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.