“The conduct of the prisoner McConnell since his sentence has been extraordinary in the extreme”
Hamilton Spectator. February 3, 1876
Michael McConnell’s reaction to his conviction early in the day after his trial was remarkable, and later a man appeared offering his services help carry out the sentence :
“On the morning after his conviction, when the officers of the jail approached him, he cursed at them violently, and his conduct ever since has been that of a man who has been treated very badly. He has refused religious counsel and is sullen and vengeful. This afternoon at two o’clock, George Smallwood, the man who acted as hangman at the execution of White at Guelph, applied to the Sheriff for the position of executioner of McConnell. He was referred to Captain Henery, the Governor of the jail. Smallwood is a short, stout man, and wears the proverbial hangman look. He appears very anxious for the “job” and referred triumphantly to the manner in which he conducted the execution of the coloured man White at Guelph.”
After McConnell’s trial had concluded and a few other cases of lesser importance dealt with, the Grand Jurors, before the Winter Assizes were concluded presented their report:
“At 11.30 this morning, the Grand Jurors brought in the following:
The Grand Jurors, of Her Majesty the Queen beg leave to present as follows :
They beg to acknowledge their appreciation of the valuable assistance derived in the discharge of their duties from the clear and lucid charge of His Lordship Mr. Justice Patterson at the opening of this present Assizes, and they are also under obligation to the learned counsel for the Crown, Mr. Sinclair, and the Sheriff, both of whom have rendered, without hesitation, all the assistance and advice desired by the Grand Jurors.
The Grand Jurors congratulate Your Lordship upon your Lordship’s recent elevation to the Bench and desire to express the hope that your Lordship will live many years to preserve that high character for immaculate purity which particularly characterizes the Bench of this Province.
The Grand Jurors feel that the greatest blessing that has fallen to the lot of this young country, has been that through all its history the Bench has preserved a stainless purity in the administration of justice, and the recent appointments give the greatest confidence that that character will continue to be preserved in the future.
The Grand Jurors have made careful inspection of the Jail, Hospital and Lunatic Asylum.
In the jail, they found 62 male and 25 female prisoners, a great number of whom are serving out terms for larceny, drunkenness and vagrancy. Among all this motley crowd a perfect order and quiet was observed, and a cheerful contentment noticeable on the face of most of them, which at once suggests itself to the visitor as the result of good ventilation, cleanliness, and order, and not a little to the able administration of the Governor Mr. Henery and the matron, Miss MacFarlane. They think, however, that some means should be devised whereby the labour of these prisoners might be of service to the city.
The Hospital is a model of cleanliness and comfort, and every want of its unfortunate inmates seems to be anticipated and attended to with great care.
The Grand Jurors have to express their regret that this institution will so shortly lose the valuable services of its present resident physician, Dr. C. O’Reilly, who for nine years has held the position with credit to himself and to the advantage of suffering humanity.
The asylum originally intended by the Government as an Inebriate Asylum, but since on account of the insufficient accommodation for lunatics has been set apart for that purpose, we were pleased to find so well adapted, in our opinion, for that object, and that it will be very shortly ready for occupation, nearly all of the rooms being already furnished.
The Grand Jurors were pleased to notice that at the last meeting of the County Council plans and specifications for the improvement of the Court House were ordered to be prepared – a work of such importance as to admit of no further delay. They venture to express the hope that at no distant day the provisions of the Extradition Treaty will be so enlarged as to embrace many crimes which in its present limit can be committed with impunity on account of our close proximity to the neighbouring Republic.
The Grand Jurors are also pleased to notice that there is now before the Legislative Assembly for this Province, a Bill to provide for the payment of fees and expenses to witnesses in criminal cases. It was in their opinion a much-needed provision of the Statute Law and has frequently been urged by previous Grand Jurors of the country.
M. W. Browne,
HAMILTON GRAND JURY ROOM,
2nd February 1876.
