Thursday 23 February 2012

February 24, 1876

‘On Saturday last, the toll was put on the Hamilton and Ancaster Macadamized Road, and in order the quiet the public mind and to secure the confidence of the travelling public, the genial countenance of Mr. Henry Binkley.”
                 True Banner and Wentworth Chronicle February 24, 1876

 At the opening of the long-awaited, road between Ancaster, the Township Council’s Deputy Reeve Binkley made a personal to greet all those using the road for the first time. The True Banner published a reaction to the opening and the Deputy Reeve’s actions in its weekly issue appearing on February 24, 1876:
 “This was a good policy, as there might have been considerable fault-finding and contention with the toll keeper had not Mr. Binkley been on hand to explain that the intention of the Township Council, which we may briefly state to be that all the money collected at the gate will be expended on the road until it is put in first class order. With such a pledge from the Township Council, the travelling public ought to be satisfied even though the road is not just now as good as it should for a toll road. The council should have a chance to make good their professions, as they have already spent $6,000 on the road, and if the travelling public will exercise a little patience and forbearance, we have no doubt, they will be rewarded in time by having a capital road to travel over.”
          In a related article, the True Banner commented on the toll gate keeper who had been hired for that road:
Yes, they have found him and he is a tanner by trade, and Cornelius is his name! He may be seen everyday at the toll house on the Hamilton and Ancaster Road, near the city limits, and the “wisdom” of the Township of Ancaster has branded him as an “honest man” – a man fit to be trusted to keep a toll gate. Take a look at him as you pass through the gate, and you will be satisfied that Mr. Cornelius Reed is just what the Ancaster Council have taken him for.
      In that issue of the True Banner, the controversial route was discussed, including a reprint of an article by the Ottawa correspondent of the Hamilton Times :
 “The people of Hamilton seem to be aroused at least on the question of the proposed route for the Northwestern Railway by way of the Beach and across Burlington Canal, and the probabilities are that the difficulties which surround the scheme presented by the advocates of the route indicated will eventually be deemed insurmountable. The Ottawa correspondent of the Times says :
“It is understood that the Hamilton and Northwestern Railway Company have a petition before the Privy Council, asking permission to run their road across the Burlington Bay Canal, thus bringing their line from Wellington Square by the Beach to the city or to some point near the Great Western Railway. Two objections to this permission to bridge an important Government are said to be pertinent: the one is in the interests of navigation generally and Hamilton particularly, while the other relates to the city alone. It is urged by some if the Government permit Burlington Canal to be narrowed so that a suitable railway bridge can be constructed, navigation will be interfered with to some extent in all weathers, but very seriously when violent storms occur, especially from the east. In the latter case, it is apprehended that the advantages of the Bay as a sort of harbour of refuge would be much lessened if not destroyed. The difficulty of approaching the Canal now is sufficiently great, though the width is much more considerable than it could be were provisions made at each side to support a heavy swinging bridge. These have been mentioned in the general interest of mariners, but, in addition, it is supposed that if the H. & N. W. R. R. crosses the Canal at all, the city will lose all the benefits which should accrue should the line pass through it. Railway companies seek the advancement of their own interests above everything else, and should a junction with another road, made east of Hamilton, promise the greatest return, there is the fear that every tom of freight and every passenger not en route for Hamilton itself would be carried past at a distance of five or six miles, and the city will be none the better off, while, if the track ran through the town, or, actually within its boundaries, the opposite would be the result. It has not been determined yet whether permission will be granted, but it is understood that the matter is under serious consideration.”
None but those who are wilfully blind and who have some other motive than the prosperity of the city to actuate them, can fail to see the utter folly and a absurdity of the people of Hamilton deliberately undertaking a work which will be certain to destroy their harbour for shipping purposes, while it will also build up the village of Burlington at the expense of Hamilton, and make it the shipping point for all the freight brought over by the Northwestern. Furthermore, the safety of the travelling public should be looked after by those in authority in this matter, and if this is done, we have no fear that the Northwestern people will be permitted to bridge the Burlington Canal and there by open a way for the repetition of the calamity which occurred at the Desjardins Canal some time ago. With the view of deciding upon the possibility of the scheme proposed of bringing the Northwestern round by Dundas, we believe that the Engineers of the Company have been instructed to examine and report upon this route, and we trust they will be able to report favourably.”
Street lighting was a constant matter of debate in towns and cities across Canada in 1876, including Dundas which had signed a contract for a new supplier  of a new type of gas:
“Dundas is now lighted with gas made by Rigby’s patent process from crude petroleum. Examinations and tests have been made by Professor Croft, of Toronto, and Dr. Girdwood, professor of practical chemistry, McGill University, Montreal, who have reported most favourably. It is just possible that those professional gentlemen may be right as to the excellent quality of the gas in question, but our experience of it is that it is not equal to the old fashioned coal gas. It is possible, however, that there is something in the assertion that it is not so much the fault of the gas itself, as the burners which are used and which are said not to be adapted for the new gas.”
          The True Banner provided a little free advertising  for a firm in process of providing the citizens of Dundas with an up-to-date map of their community:
“Mr. Canning is now in Dundas soliciting orders for a new lithographed map of Dundas which gives all the latest surveys. It is now over a quarter of a century since we have had a map of the Town published, and Mr. Canning ought to sell a large number – the price being only 50 cents.”
          With the closure of the Desjardins canal for the winter, the turning basin at the Dundas end of the canal was not in use, and the recent colder weather that had descended on the Hamilton area, the wide surface of the basin had frozen solid, thus making a great location for curling bonspiels:
“On Saturday last, a match was played on the Canal Basin, between the two rinks of the Dundas Club and two of the Thistle Club, of Ancaster, for the Royal Caledonia Medal. The ice was in anything but good condition, and it was thought that before the game could be finished, the entire party would be engulfed in the “ragin’ canawl” Such catastrophe did not, however, occur, greatly to the satisfaction of the players who manfully stuck to their “stanes” until the game was concluded. Dundas won the game by four shots.”
          Finally the debate as to the sentence faced by convicted Hamilton murder Michael McConnell even reached the pages of the True Banner:
“A subscriber writes to us with reference to the sentence of death pronounced upon the murderer McConnell, and quotes the law of the Old Testament to show that no mercy should be shown in this case. He says that McConnell’s sentence is “merely” to be hung by the neck till he is dead (as if that was a slight matter,) and asserts that he should be subjected to more excruciating punishment before he is permitted to shuffle off this mortal coil, in order that the law of God might be fulfilled.”

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