“The returns for the past week still show a large amount of destitution existing our midst, though this has been somewhat ameliorated by the mildness of the weather which has considerably affected the numbers applying for a night’s refuge at the Dormitory. Seven hundred and sixty meals have been furnished, and as formerly, the principal recipients are respectable families, driven by dire necessity to accept aid which they have never before required to ask from strangers, to which this institution is an unspeakable boon. A comfortable dinner has made glad the heart of many a poor mechanic out of work, who has been wandering round the country seeking employment.”
The early winter weather in January 1876 may not have ha the blizzards and sub-zero temperatures usually associated with the season
But if you were out of work, had no home and had no money, it was still a tough time in Hamilton.
To provide at least a little assistance, the Soup Kitchen and Dormitory was available for the destitute, and for the better off citizens who wished to help.
Every two weeks, a report such as following appeared in the press, documenting the help being provided :
“One hundred and twenty lodgings have been occupied 54 lodgers comprising the following trades : 2 blacksmiths, 1 book-binder, 1 butcher, 3 curriers, 2 clerks, 1 carriage maker, 1 carder, 1 carpenter, 1 groom, 1 joiner, 29 labourers, 5 machinists, 1 painter, 1 rope maker, 1 sailor, 1 sail maker, 1 tinsmith. To many of the most deserving of those parties, some article of clothing has been as necessarily required, and they were thus enabled to pursue their journey better prepared to encounter the hardships they would be likely to meet. We are glad to hear that the sale of soup tickets is increasing, as this is the best mode in which the efforts of the City Aid Society can be sustained.”
Yet another January butterfly made an appearance in Hamilton:
“Mr. Joseph Wilson, corner of York and Caroline streets, informs us that on Friday the 7th inst., he caught a butterfly in his store, which he has since kept alive.”
A significant opportunity for some rather exotic entertainment was described by a Spectator reporter who joined a large crowd to take it in :
“Last evening a large and select audience assembled at Mechanics’ hall in response to invitations which had been issued by Professor Linder, the celebrated mind-reader and psychometrician. The favorable criticisms which had been made of the professor’s exhibitions in order places of his wonderful powers of mesmerism and psychometry doubtless led those who went to the Hall last night to expect something more than common; but it is doubtful if there was a single individual present who did not find the extraordinary feats which he witnessed far exceeding anything that he had previously imagined. Before commencing the entertainment, the Professor stated that he required the assistance of a number of gentlemen, and at suggestions from the audience, fourteen of our prominent citizens took their places on the platform, and when it is stated that these were composed of such men as Dr. Woolverton, Dr. Vernon, Capt. Fairgrieve, John H. Holden, etc., it will be readily understood that there was no possibility of anything like collusion or fraud being practised. The various tests given by the Professor were performed squarely and above board, and certainly they were marvellous. There were only a few tests last night, but these were amply sufficient to show that Professor Linder as a reader of the mind, is possessed ofpowers that few would dream were in the range of human possibility. The first of the Professor’s public entertainments in this city, will be given at the Mechanics’ Hall this evening.”
An accident in the early hours of January 20, 1876 involving a stage coach resulted in inconvenience and injuries:
“This morning while halfway between this city and the village of Waterdown, the Milton stage broke down in consequence of the fore axle giving way. The passengers were all thrown out and had to walk into the city with the exception of Mr. John Rowe, who was carried in on a litter in consequence of the severe bruises he received.”
Another accident out Binbrook way nearly caused a fatality for a lumberman working in the bush:
“An accident of a peculiar nature happened yesterday evening to a lumberman by the name of Louis Dubois in the employ of Messrs. Bradley & Flatt, whose headquarters are in this city. A large gang of men are engaged in Miller’s Bush in Binbrook in close proximity to Rymal station on the Lake Erie branch of the Hamilton and Northwestern railway. After waiting in vain for the last month for good sleighing to take away their logs, the firm gave orders to the workmen to haul the timber to the station on heavy trucks. Yesterday afternoon Dubois was put in charge of a heavy span of horses attached to a truck loaded with large timber. He received instructions to leave his load at the top of a very high hill about a mile from the station, and to return to the bush for more logs. With great difficulty on account of the bad roads, Dubois got his load to the top of the hill, and by means of skids run them off the side of the road. One of the logs swung round, throwing it off facing down the hill. Dubois immediately ran a handspike in front of the timber to keep it from riolling down the hill and tried with all his might to force the loginto its proper place to no avail. At this moment, a farmer residing in the neighbourhood came up and offered to hold the log in its place until Dubois got another handspike. Dubois was only too glad of the offer and walked down the hill to look for a pole. Before he was halfway down, the horses commenced to move away and the farmer instantly dropped the handspike to catch them. In doing so, he of course released the log which commenced to roll down the hill after the retreating form of Dubois with frightful rapidity, and it was not till was well within a yard of him that Dubois noticed its approach. With a yell of fear, the terrified man rushed straight forwards followed by a stick of timber which every instant drew nearer and nearer to him. Dubois ran for his life, followed by the merciless lumber behind him, not knowing what moment it might strike him dead. While running at the top of his speed, his foot caught in the remains of a stump, and he was thrown forward on his face. This accident saved his life. The log which was going with terrible swiftness, struck the stump also, and bounding in the air, sprang completely over the prostrate man, and went thundering onwards, striking the wooden bridge at the foot of hill, breaking through it and losing itself in the stream below. The fright paralysed the Frenchman who was conveyed home by the kind-hearted farmer and put to bed. Dubois is an old voyageur who has spent the last twenty years of his life in lumbering operations, and this is the first accident that ever happened to him.”
