Monday, 29 June 2015

1884-0815rr Royal Hotel Improvements

When it opened 26 years before, the big hotel on James street north, corner of Merrick street, was considered to be very-up-to-date and one of the best in the province.

          However, by the summer of 1884, the Royal Hotel was in need of investments in substantial improvements to bring it up to the standards of the day.

Messrs J. and T. Hood had been lessees of the Royal Hotel for the past five years. When they re-signed for another five years, the owners of the hotel, Messrs. Williams, Markland and Beardmore agreed to finance a number of things:

“By the terms of the contract, the proprietors will alter, repair and improve the building throughout.

“An entire new roof will be put on at an expense of between $3,000 and $4,000, and new chimneys will be built.

“Fifteen new closets are to be distributed throughout the house, and six additional private bath rooms in suites of rooms besides others for general use on each flat, will be built.

“In short, the interior of the house is to be remodelled throughout, and made more than ever fit for the accommodation of the best class of the travelling public.”1

1 “The Royal Hotel : Re-Leased for Five Years to the Hood Brothers”

Hamilton Spectator.  August 15, 1884.


1884-08-15 Drowned in the Bay - August 1884

As beautiful as the Hamilton bay is, it can be deadly as well.

          Innumerable drownings have occurred, and the one of Wednesday August 15, 1884 was both tragic and typical.

          Around 8 o’clock on a warm August evening, three young men went to the bay to bathe. Their names were John Quinn, Willie Dillabough and Arthur J. Johnson. They choose to cross over the Grand Trunk railway tracks and jump into the bay from a lumber raft near then-disused emigrant wharf.

          The subsequent event was described in the Spectator as follows :

“All three stripped and went in the water. Johnson was unable to swim and clung to an iron spike in one of the booms.

“Dillabough was through first and was on the wharf dressing himself. Quinn sat on the boom, his legs dangling in the water, Johnson was in the water clinging to to the spike.

“How it happened is hard to say, but Johnson suddenly lost his grip on the iron spike and went rapidly to the bottom, giving a startled cry to Quinn for help as he sunk.

“In a couple of seconds he rose to the surface and Quinn grabbed him by the hair, but he couldn’t hold him and the boy went down.

“Quinn’s shouts brought Dillabough down, and a couple of other boys named Thomas Donovan and James Saunders, who were fishing nearby. They gathered on the booms and saw Johnson struggling wildly, rise to within a few feet of the surface.

“Then he sunk again, and that was the last seen of him alive.”1

1 “Drowned in the Bay : Arthur J. Johnson Comes to an Untimely End”

Hamilton Spectator. August 15, 1884.

Dillabough and Quinn decided to run to inform the police.

 Some constables went to the bay and organized a search for Johnson’s body, while Sergeant McMahon was assigned the sad duty of informing Johnson’s mother of the incident:

“Mrs. Johnson has been unwell, and was almost heart broken by the sad news which was told her with all possible gentleness.”1

It was almost midnight before Johnson’s body was recovered by use of a spear hook. The corpse was then taken to the Johnson home on Mary street:

“A SPECTATOR reporter called at the house yesterday. The body was but lightly swollen and the features were hardly changed.

“Deceased was 15 years of age and the eldest of a family of six, four boys and two girls. They have only been in Canada since October last, having come here from Sandwich, a small town on the eastern coast of Kent, England.

“He was a bright, intelligent lad, and looked much older than he really was. He worked for Mr. Walker, the grocer, on King street west, and gave his employer every satisfaction.

“He did not go home to tea last evening, but his mother thought nothing of it. He was frequently in the habit of staying away from his meals when work or other matters detained him

“He left the house at noon laughing, joking and in the best of spirits; he was brought back a corpse.”1



