Saturday, 13 January 2018

1885-03-13ee Orpheus and Eurydice at the Grand

It was a performance, scheduled for March 12, 1885, that was much anticipated, especially by many of the male population of Hamilton.

That evening, at the Grand Opera House on James street north, a large audience, composed solely of men, paid admission to see the Rentz Santly Company.

The reporter, usually assigned to attend theatrical and musical performances for the Spectator, was also at the Grand that evening and here follows his review:

Music, Legs, Mirth and Bosoms

“These were the principal components of the entertainment given in the Grand last evening by the Rentz Santley company. The audience was large, and composed wholly of men.

“A mélange of songs, witticisms, banjo playing, etc., in which the whole company, male and female, took part, opened the programme. But the audience was restless. Then Bob Winchester and john Jennings gave an amusing medley of songs and burlesque sketches – clever in their way; but the audience was not enthusiastic. Andy and Annie Hughes followed in songs and dances; dismissed with mild applause. Jeppo and Fannie Delano then tried to please in a funny sketch called the Bashful Lovers. Their acting was crisp and neat; but evidently their male auditors were looking for something else.

“ Miss Lottie Bordeaux came out and opened her mouth and was supposed to sing, and posed in a very abbreviated skirt was supposed to dance. This was better but still the spectators acted as if was only tantalizing.

“Then the scenes were shifted, and a dozen pair of female legs clad in tights of various hues came out before the footlights, bearing their owners with them. The spectators settled themselves in their seats with sighs of relief. The entertainment had begun.

“It was a burlesque in seven scenes, founded on the classical story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus was represented by a pretty girl in an open linen duster, a pair of trunks and flesh-colored tights. Eurydice was also in tights, but she wore side-skirts several inches long to let the spectators know that she was a woman.

“All the more respectable gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were represented, and, of course, all of those which were represented by females were in tights. Charon, the ferryman on the Styx, was personated by a man and made up as something between a slugger and a clown. Jupiter was also personated by a man – a little fellow with a huge scarlet nose, spindle legs, and a cracked voice. The amorous proclivities of the king of the gods were of course made more prominent by the most prominent feature of his character.

“Proserpine, Queen of Hades, was represented as an amiable and amorous ogress, in huge bonnet, side curls, Mother Hubbard gown and pantalettes. Of course, this character was taken by a man. Plato, the King of the infernal regions, was evidently intended to be represented by as a god of Hibernian extraction, for the gentleman who personated him spoke in the broadest kind of Irish accent.

“Orpheus and Eurydice cannot be criticized like an ordinary dramatic or musical piece. The success of a piece of this kind is proportionate to the scantiness of the costumes of the female performers. Judged by this standard, O. and E. is one of the greatest successes of the season.

“In the fifth scene, the Orpheus of the play appeared in nothing but a narrow silver fringe, beside her tights, and her bosom was barer even than a fashionable ladies at a ball. The forms of Juno and Pallas and Venus were nearly as much exposed to the audience as they were to Paris when the three goddesses presented themselves for judgement.

“The Venus of last night, however, had an accomplishment which the original Venus never dreamed of; she could kick eighteen inches higher than her head, and several times proved her ability to perform the feat.

“The curtain finally went down on a chaos of wildly swaying arms and legs and heads, and bared breasts palpitating and gleaming in the glare of the footlights.

“Such was Orpheus and Eurydice. The audience was not composed principally of youths engaged in the work of wild cat sowing, but of respected citizens and fathers of families.” 1

1 “Music and the Drama : Information Concerning Singers and Players : Items of Interest About Those Who by Voice and Action Instruct and Amuse the Public.”

Hamilton Spectator     March 13, 1885.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

1885-10-10a Chief Stewart

After Louis Riel and his followers were defeated at the Battle of Batoche, May 9 to 12, 1885, the Northwest rebellion was over. On May 15, Riel and several of his fellow Metis were arrested and imprisoned.

The government of Sir John A. Macdonald was determined that Riel and his cohorts be tried for his actions as quickly as possible. To prepare the government’s case, witnesses and evidence had to be assembled. The federal government considered a number of people considered capable of doing that task, and ultimately decided that the best man was Hamilton Police Chief Alexander David Stewart.

In short order, Chief Stewart received permission from the Hamilton Police Commissioners to take a leave of absence, and Sergeant Smith be given control of the force until the chief’s return.

