Tuesday 1 May 2012

May 2, 1876

“The last few cold days have kept the boats off, but every muscle is being strained by the boatmen to make preparation for the coming season.”
Hamilton Spectator.              May 2, 1876

When the arrival of May, 1876, already intense activity at the bay front, and  around Coote’s Paradise continued and even accelerated.
“Mr. Bastien has erected a magnificent new boat house, which will be found both convenient and comfortable by pleasure parties. It is reached by a large stairway from Picton street. Shooting parties are out everyday and make great havoc among the birds in the marsh and on the bay.”
The turning of April into May, 1876 meant the end of many rental leases in the city and the beginning of just as many, if not more.
It was moving day for many Hamiltonians as observed by the Spectator reporter:
“A considerable number of leases expired yesterday, and not a few of our citizens enjoyed themselves in moving. It was a pleasant sight to see “the man of the house” walking alongside the “last load” between six and seven o’clock in the evening, carrying a picture of his grandfather under one arm and a lamp in his hand. His wife was alongside with a bird cage and a hand sewing machine. The “last load” generally contains a quarter ton of coal, a lot of cut wood, a couple of tables, two or three tubs, a sofa, three chairs, and any amount of nick nacks.”
Down along the Beach Strip. just north of the Burlington Bay canal, the favourite resort hotel was being upgraded substantially because of the imminent construction of the Hamilton and Northwestern Railway in the area.
The Spectator provided a detailed description of the changes to Ocean House as well as a call for better roadway access to the resort:
       If the Beach does not prove to be a particularly attractive place of resort during the present summer, it will certainly not be the fault of the spirited proprietors of the Ocean House. The drive to it has been greatly improved by the construction of a good clay road on the last mile and a half, which was formerly loose sand, and which nothing faster than a walk could be driven. It is the Ocean House itself, however, which has undergone the principal improvement. In connection with it a large new building has been erected to the southward. This building is about a hundred feet long by forty in width, and two stories high. On the ground floor is a bowling alley, 65 feet long, also a billiard room for three tables, a retiring room and a bar-room. On the second storey is a ball room the full width of the building, and 70 feet long, attached to which are a refreshment room, and a ladies' dressing room. One of the chief objects in the construction of the new building is to withdraw from the hotel proper the confusion attendant upon crowds of guests who visit the Beach for an afternoon merely, and thus leave it more quiet and retired for its permanent guests. With this view, the bar will be removed to the new building and the present bar-room turned into a ladies' refreshment room. The room to the front of it will become the public reception room, with a piano and other attractions. With these improvements, the Ocean House will become a very attractive watering place, and scarcely fail to tempt visitors from a distance as well as from the city. If the proper authorities, whoever they may be, would make the roads along the Beach all that they ought to be, nothing would be wanting to make this one of the most enjoyable retreats in Canada. The proprietors of the hotel have done much in this direction themselves, but it is not properly their work and it is unfair that the burden should fall upon them.”
          The long-anticipated benefit in aid of Sam Smith was held on May 1, 1876 and was reported in the Spectator as follows:
“The benefit tendered to the old sporting character, Sam Smith, last night at Selwyn’s Club House, was not the success anticipated by his friends. The chilling air of the afternoon threw a damper over the sports on the green, and the house in the evening was filled to such an extent that real enjoyment was an impossibility. As far as the pecuniary part of the affair is concerned, the affair was a success.”
Finally the Spectator made a harsh rebuke to the members of the Odd Fellows, concerning a commitment which was made but not followed :
“In last evening’s issue of the SPECTATOR we promised to publish today the sermon preached last Sunday by the Rev. Mr. Cayley, P.G., of Toronto, to the Odd Fellows of this city. This promise was made on the word of one of the Printing Committee of the Odd Fellows, who assured our reporter that a copy of the sermon would be sent us this morning. This promise he failed to fulfill and this is the reason the sermon is not published today.”

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