Saturday 31 March 2012

April 1, 1876

“The James street market today was the largest since Christmas. The square was crammed with sleighs and the passages were choked by a constantly swelling stream of visitors and purchasers. All the sleighs were well-loaded, and almost all kinds of produce were represented. A large number of Indians were in the neighbourhood selling whip stocks and baskets.”
          Hamilton Spectator . April 1, 1876
The first market day of April, 1876 was marked with a lot of goods available to, and purchases made by, Hamilton residents. Farmers were generally better able to bring their wares to the market square on Saturday April 1, 1876 than they had been able to do for several weeks. At the same time, as the snow, fallen during the previous week’s storm, had become less of an impotence to those wanting to get to market.
Saturdays still held regularly scheduled sessions at the police court before Police Magistrate James Cahill. There were very few cases for the magistrate to deal with on Saturday April 1, 1876 but the day being as it was on the calendar, there was, as reported in the Spectator, a bit of humour in the usually staid court room:
“There was nothing new at the Police Court this morning save that Sergeant McMenemy was in bad humour as he had been badly sold on April Fool’s day license.
A few drunk and snow cases were disposed of.”
The major story of the day in the Spectator concerned the turmoil on the Six Nations Reserve in reaction to a concerted effort to move residents of the reserve out so that their land could be controlled by a private company :
“A few days ago we published an article stating that a company had been formed for the purpose of removing the Six Nations Indians from the banks of the Grand River further north. Towards the end of the article referred to, an opinion was expressed that the removal would be a difficult matter to accomplish, as the leading Indians were opposed to it, and that the Government would look jealously on such action. It appears, however, that the company, under the direction of the President, Mr. Rufus Scarce of Bay City, Mich., and Mr. Walter, of Quebec, is meeting with great success, and has succeeded in prevailing upon two-thirds of the Indians settled on the Grand River to remove to better hunting and fishing grounds further north. The most bitter opposition was offered to the scheme by the leading Indians, who are determined o remain on their farms, but the lazy, miserable Indians who trust to a little, miserable farming, thieving and trapping are determined to go. This at least will be a great advantage to that part of the Province bordering on the Indian Reserve, as the farmers in that District have, ever since their settlement there, been pestered with sneak thieves and trapping intruders, who never fail to invent trouble. The farmers who intend to remain, are some one hundred and fifty in number, with a few hangers on. Every effort has been made by the Chiefs to keep their tribes together, and Chief Owondawhoa has issued the following circular which has been freely distributed throughout the district:
                                                      March 20th, 1876
To the people of Six Nations :
Children, an army of designing white men have leagued together for the purpose of robbing us of our fair lands on the banks of the Grand river, and removing us to a northern country of which we know nothing. Hearken to the counsel of an old Chief and remain upon the lands for which your forefathers shed the warmest blood in their heart. Forsake not the graves of your fathers, but remain here and live in peace with your fellow men. Your enemies are liars and thieves and would rob you, and your counsellor is an old Chief in whose veins the blood of great warriors runs warm.
          The Indians are willing to put the thing to a vote, sign a contract transferring the right of possession to the company, and are willing to accept $15 an acre for their land, providing they get double the amount in their future home, and have the expenses of their trip paid. Further than that, those who remain are to enjoy the privilege of British citizens; and the parties purchasing the district are to exercise no control over their land. The company are willing to remove a party of eight hundred persons early in May. That some trouble will arise from this contract is undoubted, even in the mind of Mr. Scarce, the President of the Company with whom our reporter had a conversation yesterday. Those wishing to remove are principally the Payans and the half-civilized classes who are greedy for the ready cash, which will be placed in their hands for their ground, and who believe that an easier living can be made in the hunting grounds further west and north. That these people will be dissatisfied is probable. That this generation of Indians, unused to large forests, will be unsuccessful as trappers is very probable, and that the yearly allowance from the Government will be taken away from them should they remove is certain. It is also likely they will be constantly wandering back to their wealthy friends on the Grand river seeking for relief, and will ever be a source of annoyance to the white men and a cause of anxiety. A number of Chiefs met yesterday and elected a deputation to go to Hamilton and Toronto and engage the very best lawyers in the country to oppose the scheme of removal on legal grounds. The litigation will certainly be an important one, but for the present we defer giving an opinion in the matter.”