The trial was held in Regina, and lasted five days, starting on July 28, 1885. Chief Stewart had assiduously collected sufficient evidence and witnesses for the trial to proceed, and was present throughout the proceedings. (Pictured below is Louis Riel, standing, while he was testifying at his trial. A.D. Stewart is sitting facing him, third from left, with dark moustache.)

By early October, 1885, Chief Stewart, his duties in the Northwest concluded, was on his way back to Hamilton. As he was at a brief stopover, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a reporter with a local newspaper managed to get an interview. The resulting column was reprinted in the Hamilton Spectator of October 8, 1885 :

 “ Chief Stewart, of Hamilton, Ont., who acted as prosecutor for the crown in the Riel and other trials and prepared the evidence in the same, arrived in this city last evening and is a guest at the Leland house. On the way to the city, the chief was interviewed by a representative of the Manitoban. He has just returned from Battleford, where he has been since Aug. 23, previous to which time he was in Regina. Being asked what sort of a trip he had to the north, the chief replied :

“ ‘On the whole it was pleasant enough. We were on the trail for five days. The police escort lost five horses, which caused me some delay. I got in on the 8th.’

“ ‘You have seen a good deal of Saskatchewan country, chief?’

“ ‘ Yes, a good deal. I was to Fort Pitt, Egg lake, Saddle lake, onion lake etc., hunting up witnesses and prisoners. Sergeant Bagley was in command of my escort, and a finer fellow there’s not in existence.’

“ ‘You had the necessary guide and competent interpreter?’

“ ‘ Yes, I had a good guide and competent interpreter.’

“ ‘How is the Saskatchewan country now, chief?’

“ ‘Everything is quiet and peaceable. The Indians and halfbreeds are mute as mice. They are thoroughly cowed and broken up. Judge Rouleau sat about ten days ago, and Wandering Spirit, the murderer of Quinn, Louison Mograin, policeman Cowan’s murderer, Charles Dutcharms, Dressy Man, and We-say-gum-up have been convicted and sentenced to death.’

“ ‘Was there much interest taken in the trials?’

“ ‘O yes; considerable. The court was daily crowded. Prescott Sharpe was prosecuting counsel. The prisoners were not defended.’

“ ‘How did the Saskatchewan people recive you, chief?’

“ ‘With open arms.A cordial reception was given me, and in a manner almost too flattering to relate. Did I want a horse, gun, memento of the district – anything, in fact. If so, I should take it. My reception surprised my most sanguine expectations.

“ ‘What is the feeling up there regarding Riel”?’

“ ‘Well, generally there is a strong feeling against him. The white settlers had a great deal to suffer during the rebellion. Shadowed, imprisoned or hunted over the prairie in their night dresses, you know the feeling against Riel must be bitter. The halfbreeds, too, owe him no good will, but I must say there is a superstitious crowd of Indians who still believe in the late rebel leader’s so-called ‘divine mission.’ ”  1

1  “A Manitoba Interview : Winnipeg Manitoban.”

Hamilton Spectator. October 8, 1885.

During the early evening hours of Wednesday October 7, 1885, a large crowd gathered at Hamilton’s Grand Trunk Railway station, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a train from the west, carrying Chief A.D. Stewart home.

The following is how a Spectator reporter described the homecoming in the following day’s paper:

“Chief Stewart is home.  Bright, cheery, vigorous as ever, with the tan of wind and sun darkening his skin, with the great, good health that open air living and plenty of exercise give, with a month’s growth of curling brown beard and whiskers on his handsome face, he stepped off the 5:35 train from the west yesterday evening, to meet his wife and children and a host of friends who had been patiently wearing out the platform till the train arrived. His attire was picturesque. He wore a light brown duck fatigue jacket, used by the Northwest mounted police and the volunteers, a pair of still lighter brown corduroy trousers tucked into top boots, while a Buffalo Bill hat worn rakishly over his right ear completed his costume.

“ “I have come back in rags and tatters,’ he said. ‘My other clothes got all worn out and these were the only ones I could get.’

“ ‘He looks like the pictures we see of English tourists in the Alps,’ said a girl who was standing by. “He looks like an Italian brigand,’ growled the young man with her. ‘But he isn’t bloodthirsty looking enough for that,’ said the girl. And all the while, the chief was shaking hands and saying, ‘how are you old fellow? Glad to see you again.,’ till his arm and tongue grew weary.

