Tuesday, 28 February 2017

1886 - Opening of the Dundurn Park Season

The beautiful grounds surrounding Dundurn castle were still in private hands in 1886. Thomas Crooks was the lessee of the park that year, and he put on a series of sporting events, concerts and other entertainment to attract paying attendees to the beautiful location.

The 1886 season was officially begun on May 3, 1886 with a programme highlighted by the fireworks artistry of Professor Hand.

The full account of the season opening, as published in the Hamilton Spectator of May 3, 1886 follows :

“Dundurn Opening : Prof. Hand Strikes Good Weather and Gives a Fine Exhibition .”

Hamilton Spectator.   May 4, 1886

“This season’s formal opening of Dundurn Park was by all odds the most successful yet. To commence with, the weather was all that could be desired, and the programme was a remarkably good one. Prof. Hand carried out his promise to make the display of fireworks the best that has yet been given here. The grounds were illuminated brilliantly by Chinese lanterns which showed well in the darkness of the night. The devices prepared especially for the occasion were particularly beautiful; the Welcome, the windmills, the palmettas and the Union Jack being among the best ever shown here. The grand Masonic emblem, the last piece shown, was magnificent.

“Mayor McKay and members of city council were present and occupied the press box, from which some of the pieces were set off by electricity. The band of the Thirteenth battalion played a programme of its every best selections during the evening, adding to the enjoyment of all. Those who love the dance had an opportunity of enjoying themselves thoroughly as an excellent string band provided them with all the music they desired.

“The people of the city were not slow to appreciate the efforts of Prof. Hand, and, at the same time, enjoy a fine pyrotechnic show and promenade concert in the loveliest park in Canada and turned out in large numbers. The attendance was between 1500 and 200 people.”



Sunday, 26 February 2017

1886 - Hamilton Fire Department

In April, 1886, the stellar reputation of the Hamilton Fire Department attracted widespread attention. The innovations of Fire Chief Alex. Aitchison, as well as the discipline of the firemen on the department were respected and imitated. Both nationally and internationally.

A small newspaper located not too far from Hamilton in Milton Ontario sent a reporter to get a demonstration of the Hamilton Fire Department’s methods.

The article which resulted was first carried in the Milton Sun, and later reproduced in the Hamilton Spectator of April 20, 1886 :

“One evening last week, Chief Aitchison, of the Hamilton Fire department, showed the Sun through the various fire halls in that city. They are four in number, and cost the city, together with wages, horses, etc., some $25,000 annually. But they are well-worth the amount. Although the fire calls average one every two days, the department has not lost $1,000 yet this year.

“The system, which was designed and perfected by Chief Aitchison, is the best in the world for prompt, nay lightning, work. Take Victoria avenue fire hall for instance. The gas was turned down; the hall was dark as midnight, and as silent almost as the grave; not a sign of life was visible; a gong struck. Instantly, the Sun was in the bright glare of a gas jet, and every part of the hall was visible, and before one could rub his eyes, the horses were out, hitched up by an automatic arrangement, the fire ladies were in their respective places, the doors were open and the whole strength of the hall were ready to move to the scene of the fire at a breakneck pace. This transformation scene from dark silence to active, alert, busy life, was accomplished in the incredibly short space of one and a half seconds.

“We stood in admiration, and desired the chief to do it all over again in order that we could see how it was done. He was kind enough to comply, and we saw more the second time from the first, although the time was about the same. The automatic mechanism opening the stable doors, waking the men and horses, lighting the gas etc., is simply unapproachable, while the alertness of the living machinery leaves the spectator lost in wonder. The whole must be seen to be thoroughly appreciated, and Chief Aitchison and his men are courteous to all visitors. The Hamilton Fire department cannot be beaten, and we take especial delight in chronicling the fact.”



1886 - The Hams Pre-Season


 “Yesterday, the members of the Hamilton team began seriously to practice for the summer campaign.”

Hamilton Spectator.   April 20, 1886.

Just three weeks previously, Hamilton had endured a severe wind and snow storm, but on April 19, 1886, the grounds of Dundurn park were green with new leaves and fresh grass.

At the baseball grounds of Dundurn, located just east of the castle, the sound of bat hitting ball, and the chatter of players working out were observed by a Hamilton Spectator reporter:

 “Some desultory practice was indulged in on Friday and Saturday, but yesterday they got down to real earnest work. If the present fine weather lasts, it won’t take long for them to wear off the winter’s rust and get into playing shape.”1

1“The Hamilton Team : Some Facts About the Men Who Compose It.”

Hamilton Spectator.   April 20, 1886.

