“Next Monday is the sixtieth anniversary of the birth of our beloved Queen. A list of the attractions which are offered to help Hamiltonians spend the day pleasantly is printed below.”
Hamilton Spectator May 21, 1886.
May 24, 1886 was a public holiday much anticipated by Hamiltonians.
The Spectator handily provided a guide for the options local citizens had in order that plans could be made as how best to enjoy the day :
“Monday will afford the many lovers of baseball in this city to see two most interesting games. At the morning game, McArthur and Sommers will be the Hamilton’s battery, and at the game in the afternoon, the plucky Morison brothers will fill the position. Hamiltonians will see their team play ball that day. The grand band of the Seventh Fusiliers will render a choice programme. The band will parade through the streets and march to Dundurn before each game and for the evening celebration.
“At night, Dundurn will present a most attractive appearance. Prof. Hand will give a magnificent display of fireworks, amongst other pieces a representation of the Hamiltons, and many other choice pieces never before seen in Hamilton. During the intervals, the Seventh band will render a choice programme of music. The Mikado selection will be a treat, and the grand overture, Romantique, will be given for the first time here. The euphonium solo by Sergeant McGregor, Il Pirate, by Bellini, will be well worth going to hear. The children at provided for, at cheap rates, and no more pleasant spot is in Canada to spend an interesting, healthful holiday than Dundurn. Makins’ string band will be in attendance during the afternoon and evening for the entertainment of those who may wish to trip the light fantastic.
“The street car company will run a special line of cars to and from the park, day and evening.
AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE
“The annual picnic of the St. George’s society, to be held in the crystal palace grounds, will be one of the most extensive and enjoyable affairs that Hamilton people have seen for some years. The energetic committee having the matter in hand has spared no expense in providing first-class entertainment for all comers. The park will not be cleared at any time during the day and evening – once inside the whole show belongs to the vistor. Jeakie’s pony hippodrome, comprising fifteen wonderful flying mites of horses, will delight and astonish everybody with their unique and marvelous performances. This exhibition will be given during the day, and in the evening under the electric light, the ponies will have a chariot race for a substantial prize. There will also be football matches, trotting races, open to all for good purses; running races, competition drill for big prizes, the Thirteenth band, fireworks by Prof. Hand, and many other features. Excursion trains will come from several neighboring cities and towns, and the attendance will be very large. The prizes are all good and the various games and races will be well-filled and stoutly contested. St. George’s society propose to make the affair a grand success and has gone the right way about it.
THE OCEAN HOUSE
“This popular place of resort will doubtless be visited by thousands of people. Hamilton beach and its numerous attractions are too well-known to need to be enlarged upon. A five mile ride from the city by the Northern and Northwestern railway to where the fresh and helath-giving breezes are never wanting is a pleasure at any time. Leave Hamilton 7 and 10 a.m., 2, 3:50 and 6:15 p.m. ; leave Burlington 10:45 and 11: 45 a.m., 5, 7, and 9:07 p.m.
“From 9 o’clock in the morning until 11 at night, the steamers Maggie mason and Lillie will ply between Simcoe street wharf and Bayview every fifteen minutes. Bayview is a beautiful place and, with the special attractions which it will have on Monday ought to draw large crowds. The new inclined railway, of course, will be in full operation. A baseball match will be played in the afternoon between two good teams, and the roller rink will be open. The Independent band will be in attendance afternoon and evening.
“This pretty spot on the line of the Hamilton and Dundas street railway is free to all persons holding H. and D. return tickets. It will receive a good share of public patronage on Monday. The manager of the road has arranged for special attractions, among them a baseball match in the afternoon. Pratt’s quadrille band will be in attendance for dancing.
A.O.F. EXCURSION TO BUFFALO
“The uniformed branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters has arranged for an excursion to Buffalo, via Northern and Northwestern railway. The train leaves the King street station at 7:15 a.m., arriving in Buffalo at 10:30. Excursionists will have nine and a half hours in Buffalo. The return trains leave Buffalo at 8 o’clock, but those who desire to remain in Buffalo can return by the 7 a.m. train on Tuesday morning. The return fare is only $1.25 and 65 cents for children, and as the route is a popular one, the excursion should be well-patronized.
THE S. K. EXCURSION TO BUFFALO
“A Queen’s birthday without an excursion to Buffalo would be a novelty which a great many people would not appreciate. The Select Knights, Ancient Order of United Workmen, have arranged with the Grand Trunk railway company to run a special fast train, leaving at 7:45 o’clock and arriving in Buffalo at 11 o’clock. Those patronizing the excursion are promised eight hours in Buffalo, yet will be able to reach home at 10 o’clock. The tickets are $1.25; children under 12 years of age, 65 cents.
“The Grand Trunk and Northern and Northwestern railways will issue return tickets to all stations upon their respective roads at a single fare for the return trip, good to return on Monday only. Tickets are also being issued now good to return on any regular train up to and including Tuesday, May 25. These excursion tickets will not bew good on the St. Louis or limited expresses, Grand Trunk railway.