Sunday, 28 June 2015

1884-08-15jnd Two Ads - Summer Recreation in Hamilton




Caledonian Society and Germania Club

       Of Hamilton, at Dundurn Park,


Caledonian Society, holding their eleventh annual gathering and games, arrangements being completed with many of the best athletes and dancers in America. The Germania club, assisted by the following singing societies – Liedertafel, Waterloo, Ont; Liederkranze, Toronto; Saengerbunds of Buffalo and Lockport, will hold a grand musical festival both afternoon and evening, over 100 voices taking part in the evening concert. The Thirteenth battalion band (with kind permission of Lieut.-Col. Gibson, and officers commanding) will be present during the day, and assist the singers at each of the concerts. Baseball match, the championship league game of the season, between, between the Beavers, of Guelph, and Clippers, of Hamilton. Game called at 10 a.m. sharp. Arrangements being completed with the various railway and steamboat lines to run excursions from United States and Canada on that day. A large amount of prizes in money as well as the usual cup and medals, to be competed for. Nelligan’s string band has been engaged for the occasion. Procession will be formed at the Gore, at 1 o’clock sharp. Tickets of admission 25 cents; children’s tickets 10 cents, to be had from members of committee, and the usual book and music stores. Joint Committee – Messrs. D. Robertson, Colin McRae, D. McQueen, D. Ferguson, Wm. Murray (Secretary), W. G. Reid (Chief Caledonian Society), Messrs. A. Otto, (chairman), L. Roehn, Chas. Hiby, Helig, Kreuse, J. Zingzholm (President Germania Club).

                                    BAY VIEW PARK
     THIS PLEASANT SUMMER RESORT is now open to the public. There are now in connection with the hotel a splendid parlor, refreshment room and ball room.
                                                                   GEO. MIDWINTER, Proprietor.

                                       THE CLARA LOUISE
          Will leave Simcoe street wharf daily at the following hours : In the morning 10:15 and 11:00, in the afternoon at 1 and 3.

                                      The Shamrock
          Will leave Beckett’s wharf every morning at 10:30 o’clock; in the afternoon at 1:30 and 3:30.
          For the convenience of those who wish to visit the Rock Bay Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, the Clara Louise and Shamrock will make trips at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30, 4, 4:30, 5, 5:30 and 6.
          Special rates given for picnic and private parties.
          Bay View and return 15c.
T.F. THORNTON, Master and owner Clara Louise.
J. H. LARKIN, Owner, Shamrock.

1884-08-15 Hamilton Slandered By Toronto World.

The ongoing, and intense rivalry between Toronto and Hamilton was kicked up a notch in response to the announcement in the summer of 1884 that natural gas had been discovered east of Hamilton, and that a company had been put together to take advantage of that discovery.
Along the Red Hill Creek, near the base of the escarpment where Albion Falls was located, there had been discovered veins of natural gas which might have been large enough to warrant commercial exploitation.
The Toronto World, in reaction to this news, took the opportunity to mock Hamilton's previous lack of initiative as regards natural gas, noting Hamilton's Scots-like obsessive frugality which had always been holding the city interests back from progression :

         " Natural gas at Hamilton. Is it only now that they are finding that out? Why there is and always has been, an unlimited supply of natural gas in Hamilton. Hitherto, however, it has been used chiefly in blazing away about the great things to be done, extensive purchases of – well, it’s no use going over the ground again; nut anyhow, lots of natural gas is expended yearly in specifying, newspaper opinions and sage advices pro and con – the whole thing culminating in the canny folks vetoing every improvement on the score of economy. However, as money is supposed to be in the new scheme, we shouldn’t wonder if something worthwhile should come of the Albion Mills treasure trove, and we trust that the natural gas utilization will really become an accomplished fact. Meanwhile let us hope for the infusion of a little Yankee vim in the dry bony atmosphere of economy parsimoniousness, which is paralyzing the energies of that pretty little town – and trust that the cheap fuel promised in lieu of coal will put a flea in the ear of the coal ring, and prevent the usual reduction of foundry men’s wages, etc. etc."
- quoted in the Hamilton Spectator. August 16, 1884 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

1884-08-11 Strike BreakerTheatened - Aug. 1884


       In August, 1884, there were some labor troubles, yet again in Hamilton. At the time, the Knights of Labor was an organization with a huge amount of influence with workers in the city.

The Gardner Sewing Machine factory had been one of the firms experiencing labor troubles.

On August 11, 1884, the Spectator carried the following item which arose from a conversation with a worker at that company:

“It came to the ears of a Spectator reporter yesterday afternoon that one of the workmen in the Gardner sewing machine factory named Klinger, one of those who had refused to obey the mandate of the Knights of Labor to go out, had been threatened by a member of that organization.

“Mr. Klinger was accordingly interviewed.

“ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘it’s quite true. The man who threatened me was a Knight of Labor, but I cannot say that he was authorized by the knights to make the threat. He may have made it out of personal malice. He told me that if I valued my life more than my place, I had better quit work. I have informed the chief of police of the threat, and he has instructed me how to act. I will follow his instructions. If these men think they can frighten me, they are mistaken in their man; and if they attempt to carry out this threat, it will result more seriously to them than to me.’