Accidents on the roads both within the city and in the surrounding districts were not unusual and two of note were chronicled in the Spectator of February 3, 1876:
About eleven o’clock Saturday morning, while a farmer was driving a load of potatoes and apples on King street, all the spokes in his nigh hind wheel broke, leaving the felloes perfectly clear. The hind part of the wagon came down with a crash. The country roads are in a fearful state and the only wonder is that so many vehicles came to the city without accidents. Some of the back roads are thoroughly impassable.”
“As a man named Galloway and a coloured butcher from Carlisle were driving along the Griffin road, the wagon jolted into a rut in the highway which caused the horses to run away. The animals started off at a furious gallop, and, turning off the road, rushed up a bank, and one of the horses being higher than the other lost his footing and tumbled over his mate, smashing the tongue and harness into atoms. The horses, kicking furiously, rolled down the bank to the road and received severe cuts and bruises. Mr. Galloway was thrown out and received several bruises, but the butcher escaped uninjured.”
Despite the poor state of the roads, readers of the Spectator were encouraged to drive to Ancaster for an entertainment to be provided in that community’s Town Hall :
“Tomorrow evening, a grand entertainment will be held in the Town Hall, Ancaster. The entertainment will consist of Tableaux, singing and readings. The sleighing is good out to Ancaster, and those of our citizens who wish to spend a pleasant evening should go out.”
A possible means of transport to get to Ancaster was a new sleigh available for hire at Nowlan’s :
“Mr. Owen Nowlan, the enterprising livery keeper on Rebecca street, has purchased a handsome new band sleigh, which will be just the thing for parties now that the sleighing has become good. The sleigh is a very neat one, and is made with a view to comfort and convenience.”
The weekly report for the Soup Kitchen and Dormitory showed little improvement in conditions, and that there were still large numbers of the unemployed and homeless on the loose in the area :
“The following are the statistics of this institution for the week ending 25th January : 793 meals supplied to both city families and casual applicants, the greater quantity having been consumed in the homes of the recipients; 59 homeless wanderers have enjoyed the shelter of 112 lodgings, the occupations of these parties being as follows : 1 actor, 1 baker, 1 bricklayer, 2 boilermakers, 2 carpenters, 2 engineers, 1 groom, 1 jeweller, 38 labourers, 1 machinist, 2 printers, 1 painter, 2 sailors, 2 shoemakers, 1 tinsmith. For the week ending 1st February, the demand has not been quite as large, 768 meals having been distributed, the numbers of indoor recipients being greatly reduced in consequence of the continued mild weather - the occupations being as follows : 1 bookbinder, 2 blacksmiths, 3 boilermakers, 2 carpenters, 34 labourers, 3 machinists, 1 moulder, 3 shoemakers, 2 sailors, 1 stove mounter. Very few of those parties still linger in the city, finding it impossible to secure employment here, they pass on to other places.”
In news printed in the weekly True Banner and Wentworth Chronicle, the subject of the future of Coote’s Paradise was again raised:
“A large and influential meeting of persons from West Flamboro’ and Ancaster Township interested in the preservation of the Dundas Marsh for sporting purposes for the public, was held at the Dufferin House last Saturday. Mr. J.W. Kerr, Fishery Inspector presiding, at which a resolution was unanimously passed in favour of the granting of the Marsh to the Corporation of Dundas. This action, we suppose, will be made known to the proper authorities at Toronto.”
Also, a lengthy article refuting all the libellous claims made by the editor of the Dundas Standard against the True Banner were refuted emphatically:
“We feel that we owe an apology to our readers for again referring to this question, but in justice to ourselves, we desire to give them the benefit of proof as to the correctness of the statements made in these columns in the contention which has taken place with the editor of the Standard. On the 15th Dec. last, the Standard an article on the County Printing in which it asserted that –
“Judging from the space the advertisements(lists of Convictions) are made to occupy in the True Banner we have no hesitation in saying that he cost to the County will be more than double the cost of advertising under the former system.”
