the deed is about 5 feet 10 inches, hair cut close to the head, sandy whiskers, and a fresh scar on one of his cheeks. He wears a dilapidated overcoat and a worn out hat. It is to be hoped the scoundrel will be caught.”