Friday 24 February 2012

February 19, 1876

“The full February blast sweeping around the corners of this morning carrying with it a modicum of snow gave a Canadian aspect to the country, which it has not worn for some six weeks past. Although it is not probably we will have much snow during the remainder of the winter, still the high winds, of which we received a forerunner today, will purify the air, which could not have been healthy had the dull rains and fogs continued till the ardent rays of a July sun dispersed them.”
        A bit of winter arrived in Hamilton on February 19, 1876, a diversion from the mainly warm winter which had been the case so far.
          The mild winter to that point was evidenced by the following observation at the bayfront:
An interesting sight at present is the working of the ice machine on the bay. As the ice is rotten and treacherous, and not safe for horses, the ice is cut near the wharves and lifted from the water by means of derricks fastened on the land. The affair is quite a novelty and attracts considerable attention. The ice itself is not of very good quality, in fact is a very inferior article, and will be difficult to keep. “
In February, 1876, there were still large pine forests in parts of Wentworth County, enough for a bit of boasting by some lumbermen as to their prowess :
“Last week a gang of three men, under the direction of Mr. Thomas Curtiss, who, for eighteen years, has been connected with the firm of J. J. Flatt & Co., cut, squared and delivered at Lynden station, 575 cubic feet of pine timber. Can Ottawa beat this?”
Coming up in the summer of 1876 was the Centennial Celebration of the formation of the United States, the big event to be held in Philadelphia. One Hamiltonian who hoped to display his expertise at the Centennial  was rebuked :
We notice today in Mr. Norval’s window on Hughson street a very handsome and superior collection of stuffed birds, which were originally intended for the Centennial Exhibition, but unfortunately through some misunderstanding between Mr. Norval and Mr. Fraser, of the Advisory Commission, they will not likely be sent to Philadelphia. In the bar of the Royal Hotel, Mr. Norval has placed a noble-looking female American Eagle, with its wings fully extended, and which would be a very fine specimen for the Centennial. In most eagles with wings extended, there are always some visible means of holding them up, but in this case there are none. The Entomologist Society of London have been granted five hundred dollars for the purpose of acquiring cases for their insects, but Mr. Norval has been refused cases for his birds.”
          The Spectator on February 19th, 1876 recounted the odd experience of a young man at a hotel in Dundas :
          “The strangest circumstance in the history of that very pleasant amusement of making presentations occurred in the town of Dundas this morning. A young gentleman named Wilson, boarding at the Elgin House, on pulling on his boots in his bedroom, felt something hard in the bottom, and thinking that someone had played a trick on him, turned the boot upside down, and to his amazement a gold watch dropped to the floor. The watch was perfectly new and apparently had never been in use. There was no inscription on it, neither did a note accompany it telling from whom it was received. No one in the house knew anything about it, nor had any stranger been seen in the corridors. The watch was brought to a jeweler who valued it at $95. The name of the make and the number is on the watch, and it is Mr. Wilson’s intention to discover iof possible where the article was purchased, but for the present the matter remains a pleasant but perplexing mystery. “
By far the longest article in the February 19th issue of the Hamilton Spectator was a glowing account of a musical evening at Hamilton’s Christ Church Cathedral held the previous evening:
“The completion of this church made a new organ a necessity, and though the congregation have made great exertions in erecting the building, they felt it imperative on them to furnish it with an instrument in keeping with its great capacity and architectural beauty. An organ was accordingly ordered from the well-known makers Johnson & Son, of Westfield, Mass., and to test its character, a recital was held last evening, when Prof. Garrat acted as organist. The Cathedral was crowded to its utmost capacity, and when we say that it seats 1,000 persons without gallerier, some idea may be had of its extent. It is unquestionably the most beautiful church in Ontario, and it owes its beauty chiefly to its loftiness, the high arches, its double row of stained windows, the fine engrained work and the taste displayed in the coloring. The effect of the brilliant light of nearly 200 gas jets was exceedingly fine, producing the strong contrasts of light and shade on the massive stone columns, and the richly engraved ceiling which please the eyes of everyone, however uneducated he may be in the art of colouring. In the left hand corner of the east end, the organ has been built, and its size and style of finish are quite in keeping with the interior of the building. So far, then, as the eye was concerned, there was everything to delight; for the sight of the church when lighted up, was well worth the price of the ticket, even though there had been no music. But when the grand tones of the great instrument shook the building, the effect on every lover of colour or of music was thrilling. Professor Garratt had at his command an instrument worthy of his great ability, and his execution was worthy of the instrument. He opened with (a) Improvisation, and (b) Carnation Anthem. These pieces proved that the organ had great power, but the sweetness of its tones is its striking characteristic. The Dean having requested suppression of all applause, the vast audience were compelled to smother the desire to give expression to their delight, though we did hear some involuntary clapping of hands. Then followed Kyrie and Gloria, Mozart’s 12th Mass and Andante E Flat, in which the choir, composed of about 30 performers, under the leadership of Mr. Robinson, took part. Mr. Crabb then sung in his best style “In Native Worth,” an aria from The Creation. We have had th pleasure of hearing this gentleman before, and
his performance last evening makes us hope we may soon hear him again. The “Grand Orchestral March” brought out all the beauties of the instrument, and fully satisfied the audience that a great accession to the musical world of Hamilton had been secured for them. The solo, “Saviour of Peace,” by Mrs. Campbell, was well sung, and though her voice is hardly powerful enough for so large a building as the Cathedral, yet she would have received an encore, had the audience not been compelled to silence. The solo and chorus, “O, thou that tellest,” was very fine, as it brought out all the power of both organ and choir. This concluded part first. Part second was equal to it, but we must particularly notice “Traumerel.” This is a singularly beautiful piece, and was played with a delicacy of touch and depth of feeling which stamp Prof. Garratt as a first-rate performer. There were very few high notes in it, and many of the notes are so low that they seem mere whispers, yet they were distinctly heard at the extremities of the building and proved that the organ has all the fineness of the piano. In the duet, “Oh, Lovely Peace,” Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Beckett carried off the palm, and would have received a storm of applause had the delighted audience not been restrained. The grand chorus “The Heavens are Telling,” was rendered very beautifully, and concluded what we sincerely think was one of the most brilliant and delightful musical entertainments we have yet heard. “

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