(A Follow up to 1885 – Baseball and 1885 – Cigarmakers’ Picnic)
On Tuesday, June 9, 1885, Hamilton Police Court Magistrate Cahill faced the usual cases involving drunkenness, disorderly behavior, assault, domestic abuse – just another typical day, except for three cases.
Maud Butler was before the magistrate charged with keeping a house of ill-fame. She pleaded not guilty, but the prosecuting authorities requested that her case be adjourned for one day so that sufficient evidence could be assembled. Adjournment granted.
An assault case was brought before the police court by Thomas Loftus, a boy driver of a wood wagon, who charged Thomas Robinson, keeper of a stable, with the offense.
Loftus had a load of wood to deliver to a Mrs. Kramer and he tried to drive through Robinson’s stable premises to make the delivery. Robinson refused to allow the delivery wagon through his property, but Loftus kept moving through. Robinson struck the driver of the wood wagon and tore his shirt in his effort to prevent the intrusion.
In his defense, the boarding stable keeper, Robinson, claimed that he was in the act of putting a farmer’s horse into his stable and had told Loftus, the delivery boy, to wait. Loftus would not wait, even though there was little room for him to pass. Robinson grabbed the head of the delivery wagon’s horse and tried to back the wood wagon off his property.
Loftus then, Robinson claimed, threw sticks of wood at him. The farmer whose horse was being boarded corroborated Robinson’s evidence.
The magistrate dismissed charge of assault against the stable keeper and the young wood delivery was ordered to pay court costs.
The most notable case was the charge of assaulting Police Constable Cruickshank on Stuart street. Brothers John and William Collins pleaded not guilty.
The police constable testified that he saw the brothers scuffling on the street near the railway station. He attempted to arrest them for disorderly conduct and was putting the handcuffs on William when his brother John struck the policeman on the nose four or five times.
A fight ensued and a crowd gathered, although no one came to the policeman’s assistance as he rolled on the ground being assaulted by the brothers.
A small police station was located at James and Stuart and the policemen on duty there were told of the fight and soon two additional constables were on scene and arrested the Collins brothers.
A witness corroborated Police Constable Cruickshank’s testimony. In their defence, the lawyer for the Collins brothers had several people called who said that they were generally hard-working men.
Magistrate Cahill ruled that the Collins brothers had to $15 each or six months in jail. The magistrate told them that his sentence could have been more severe but he took into account their previous good character.
The magistrate ended the court session by noting that the Grand Trunk railway passenger station on Stuart seemed to be the location of much disorderly conduct and he regretted that the police seemed to be in danger while on patrol there.
Two brief notes in the Diurnal Epitome : What Goeth On In and About the City for June 9, 1885 follow:
- “Alderman Morgan : “If the change in the city hall offices is not made, I shall rent proper health offices elsewhere, and the city will have to pay for them. At present, we have nothing but a closet, so to speak, and it is absolutely impossible to do the work of the department properly unless we have more room.”
- The chairman of the board of health says that the heavy rains Sunday will prevent anymore diphtheria for some time, as they flushed all the sewers most effectively. It was from the sewers all the diphtheria came. He adds that in a case of diphtheria only articles of furniture absolutely necessary should be left in the sick room. There is so much less to disinfect when the sickness is over.
The Area in the vicinity of the Grand Trunk Railway station was again in the news on June 10, 1885. Hackman Thomas Cline had been charged by officials with the Grand Trunk railway because he parked his wagon on railway property while waiting to be hired.
As pointed out in the Spectator, the case resulted in the Hackman being fined $10 plus $3 costs, although there was a problem in providing space for hackmen wanting to pick up arriving train passengers willing to pay for transportation uptown:
“The trouble arises to a great extent out of the high, broad fence that separates the yard from Stuart street. People driving down Stuart street and turning sharply into the yard cannot see if any vehicle is in the road. Accidents are liable to ensue. Besides, the yard is too small. When Hamilton had a population of 20,000, the yard was large enough for all the traffic to and fro, but now that the city has doubled its number of inhabitants, it is altogether too small, The fence should be taken down and provision made for the increase.”1
1 “The G. T. R. Trespass”
Hamilton Spectator. June 10, 1885
At noon hour, at the Wentworth County Court House on Main Street, the county court and general sessions of the peace opened before Judge Sinclair.
In his charge to the grand jury which had been assembled for that particular session, the judge told the jurors about the cases which were scheduled to be tried.