“Mr. Klinger is a German, and evidently a very intelligent and respectable man. It is not at all likely that the threat came from the Knights of Labor, as a body, and Mr. Klinger has no bodily harm to dread from this source.”1

1 “A Knightly Threat”

Hamilton Spectator.  August 11, 1884


1884-08-11 Daily Events in August 1884

In every issue of the Hamilton Spectator for many years was a feature which appeared at the upper left hand corner of page 4, the page where most local news was presented.

The feature contained short, point-formed tidbits of local news and it always carried the headline, “The Diurnal Epitome : What Goeth On In and About the City : Items of Local News Gathered by Special Reporters and Presented in Attractive Form for the Interested Reader.”

Among the items in The Diurnal Epitome for August 11, 1884 were the following quoted as appeared with a little extra explanation which readers in 1884 would not have required) :

-      Somebody stole a velocipede (an early kind of bicycle) from in front of Thomas Bogges’ second-hand store.

-      Yesterday’s temperature as registered at Harrison Bros.’ drug store : 9 a.m., 66 degrees; 12 noon, 2 p.m., 77 degrees.

-      Weather probabilities for today : light, variable winds; fair warm weather.

-      The asphalt walks laid in the market are the best that have been put down in the city. They are much more even than the others and consequently far nicer to walk on.

-      The sidewalks on Hughson street north, near Barton street, are in a disgraceful state of repair, and on dark nights, it is almost impossible to walk in that direction without damaging the sympathetic shin.

-      An excursion of the Royal Templars of Temperance from Collingwood, Barrie, Beeton, Georgetown and other points along the N. & N. W. railway (North and Northwestern Railway) will be run today. The members of the order here will receive the excursionists.

-      Early Monday morning Boyle’s Dundurn hotel was burglarized and 50 boxes of cigars and a bottle of whiskey were taken. No money was extracted from the till for precisely that you cannot get blood from a turnip – there was none.

-      Chief Stewart has returned and resumed active work. He had the new police wagon tried yesterday. He was very much pleased with it and found that it equaled his most sanguine expectation. (Hamilton Police Chief had been on a temporary leave of absence as he had been asked to help collect evidence for the trial of Louis Riel.)

-      Prof. Gant has been elected drum major of the Union coronet band. There were several applicants for the position, and the professor was elected by a vote of 15 to 1. Whenever the band appears after this the public ay expect something swell in the matter of appearance and something fantastic in the way of staff manipulation. (‘Professor’ Jesse Gant was a black man and one of the best known Hamiltonians of the day. A barber by profession, he was also a singer, dancer, boxer, debater, kite flyer and much more – he was the self-described ‘spokesman for the colored population of Hamilton” and frequently wrote long, scathing letters to the local press when he encountered racial matters which need to be pointed out. Gant’s athleticism and flamboyance would be welcomed as he led the brass band on parade.)

-      Toronto Globe : Fisheries Inspector Kerr, of Hamilton, who is making a report to the Government on the dead shed in the lake was in town yesterday. He says there are plenty of live shed and a few dead ones in the reservoir at Hamilton. They probably reached the reservoir while the filtering basin was being repaired a few years ago. (Hamilton’s water in 1884 was pumped from Lake Ontario through a sand filtering basin on the beach, and then further pumped into a huge reservoir on the side of the escarpment, then distributed from there throughout the city.)

-      The sewer on Victoria avenue between Robert and Barton street caved in yesterday afternoon, and a portion of the street went down with it. A horse fell in during the afternoon, but fortunately was not  seriously injured, though corporation laborers had to dig it out. The buggy attachment lingered on the road when the horse went own, but was not broken.

-      A gentleman who lives on Cannon street near the southwest corner of it and Wellington streets, owns a water spaniel. The water spaniel bites. It carried off a small section of a SPECTATOR reporter’s trowsers and legs last evening, and seemed anxious for more. The gentleman who owns the dog will consult his own interests by getting rid of it. It will be cheaper than paying a fine.



Friday, 19 June 2015

1884-08-11ww Tragic End of May Mckenzie


       “It will be remembered that last spring a man named Kenneth Mackenzie, who was in the employ of J. Martin, a spring-bed manufacturer in the city, ran away with a Mrs. Small and some of Martin’s money.”

Hamilton Spectator.   August 11, 1884.

When Kenneth Martin abruptly departed the city, his wife and child were left in a destitute condition.