The Hamilton professional baseball team known as the Clippers had received a name change during the off-season, becoming known simply as the Hams. New uniforms had been ordered as well:

“Some of the players wore their new bronze-green uniforms, which will look well on bright days, but rather dull when the sun doesn’t shine.”1

One member of the team, the playing-manager was wearing a new uniform but in a decidedly unprofessional way:

“Manager Collins had neglected to tuck his abbreviated breeches under his stockings, and they flapped wildly in the balmy spring breezes in a manner that was strongly suggestive of an ancient spinster in a burlesque”1

Collins who played second base as well as managing the Hams soke briefly to the young man from the Spec:

“ ‘I don’t want to boast of our team,’ said Manager Collins last night, with the caution and good sense which distinguish him; ‘it is easy to win games on paper, and talk is cheap; but I have an impression that the other teams in the league will have to play very good ball in order to beat us.’ ”1

The Hams’ manager had already made a name for himself as a player locally, as well as internationally:

“Manager Charles Collins, familiarly and irreverently called ‘Chub,’ will guard second base. He is a Dundas boy, having first seen daylight in the Valley City some 27 years ago. In early boyhood, Mr. Collins aspired to be a ball player, and used to distinguish himself with the old Hamilton Standards when that club was in the full noontide blaze of its fame.

“Mr. Collins began playing professionally in 1883, with the Port Huron club, and, in 1884, played second base with the Buffalo league team. Last season he played the same position with the Clippers, and managed the team during the latter half of the season.

“His qualities as a ball player are well known here; one of the best second basemen in the business, a fair hitter, and a superb baserunner. He weighs 165 pounds, and his height is five feet, 11 ½ inches.

“As a manager, Collins is a success. Naturally genial and good-tempered, he is a great favorite with the whole team, but he is also strict when it is necessary to be so, and so long as he is manager there will be no ‘monkeying’ in the team. It may be added that the manager neither drinks nor smokes, and discourages the use of liquor and tobacco as much as possible among the members of the team.”1

A new addition to the team, third base coach James Rainey received a detailed description of his looks and his antics in, rather near, the coaching box:

“With ordinary clothes on Rainey looks like an aesthetic divinity student, but the similarity vanishes when he stands between the home plate and third base pretending to encourage the runner, but really trying to rattle the pitcher or catcher by emitting ghastly shrieks which sound like a mixture of a fog horn whistle and the familiar noise produced in sharpening a cross-cut saw”

At a meeting of the shareholders of the Hamilton Baseball Association, at the Royal Hotel  held on April 19, 1886, the following charges were put in place for fans wanted to see the Hams in action at Dundurn : general admission 25 cents, plus 10 cents to get into the grandstand. Ladies, 25 cents plus no charge to the grandstand, except on holidays.

A new measure put in place gave serious fans the opportunity to obtain a ticket for each of the 50 homes games during the 1886 season:

“Book tickets, good for 50 games, one ticket for each game, will be issued at a special rate. These tickets will entitle the holders to admission and will give them the additional privilege of a reserved seat. A seat will be held for each season ticket holder until five or ten minutes after each game commences, after which those who have no arrived will have to take chances. Carriages will be admitted free “

As the ball grounds at Dundurn had only been created a few years previously, the general manager of the Hams wanted to assure local fans that some improvements were made for the 1886 season

“Mr. Stroud stated that the lessees of the park would keep the grounds in perfect shape; furnish sufficient grandstand accommodation and convenient places where to tie up horses; see that the ball field was kept free from the intrusion of outsiders and that was always adequate police protection.

“The cottage at the east end of Dundurn park is being conveniently fitted up for the players. It will have baths and a locker for each man, as well as for members of visiting teams.”1