“A cricket match will be played on the Hamilton grounds between the Hamilton and Guelph clubs. It is likely that, according to the usual custom, wickets will be pitched at 10 a.m., and the match will last all day, so that no admirer of the game need fail to see any portion of it.
“This pleasant resort on the bay shore at the foot of Wentworth street, will offer strong attractions to picnickers if the day proves favorable. Landsdowne park has been improved in several ways since last season, and is an ideal picnic grounds. It will be opened for the season on Monday. All necessary conveniences are furnished by the lessees.”1
The 24th of May 1886 was a holiday for nearly every Hamiltonian, except for those employed by the Hamilton Spectator which went to press that day and was sold on the streets.
The following editorial appeared in that day’s issue :
“Today Canada, in common with other parts of the British empire, will celebrate the birthday of our beloved Queen. Victoria was born on the 24th of May, 1919, and is consequently 67 years of age. She succeeded to the throne on the death of her uncle, William IV, on the 20th of June, 1837, though the ceremony of coronation was not performed until the 28th of June, 1838. If she live so long, she will in June of next year, have reigned for half a century.
“When her Majesty ascended the throne, Hamilton was a village, having about 3,000 inhabitants. It had hardly ceased its rivalry and jealousy of Ancaster and Dundas. The population of Wentworth county was 14, 657. That of Upper Canada was less than 400,000, not a fifth of its present population. Canadians are not given to boasting, but it is a matter for some pride that the people of this province have increased in numbers five fold in fifty years. The first mile of railway in Ontario was not constructed till her Majesty had reigned fifteen years.
“When the Queen ascended the throne, the Stockton and Darlington railway – the first ever built for the conveyance of passengers – had been constructed ten years, and the Liverpool and Manchester road had been opened five years. She had reigned five years before Cooke and Wheatstone patented the first practicable electric telegraph. The Sirius and the Great Western demonstrated the practicability of navigating the ocean by steam after she had reigned nearly a year. Ironclad navies had not been dreamed of; ‘brown Bess’ was looked upon as the best infantry weapon which human ingenuity could devise, and rifled cannon were still scientific toys.
“For nearly half a century, Victoria has retained the respect of the world and the affection of her people. She rules over a mightier empire than any the world ever dreamed of – greater in extent, greater in wealth greater in power, and, with the exception of the Chinese, greater in population than any other upon which the sun ever shone. Adulation is merely an empty ceremony. For Victoria her people pray with humble and earnest fervor – ‘God save the Queen.’ ”2
2“The Queen’s Birthday”
Hamilton Spectator May 24, 1886.
Also in that same issue, a patriotic poem was included:
Again has dawned the festal day –
The happy twenty-fourth of May :
With joy we celebrate;
Long years ago on this glad morn
A nation’s noblest gift was born –
Victoria good and great.
God bless our noble sovereign Queen,
The noblest that for long hath been
Seated on England’s throne;
Long may she have Dominion o’er
Old Britain’s isles from shore to shore
And peace her empire own.
Her people pay the homage due
To her whose hand, so kind and true,
Does ruling scepter away;
Proud nations own her royal worth,
And booming cannon herald forth,
The dawn of her birthday.
Gay banners wave o’er all the land,
While strains from many a martial band
Diffuse sweet music round;
Our noble Queen is well-beloved –
And this her people long have proved,
Where e’er they may be found.
A woman’s heart of tenderness
And charity she doth possess:
God save the Queen we pray;
And when she lays the scepter down
May she receive the glorious crown
That fadeth not away.
Hamilton, May 24. FORGET ME NOT1
1“The Queen’s Birthday : By a Hamilton Girl”
Hamilton Spectator May 24, 1886.
The Spectator reporter chosen to attend some of the Queen’s Birthday events and describe them for the readers of the Great Family Journal produced the following, quoted in full, which appeared on May 25, 1886
“We celebrated it in various ways. Some of us went on excursions; some on little private picnics where in shay nooks we nibbled at our sandwiches and sipped our iced claret; some of us took in the ball games and alienated between frowns and smiles as we lost or won; some of us stretched our languid limbs in hammocks or on springy lounges and whiled away the time with the latest novel; some of us took in Bayview and the beach and others of us lost ourselves in the vast crowd at the crystal palace.
“But one and all we did what was our bounden duty to do – we enjoyed ourselves to our heart’s content. We made up our minds for enjoyment early in the morning, when the incessant popping of firecrackers roused us from our slumbers, and we looked out from our bedroom windows and saw good-natured and red-faced mamas struggling down the street with a baby on one arm and a basket laden with provisions on the other, while papa walked leisurely alongside., twirling his cane and scolding the children. We made up our minds for enjoyment when we heard the bands a-playing, when we saw the bright faces and the dainty dresses that brightened the streets and made us thankful one and all that it was a nice day, neither warm nor cool but comfortable, on which to honor the sixty-seventh anniversary of her most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.
