Saturday 14 April 2012

April 15, 1876

Holy Saturday, April 15, 1876 was, of course, a major day on church calendars throughout Hamilton.
The largest Roman Catholic Church in the city was the one chosen for an article in the Hamilton Spectator which would detail some of the rituals :
“In St. Mary’s Cathedral, the ceremonies were lengthy and varied. They begin with the blessing of the New Fire, which took place in the Cathedral porch, after which followed the reading of The Prophecies, fourteen in number, comprehending a sketch of sacred history and selections from some of the most celebrated prophets. This was performed in the sanctuary, together with the ceremony of blessing the Paschal Candle. A procession was next formed to the front of the church, where the blessing of the Easter water took place with appropriate prayers, etc. Mass, called the Mass of the Resurrection, succeeded, which was accompanied with organ and choir. This was the beginning of the return to joy and gladness, which were to be exhibited in full strength on the glorious festival of Easter Day. Very Rev. E.I. Heenan, was the celebrant of the day, assisted by the Rev. Fathers Moble, Maddigan and O’Connell.”
       The day before, Good Friday, was a holiday, and some keen baseball enthusiasts unable to wait for the official season to begin, played an exhibition game to polish up their skills after a long winter’s break:
        “A good, lively game of base ball was played yesterday afternoon in the presence of a large number of spectators, between the Standards first nine of last year and a picked nine of the city. Some brilliant play was made on both sides, but the Standard representative nine won the game by a score of twenty-eight to eight runs. The Standards have been greatly strengthened this year, and will no doubt distinguish themselves in playing for the Dominion championship for which they have entered. They are deserving of every encouragement which our young men and citizens generally may bestow upon them.”
The newly-opened theatre, in the former Canterbury Hall, was the subject of another Spectator article, describing the entertainers provided and the new decorations to be completed:
          “Last evening the Canterbury hall was crammed to the fullest extent, showing that the Varieties under the new management are appreciated by the lovers of that style of theatrical performance. The company is a strong one under the direction of Mr. Weeks whose selections for the evening’s entertainment are always made with taste. Miss Minnie Taggart’s songs are justly encored, and the young singer is quite a favorite. La Petite Ducello in her song and dance is immense and for a child of her age possesses a voice of great power. The stage has been beautifully fitted up with new curtains and scenery, painted by Mr. Swift. Next week the hall will be closed, when the management will have the theatre frescoed. When finished, the Canterbury hall will not be equalled in beauty by any theatre west of Toronto.”

          A major controversy erupted between the owners of the Hamilton Spectator and a member of the Six Nations, concerning articles previously published in the Spectator concerning the sale of lands and relocation of members of that band living on the reserve at Oshweken :

“On Thursday evening, the Times contained a letter purporting to be from Karlhowanea, a warrior of the Six Nations, which pronounced as base fabrication a statement made in the Spectator, to the effect that a company had been formed of American and Canadian speculators for the purpose of negotiating with the Six Nations for the purchase of their lands. The statement from the paragraph alluded to was a base fabrication on the part of the writer, or, perhaps, taking the more charitable view of the matter, the great warrior has written the letter in a passion and has not given the subject the benefit of his cooler judgement. When he says and when the chiefs in council say that they knew not that such a company existed for the purpose of buying their lands, they go beyond their depth, but when they say that knew not that such a company existed, they may be correct although it is questionable with some of them. The statement made by the Spectator some weeks ago that a company had been formed for the purchasing the Indian lands is correct, and however foolish and unjudged the scheme might have been, still it is a fact that twenty rational men, eighteen of them wealthy Americans, embarked on it. Maps and specifications of the Indian Reserve and the new territories intended for the tribes were drawn out, and agents sent into the Indian districts for the purposes of ascertaining if the scheme would meet with favour. The lower class of Indians were only too ready to go, but the educated people sternly repelled any advances made towards them. By degrees, the company discovered the magnitude and impossibility of their undertaking, and on finding out the relations between the Government and the Indians, became utterly discouraged and gave up in despair. It is quite probable the company worked in secret and endeavoured to gain the consent of the people before they made advances to the chiefs, but still it is a fact that some of the leading men were aware that such a scheme was on foot. That the SPECTATOR in no way favoured the scheme of removing the Six Nations, but rather discouraged the company by pointing out the obstacles in their way will be seen by the following paragraphs clipped from the article in question :
“The Americans were shown that this would not work in Canada, that the government and the Canadian people generally had the kindest feelings towards the red men, and, moreover, that the Indians had a life lease of the country, and that a white man could not buy an acre of land or a stick of timber inside of the limits.”
And the following :
“It is very possible that these gentlemen who are working in the scheme will yet be disappointed. They will have to conclude a treaty with the Indians to give up their property, which would not become binding without the consent of the leading Indians, which will perhaps never be given, and if they should succeed in this matter, they could not occupy the country without an act of Parliament.”
This moderation was not imitated by Karlhowanca, the great warrior, who wrote as follows to the Times :
“I would strongly advise my friend, the reporter of the SPECTATOR, not to express his opinions too strongly upon subjects which he knows nothing about, else I would not be responsible for his safety should he venture to inspect the Indian Reserve.”
This cowardly threat does not in any way affect the truth of our statement, and comes with a bad grace from a man who prides himself on being a great Chief and warrior.”
Finally a tragedy took place in Dundas, a story which would continue to dominate local newspapers for some time to follow.
The first article on the tragic event as written by a Spectator reporter follows :  
An accident which cast a gloom over the whole town of Dundas occurred on Thursday afternoon, between five and six o’clock, by which Mr. Thomas Ireland, formerly a resident of Beverly, but at that time a resident of Dundas, was drowned. Mr. Ireland, with a number of other men was engaged in placing brushwood along the banks of the creek which had swollen to a fearful extent, and while in the act of pulling some brush into place, the branch he held in his hand snapped, suddenly precipitating him into the stream, upon which he was whirled down the swollen current at a rate of twenty miles an hour. About two hundred yards from the point where the deceased fell in, there is a bridge and to this several gentlemen ran, and one of them, a Mr. Wilson, lying down on the bridge, caught the unfortunate man by the coat as he passed under, but the current was so strong that the body was wrenched from him, leaving part of the coat in his hands. At the next bridge, the head of the unfortunate man was seen to be dashed against the timbers, upon which he was seen to suddenly sink out of sight. The last that was seen of him was when he was passing the Cotton Mills, when he was observed floating with his arms over a stick of wood. All day yesterday and today, parties were dragging for his body in the creek and canal without success. The deceased was formerly a resident of the Township of Beverly, and was highly respected there for his talents as a gentleman and a businessman. He was the proprietor of a large and valuable farm, but left it some two years ago to enter into partnership with Forsythe and Co., machinists, Dundas. He leaves a wife and two little children, besides a host of friends who will never cease to mourn his untimely end.”

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