Friday 3 February 2012

February 4, 1876

The sleighing in the direction of Dundas is now first rate, and the city fliers take a skip along it everyday. Now is the time to get up evening parties to Dundas which is just the right distance for a drive these cold nights.”    
                                      Hamilton Spectator   February 4, 1876
          Finally, by February 4, 1876, the weather had turned cold enough, and enough snow had fallen, to make driving in and around Hamilton by sleigh possible.
          The Spectator recommended a particular hotel in Dundas to reach by sleigh and particular livery operators to rent the needed sleighs from
 “The Elgin House affords every accommodation for such parties; the ball room is large and commodious, the rooms comfortable and spacious, the cellars and larders well stocked, and mine host Col. Jones the beau ideal of courteous and obliging landlords. Bennett, Ashbaugh and Nowlan have large sleighs in which those who ride may read.”
          The good travelling conditions also made the Tableaux to be presented in Ancaster a wonderful option :
       This evening an entertainment of a rare kind will be given in the Town Hall, Ancaster. Several parties from this city propose going out, as the entertainment will be really of a superior kind. Several tableaux will be acted in which a number of fair maidens of Ancaster will take part.”
          However, runaways were possible an ever-present danger :
       This afternoon as Mrs. Morris, the wife of the well known fruit dealer on York street, was driving down King street, the horse ran away and smashed the cutter. Mrs. Morris was thrown out but escaped with a few slight bruises.”
          A highlight for Hamiltonians with refined musical tastes was the appearance in the city of one of the world’s most famous pianists. The review of the performance in the Spectator was laudatory:
       Last evening the great English pianist made her first appearance in Hamilton at the Mechanics’ Hall. The advent of an artist of such widespread reputation was one well calculated to call forth enthusiasm of our music-loving citizens, and consequently the audience which greeted the celebrated performer was a large and appreciative one. Madame Goddard gave as her first solo one of Beethoven’s finest compositions, the Sonata, op. 26, and her brilliant and perfect rendition of its seven different movements was amply sufficient to justify the fame of the executant as one of the first pianists of the day. Every movement was performed with great expression, and at the conclusion of the number the hall resounded with a burst of rapturous applause. In her second number, Mendelssohn’s ‘Spring Song,’ and Handel’s ‘Harmonious Blacksmith, Madame Goddard a
was equally effective, and she was rewarded with an enthusiastic recall. In her last number, a Scotch fantasia by Jules de Siyril, introducing the “Blue Bells of Scotland,” and other national melodies, her success was quite as great as in her previous selections, and she was rapturously encored, to which she kindly responded by playing another number. Madame Goddard was assisted by Miss Adelaide Randall, Mr. Louis Melbourne and Mr. Mark Keiser, all of whom performed their parts with telling effect. Miss Randall possesses a well-cultivated voice of remarkable sweetness and power, and her solo singing was received with great favour. Her rending of the pretty song “Linger not, Darling” was especially good; and, in response to a well-merited encore, she gave the little serio-comic ballad “As I’d Nothing Else to Do,” with charming expression. Mr. Louis Melbourne, who has an excellent baritone voice, sang several solos very effectively, and his efforts were received with marked appreciation. The duets by Miss Randall and Mr. Melbourne were also rendered with great effect. Mr. Mark Keiser, solo violinist, proved himself to be an artist of the first order. The solos which he gave were performed with remarkable skill and precision, and in the second part of the programme, he was heartily encored. Altogether, the concert was a decided success, and was, without doubt, one of the greatest musical treats of the season.”
          The society operating the Soup Kitchen and Dormitory made the following report of charitable donations to the poor served by that group:
“The president of the City Aid Society desires to return thanks for the following donations sent to the Soup Kitchen and Dormitory, which have not been previously acknowledged : - Messrs. Gurney, one agricultural boiler; Messrs. T. C. Kerr & Co., four pair blankets; Messrs. Lucas, Park & Co., one bag rice; James Osbourne, six hams; John Taylor, 25 lbs. oatmeal and 20 lbs. cornmeal; Wm. Gillesby, peas, beans, meal, etc.; Mrs. Reid, 20 lbs. barley; Mrs. Young and Mrs. Lucas, six shanks; Butchers and farmers in the market, supplies of meat and vegetables weekly; Mrs. Spears, I gal. molasses; Geo. Rutherford, one truss; sundry articles of hardware from Messrs. J. Baine, Chas. Black, M. A. Pennington & Co., Wood & Legatt, and Bowman and Moore; barrels and water pails from A. Spiers and George Stevenson; mending wagon, Geo. Bridgewood; supplies of cast-off clothing from Mrs. J. Bell, Mrs. Wm. Cooke, Mrs. Given, Mrs. Land, Miss Logan, Mrs. Nelson Mills, Mrs. McIlwraith, Mrs. McGarvey, and Mrs. R. R. Waddell; bedding and clothing from Mrs. Bancroft, J. Clark, E. Dorville, W. O. Eastman, G. M. Franklin, John Liddell, J. Mather, Wm. Murray, Chas. Murray, John Skinner and John Tomkins. C. E. Pearce, one dozen men’s woollen socks. J. Pearson, do. Grant from City Council, $50; John Garret, $5; Women’s Christian Association for Christmas cheer, $5.45. 40 families have been supplied with tea, sugar, meal, rice, bread and pork, representing 300 persons; and over 100 articles of clothing, bedding, etc. have been distributed. Further donations of supplies of all kinds will be thankfully received, as great destitution continues.

