“A few days ago, Messrs. James Sturdy and J. Armstrong went out on a gunning expedition, little thinking when they started on their excursion that, before returning, one of them would have his life imperiled by being embraced by a black bear.”
Weekly Times March 2, 1876
Hunters in February, 1876 out in the rural districts outside of Hamilton encountered a prey unusual for the area, a black bear.
“After wandering over several miles through the Township of Ancaster, Mr. Sturdy, very suddenly, came upon a black bear, reposing quietly on the sunny side of a large stump. Before he could recover his surprise Bruin was on his hind fee, had him in his shaggy embrace and entirely at his mercy, for Mr. S. could not, by any possibility help himself. Fortunately, his comrade, Mr. Armstrong, was close at hand, and, seeing the terrible position of his friend, coolly and quickly, went up to the rescue, and drawing a revolver, took a steady aim and shot the animal below the shoulder, the ball penetrating the heart. The bear gave a growl and fell dead before any damage was done more than frightening the parties. Mr. Sturdy says he prefers being hugged by a beautiful lady than a bear. The animal was carried to Mr. Stroud’s slaughterhouse, where he was dressed by Mr. McGowan, butcher. The sportsmen then brought him to Hamilton in triumph, and take great pride in exhibiting him to their friends, who congratulate them on their narrow escape.”
Also in the issue of the Hamilton Weekly Times appearing on March 2, 1876 there was a recounting of an interview with the famous lecturer and prominent personality, Theodore Tilton.
The previous day, the Hamilton Spectator had carried an account written by one of its reporters who visited Mr. Tilton at the Royal hotel. In that article, there was no indication that there had been any problem. The Times account told a different story:
“On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Tilton, who was tranquilly reposing in a comfortable armchair before the fire in his room at the Royal Hotel, resting from the labours of the week, and trying to gather strength for the work of the week to come, was startled by a knock at the door. “Come in,” says Mr. Tilton. The door opened and the sable bellboy entered. “If you please, sir, there is a tall young man outside, who says he is a reporter from the Spectator, and would like to see you. Theodore heaved a sigh as he wearily thought of all the interviewing he had lately undergone. and as a former deputation of the leading newspapermen of the city had promised him on Saturday he should not be inflicted with interviews, he thought he was safe in Hamilton. But young is always fresh and ambitious, and the youthful local of the Spec is no exception to the rule. “Well, I suppose you must let him in,” said Tilton. The bellboy retired and re-entered, followed by a tall young man, who shuffled into the room with a hasty gait, exclaiming, “How are you, Mr. Tilton? I came to interview you. Where are you going next? What sort of house had you last night? What do you think of Hamilton? Did you leave all the people in Brooklyn well? I’d have liked to have driven you out into the country if it had been a fine day, I live there, you know. It is not all swamp.” Having by this time expended his breath, he stopped.
Mr. Tilton looked at him. “I beg your pardon, Mr. -. What’s your name? Would you like a chair?”
The Reporter: “Thanks, I will.” He sat down, and produced from his pockets about a quire of paper, two or three pencils, a rusty knife and looked around him with an air of triumph.
“Mr. Tilton, my name is ---. It is not Norval, and my father does not feed his sheep on the Grampian Hills, but on the swamps near here.”
Mr. Tilton: “ I am very delighted to make your acquaintance Is there anything I can do for you?”
Reporter: “ Well, you know, I’m pretty green at this business, but I want to get ahead of those Times fellows; so I thought I’d call round and see if you could tell me anything more about ‘The Problem of Life’ that you were lecturing about last night. I can’t make head nor tail about it myself. I’m pretty good at soup kitchen stories, finding skeletons and those sort of things; can write up a concert pretty well when I’m not there (make a few mistakes sometimes, but that does not matter), know pretty well how to underdrain, but when it comes to anything scientific, I’m bust altogether. Besides I see all the American reporters interview you, so I thought it must be the thing.”
Mr. Tilton – “Well, sir, I do not think I can give you any more information about the “Problem of Life’ that I gave last night. When you’ve arrived at my age and have undergone as much as I have, you will, perhaps, know more about it yourself.”