“Finally he broke away from the enthusiastic welcome of his friends and got up home. He left Hamilton on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 23, and went to Regina, where he was busily engaged in gathering evidence for the prosecution of Louis Riel until that gentleman was tried about the middle of August. Immediately after Riel was sentenced, the chief left for Battleford, where there were over 40 halfbreed and Indian prisoners, captured by the troops, awaiting trial. In getting evidence and witnesses against these people, he went out to Fort Pitt and Frog lake, and as far as Saddle Lake, doing all the traveling on horseback. He stayed in Battleford until after the trial and conviction of a number of the more important prisoners, and the minor cases were being prosecuted when he left for home. This is a brief account of the work he has been engaged in during the sixteen weeks he has been absent from Hamilton.

“The chief shakes hands in the same free and untrammeled way that he always did. The weary weeks have not interfered with his right vise one bit. If anything, it is more so. When a Spectator reporter recovered from a grip last evening, he found the chief quite ready to talk about things in general.

“ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I had a very pleasant trip indeed, but I’m heartily glad to get back to home and civilization. I haven’t slept in a bed since I left Regina seven weeks ago, except one night in Winnipeg, and I will appreciate the change. I slept under canvas the rest of the time I was away. We had magnificent weather up there. There was very little rain, and, man, you have no idea of the grand country it is. I was never there before, and it was a revelation to me. Beyond Regina, it seems to be so cut off from civilization. You turn into your tent at night, monarch for the time being of all you survey, and the mighty silence and freedom on the great plains cannot help impressing you.  The people you meet there are wonderfully hospitable too. It is so seldom they see anyone that a traveler is a Godsend to them, but, beyond this, it seemed to me that they went out of their way to be kind to us. No matter what it was I wanted, if it was in anybody’s power to get it, I got it. I cannot speak too highly of the unvarying courtesy, kindness and consideration. I cannot speak too highly of the unvarying courtesy, kindness and consideration that was shown to me by every person I met in the Northwest, either in business or social relations. The mounted police are a magnificent lot of men, superior in both physique and mental powers to any company of men I have ever seen, not even excepting British soldiers. The non-commissioned officers of the force are especially fine fellows, and by long odds, the most perfect body of men it has been my good luck to see. The only that militates against against the popularity of the force is the having to search for liquor, something which the people have decided objection to. The people did all they could to help us out, and showed the same hearty hospitality that the residents of the country did.’

“ ‘Game,’ he continued presently, ‘is very plentiful. Ducks, geese, prairie chickens and deer are very abundant.’

“ A gleeful expression came over the chief’s browned and bearded face, and there was a triumphant ring in his voice as he leaned back and said, ‘I shot a bear – a black bear. It was a big one. I brought the skin home with me. The bear was a ferocious-looking brute. It was the first time I had seen one away from a circus or a street performance, but it didn’t scare me. I had to fire four shots before I killed it. My horse wouldn’t go up to it, and after I fired the first shot, I jumped off and went for it on foot. The second shot I fired broke its shoulder. It started for me. I sent in two bullets while it was coming and the last one finished it. We lived in bear’s meat for some days after that.’

“The chief has brought home with him a large number of relics, principally Indian goods. Many of them are great curiosities here. Before he came away he was presented with a magnificent pair of mounted buffalo horns by Charley Ross, the scout. Sergeant Bagley, of the mounted police, and Henry Hardy, his servant. He had an interpreter, too,Francis Du Preene, a halfbreed. At Battleford, he and Mr. Sharp, a young barrister, camped out with Col. Otter. ‘Speaking of camping out,’ he said, ‘it’s curious up there. If a man by some rare good luck owns a house and wishes to be hospitable, he says stay at my house tonight, which being interpreted means, bring a blanket with you and sleep on the floor.

“The chief will resume his duties today, and as Sergt. Smith has been worked pretty hard during his absence, he should be given a month’s holiday. Smith has done his own work and the chief’s too. And they will give to him, as everyone that knows him will give to him, a hearty welcome.”2

2 “Back from Battleford : Chief Stewart Comes Home at Last : He Kills a War in the Northwest and Does Various Things Which May Be Read of Below”

Hamilton Spectator     October 08, 1884.