Friday 30 March 2012

March 31, 1876

 “Citizens are warned to beware of the snow falling from the roofs during the thaw. Several narrow escapes occurred today.”
Hamilton Spectator . March 31, 1876
One thing about spring snow storms is that there usually is major thaw not far behind as temperatures rise.
In the Hamilton of March 1876, such a thaw could prove dangerous to pedestrians walking streets in the city’s downtown core.
The Hamilton Spectator of March 31, 1876 contained a few reminders to readers to be careful in case snow and ice might suddenly fall off roofs and hit passerby.
One report, rather humorously told of such a fall of snow and ice :
“A large quantity of wet snow slid off Noble’s saloon this forenoon about half past ten o’clock, and fell upon the sidewalk with a tremendous crash. A number of hack drivers were standing at the corner but got out of the way in time, with the exception of Bob. Callahan, who was struck on the head with a piece of ice, but on account of the hardness of his skull escaped uninjured.”
As was usually the case in the Friday editions of the Hamilton Spectator, several items from the weekly Dundas Banner published on Thursday were reprinted :
"Dundas ‘Banner’ Items"
Concert at Bullock’s Corners – A concert for the benefit of the Methodist Church Sabbath School, of West Flamboro’, will be held in the Township Hall, Bullock’s Corner, on Wednesday, 12th of April, for which the services of a number of first-class vocalists have been secured. There will also be readings, recitations and instrumental music.
High School Inspection – Mr. Buchan, Provincial High School Inspector, visited our School yesterday, and we have been informed by an outside party that he speaks in the highest terms of praise of the progress of the School, in both departments.
Temperance Movement – On Monday a large meeting of ladies was held in the Methodist Church, Dundas, for the purpose of organizing a Ladies’ Temperance Society, and at which it was decided to ask the co-operation of the ladies of other churches favourable to the project – the officers to be elected at a future meeting. Great unanimity of feeling was exhibited, it being the general opinion that the work should commence in the home circle in each household by the exclusion of all intoxicating liquors, and when this work had been successfully accomplished, to try and give the influence of society a wider scope.
The County Judgeship – The Times thinks it probable that Mr. Sinclair, Q. C., of Goderich, will be appointed County Judge of Wentworth, in place of the late Judge Ambrose. We can’t say that we know anything of Mr. Sinclair’s qualifications for the position referred to, but we sincerely trust he will be found to be, if appointed, thoroughly capable and efficient. Wentworth, of all the couties of Ontario, stands most in need of a change in its local judiciary, and when the change is made, we trust it will be a radical one in the truest sense of the term. By all means let us have a good judge. We don’t where he comes from, what shade of politics he belongs to, what color he is, or what religion he professes. We want a good judge, and if we don’t get one, we promise the Minister of Justice, there will be some tall grumbling done in this county.
What It costs to Hit a Man from Beverly – On Thursday evening last, Mr. Robert Thompson, late of Beverly, had a difficulty with Mr. Thomas Baskerville, of Dundas, which was not of the most pleasing or satisfactory character. It appears that they met for the purpose of settling a disputed account, when some tall talk was indulged in. We give Mr. Baskerville’s own version of the tussel : After telling that he went, by request of Thompson, to Mr. Barton’s office, to settle with Thompson, and waited some time, he goes on to say that he went to Thompson’s house, where Thompson told him that his lawyer had recommended him not to settle, when he (Baskerville) told Thompson he was no gentleman (which in polite circles means “a liar,) and was a mean man – and that he always treated him (Thompson) on the square. Thompson then said he was just mean enough to thrash a ten ton field of Baskervilles, Baskerville retorting by saying that Thompson had not eaten mush enough for that. Thompson then puled off his coat and threatened to mash Baskerville into a grease spot, when Baskerville invited him to try his hand at making grease spots, after which Baskerville’s coat came off too, and then the fun commenced, and was kept up for sometime in a lively fashion, until quietness reigned supreme after Baskerville retired from the encounter. His Worship the Mayor thought Baskerville ought to pay a fine of $15 and $3.85 costs, and entered judgment accordingly – which has, however, been appealed against by Mr. Baskerville.
Another Dundas item published in the March 31, 1876 Spectator was a push for a Dundas hotel:
“This beautiful hotel on the principal street, Dundas, is still open under the popular management of Colonel Jones, rumours to the contrary notwithstanding. Pleasure parties should visit the Elgin before the sleighing goes away.”