Friday, 24 February 2017

1886 Storm

It was very late in the winter of 1886, indeed winter had officially ended a few weeks earlier..
The month of April had already arrived, but on April 3, 1886, a wind and snowstorm of epic proportions struck the head of Lake Ontario. With winds out of the northeast, the waters of Lake Ontario and of Burlington bay, rose alarmingly high and did severe damage when the immense waves struck the shoreline.
For a young reporter with the Hamilton Spectator assigned to cover the impact of the storm, his assignment became even more challenging when it was learned that the telegraph wires had been downed by the high winds. The Spectator edition would not therefore contain the usual national and international news, and so the reporter was told to fill the resulting space with as much detail on the storm as he could.
The result was an article, nearly 3,000 words in length. It was the longest article on any one local subject that had appeared in the paper in many a day.
The reporter went to the waterfront from the foot of Wentworth street to the Grand Trunk Railway yards, and recorded the damages received by the boat houses, the wharves, the warehouses and the boats, large and small docked there.
The reporter also interviewed a number of passengers on a North and Northwestern train whose progress along the Beach Strip had been impeded by the waters of Lake Ontario which had washed away the track base in several locations.
The reporter also was able to learn of and recount the many damages citizens and businesses in the city itself caused by the wind and snow.
Finally, the reporter managed to get some salient quotes from some older citizens, speaking on the comparative intensity of the storm in relation to others over the years.
Having to rush to get his article written and made available for the typesetters at the Spectator office, the reporter occasionally repeated some items but nevertheless.
Following is the article which appeared in the Hamilton Spectator of April 4, 1886:
 “ ‘That’s a bad sky, a very bad sky,’ said an old captain to a group of men as they left MacKay’s wharf Monday night, ‘or I haven’t learnt much in 30 years on the lakes. We’ll have a big storm before many days, so look out for it.’
“The big storm came before many days – before many hours, indeed, and proved the most extensive and the most disastrous that has struck this port for many a year.
“All along the bay shore is scattered driftwood of every description. Long, strong beams which look as though they might ‘weather the roughest blast / That ever the wind did blow;’ bits of planks; cribbing timbers with inch and a quarter bolts and huge nuts showing themselves here and there; ship timbers and, occasionally, a small shed being thrown about on the boisterous waves. The slips are full of this sort of wreckage, all crowded together with broken ice blown up from the beach shore.
“The northeast wind which blew on Monday increased in violence towards midnight and a few hours later was blowing a gale. The bay was calm enough all night, but before daylight, the sea began to roll heavily and was soon running very high. Wind and sea increased in violence until about nine o’clock. After that time, the wind began slowly to sink, but the sea increased for another hour or two, doing immense damage.
“The whole force of the gale struck Murton and Reid’s dock. The structure stood the lashing of the waves for a time, but soon it began to give. In an hour it was gone. All that could be seen of it was the piles, their black heads sticking above the water, the lonely snubbing posts standing bravely erect and bidding defiance to the storm. The wreck of the dock was washed up against Myles’ dock, which was but a few yards west of where Murton and Reid’s was.
“The schooner Ella Murton was tied up here. Fortunately for her, the storm carried the timbers of the wrecked deck broadside, but the floating timber broke the fotce of the incessant pounding or she would doubtless have been stove in. Myles’ dock suffered very slightly. A few of its planks were washed away, but can easily be replaced. The drive from the dock to the coal office, over which all coal delivered to Myles and Son has to pass, was washed away, but the coal sheds stood the blast. The sheet iron cribbing saved Murton and Reid’s coal sheds.
“Myles’ schooner, the Gulnair, was anchored at the west side of the dock. Her anchor failed to hold firmly in that part of the bay, and the vessel was driven stern first, for about 200 yards, dragging her anchor after her. She grounded on a spot where there is usually very shallow water. She was not injured, but when the water sinks again, it will be some trouble to get her off.
“Mackay’s wharf escaped with but little damage. The eastern dock, which was destroyed by fire in December, was being rebuilt. Two or three cribs had been sunk, and it was feared that they would be washed away, but they were not. The huge, drifting timbers beat violently against the western dock, but were in a sheltered spot and well tied up, so that they were not injured at all.
“At McIlwraith’s dock, the schooners Undine, of this city, and North Star, of Whitby, were tied up. The Undine was in a sheltered spot, but the North Star broke loose and was driven against the schooner E. B. Rutherford anchored at Browne’s dock. The North Star lost her jib-boom and her bow-sprit, and the Rutherford had two or three holes punched through her bulwarks.
“Browne’s wharf was very slightly injured. What was left of Zealand’s wharf after the fire of last December was pretty well cleaned away. The water washed clean over it as though there was nothing there.
“The propeller Lake Michigan, tied up at the west side of the dock broke away and was drifted across Robinson’s ship yard. The propeller St. Magnus was at Robinson’s dock, and there was great danger of the Michigan being blown into her. Fortunately, the stern of the Michigan was to the broadside of the St. Magnus. The efforts of Mr. Robinson and assistants prevented any damage.
“At Bastien’s boat house, the storm played havoc. The dock was washed away for a space of about fifteen yards – piles, rafters and all – and was taken over to Massie’s. The large boathouse was in danger, and all the boats were got out as quickly as possible, but the structure stood the gale.
“The boathouse of the Leander rowing club was damaged by having part of the floor torn up, but all the boats were got out safely. Massie’s boat house escaped very lightly, a walk only being swept away and a fence torn down.
“The roof of McIlwraith’s immense coal shed was torn up and boards carried away across the water. A portion of the roof of Brown’s coal shed was also carried away.
“Around the shore, south and west of Bastien’s wharf, the damage was not so heavy. The two wharves at the foot of Simcoe street were both slightly disfigured. A slice of ten feet or so was taken out of the one to which the Lily was moored. In the offing, Walton’ steam yacht, the Blandina, tugged at a strong cable that stood the heavy strain well. Mat Thompson’s boat house looked all right from a little distance, but a closer inspection showed that the landing around it had been washed away. Luke Thompson’s boat house is a sufferer. Part of the elevated plank walk leading to it is gone, and a good portion of the fine landing stage about the boat house is missing. When the storm was at its height, it was feared that the whole building would go, but it stood the shock bravely.
“All around the shore here driftwood, principally from Thompson’s place, is piled high, and stacks of it are lying between Walton’s ice house and the emigrant wharf. The force of the wind unroofed a few feet of Walton’s ice house, and a shower of shingles split into splinters, were carried over and fell with the snow in the Grand Trunk yard.
“Some of the lonely boat houses scattered along the shore between Lilly’s wharf and Thompson’s boat house got lost in the moaning waves and came to the shore as debris.
“Standing on a corner by Walton’s ice-house, sheltered from wind and snow, an old wrecker was calmly contemplating the driftwood from behind a black and aromatic clay pipe. He held a boat hook firmly in one hand, and now and then reached it out to help some scrap of tossing timber to a place of safety.
“ ‘This here’s the worst I ever did see,’ he remarked in answer to a question from the Spectator’s young man. ‘I’ve seen some mighty tuff blows on this here water, but I never see one to ekal this. No, and I guess there ain’t one in these parts as has.’ Then he lapsed into silence, and the placid enjoyment of his weather-beaten clay once more.

