Tuesday 26 June 2012

June 27, 1876

As Dominion Day approaches, extensive and varied preparations are being made among the people of the city for observing it in true holiday style.”
Hamilton Spectator      June 27, 1876
Even though it was only the ninth national holiday in Canada’s history, Dominion Day was already a well-established and enjoyed holiday in 1876, and nowhere less so than in Hamilton.
In the following article, the Hamilton Spectator describes the main options for Hamiltonians wishing to celebrate the holiday:
“So far it seems that excursions, society picnics and games will be the order of the day.
                   THE CALEDONIAN SOCIETY
have decided on holding a grand excursion to St. Catharines, which will doubtless be one of the most attractive affairs in that line in which the public will have a chance to participate. The splendid steamer City of St. Catharines has been chartered for the occasion, and will leave McIlwraith’s wharf Saturday morning at 7 o’clock sharp. The fine brass band and string band of the society will accompany the excursion. During the day there will be a grand parade of firemen in St. Catharines and the Caledonian Society of the city will hold their annual games in the Montebello Park. As every effort will be made by the branches of the Caledonian Society of this city to secure the comfort of the excursionists, a good time is to be expected.
                              THE FORESTERS
celebration, which is to take place in the Crystal Palace grounds, will be one of the principal attractions in the city. The demonstration will be held under the auspices of the different Courts of the Order in this city. A large and interesting programme of games will be carried out, consisting of archery, athletic sports, etc., for which valuable prizes will be given .A lacrosse march will take place on the grounds in the afternoon, and in the evening, there will be one of the grandest display of fireworks ever seen in the city.
                             THE RAILWAYS
are also offering inducements to those who feel inclined to take a trip by rail on Dominion Day.
          The Great Western will issue tickets at a single fare valid only on Saturday, with the exception of those to Buffalo, which will be issued to and from all stations, according to time-table at one and one-third fare, good to return up to midnight of the 3rd.
          The Hamilton and North Western Railway will issue return tickets at a single fare good to return on Saturday, or on the Monday following.
                             THE OCEAN HOUSE
at the Beach will no doubt attract a large number of pleasure seekers on Saturday. Arrangements are being made. To afford a pleasant time to all who chose to spend a portion of the day there. In the way of sports there will be quoits, billiards, bowling and boating, and there is to be a grand ball in the Ocean House Music Hall in the evening. Steamers will ply between the city and that place every hour during the day.
          With the above choice of amusements, it is probable that the masses of Hamilton will be enabled to spend a pleasant day on Saturday.”
During the evening of June 26, 1876, a very enjoyable evening was spent at a festival organized to financially assist a downtown church:
“The strawberry festival given last night by the ladies of the Park street Baptist Church was, in every way, pleasant and successful. A goodly company of friend assembled, and after doing ample justice to the strawberries, ice cream and cake provided, they were entertained with music, readings, recitations and brief but appropriate addresses. The pastor, Rev. W. Stewart, presided, and announced that the object of the festival – to provide funds for the renovation and decoration of the lecture room – would be fully realized. Such gatherings are very beneficial as tending to cultivate a friendly feeling among the members of the congregation.”
The afternoon edition of the Spectator reported on the somewhat disappointing circus parade which wended its way through Hamilton’s downtown streets to promote the circus which was to take place that evening:
“This morning at an early hour, Cole’s great racing hippodrome, menagerie and circus arrived in this city from St. Catharines. From about nine o’clock in the forenoon, the streets were crowded with people of all ages, who anxiously awaited the appearance of the grand procession, which, it was announced would parade through the streets. The crowd in the neighbourhood of James and King streets, near the Gore, must have numbered several thousands. At about half-past ten, the procession appeared marching down John street to Gore, then across to James, up to King, and through others of the principal streets. The procession was headed by a brass band in a chariot drawn by a number of dromedaries. This was followed by equestrians, and after them came the cages containing the animals. The procession was scarcely as gorgeous as expected, but, from the flattering notices which Mr. Cole gets wherever he goes, we may be sure that the best of the show is inside the canvas. Thousands of people visited the circus this afternoon, and it is probable that the immense tents will be crowded this evening.”

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