Judge Sinclair also noted that a major stabbing affray had recently taken place at Dundurn park and that case might be added to their roster:
“He saw by the morning Spectator that a most serious beach of the peace had occurred at a picnic at Dundurn park. It was right for the jurors to look into this matter, and see if any premeditated attack had been made. They might also consider the question of selling liquor at Dundurn. It was supposed to be sold for the convenience of people, but if it produced rows and serious disturbances, it became the duty of the jury to express their opinion of in their presentment.”1.5
1.5 “County Court : General Sessions of the Peace Before His Honor Judge Sinclair”
Hamilton Spectator. June 10, 1885
“The Drill shed never looked so gay. Bright bunting and flags hung on either side, rows of booths gaily decorated and filled with curiosities from foreign countries, and fancy work of all descriptions, masses of rare and beautiful flowers and plants, the flash and glitter of jewelry and silverware, handsomely dressed ladies and scores of pretty faces – all these combined to make enjoyable and attractive the Kermese which opened yesterday in aid of the Northwest missions under the auspices of the Young Ladies’ mission band in connection with the Methodist church; and the thousands of people that thronged the building, made it a complete and gratifying success.”2
2 “Kermese : Attractive Entertainment Going On in the Drill Shed”
Hamilton Spectator. June 10, 1885
It was an amazing transformation. The usually prosaic, but very large drill shed on James street where the local militia marched and marched had become an exceeding colorful, vibrant location for the Kermese.
As explained in the Spectator, “Kermese is a Hindostanee word, and means fancy fair.”2
The young ladies who organized the fair worked extremely hard to decorate the drill shed and make available, for purchase all sorts of fancy goods. All proceeds were to be forwarded to the far western territories of Canada to aid in mission work in those locations:
“Rows of booths extend up and down either side, booths filled with fancy dresses, flowers, aprons, fancy work and scores of other things, booths attended to by attractive young ladies who affably disposed of the varied goods on sale.
“One booth is completely filled with articles brought from Japan by Dr. Elby and it is attended by two young ladies who are resplendent in Japanese costume. In the center of the floor, an Indian wigwam has been erected, composed entirely of skins from the Northwest. Indian nick-nacks are on sale here, and may be purchased from a couple of young ladies who wear the garb of the child of the forest, but whose faces are free from the ruddy brown that graces the cheek of the red sister. Young ladies in Quaker costume dispense ice cream and other refreshments.”2
Several thousand people visited the Kermese on its first day. In the evening, the crowd present was entertained by a children’s choir of 300 voices, singing popular patriotic songs.
A pamphlet had been issued, put together by City Engineer Haskins and his assistant E. G. Barrow. The pamphlet provided a lengthy list of bench marks taken throughout the Hamilton of 1885, giving the levels and geographic profiles of the various locations.
As mentioned in the Spectator description of the pamphlet, “there are not many, if any Canadian cities that have such a complete list prepared:”
“The datum from which the levels are taken is the high water level of Lake Ontario, and may be defined as a horizontal plane, 63.75 feet below the bench mark on the stone work of the Masonic hall, marked with an arrowhead. All the benchmarks are cut into the stone or woodwork as they case might be, in the form of an arrowhead.
“It is learned from the book that the top of the front steps at the Mountain View, opposite James street steps, is 382.48 feet above the lake, while the corner of the base of the large fountain in the gore is only 70.13 above. At the corner of King and Ray streets, the height rises to 115.70 feet. Bay street near Herkimer reaches 122.19, and at the corner of Markland gets up to 130.42. This seems to be the highest point, outside the mountain, where the distance has been calculated. The lowest point appears to be at the bottom step of the Ontario rolling mills at the corner of Queen and Stuart streets, where the elevation is only 11.48 feet.
“The little book is very useful as by its aid curious people can obtain the exact level of their houses, in whatever part of the city, by doing a little measuring on their own account.”3
3 “Above the Lake”
Hamilton Spectator. June 10, 1885.
The Salvation Army was constantly devising new ways to attract attention to their cause, and a demonstration of a notably novel character took place during the evening hours of June 9, 1885:
“The army people excited considerable surprise by appearing upon the market square in their working clothes and carrying the tools of their trades. There were foundrymen, painters, whitewashers, bricklayers, tailoresses, servant girls, etc. The captain wore the leather apron of a shoemaker, that being his trade at the time of his conversion.
“The procession was headed by a lorry upon which were mounted men working on a sewing machine and bricklayers building an imaginary house. It is needless to say that the show attracted large numbers of followers and was held for the purpose of drawing a large audience.
“At the barracks, the workers, in giving their testimonials, attempted to show how salvation suited their particular trades. The service was a lively one, frequent and hearty singing occurring between each testimony. During a prolonged prayer meeting, one person professed conversion.”4
4 “Novel Trade Demonstration”
Hamilton Spectator. June 10, 1885