A hearty welcome had indeed been prepared for Chief Stewart. All of the men on the force who could possibly be present, along with the mayor of the city, gathered in Police Station No. 3 on King William Street. The Spectator reporter was also present and he captured the feelings of admiration for Chief Stewart from those in attendance, along with the Chief’s words, and the rousing finale in the following article:

“The men of the Hamilton police force gave Chief Stewart a welcome home last evening, and did it in such a thorough, whole-souled manner as to give every evidence of the deep friendship, almost affection, existing in their hearts for their able chief officer.  The time chosen was 6:50 when the day men come in, and the night men relieve them, and, as a consequence, 43 policemen including the chief and detectives, gathered in No. 3 station, only the men on office duty being absent. Paragraphs previously printed have informed the public that the particular  sample of welcome which the men proposed uncorking for the chief’s benefit consisted of a very handsome set of photographs, magnificently framed and mounted, of every man on the force – and the patrol wagon. At seven o’clock, Mayor Mason mounted the police magistrate’s throne and on behalf of the men made the presentation. He referred to the pleasure it gave him to act on this capacity, and said : ‘The men on this force feel that you have been ever zealous in looking after their comfort and welfare, and wish to testify in some slight way their appreciation of all that you have done for them. They felt that no more fitting opportunity could be found than on your return from the Northwest. In regard to your duties up there, you were entrusted by the government with a delicate and dangerous mission that perhaps no other one man in Canada could so ably attend to. You discharged your duties there faithfully, honestly and zealously, in the face of hardships and difficulties that would have completely balked any ordinary man. And while you have been serving your country in the Northwest, the men of your force have been have been doing there duty here, in charge of Sergt. Smith, and have as a rule been giving every satisfaction both to the commissioners and the public. For the men, one and all, I welcome you back as their chief. They wish you a long life, happiness and prosperity, and hope these photographs will ever remind you of always have kindly recollections of you, though you may have vanished from the scene of this force.

“”There was loud applause as the mayor ceased speaking. Chief Stewart was visibly affected, and there was a tremor in his usual deep and steady tone as he said:

‘There are moments in every man’s life when he can scarce command the words he fain would speak; when the thought that are nearest his heart are difficult to bring to his lips. I hardly know what to say to you all. My heart is very full of tender feeling tonight, and I only wish my words could tell how proud and glad and happy you have made me by giving me this most magnificent present. I am heartily glad to be back among you all tonight, glad to shake your honest hands, glad to feel that in each one of you I have a friend. When I got the appointment for the Northwest service, there was one thought that cheered me more than did any personal gratification in being selected from among so many. It was the feeling that the government had recognized and appreciated the work of the force, for had that not been the case, the appointment would not have been made. When far away from here, I often thought of you all, and remembered the faithful service you have, one and all, cheerfully given. In every one of you I count a friend. You know how hard it is for a man in my position to get on satisfactorily with all. But I have never aimed to be your master, always your friend, and I do not think a man amongst you bears any ill-will or hard feelings towards me. I feel tonight that I am amid old, tried and true friends. (Applause.) I have every reason to be thankful that everything has gone so well with me and mine. When I left you it was with a heavy heart , for my wife was at death’s door, but I come back finding her restored to health and spirits, better and stronger than ever. (Loud applause.) I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindly sympathy and welcome. This picture we will keep as long as my wife and I or our children have a home, whether I am on the force or off it. And let me say to you that it would take a great deal to make me sever my connection with this force, and I trust the necessity may never arise, but that with advancing years our friendship may grow stronger and stronger, and if we ever part, we may meet again with a warm and hearty handshakes as we have tonight.’

“The applause finally ceased. ‘And now men,’ cried the mayor, ‘three cheers for the chief and take the word from me!’ They were given, ‘and three more for Mrs. Stewart,’ and after that, ‘once again for the little ones.’ Silence for a moment while the cheering died away. Then P.C. McMenemy hoisted his helmet, and with a rosy blush rising up his neck and face to the roots of his hair – a blush that would have added beauty to the features of some fair miss – cried, ‘An’ three av thim for the mayor.!’

“And thus the chief was welcomed home.”3

3 “With Three Times Three : Chief Stewart Right Royally Welcomed Home By the Force”

Hamilton Spectator     October 10, 1885.