“As usual the principal attraction locally was St. George’s Society’s Annual Demonstration. Owing to the formation of the International League, Dundurn was devoted exclusively to the interests of baseball, and the society held its yearly outing in the crystal palace. And right here let it be said that the demonstration was a success. The society had gone to great trouble and expense to provide suitable attractions, and the result of this was that the demonstration was one of the best ever held under the auspices of the society which takes its name from old England’s patron saint.
“As early as 9 o’clock in the morning people began gathering to see the procession. There is always something attractive about a procession. It may be as mournful and miserable as a sick dog in June, but it draws the people. The small boy goes there with his pockets stuffed with fireworks and Sara Jane stands on the sidewalk and looks at the show from beneath the lace border of her parasol.
“The procession of the St. George’s society was worth looking at. The Thirteenth band, the uniformed societies and Jeakle’s pony hippodrome made up a glittering and gorgeous array. The hippodrome was the principal attraction at the palace in the morning, as indeed it was all day. The ponies are fine, sturdy beasts, and tore around the track at a marvelous rate of speed. In the morning, they covered the ground, 1/3 of a mile, in 41 seconds, but lowered the time to 38 ½ seconds in the afternoon. Mr. Jeakle has a perfect goldmine in the fifteen handsome ponies that he exhibits. They were the admired of all admirers yesterday, and the greatest interest was taken in all their races. The Roman chariots and the noble Roman charioteers go a long way towards making a unique and interesting exhibition. The football match was one of the features of the afternoon. It had been intended to have the game between Canadian and American clubs, but it was found impossible to make the necessary arrangements, and the Rangers of Berlin tried for victory with a scratch team from Toronto. The game was lively, exciting and well-contested.
“Hamilton overflows with uniformed societies, but the prizes offered for drill competition did not tempt many of them out. The Crimson Knights of the ‘Prentice Boys and the Scarlet Knights of the Loyal Orange order, were the only two local societies that turned up. There were two outside corps competing however – the uniformed rank of the Victoria hook and ladder company, of Brantford and the Dundas hook and latter company. Easch corps drilled for fifteen minutes, and at the end of that time Col. Gibson, Major Moore and Capt. Stone, the judges, gave the Brantford boys first place, the Crimson Knights second and Dundas third. The result was too much for the victorious corps. They gave three cheers for almost everything and everybody, and started going through an almost interminable maze of right obliques, counter marches and other things which they didn’t finish until they got safely outside of the horse ring.
“Beside the chariot racing, the society had prepared some speeding for local horses. By the time the racing was over, the day was getting sleepy. People began to think they had business at home and they started to move. The Thirteenth band had been patiently turning out its sweetest melodies all the afternoon, and now the band had gone. And when the band goes, the spectators experience a sudden yearning for a short session at the tea table. They did not stay out long, however. The last echoes of the afternoon’s music had scarcely died away before the people began trooping in again for the evening’s fun. The grounds were brilliantly illuminated with electric lights and Prof. Hand & Co. supplied fireworks. The horse ring was lighted by electricity , and Jeakle’s pony hippodrome hippodromed some more to the intense delight and general satisfaction of the cheerful and loquacious mass of people around the fence.
“Altogether it was probably the most successful demonstration the society has ever held. The weather was magnificent, the attendance was enormous, no liquor was sold on the grounds and so everybody was sober and nothing happened to mar anybody’s pleasure.
“The gate receipts for the afternoon alone were over $1,200.
The attendance through the day was between 10,000 and 12,000, and half as many more were there at night.
It cost the society $500 to bring Jeakle and his pony hippodrome here.
A quadrille band ground out dance music in the palace proper afternoon and evening.
Small boys and firecrackers managed to set fire to one of the sheds. The prompt application of a bucket of water, and the tearing down of a couple of burning boards, prevented what might have been a serious conflagration.
The Thirteenth band never played better than it did last night. One of the prettiest numbers was accompanied by a castanet solo by a little coon mascot who belongs to the Crimson Knights. Whether the solo added to the music’s effect deponent sayeth not but bandmaster Robinson does.
The S. K., A. O. U. W. EXCURSION
“The excursion of the Select Knights, O. U. W., to Buffalo, via the Grand Trunk railway, took about 300 people, from the city yesterday morning. The trip was a pleasant one both ways. The train left on time and arrived in Buffalo on time. The return train arrived home at 10:30, with everybody safe and happy.
DUNDURN IN THE EVENING
“About 1,500 people assembled at Dundurn park last evening, and put in a delightful time watching Prof. Hand’s fireworks, listening to the music of the Seventh Fusiliers, strolling about the beautiful park or enjoying the merry dance. Everything passed off most pleasantly. The fireworks were decidedly good, some novel devices got up especially for the occasion, being particularly fine.
THE FORESTERS’ EXCURSION
“It was a large train that carried the excursionists who went to Buffalo under the escort of the Ancient Order of Foresters, and every car was crowded. The trip was a successful one, being both enjoyable and financially satisfactory to those who had it in hand.
“Bayview was visited by a great number of city people, who got a lot of enjoyment out of the many attractions afforded at that pretty resort. Many people also passed a pleasant day picnicking at Lansdowne park and the beach. At Ainslie park quite an ambitious programme of games was run off, and there were a good many participants.