Reporter – “That’s what I want to know – what have you undergone? Of course, I’ve seen the stories in the papers, but then I know what they’re worth. Why, if those reporters over on the other side are like me, I don’t believe one word in a hundred is true.”
Mr. Tilton (slightly knitting his brows) – “ Young man, I was once a journalist myself and always thought it was an honourable profession, and that it was the boast of journalists to furnish the public with facts.”
Reporter – “ Ah! But that’s all very well in big cities; but you must get up something spicy now and then. It does not matter being fined occasionally for libel; that’s all in the way of business. But now I want to know something about Beecher and you; in fact, I’d just like to know all about it, and what you think of Beecher, Bowen and the whole lot.”
Mr. Tilton – “ Young man, you are very foolish. Certainly, your extreme youth and the greenness are alone an excuse for you. You are touching upon a very dangerous topic, and are opening old wounds.”
Reporter – “Oh, that’s all bosh. You know we newspapermen have no feeling. Why, my hide is as thick as a rhinoceros’. I don’t care what names they call me, and they will call me all sorts; I could not tell you half of them. Come now, tell us all about it; I want to have something spicy for the paper tomorrow. You need not stick to the truth.”
Mr. Tilton – “Young man, if you do not quit, I shall ring for a bellboy.”
Reporter – “Oh! Capital, you’re joking. Now, Mr. Tilton, go on, I don’t want to waste all Sunday afternoon. I’ve promised to take a young lady to church this evening. I’m already to join in, only go on. We’ll begin with Mr. Beecher.”
Mr. Tilton, rising – “You will begin with Beecher and the postscript will be your going down stairs.” Mr. Tilton occupied parlour E. He reached out his right hand and grasped the right ear of the unfortunate reporter, and by gentle coercion drew him to the door, with his left hand, he opened it, put him out, took him to the head of the stairs and with one kick, sent the unfortunate ambitious reporter down those stairs at a gait which was most alarming. From all his pockets papers flew out and were strewn all over the hotel. The young man rushed through the hall and out into the street, leaving his manuscript on the floor. These we secured and have given the interview above. Ours is the correct report. We believe the young man is manufacturing one for the Spectator.
As was common at the time, the newspapers of the day often provided a place for local poets to publish their work. In the March 2, 1876 issue of the Weekly Times, notable Hamilton poet had one of his poems published concerning the passage of the seasons :
“For the Times: The Seasons Come and the Seasons Go
The Seasons Come and the seasons go –
The Summer’s sun and the winter’s snow,
The spring with its wealth of blossoms fair,
The autumn with treasures rich and rare.
But we leave the flowers on the dewy grass,
And grasp at sunbeams as they pass.
The seasons come and the seasons go,
And the stream of Time doth onward flow,
Circling the whole wide world around,
While the years are with God’s goodness crowned,
And His gifts upon our pathway be,
But we pass them off unheeded by.
The seasons come and the seasons go,
To and fro,
As daily we older and older grow.
Then we think of the springtime long gone past,
And the summer that was too short to last,
And the autumn when our hopes sank low,
Till our hair turns white like the winter’s snow.
The seasons go and the seasons come,
And each one is drawing us nearer our home,
Oh ! God, do Thou grant that the seeds we have sown
In Life’s garden, may be gather’d into Thine own;
When our harvest is ripe to that land may we come,
Where the summer for aye shall perpetually bloom.
Hamilton. Feb. 26th, 1876.”
Wingfield also had a poem published the same day in the Dundas True Banner, writing about the genial proprietor of one of the most popular hotels in Dundas, the Elgin House.
1876-03-02 True Banner and Wentworth Chronicle
By A.H. Wingfield
There are men who are born to greatness,
For whom fortune carves out the way.
There are others who nobly achieve it
Though these are but few I must say.
You may be statesman or hero,
In law or science excel,
Or successful in running a railway,
Though you can’t run a first-class hotel.
There are many great men in the world,
Of whom you may daily hear tell,
But he must be a wonderful genius
That knows how to run a hotel.
