“It is really wonderful what interest the most trifling incident on the streets will sometimes cause, no matter it is a man being chased by his mother-in-law with a broom-stick, or an overloaded vehicle stuck in the mud and snow.”
Hamilton Weekly Times. January 31, 1884.
January 1884’s weather in the Hamilton area had been characterized by substantial snow storms. Towards the end of the month, a mild spell had melted quite a bit of the accumulated snow.
In downtown Hamilton where the street traffic was always heavy, the melted snow make for terrible driving conditions as the thoroughfares were basically churned up mud.
Hamilton’s James Street was one of the routes used by the Hamilton Street Railway whose horse-drawn cars followed along a track in the middle of the street.
One morning in January 1884, a wagon was proceeding on James street, near the Main street intersection, when the driver noticed a Hamilton Street Railway car approaching :
“A span of ordinary-looking nags, attached to a load of manure, in being turned out to permit a north-bound car to pass, stuck fast in the ditch opposite Messrs. Brown, Balfour & Co..
“They were coaxed and beaten in turn, but refused to budge an inch. Finally the driver gave up in despair.”1
1 “A Teamster’s Troubles : County Councillors Baffled By a Baulky Horse : Laughable Incident on James Street”
Weekly Times. January 31, 1884.
The Hamilton Street Railway driver decided to lend assistance by having his horses pull the wagon out of the ditch. His horses were unhitched and the car moved:
“The result was that the car was moved to Main street, fronting the Hamilton Club. While this was going on the passengers in the car were meekly waiting for the return of the equines to draw them northward. But they did deem the time misspent as they gazed out of the windows at the fun.”1
The situation not only attracted the interest of the HSR passengers but it also “tickled the risibles of a great many passersby”1
Even though additional horses were attached to help pull the wagon and its horses out of the ditch, one of the first set of horses refused to assist:
“He turned his head around and said, as near as one can get at animal language, ‘I’ll be hanged if I’ll pull a pound.’ And he kept his resolution.” 1
From the ever-growing crowd of onlookers, a few suggestions were forwarded:
“One little fellow proposed that a leathern impetus should be given him from behind. Mr. Lovett, of Ancaster, considered that twisting the bit in his mouth and pulling his head around would make him start. But it didn’t.
“Other members of the county council then arrived on the scene and went into committee of the whole on the situation. One suggested the twisting of his ear. It was done, but the animal merely smiled. The member from Beverly proposed putting mud in the horse’s nose.”1
At this point, a couple of unsuspecting young fellows came riding along on their horses:
“They were made to dismount, and by a long, strong pull, the load was at length dislodged. A great deal of amusement was caused by the efforts of the boys to get back their fiery charges.”1
The well-heeled members of the Hamilton Club at Main and James heard of the matter :
“The episode was watched with interest and much amusement by the gentlemen of the club from the windows of that institution.”1
The Times reporter ended his report on the laughable incident as follows :
“While the affair caused no small amount of amusement to scores of bystanders, it will serve as a warning, doubtless, to the owner of the load never to put on more in future than his horses are able to draw.”1