“The only good act which the storm did along the bay shore was to carry away every remaining vestige of the wreck of the old Osprey. The rapid rise of the water and the violence of the wind raised her hull off the bottom. She rose and fell, beating herself to pieces. In fifteen minutes, from the time she was seen to move, there was nothing to be seen of her. Half an hour later, her timbers, some of sound and some rotten, could be seen in MacKay’s and McIlwraith’s slips. No one will regret the removal of the unsightly old thing.

“About town the heavy gale did considerable damage. Gates and fences were blown down, chimneys toppled over and windows broken. Jas. Faulknor’s house, 157 Napier street, was unroofed. The force of the wind shifted the roof, and it fell in, knocking down a part of the southwest wall. No ne was hurt. In the east end, the wind played havoc with many fine trees. Large branches were broken off and hurled far up the road.
“A few minutes past ten o’clock, a Spectator reporter was standing on Myles’ dock, as near the end as was considered safe, watching, or trying to watch, through the snow – every flake of which cut like a knife – the storm. Mr. C. Murton had just remarked that the storm was abating when a huge wave washed right over the deck of the schooner Ella Murton, drenching the small group which was standing by her side in a sheltered spot. Just at that moment, no one in the group appeared to hold the same opinion as Mr. Murton.
“The Great North-western telegraph company’s lines are down in every direction, and the damage is constantly increasing. Not a line of associated press matter had been received up to 3 o’clock and the Evening Spectator was without its customary afternoon dispatches.