The Spectator would later add that the handsome large frame for the collection of photographs presented to the Chief had been a donation from Mayor Mason.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

1885-10-02 Victoria Avenue Fire Station

Perhaps it was built before it was needed but would be needed in the fullness of time as the anticipated growth of the City of Hamilton progressed steadily in an eastward direction :

“A year ago, the brick building, commonly known as the Victoria Avenue reel house, was relegated to dust and cobwebs. Except when an election was on, it was unoccupied. It invariably looked like what it was – deserted. The growing exigencies of the city, however, made it expedient to use the station for which it was constructed.”1

1“A Handsome Station : House Warming at the Victoria Avenue Reel House Last Evening.”

Hamilton Spectator.    October 02, 1885.

The firemen and equipment to be located at the Victoria Avenue station moved into the building in the spring of 1885. However the firemen desired to make their work and living quarters much less utilitarian than what greeted them, and they went to work :

“Simultaneously, the dust and cobwebs vanished. Light streamed through the doors and windows. The domain of dirt and desolation  yielded to the seductive influences of brooms and soap and water. The boys were not content with this though, great as the improvement was. Neither were the residents of that section of the city. A number of the more generous of them sent and gave money to the boys for decorating the station. When sufficient had been accumulated, a handsome carpet was bought and laid on the upstairs floor, the walls and ceilings were artistically papered, neat black walnut bedsteads were put in, and the windows draped by elegant cretonne curtains. Bedroom and sitting room were transferred into marvels of beauty. Someone with artistic tastes superintended these matters, and turned the station into what a gentleman termed last night the handsomest one he had ever seen a paid department occupy.”1

To mark the completion of the work, the firemen organized an evening event at which the station could be displayed:

“The staff at this station consists of A. James, foreman, and Thos. Canary, Alf. Rouse, Thomas Capes and J. Thomas, and last evening they celebrated the completion of the furnishing by a little housewarming, at which a number of gentlemen spent a strictly temperate but exceedingly jovial time until nearly midnight. His worship the mayor filled the chair, and Mr. James Fairgrieve the vice chair. Aldermen MacKay and Kavanagh, Mr. John Hoodless and a number of gentleman residing in the east end, and representatives of the press, were present, and with song and sentiment managed to make the evening pass pleasantly and agreeably. The boys provided an excellent spread for their visitors in the sitting, and after this had been attacked and vanquished, an equally successful assault was made on the toast list. Everybody was toasted and everybody responded, and the only thing to be regretted in connection with the whole affair was that the chief was not there to participate in the evening’s festivities. Listeners, it is said, never hear any good of themselves, but if he had been present last evening, he would have heard many a compliment paid him both personally and professionally.” 1

One of Chief Alex. Aitchison’s many inventions to make the task of getting to fires as fast as possible was called the Quick Hitch. The horses, wagons and men could be readied in seconds, while at the same time, the big doors of the station would be rolled up to let them get going:

 “The boys hitched up several times. One itch was times, and they did it 3 ¾ seconds.” 1

By October 1885, the station was in perfect shape, and at the housewarming, the firemen expressed publicly thanks to the gentlemen who rendered them such material assistance in making it so handsome.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

1886 - Queen's Birthday

 “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 :
          DUNDURN PARK
“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.
                   BAYVIEW PARK
“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.
                   AINSLIE PARK
“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 RAILWAYS
“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.
                   LANDSDOWNE PARK
“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.
                   OTHER ATTRACTIONS
“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.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