A man who can manage a bank, may
Be all very well in his way,
He is looked on as wondrous clever
If he happens to make the thing pay,
For its shares he may get a good premium,
He may know how to buy and sell,
But with all his finess and shrewdness,
He never could run a hotel.
There are many, etc.
The merchant goes off to his business,
And all day he sticks to his toil,
With care and with foresight and prudeness
He is daily increasing his pile;
Quite happy at night when he goes home,
He says to his wife, “my dear Nell,
I have cleared a cool thousand today, love,
But he could never run a hotel.
There are many, etc.
The lawyer sits down to his desk, and,
He smiles as he looks over each brief,
For he knows on the spoils he will fatten,
No matter who may come to grief,
Though his case as it oft is a wrong one,
He glamours it o’er with a spell,
He can chisel the judge and the jury,
But that man couldn’t run a hotel.
There are many, etc.
A man might be Mayor of a city,
And own a fine grey dashing team,
And wear a white ping on occasions
When he wished to look highly supreme,
He might screw out of paying his taxes,
And pile them on others pell mell,
And swallow ‘green seal’ by the dozen,
And not know how to run a hotel.
There are many, etc.
Now here is our friend Colonel Jones, who
Is well versed in all wisdom’s ways,
As his sits at the head of his table
He is “Monarch of all he surveys,”
With his servants around him in dozens,
To answer the sound of his bell,
You can see by his kind, genial manner,
That he knows how to run a Hotel.
Let us wish him success in his venture
May all things with him prosper well
Here’s success to the Fair Valley City
And our (illegible) of the Elgin Hotel.
The issue of the third newspaper published in Hamilton on March 3, 1876, the Hamilton Spectator, regularly carried brief items from the competitor of the Dundas True Banner, another weekly know as the Dundas Standard :
“Dundas ‘Standard Items”
The Marsh – We observe that Hamilton City Council have passed a resolution to apply to the Government for a grant to that city of “Coote’s Paradise” or the Marsh. It is to be hoped that the interests of Dundas will not be forgotten, and that the proper steps will be taken to secure the grant for this town.
Tableaux – Mr. Egleston, Reeve of Ancaster, assisted by the people of St. John’s Church, proposes to get up another Tableaux entertainment on Friday, which, should it be equal to the last in merit, will be well worth attending. The managers have been waiting for some time back for good sleighing, but in almost any kind of weather, the drive to Ancaster will be found pleasant, and the entertainment should be well attended by people from Dundas and Hamilton.
Debating Club – The Freelton Debating Club had a lively discussion last Tuesday evening on the subject : “Resolved, “That the negro has received greater injustice from the white than the Indian.” After an interesting argument, in which J. Worthington led the affirmative, and T. McLaren the negative, the chairman, D. Bickell, gave the decision in favour of the negative.
The Centennial – The preparation of machinery to represent our manufacturing establishments at the Centennial is going forward satisfactorily. Messrs. McKechnie & Bertram of the Canada Tool Works have in an advanced state a Universal Radial Drill, a Slotting Machine, a Turning Lathe and a Moulding Machine, all of the newest original designs and best workmanship. The high reputation of this widely known firm will thus be well sustained. Messrs. Thos. Wilson & Co. have also entered for exhibition a water pipe of the kind in course of manufacture for the Commissioners of the Toronto Water Works, and a Screw for a propeller, which will show to advantage the quality of this class of work turned out in the Valley City.
Accident – On Saturday morning last, Mr. David Bickell of this town had gone to the Great Western Railway Station to ship a quantity of goods and was returning in his wagon, when passing under the bridge on his way back to town, one of the bolts fastening the shafts gave way, and the wagon, swinging around violently and suddenly, pitched Mr. Bickell out, bruising him considerably. The horse being relieved of all control, and goaded by the loose portion striking against his legs, started at full speed, and having reached the Gore Paper mill, sprang over a three-foot fence into a yard, which is many feet below the road, leaving the demolished wagon on the other side. The animal was considerably scratched, but received no serious injuries.”