          Finally, a lengthy report was made for Spectator readers concerning a sensational home invasion and robbery in the Rock Chapel area of East Flamboro’ township :
       Last evening a burglary, which is a parallel to the Petit Robbery, was committed in the Township of East Flamboro’. At the usual hour last evening, Mr. Jas. McKay, a wealthy farmer at Rock Chapel in Flamboro’, retired to bed, locking up his house and leaving everything in the usual order. Mr. McKay had fallen into a doze, when he was startled by a terrific crash at the front door of his house, and on springing out of his bed, found to his dismay that the front door had been smashed in and that burglars were in the house. No fire arms were near, and taken completely by surprise, he placed his back against the door, holding it firmly. The burglars seemed to know the house perfectly, for they rushed up the stairs boldly, and without any difficulty succeeded in bursting in the bedroom door. The burglars wore white masks, and seemed thoroughly at home in their work. They threatened Mr. McKay and his wife with instant death if they offered any resistance, and proceeded to go through his trunks and clothes, only finding, however, $100 - $67.50 of which was in gold, and a silver watch and guard. During the time of hunting for the money, a man was placed to watch Mr. McKay and keep him quiet, which he did most effectually, as the scoundrel was armed to the teeth, besides being physically a large man and a formidable antagonist under any circumstances. As soon as the burglars had got all the valuables they could lay their hands on, they departed as rapidly as they came, leaving Mr. McKay somewhat bewildered, and his wife almost dead with fear. Mr. McKay and the people in his neighbourhood suppose that the robbers came from Hamilton, and were parties who had not taken warning from the late Pettit robbery. That the robbers were well acquainted with the premises, or had studied a diagram of the house, is probable from the fact that they went through the house without any hesitation, and made a bee line for McKay’s bedroom the moment they burst the door. The latter feat was accomplished with a rail, handled as the ancient Romans worked a battering ram. The door was effectually demolished, and is a mere wreck. Mr. McKay imagines that he could recognise some of the parties again should he see them, and this will assist the officers of the law very much should any suspected parties be arrested. There was more money in the house last night at the time, but the robbers fortunately did not find it. They appeared greatly disgusted at the amount they got and appeared to think it was not enough for their trouble.
          The strangest part of the affair is that there were two stalwart young men staying in the house at the time, but they were too much intimated to render any assistance whatever. There were therefore three full grown men against four robbers, with the chances heavily against the latter, as Mr. McKay and his men were better acquainted with the premises. Mr. McKay states that three of the robbers were quite small of stature and were rather insignificant looking. “
          A brief follow up note told the community about some of the investigations that were made when reports of the crime reached the city:
       The city detectives were busily engaged the greater part of the day in “going through” the livery stables and enquiring what parties had got out rigs last evening. This was done with a view to find out the parties who committed the robbery at Rock Chapel this morning.”

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