1885 - Company Picnic at Port Dover

 “Port Dover is a pleasant place for picnickers from this city. It is a Scott act village, and the Sabbathlike stillness that broods over it like an Indian summer haze is very refreshing to people coming direct from the stir and noise of a large town.
Hamilton Spectator.     August 24, 1885.
For their second annual summer outing, to be held on Saturday August 22, 1885, the employees of the Hamilton and Northern Railway travelled to the popular lakeside town at the southern end of their line: It was a popular choice:
“Port Dover has a public resort called Erie park. Erie park is not so extensive as Fairmount or Central parks, but it is larger than the only public park that Hamilton can boast – our petite but precious Gore.
“Erie park is well-shaded, and though the only flowering plants to be found there and Canadian thistles, there are expanses of fresh green turf beneath the trees to sit on and lie on; and then, its chief advantage, the park overlooks Lake Erie, with its long narrow strip of yellow sandy beach, which gives its color to the water a quarter mile out from shore.”1
“Fun on Erie’s Shore: Annual Picnic of the N. and N. W. R. Employees : A Big Crowd at Port Dover – Exciting Baseball Match – Cranks Furnish Fun – Full List of the Sports”
Hamilton Spectator.    August 24, 1885
The number of visitors invading Port Dover for the picnic was immense :
“There must have been 2,000 persons who went to Port Dover on excursion trains, and 8,000 people in and about the park. Three trains carried the excursionists – the regular which left Hamilton at 7:15 a.m., a special, which left at 8:45, and a Beeton special, which left here about half an hour later. There were in these three trains 28 passenger coaches, and most of them were crowded. The excursionists on each train were met at the station by the Port Dover brass band, which led the way to the park, playing with all the power of their lungs.”
Om arrival at Erie Park, the employees of the railway settled down for some food and drink before the sporting events were to begin :
“It was crowded in the park, when the picnickers, gathered into little groups, opened their baskets, spread their tempting contents on extemporized tables on the grass, and proceeded to discuss them. It was like a vast family party. The committee and guests had dinner at the Dominion Hotel.”1
A baseball game kicked off the afternoon’s sporting schedule:
 “As soon as possible after dinner, the baseball match between teams from the mechanical and traffic departments was begun. It took place in an open field a short distance from the park. It is possible that baseball games have been played on worse grounds, but that probability is so small that this field may safely be considered the worst baseball ground in the country. It was picturesque, the eye of the spectator was pleased with its varied scenery of hill and vale.
“The catchers occupied a commanding eminence from which a beautiful view of the lake was obtained, and the pitchers, standing down in a valley, played an uphill game all the way through. It is probable that the field was used as a pasturage, for their was incontrovertible evidence that cattle had recently roamed on its thousand hills. But the players were by means discouraged by the character of the ground. When a low-hit ball came towards a fielder, and when he reached for it, struck an eminence in front of him and bounded ten feet over his head, it was taken as a matter of course. There were many errors on both sides, but if they were published, the majority of them would have to be given to the ground.
“At first, it looked as if the men of the mechanical department were going to have it all their own way. They scored in every inning, and in their second made 5, whilst the score of the traffic team was kept well down in the first half of the game, and they were goose-egged in their third and fifth innings. In the seventh and eighth innings, however, the traffic men did some hard hitting, and assisted by costly errors on the part of the mechanical fielders and the ground added eight to their score. When the traffic team went to bat in the ninth inning, they had to make three runs to tie the mechanicals. This they did. Then the first three mechanical men who went to bat in the tenth inning were retired, and the first goose egg was recorded against the team. There was great excitement when the traffic teams went in. M. Beasley was the first batter. He reached first base on a hit, stole second, got third on a put out at first, and came home on a hit by Parks. The traffic department thus won the match, $10 and a box of cigars.”1
After the baseball game, there were a number of contests for individual picnickers such as foot or swimming races. That portion of the day went smoothly, except for an unexpected intrusion by some uninvited interlopers:
“About the middle of the afternoon, party of a dozen or more Salvation army soldiers, headed by a drummer, filed into the park and forthwith began to hold services and call on the unrepentant holidaymakers to repent. Moreover, a couple of buxom hallelujah lasses went through the crowd selling War Cry to such of the unregenerates who would buy. Nobody objected to these vendors of the red hot literature of the Salvation army type, but there were numerous objections to the soldiers who were holding the services, for they interfered considerably with the other amusements. The zealous little band took their stand near a refreshment booth, and the proprietor of the booth complained that they were spoiling his business. At length, they were requested to retire. For a time they persisted in continuing the services but eventually were compelled to leave the park. They rallied, however, on the road outside the park fence, where the games were in progress, and attempted to gain the attention of the sinners that the games were neglected for a while and all the sinners ran after the army. The poor soldiers were hooted at and hustled and unkindly referred to as nuisances. They were driven off the road and into a neighboring lot, and three or four of the band who resisted, were picked up and incontently thrown over the fence. The scattered force rallied again, but its rallying point was far from the madding crowd, and the rub-a-dub of the drum could be heard through the trees growing fainter and fainter as the detachment retreated from the field.”1
Once the Salvation Army had been taken care of, the games resumed and in the late afternoon, the picnic broke up. Several Hamilton and Northwestern trains would return all to Hamilton by the early evening.