The new Turkish Baths received another mention:
“Last evening a large number of persons took a course of treatment in the Turkish baths on James street. This fine institution is handsomely fitted up, and is under the able management of Mr. Wm. Warner, in whose hands the most delicate invalid is safe.”
          Finally a rather macabre item had been put on display in a downtown saloon:
“The club used by John Young in slaying Macdonald is on exhibition in James’ saloon on Hughson street north. It is a polar stick measuring twenty-two inches in length. It was selected with great care, as on end contains a large knot. The small end is three inches in circumference, the large end six. It appears insignificant from its lightness, but it must be remembered that it was cut from a green tree, and that it has been kept in a warm place since last November. “

Thursday 29 March 2012

March 30, 1876

 Tuesday noon, the severest storm that has visited the city for a long time commenced and lasted through the afternoon and night. Snow fell on the level to a depth of nearly two feet, and in some places the drifts were fully six or seven feet deep.”
Hamilton Weekly Times March 30, 1876
The major snow storm that had begun the previous Tuesday was the lead story in the Hamilton Weekly Times, published on Thursday March 30, 1876, as well as in the Hamilton Daily Spectator published the same day.
The Times’ account read as follows :
 “The Hamilton & Northwestern train which left at 4:20 p.m. only reached the top of the mountain, when, notwithstanding the efforts of a body of workmen who had been taken out to clear the track, and two engines, it had to return to the city, to the great disappointment of some of the passengers, who had set out to Buffalo to see Sothern. The train, which should have arrived at 8:30 did not come at all, passengers having to drive in from Hagersville. The G.W.R. trains kept fair time. A party of gentlemen coming in from Bullock’s Corners were five hours in accomplishing the task, the drifts in some places being over the horses’ heads. For the first time since the building of the street railway, the cars had to cease running, notwithstanding the indefatigable efforts of the Superintendent (Mr. Rutherford) and his assistants. Today the aid of Mr. Nowlan’s large sleigh has been called in. The weather is milder today, but the snow is still falling, and shows no signs of ceasing.”
In the Spectator, there were several stories documenting the effects of the spring snow storm on local residents :
“More upsets occurred yesterday afternoon than during the whole preceeding part of the winter. The high banks of snow on each side of the street were constantly overturning rigs, always with ridiculous results. Sometimes, however, the upset was the start of a runaway, but these were fortunately few.
This morning at nine o’clock a lad named James Smith was accidentally run over by a cutter. The runner struck him in the forehead inflicting a deep gash. The boy was carried into the St. Nicholas Hotel, and under the skilful treatment, the bleeding was soon stopped. He was carried home and is doing well.
          Last evening several parties of young men took advantage of the quantity of snow to try the strength of their muscles at snow shoeing. A party of eight left the residence of a gentleman in the west end, and we are informed that a couple of ladies had a trial of the shoes also.
          Every arrival in the city has accounts of mishaps occasioned by the late storm. Messrs. Bradley & Flatt, lumbermen, were six hours clearing four miles on the night of the storm. The Ancaster stage driven by Mr. Megs was upset and a young lady passenger thrown out. In falling she struck her face against the stage blacking her eye. The stays under the verandah near Lee’s fruit store on King, was sprung yesterday by the weight of the snow. The noise of the breaking timbers caused quite a scare on the street.