The weekly Dundas True Banner and Wentworth Chronicle appeared on January 20, 1876, and as was its style, it carried short, sharp articles documenting the foibles of that community:
“If the mild weather continues much longer, an enterprising genius might make an everlasting fortune by placing a flat boat or scow on King St. to ferry foot passengers across the sea of mud which intervenes between the sidewalks.
“On Saturday night, Mr. Miller, until lately proprietor of the Freelton and Hamilton Stage, was stopped on the Brock Road, while driving a buggy between Strabane an Freelton, by two men who followed him in a buggy, and robbed him of $225 and a silver watch. When overtaken, he was dragged from his buggy and very speedily relieved of his property. Miller did not recognise the parties, but it is supposed they followed him from Hamilton and were aware of the fact that he had disposed of his stage line and had in his possession a considerable sum of money. No trace of the highwaymen has yet been discovered.
“The newspaper reporters of the Times and Spec staff notice with intense delight the fact that the Court House has been “whitewashed and thoroughly cleaned.” Now it will be in order for the reporters to subject themselves to a similar course of treatment, and to borrow clean papers collars for the auspicious occasion when they appear in public for the first time this season after a good scrub.
“The locals of the Hamilton papers are not intensely religious at any time, but a ludicrous mistake they made in reporting the proceedings of the Sabbath School Convention at Waterdown, deserves special mention. “The session was then brought to a close by singing the benediction,” they both remark with great gravity. “Singing the benediction!” Well, that is about as good as Mrs. Partington’s best.
“We see by the proceedings in the Ontario Legislature that the Government propose to recommend the payment of $6,000 to the County of Wentworth to aid in defraying the costs of the new County Gaol. This grant is made in accordance with the usual practise and with the law. Perhaps the City of Hamilton would like to put a claim in for part of this $6,000, although it did not contribute one cent towards the erection of the gaol? If they don’t do so we will be forced to conclude that their stock of “cheek” has run out.
“Yes, this is leap year, when the ladies are especially privileged in matrimonial matters, and it may not be amiss to treat those of the fair sex of Dundas who propose to propose during the year to the following sensible advice which is given by Josh Billings : “There iz a great menny rules to make married life comfortable, but the golden one is this : Go slow, and give each other haff of the road. This rule is az simple and easy as milking a cow on the right side, and will be found as useful az to avoid hot journals and dri axles.”
“The Hamilton Spectator aspires to earn a reputation for sensational articles. Last week, it had Boss Tweed travelling on the Brock Road, and left him stopping at the residence of a brother-in-law in Ancaster Township. Then it had a yarn about a dog eater who dotes on savoury stews made from the flesh of fat puppies, who is said to reside in or near Dundas, but of whom nobody here has ever heard. And lastly, it told a tale of matrimonial woe, concerning an imaginary individual who recently turned up in Hamilton, after an absence of ten years from his home, to find a man who was married to the wife he had deserted in Dundas. These “yarns” may be considered smart in their way, but we fail to see how they add to the reputation of a newspaper. Perhaps the Spectator can.”
“In these very dull times when everybody is grumbling, it does one good to meet a man with a cheerful face. The light of a cheerful face diffuses itself and communicates a happy spirit that inspires it. As well might fog, and cloud, and vapour hope to cling to the sun-illumined landscape, as the blues and moroseness to combat jovial speech and exhilarating laughter. Be cheerful, always. There is no path but will be easier travelled, no load but will be lighter, no shadow on heart or brain but will lift sooner in presence of a determined cheerfulness. And if you are not making any money nowadays, remember – that this is not all you have to live for – and that “there’s a good time coming.”
“The co-religionist editor of the Spectator, like an enthusiastic Irishman, as he is, is spoiling for a fight. Won’t somebody lend him a shillalah? If his challenges are not answered, soon he will surely go “blue moulding for a bating.” To anybody who has nothing else to do, a war of words with our inconsistent neighbour might prove interesting. To any person who has “constant employment” such a task could not be but repugnant, as, like Davy Crocket’s wild cat, he don’t know when he’s whipped.”