Mrs. May Mackenzie was a sickly woman, unable to work very much. There was some household furniture left in her possession, plus her own stock of clothing:

“She gave up housekeeping and boarded with Mrs. Boviard, of 57 Robert street. She managed to live by selling her clothing and furniture, but had it not been for the kindness of her landlady and Mrs. Legerwood, a warm friend of hers who lived a few doors away, she would have died of starvation more than once.”1

1 “Her Unfortunate End : Mrs. Mackenzie’s Sad Death Yesterday : The Close of a Career That Was Blighted By a Man’s Villainy – An Inquest To Be Held.”

Hamilton Spectator.  August 11, 1884.

May Mackenzie had come to Hamilton with her husband in January, 1883 from the United States. Her husband used the name Kenneth Mackenzie after he came to Hamilton, but May confessed to her friend that his name was actually Holmes Mackenzie and that he was on the lam from New York state where he was facing an embezzlement charge.

The Mackenzie’s seemed to outsiders to be a reasonably happy family, but that changed :

“They always lived happily together and it was on account of no quarrel or disagreement with her that he left, but on account of his blind infatuation for another woman.”1

So much was known about May Mackenzie’s situation as of August 9, 1884 :

“On Saturday night, Mrs. Mackenzie retired, complaining of feeling unwell. She is subject to convulsions and since last spring, she has had them several times, Mrs. Legerwood, her friend, aiding her. She said Saturday evening that she thought she was going to have another attack.

“On retiring, she locked her door. This morning she did not open it, and as the day wore away the people began to get somewhat alarmed and finally at 5:30 o’clock, Police Constable McBride was called in. He broke open her bedroom door and she was found lying face downward, her face buried in a pillow, and her little year-old child beside her.”1

It was thought that a coroner’s inquest was necessary as the cause of death was unclear. There was a possibility in some minds that May Mackenzie had poisoned herself, although her friend, Mrs. Legerwood, was not favor of the idea of suicide feeling that May had simply died of natural causes.

The Spectator coverage of the tragic story concluded as follows:

“Mrs. Mackenzie was a quiet, unassuming, well-educated and lady-like woman, and was both respected and beloved by those who knew her.

“Her lot has been very sad and unfortunate, and she had the sincere sympathy of those who knew her, and the story of her husband’s cruel and heartless desertion of her, and her subsequent struggle for existence for herself and her helpless child. She was 44 years of age.”1



Sunday, 14 June 2015

1884-11-26aa Swamp Water and Hamilton Waterworks

In 1884, the Hamilton Waterworks system was almost 25 years in existence. Drawing water from Lake Ontario through a sand filtering basin on the beach, the process involved drawing that water through a large pipe to the Pump House.
          The large pipe was located in a marshy area, leading to some suspicions that the water might get contaminated by that matter.
On November 26, 1884, the Spectator described in detail a surprisingly operation that the Hamilton Waterworks did to allay such suspicions:
          “Quite unknown to the majority of people more particularly interested in civic affairs, the waterworks department has had the filtering basin at the Beach thoroughly cleaned out.
          “Of course, this is done every year. But the matter was kept quiet, because the department wished to experiment a little while the basin was empty.
“There has been considerable talk about a leakage in the conduit that carries the water from the filtering basin to the pumping well. It passes through a marsh, and it has been said that the malarial marsh water found its way in and mingled freely with the city water ; and that the water we drink is filled to overflowing with deadly fevers and contagious diseases of all sorts.
“The results of the experiment have been most satisfactory.
“The conduit was plugged up at the filtering basin, and the Worthington donkey pump at the pumping house was put in at the other end and all the water pumped out. It was found to be perfectly clear and pure, and free, as far as could be judged, from all foreign substances.
“When the water was let back into the conduit and the plug removed, the pressure of air and water was very great, and for half an hour or more the water at the mouth of the conduit was a seething, bubbling mass.
“Considering the terrible force in this air and water, if there had been any holes in the conduit, where it passes through the swamp, it would have sent the bubbles flying through the swamp water.
“But it did not.
“There was not a ripple on its surface, which is proof positive that the conduit must be perfectly tight.
“It would be hard to imagine how the water could get in anyhow. The pipe is firmly imbedded in several feet of blue clay, and this ought to keep out all the placid swamp water in creation.”1
1 “Our City Water : The Waterworks Department Does Surprising Things.”
Hamilton Spectator. November 26, 1884.