          The most frightful incident involving travellers during the snow storm involved a father and daughter who lost their way trying to get to Hamilton from Guelph. Their journey began under relatively benign conditions, but they soon ran into difficulties.
          The following is the full account of their experiences as told to a Spectator reporter :
“On Tuesday at noon, a father and daughter by the name of Armstrong left their home in the township of Kramosa for the purpose of driving into this city, where they intended stopping a few days and then go on to Caledonia. The rig was a clumsy top buggy, drawn by a heavy farm horse, which could not be induced under any circumstances to travel faster than
                             FIVE MILES AN HOUR
          Mr. Armstrong is a jolly old gentleman of sixty years of age, and told the story of his adventures on the night of Tuesday and on Wednesday morning with apparent relish. As stated above, the two left home about noon and reached Guelph some time in the middle of the afternoon, where they put up with a brother of Mr. Armstrong’s  and had hot coffee. The storm did not look very formidable when they started out and they drove along quite smoothly for ten or twelve miles. While passing through Morriston, Mr. Armstrong took it into his head to turn into the township of Nassagaweya, and spent the night at a sister-in-law’s. This was about five o’clock, and as soon as they turned off the Brock road, the roads became bad, and the horse refused to go any faster than a walk.
                             THE STORM
also increased, and pelted in the faces of the unfortunate travellers. The horse twice attempted to turn on the road, as he refused to face the storm; but was twice urged forward into one of the worst gales of the season. Darkness came on with astonishing rapidity, so that Mr. Armstrong could not see where he was going; in fact it was hard to distinguish his horse from the surrounding objects. After driving for about a mile in this way, Mr. Armstrong found himself passing through a low piece of
                    CEDAR SWAMP
over a very rough corduroy road. Any person who has travelled through Nassagaweya will probably remember this swamp road which is nearly a mile and a half long, and runs north and south through the township. The snow was drifting into the narrow cut in the swamp and filling up the road with astonishing rapidity and totally discouraging to the horse. Three times the buggy stuck, and three times Mr. Armstrong got out into the snow and helped the horse to drag the vehicle through. This went very well till they commenced to enter a sort of clearing where the wind had a clear sweep and crossed the road in
                   A PERFECT GALE
A high snow bank had been thrown across the road a hundred years south of this clearing, and as soon as the horse struck this he stopped sharp, and stupidly shaking the snow off his ears, refused to budge an inch. No amount of whipping or coaxing would induce the animal to move, and on receiving a few violent cuts across the quarters, he lay down in the snow. Imagine the position of the father and daughter! Lost in a lonely swamp without an idea where they were. Stuck in the growing snow bank, in the beginning of the night without either wine or food along with them. The position was more appalling as one of the parties was a corpulent old man, who was not at all able to struggle through the snow, and the other was a frail woman, to whom a journey of a mile through the storm would have been fatal. Mr. Armstrong got out, and after taking a look at the surroundings, expressed his determination to walk down the road and look for help. The young lady would not hear of it, as she would be left alone in the dark, and when he father insisted on going, she
                             UTTERED A SCREAM
and fainted away in the buggy. The old gentleman was, therefore, obliged to stay, and commenced to make preparations to pass the night in the rig. The obstruction which the horse and top buggy offered to the storm sweeping down the road was such that a high snow bank was built around them, forming a most valuable protection. Mr. Armstrong hung a horse blanket from the top of the buggy to the dashboard, and wrapping himself and his daughter in the buffalo skin and the other trappings, sought a comfortable position in the buggy and went to sleep. Not a sound disturbed them, save the
                             HOWL OF THE STORM
as it struggled with the forest trees, and the uncomfortable snort of the horse as he blew the snow from his nostrils. All night long the storm continued, and when the morning broke, nothing could be seen except the black top of the ill-fated carriage. Mr. Armstrong awoke about  half past six o’clock, and on looking out, saw, not two hundred yards distant, a barn, and a short distance further on a house with a woman shovelling snow from the door. Mr. Armstrong crept out, and struggling manfully though the drifts, reached the house and informed the inmates of his adventure. In an instant, a glass of
                             HOT SCOTCH WHISKEY
was placed before him, and four stout young fellows soon shovelled a way to the rig. The young lady was wrapped up and carried into the house where a cup of hot tea and a warm fire soon revived her. The strangest part of the adventure was the horse. The unfortunate brute was found under four feet of snow, no part of his body being visible. The heat of his body had melted two feet of snow from under him and he was found in a pool of mud. A dab from
                             A PITCH FORK
soon brought him to his feet, but he instantly fell again, as he has lost all use of his hind legs. A great amount of rubbing, however, brought the blood into circulation again, and the animal was finally able to limp to the stables. After spending the greater part of the day at the farmer’s house, a “scout” came in and informed them that the road was open, whereupon the party resumed their journey and reached the city late last evening. Mr. Armstrong is suffering from a severe cold, but he does not fear that it will amount to anything serious.