Back in the area just south of the city of Hamilton, there was another serious accident at the corner of what is now Upper James street and Rymal road, known as Ryckman’s Corners:
“On Tuesday afternoon, a farmer, living on the mountain, was driving home in a light market wagon, accompanied by his wife, and, being in a “fast mood”, determined to pass everything. On the stone road, near the Royal Oak Hotel, he attempted to get ahead of some wood teams, but the driver of one of the latter, being adverse to such a movement, whipped up his horses and succeeded in turning the farmer’s rig into the ditch. The man and woman were both thrown out and received severe injuries. They were at once conveyed into Mr. John Carr’s hotel, where they were attended by Dr. Bethune. The wagon was literally smashed to stems.”
Others news regarding the Hamilton Mountain concerned a social event and fund-raiser :
“The third annual social of the Mountain Mission House was held last evening, and, was, if possible, even more successful than the previous one of a year ago. If the number of friends who, by their presence, showed the deep interest they take in the success of the Sabbath School attached there, continue to increase in the future as hey have since the first meeting of the kind held there two years ago, the committee will have to consider how to provide a more effectual means for accommodation. Quite a number from the city were unable to reach there and were much disappointed in consequence.
Mr. Burkholder was requested to act as chairman, and after stating the object of the meeting, made the announcement that, after the choir, assisted by the congregation, had sung grace, tea would be served. The usual amount of bustle and seeming confusion now arose, accompanied by the clatter of cups and plates, which for half an hour absorbed all other considerations. The viands provided were ample, although, if anything, rather too light a kind.
Owing to the lateness of the hour at which tea was served, caused by the great crush, the evening’s entertainment did not begin until half past eight. The choir rendered the first piece of music, “Safely Through Another Year” which was fully appreciated by the audience. The next piece was a recitation by Mr. Bryan, “The Quack Doctor’” which was heartily applauded. The next was a solo by a young lady of the choir, with a soft and pleasing voice. Mr. Johnston, who appears to be a veteran in such matters, here read a very humorous piece, delineating some of the peculiarities of John Chinaman, and the estimation in which he was held by Biddy, the Irish servant girl, which was a decided hit on the “Heathen Chinee.” The choir then favoured the audience with another piece of music, sung in their usual effective style. A piece was then read by Mr. Bale, “Mr. Bun’s Courtship,” after which Mr. Johnston sang “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” in a very pleasing manner. Mr. Bryan here again favoured the audience with Nothing but Care.” It is but justice to that gentleman to say that this reading was given with very good effect. It shows the grumbling nature of Mr. Crabb, who grumbles at everything, with or without cause, and finally irritates the quiet and good-natured Mrs. Crabb to such a degree that she cannot restrain herself any longer, and she “goes” for him, “tooth and nail,” and in the end comes off victorious, after a sharp recriminative contest. The moral is that all should live at peace with one another, and especially those who are united in the holy bonds of wedlock. A solo was then sung by Miss Fearnside, “Flow Gently Sweet Afton,” a very sweet piece, and sung with much taste. Another piece was then read by Mr. Bale, after which a duet was rendered by Miss Dallyn and Mr. Johnston, which so pleased the audience that they encored and were favoured by another. “The Convent Bells,” a very beautiful piece of music, and sung with excellent taste. Mr Bryan, who by this time had become a great favourite, here read another melodramatic piece in his usual happy manner – “The Knight and the Lady.” The choir then sang an anthem appropriate to the occasion. Mr. Blake was called upon by the chairman to give a short address, who made a few well chosen remarks to the meeting. He, in conclusion, proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies of the committee and their friends, for their kindness and labours, and the exceeding liberality with which they had provided for the wants of those present. The proposal was received with shouts of applause, showing that the audience fully appreciated their efforts on their behalf. After which, the choir again sang, which wound up the programme.
The evening’s entertainment was somewhat marred by a number of boys who seemed to have gone there with no other object than to annoy the audience. It is to be hoped that in future gatherings of the kind steps will be taken to prevent such unseemly interruptions.