We then referred to this matter as follows :
“Now as to the facts. The space occupied by the list of convictions this year is precisely the same as occupied in former years, and exactly the space specified to be occupied by the County Council itself. Then as to the statement regarding the charge being “more than double,” all we have to say is that the man who penned this knew it to be a wilful falsehood when he wrote it – for the simple reason that during the recent election contest he was present at meetings where he heard the proprietor of the True Banner declare that the charge would not be one cent more than it was when the printing of the convictions was tendered for.”
For two weeks after the publication of this paragraph, the Standard editor kept perfectly quiet, but on being repeatedly admonished that he should retract and apologise for publishing what he knew at the time he penned it was an untruth, he worked himself into a towering rage and attempted to withdraw the attention of the public from the point at issue by launching forth into an unlimited amount of abuse of the editor of this journal – which, amusement, in itself, was perfectly harmless. Each time he was driven to bay, he indulged in still further misrepresentation and falsehoods – amongst other statements declaring that the editor of this paper had put the “screws” on the County Attorney and compelled him to publish the Convictions in the True Banner, while he also brought up the paltry and untruthful election cry that Dr. Miller had proven that this journal had been paid $1000 for Government advertising. We promised him $1,000 if he would substantiate this last statement, and are still prepared to make god this offer – and as to the former assertion about the “screws” being put on the County Attorney, we declared, and are prepared to prove that the County Attorney handed us the Lists for publication without any solicitation on our part. But still our contemporary was not possessed of sufficient manliness to retract these statements, and he kept on whining like a spoiled baby, and heaped up column after column of unadulterated twaddle and personal abuse of the editor of this journal – whose character is too well known in this community to require any defence from the vindictive and petulant onslaughts of adventurers like the editor of the Standard.
Now as to the proof we have promised our readers in order to establish the correctness of our statements, and at the same time convict our contemporary of the charge we preferred against him, and which, we may remark in passing, he as fought shy in this whole contention. The account for the publication of the Convictions List for 1875, amounting to $252.96, was presented for payment at the meeting of County Council on Thursday last, and attached to the account was the following certificate given by the County Clerk, who had carefully measured the advertisements in the Banner and ascertained that the space occupied was just what it was when the work was tendered for, which space was set forth in the advertisement calling for tenders; and that the price charged was also just what it was in 1874 when the True Banner tender was accepted by the County Council. But we give the Clerk’s certificate as follows :
“Certified that Lists of Convictions are advertised in accordance with tender for printing of 1874 – both as to space occupied and price.
G. S. Counsell, County Clerk.”
Now we should like to know what the Standard man is going to do about this. Will he apologize, or will he persist in sticking to the untruthful statements he first made, and thus thoroughly establish is own unreliability. We pause for reply.
Finally, the True Banner drew attention of its readers to a young scam artist who was trying to take advantage of generous citizens in both Dundas and Hamilton:
“A new feature in the catalogue of swindles has lately come to light in Dundas and Hamilton. A green looking Scotch boy, apparently just out from the old country appears at the house of a person known to be of Scotch descent or nativity and tells a pitiful story of how his father had sent him to Canada from the old country, paying his passage and giving him some money, but not enough to pay his railway fare to Goderich, where he professes to have an uncle or aunt. After a few minutes conversation, during which he speaks nothing but the broadest Scotch, thus bringing up remembrances of Auld Scotia in the good wife’s mind and quite softening her heart towards him, he pulls out a gold chain and offers it for sale, saying that his father sent it by him as a present to his aunt in Goderich, but that he will sell it for three or four dollars in order to get to his destination and will then send the money back to redeem the chain. He represents the chain to be worth from ten to twenty dollars, and he also has a locket to dispose in the same manner. Many kind-hearted folks will be quite touched by the laddie’s simple and very plausible story and, never suspecting a fraud, will buy the charm or locket out of sheer pity. The jewellery turns out to be worth about twenty-five cents, and of course the victim never hears from Goderich. This is the cutest dodge yet and must be a paying business as, if the sharper can manage to sell three or four articles a day, as he very likely will, he will be making from ten to fifteen dollars, more than the “swamp angel” of the Spec. could make in a year by grinding out sensational articles about dog eaters, etc. Pass the “puur laddie” round.”