          While it is unclear whether the option of a visit to the new Turkish Baths which had just opened on James Street North was suggested to Mr, and Miss Armstrong, the following account of the benefits of some time in the Turkish Baths might have been very good for them:
          This fine institution was opened most successfully last evening. The whole force of heat was turned on and the proper degree obtained without any difficulty. Ladies will have the use of them between 2 o’clock and 6 p.m. and gentlemen from that time till 10. The following is what the celebrated Dr. Eramus says about the baths under the heading of
                   WHAT DOES THE BATH DO ?
It cleanses the skin and removes all effete matters that accumulate upon its surface. It opens the pores and establishes a healthy action of the perspiratory tubes. It removes from the blood the impurities which cause disease. It equalizes the circulation of the blood. It renders the skin less susceptible to changes of the weather. It promotes absorption and removal from the system of superfluous deposits that have accumulated in the tissues. It strengthens and toughens the tissues of the whole body, greatly lessening the liability to disease. It soothes and strengthens the nerves, promotes sleep, and preserves health. It aids digestion and assimilation, and tends to establish a healthy action of all the organs of the body.
          Many of the most able physicians in Europe and in this country recognize the remedial powers of these baths, use them for themselves and families, and advise them for their patients.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

March 29, 1876 - Part Two

“Yesterday afternoon at half past two o’clock, the greatest storm of the season commenced, the wind blowing hard from the northeast, carrying with it large quantities of snow which soon made the streets almost impassable.”
Hamilton Spectator. March 29, 1876
Two days into spring, spring as regards  the calendar  anyway, one thing dominated all Hamiltonians activities on March 29, 1876, a snow storm of significant proportions.
All the following transcripts from the Hamilton Spectator of that day, deal with the storm and its effects on citizens, both rural and urban residents :
“The weather was not at all cold and the snow was quite soft, sticking to people’s clothes, making it very disagreeable to be out. The snow feel in such quantities and was drifted so much that before nine o’clock at night the several trains due in this city before midnight were all delayed and the one on the Hamilton & North Western held over.
“Reports from the country state that there have been some severe losses on account of the storm. A gentleman shortly after dark drove his horses over a bridge into a dry creek in Binbrook bed. One of the horses broke both of his fore legs, and was shot two hours afterwards. The other horse escaped comparatively uninjured. A large number of lambs were also lost in the snow.
“The appearance of our streets this morning was rather interesting, the beautiful being piled in high drifts before every door. The value of a snow by-law will be more appreciated when it is known that before nine o’clock, the principal streets were cleaned and quite passable.
“The trains on the Grand Trunk and Hamilton & NorthWestern Railway were cancelled after nine o’clock.
“About eleven o’clock, a large party of gentlemen who were anxious to reach Hamilton, hired a large span of horses and a sleigh to bring them in. The storm was raging furiously, drifting in their path, and it took them seven hours and a half to reach Hamilton. They had to repeatedly shovel a track for themselves and, in some instances, they had to assist the horses to drag the sleigh through the overwhelming drifts. The party was nearly perished when it reached this city, and all declare that it was the most miserable drive they ever experienced
“For the first time since the street railway has been built, the cars were prevented from running today, on account of the immense quantity of snow lying upon the track. The plow was put into requisition this morning, but merely succeeded in putting the snow to one side and did not succeed in laying bare the rails. The Company’s servants were busily engaged throughout the day in shovelling snow and making the track ready for tomorrow.

“This afternoon as a lady was walking down James street a mass of snow fell upon the sidewalk from a building a few doors north of the Royal Hotel. The snow was very heavy, and fell on a few feet from the lady. Had it fallen upon her head, she would undoubtedly have sustained serious injury.

“Owing to the small attendance at the public schools this morning and the depth of the snow, the scholars were informed at noon that their attendance would not be required in the afternoon.”