Mr. Sturdy presided at the organ, which was kindly furnished for the occasion by Mr. Burkholder, to whose clever manipulation the audience were much indebted for the pleasure they enjoyed. The meeting then broke up, after a vote of thanks had been passed to those friends who had contributed so willingly to the evening’s entertainment. The friends of the Mission House have every reason to congratulate themselves on the success of the meeting, as the proceeds netted about $60.”
Using racial language not uncommon in conversation, or newspaper article writing at the time, the Spectator carried the following review of a travelling entertainment group known as the Georgia Minstrels :
“This famous troop of negroes performed at Mechanics’ Hall last night to one of the largest audiences of the season, every part of the building being occupied. The entertainment was one of the best of its kind ever given in Hamilton. The instrumental music was very good and some of the vocal, the choruses especially, was very fine. Of course, there was a liberal share of character acting and dancing, all of which was good. The two tambourine men, though, were the great wonder and amusement of the evening. Their performances on the tambourine were certainly wonderful, while their extremely open countenances (they had the largest mouths we ever saw on human beings) were the admiration of all beholders. Altogether, the show, as an exhibition of negro eccentricities and comicalities, was a success.”
Finally another event was held at the Mechanic’s hall at which the Garrick club presented a play known as The Lady of Lyons. As well as the play, the audience was given the chance to hear from a representative of the Ladies Benevolent Society. All proceeds from that night’s play, and from previous plays was all being donated to that society which was supporting the needs of the poor in the city.
Here follows a partial reprint of the Spectator’s report of the evening:
“Mechanics’ Hall was filled with a large and fashionable audience upon the occasion of the production by the Garrick Club of this beautiful play written by the late Lord Lytton. The performance was for the benefit of the Ladies Benevolent Society which has been doing so much in relieving the poor during the present winter and whose funds have by the heavy demand upon them have been reduced to a lower point than they have reached in many years. The public responded generously to the all made upon them and seldom have we seen so large an audience assembled in the Mechanics’ Hall as greeted the amateurs Tuesday night. Nor had the cause to regret their generosity, for they had a treat in store for them which they did not expect, and had the pleasure of seeing and hearing one of the best dramatic programmes that has been put on the boards in Hamilton.
Just before the curtain, Mr. Charlton said he had the honor of appearing before them on behalf of the Ladies’ Benevolent Society for the double purpose of thanking the Garrick Club for so kindly consenting to give an entertainment for the benefit of their funds, and of thanking all present for their attendance, thus affording, both to the Garrick Club, whose efforts to put before the public of Hamilton theatrical entertainments of a high order, he was happy to say were always successful, and to themselves whose labour was never-ending and very arduous. It might be known to all that this Benevolent Society had been in active operation for thirty years, and during that time had accomplished an amount of good which would never be published here, but would, he trusted, redound to their credit hereafter. The present winter had fortunately been exceedingly mild in temperature, but the great depression resting upon all branches of trade, rendering wages so scarce that it was very hard for the poor man to keep the wolf from the door, under such circumstances the resources of the society had been strained to their utmost. There had already been expended cash, $532; wood, $126; besides a large sum in clothing and blankets. In the operations of the Society, the city had been divided into twenty-two wards, and two ladies were from time to time appointed to each, whose duty it was to visit personally all applicants and ascertain in what way relief could be best afforded. Of the many deserving and worthy charities of the city, he knew of no channel through which a greatly amount of good could be accomplished by a small amount of means than this one. The half dollars or more which were paid for admission would reach directly the homes of the poor, in the shape of a little wood, coal, or pair of blankets, or a little cash in a poor mother’s hand, and many a quivering lip would express more eloquent thanks than he could do. So long as the Benevolent Society continued its present useful career, so long would the generous people of Hamilton stand by the ladies and see that they did not lack the resources wherewith to carry on their work (Applause.) On their behalf he wished them great enjoyment of the beautiful play which would be presented by their old favourites, the Garrick Club.
The speech was received with hearty applause, and after a short interval, the curtain rose, and the play proceeded.”
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