Thursday 19 April 2012

April 20, 1876

 “The country roads are drying up rapidly, so that travel has become much better than it has been for the past two weeks. The wheeling between this city and Dundas is now very good. “
Hamilton Spectator    April 20, 1876
          Uplifting weather and spring conditions were the lead stories in Hamilton on April 20, 1876.
          The drying roads allowed better transportation for all, even the duck hunters travelling to the best spots to harvest their game.
          The Hamilton area, with its marshes, inlets, protected harbour and nearby Lake Ontario made for a prime area in the spring migration as shown in the following item:
“Henry Graham, an Ottawa sportsman, was out on the bay yesterday and bagged a large number of ducks. He thinks that the best duck shooting grounds in Ontario are in the neighbourhood of Hamilton. Mr. John Dynes, at the Beach, killed 31 ducks in 4 shots. This is hard to beat. “
The regulations against fishing in the Hamilton area were strong and enforced by Fishery Inspector Kerr who was always on the onlook for violators of provincial fishing regulations “
“This morning Fred. Carey and several others were charged before Police Magistrate Cahill by Inspector Kerr with fishing on Sunday. They were fined $2 each.”
Down at the bayfront, there was much activity and news to share about the upcoming boating season on Burlington Bay:
 “Extraordinary preparations are being made at the bay for the coming boating season. Mr. Bastien has constructed a handsome new boat house, Mr. James Massie, has completed another and stocked it with safe pleasure boats. The Florence and Dennis Bowen will have a rival in the shape of another steamboat running to the Beach, and from all appearances, the water may expect a lively time generally.”
On a sadder note, the search continued for the body of Thomas Ireland :
“It is proposed to let down a net at the west end of the canal for the purpose of catching the body of Ireland should it float that far. It is believed, however, by the best grapplers in the city that the body is lying near the head of the canal. A boat containing two men engaged in the search upset last evening in the canal. Had it not been that one of them was a good swimmer, they would both have been drowned. “
In another story related to the Desjardins canal at the Dundas end and the flood which was involved in the Ireland drowning, the Spectator reprinted the following item from the Dundas Standard :
-      During the flood of Thursday the dam belonging to the Cotton and Wentworth mills gave way. The loss will be not less than $500 in repairs. Further down the creek has again burst through part of the canal bank so recently repaired at no small cost to the town. The timbers seem to have been too light or left without proper support, and so when subjected to the first pressure of any account and such as might have been anticipated, they were unequal to the strain. We cannot compliment the engineers of that work on their success. Their experience of floods might have shown them that it was the merest waste of money to dredge the canal unless proper steps were taken to prevent it from filling up again before the first season was over. Some of those who opposed that expenditure for the embankment are now chuckling at the destruction of the work, and the question asked is, what is to be done now? Is the town to spend another thousand dollars for badly executed repairs, or is the canal to be allowed to fill up so as to cut off the connection of the basin with the means of renewing the water, thereby making it a stagnant pool, to spread disease? These are questions which our local rulers will have to answer so soon as the charter has been conveyed to the town. “

The Spectator of April 20, 1876 carried two items concerning the state of Hamilton roads and sidewalks  in a couple of areas :
“The attention of the Street Inspector is called to the dangerous condition of the sidewalk on Park south above Main street up to the Palmerston Terrace. In some places boards are gone and in others they are broken and sticking up. Let this be attended to at once.

“The people living on this street are making strenuous efforts to have it graded and sidewalks built upon it. It is certainly in a very bad condition at present. A petition signed by over fifty businessmen of the city was handed to the Board of Works last evening, asking them to take steps to grade the street. “

In the police court during the morning of April 20, 1876, a man was convicted of stealing a shovel and hoe from the back yard of a home. He was caught after selling the stolen items to a second hand dealer. After sentencing the thief, Police Magistrate delivered a stinging reproof to the second-hand dealer:
“This morning Thos. Easlin, who keeps a second hand store on Main street east, was brought forward by the police and testified that he had bought articles worth $3.00 from a suspicious looking character for 25 cents. The articles were afterwards discovered to be stolen. His Worship, after the case was disposed of, called Easlin before him and said if it were not for men like him (Easlin) encouraging stealing, there would be no thieves, and warned him that if he were ever known to repeat the offense, he would be obliged to punish him. “
Hamilton theatre goers would have been pleased to read the following item about the impending arrival of one of the world’s most famous actors for a local engagement :

“Mr. J. M. Barron, business manager for Edwin Booth, arrived in this city this morning, and is busy arranging his affairs for the appearance of the great tragedian. Mr. Booth has selected “Hamlet” for our entertainment, supported by McVicker’s Dramatic Company, of Chicago. Our citizens may prepare themselves for an evening’s rare enjoyment. “

The major story of the April 20, 1876 issue of the Hamilton Spectator concerned the Protestant-Catholic conflict which erupted in a meeting of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society concerning events on St. Patrick’s Day in Hamilton:
“The adjourned annual meeting of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society was held in the hall of the Y. M. C. A. on Wednesday evening last. The largest assembly of members that has ever met since the organization of the society was present.
After the reading of the minutes, the hearing of committee reports, and the transaction of other business, Vice-President Foster, Mr. McMahon, Mr. Ballantyne, Mr. Hobbs and other member s addressed the meeting on the subject of an article which appeared in the Spectator of the 12th inst., purporting to be a report of the proceedings at the annual meeting of the society held on the 11th inst., and on other matters antecedent thereto. A letter from Ald. Crawford, who was absent on city business, was read, explanative of his action at the annual meeting.
A committee was appointed to consider certain matters discussed at the last meeting and also the article in the Spectator. After some delay the committee presented their report, which was adopted without a dissenting voice, and ordered to be printed.
                   REPORT OF COMMITTEE
Your committee having been instructed to investigate and report on a certain action taken by two gentlemen of this Society at the annual meeting on Tuesday the 11th inst. With reference to expressions used at a lecture recently delivered in this city, report that Mr. Ballantyne having expressed his regret at having used any unnecessary harsh language towards Vice-President Foster and as he and Alderman Crawford express regret at having used language unintentionally calculated to irritate our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, your Committee think the explanation they offer should be accepted.
Your Committee having heard the opinion of several members of the Society present at the annual meeting, have no hesitation in stigmatizing the report which appeared in the Spectator of the 13th inst., as garbled, highly exaggerated, and published for a malicious or sensational purpose. That the reporter who was present at the meeting, from the fact that he was a candidate for admission to the Society, was guilty of a breach of courtesy in publishing any report of a private meeting without the endorsation of the Chairman. That as he promised four individual members of the Society not to publish any report of the meeting whatever, he has forfeited the respect of this Society.
That as a man’s religion is his most valuable inheritance he is in duty bound to defend it; hence it was proper for this society to take into consideration the language used in a certain public lecture delivered under the auspices of a Roman Catholic Society, which was justly calculated to give offense to sincere Protestants, among which we are in duty bound to place the officers and members of this society, who were present as invited guests.
That in the annexed paragraph taken from the published report of said lecture, the Protestant religion and the honoured exponents of it were spoken of in sarcastical and contemptuous language, offensive to Protestants present and to others who read said lecture.
Extract from lecture delivered in Mechanics’ Hall on 17th March, 1876, St. Patrick’s Day :
“Whence came the Saint and what message did he bring; these are vital questions to Irishmen. Was he a sentimental adventurer like Luther or Knox, who, without character or commission came to preach man’s personal independence of Divine authority, which always means to my mind a man on whom no man can depend. No, my friends, St. Patrick had neither the garb or the gibberish of your tract pudding evangelist.”
That the words italicised in the above paragraph are insulting to Protestants and calculated to give offense. That the Chairman of the meeting in question having allowed the expressions alluded to to pass without apology or qualification, endorsed the untruthful sentiments of the lecturer, and on him, therefore, rests the responsibility of having given rise to ill-feeling,
That every Protestant in the city has a right to expect an apology for these expressions, which were unjust to the noble memories of Knox, and especially to the great Dr. Martin Luther, and also to that special class of men who distribute the excellent issues of the famous tract societies, who are, in our opinion, grievously slandered by the language in question.
                                                          James N. Cook, V. P.
                                                          W. Lumsden, M. A.
                                                          John White
                                                          Henry Burrows.

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