“The old man had been looking at the ceiling through the bottom of an empty whiskey glass and when he set it down, he said; ‘I only remember one storm worser ‘n’ this. It was 25 or 26 years ago, before you was born, young feller. She came on in the fall, jes before the close of navvygashun, druv vessels ashore, and played ther dance around ther town, and at ther docks. All ther vessels at ther docks had to be let go. She was a bigger storm ‘n this ‘n, but tis un’s the wuss since then. Well, I don’t mind if I do.’
“Fortunately no serious damage was done to the Grand Trunk railway line between here and Toronto, and though the regular trains were delayed, there were no stoppages. But the storm cost the company a far more serious loss near Hamilton than the blocking of the line. The bay shore between the west  end of the yard and the Desjardins canal, along which the line runs quite close to the water, was washed away to such an extent that it will be necessary to have it banked up in order to make the road secure. In this alone, the storm will cost the G.T.R. between $5,000 and $6,000 at least.
“The boat houses at the foot of Wentworth street received just as severe treatment as any others. Two or three private boat houses were seen floating before the gale, turned upside down.
“Among the minor effects of the storm was that the Canada Life clock was stopped, the dial being clogged with snow.
“The city last night was like a scene in fairyland. The soft snow clung to every projection and filled every crevice in every wall and fence, and loaded down the branches of the trees. Where the electric lamps were, the scene was inexpressibly beautiful. There was nothing like it all last winter.
          AT THE BEACH
“At the beach, the storm raged with great fury, and the effects have been serious. The Northern and Northwestern line has been washed away in two places. The regular train, with 50 passengers, due here at 11:35 a.m., was stopped at a point between the Ocean house and Dynes’, a large section of the track behind the train had been washed away. It was immediately decided that another section of the track had been swept away. So there the train had to stick. The passengers went to the Ocean house and waited. Mr. Dench, the local manager, was soon apprised of the trouble, and he sent a train down the line as far as it could go, and arrangements to have the passengers transferred from the Ocean house over the gap in vehicles.
“It was agreed by all who have been about the bay and lake long enough to know, that the storm was the severest which has visited here for 30 years. Fortunately it was of short duration, or there would have been no counting the damage it would have done. As it is, many thousands dollars’ worth of property has ben destroyed.
“ ‘The Beach is gone,’ cried an excited passenger, as he got off the relief train on the Northern and Northwestern railway at 4:45 yesterday afternoon. ‘Yes sir, that’s about the size of it. If this storm don’t let up, goodness only knows where it will end. When I left, there was nothing when between the Ocean house and John Dynes’, and it was getting worse every minute. I was the last man to cross the gap, and you can see that I walked through water as high as my waist. And that was on the road, mind you, not on the track.’
“The storm at the Beach is undoubtedly one of the worst that has been seen there in years. Yesterday afternoon, the lake was lashed into terrible fury, and the surf boomed like thunder. The waves washed up to and over the top of the lighthouse at the terminus of the northeast pier, and only once in a while could a glimpse of either pier be obtained beneath the sullen mass of angry water, churned into white foam, that covered them. The waves were leaping up to the Ocean house and beyond that, swept clean across the sand strip. The sight was terrible grand. Between the Ocean house and Dynes’, the Northern and Northwestern railway track was washed away in places, and when it was not washed away, it was completely submerged. Fences and outbuildings were swept down, right and left, and almost every cottage on the Beach stands amid a mass of seething, foaming water. But little damage has been done to the cottages beyond the loss of the fences and frail outbuildings. The large building that John Dynes built for a ballroom was blown down early in the morning, and lies as flat as a proverbial pancake.
“The 67 passengers on the train due here at 11:45 yesterday morning had a novel experience. When the Ocean house was reached, the washout, or, rather, the washouts, were discovered. It was intended to run back to Burlington, but when that was tried, it was found that, in the meantime, a good slice of the road had been swept away on the other side of the bridge. There was only one thing left to do, and accordingly the train was drawn up in front of the Ocean house to await developments. Word was sent to Hamilton, and at noon a special train, and a number of conveyances, were sent down to bring in the passengers. As intimated above, this train did not get back to Hamilton until nearly five o’clock. The female passengers were all taken across the gap in the rigs sent down, but the men had to walk it; and tough walking it was. Mud and water made the tramp anything but pleasant. One enterprising young man undertook to carry his trunk across the gap in the track. He got along first rate for a while, but finally he disappeared in a hole. He picked himself up and struggled bravely on, the water streaming from him at every step. It is needless to say that the male passengers were completely disgusted with the road officials for not furnishing conveyances to carry them over the water swept gaps. After the relief train started for home, the passengers had to get out in a couple of places where the earth had been washed from beneath the track, and bolster up the rails with planks and timbers, so that the train could cross in safety. It was a uniformly wet and dirty-footed crowd that got off the relief train at the Hamilton station. All the passengers dined at the Lakeside house. Some of them were playing hard luck and had not money enough to square the landlord, but the other passengers made good so they all sat in.
“The sight at the Beach was as grand as can possibly be conceived. The waves were like mountains of heavy, shifting gray, crested with foam enough to make a good-sized wave in itself. As the hours passed, the sea grew heavier and the sight more imposing. It was impossible to see the snow, although it fell in a blinding storm, and stung the skin wherever it touched. But against the dull, gray sky, the slipping surface of the grayer water, and amid the clouds of souckling spray, it was indistinguishable. The monotony of the wait on the train was relieved by an oracular and red-faced individual who started a lengthy diatribe on religion and politics by the probably true, even if somewhat chesnutty statement that ‘God is good, and the devil is very bad.’ He touched, in a careless and casual way, on Sir John A. Macdonald, and settled Canada’s premier forever by remarking that he was a man of inquity, which is hard on Sir. John.”1
1 “The Wind and Water : Do Immense Damage Along the Bay Shore.”
Hamilton Spectator.       April 7, 1886.


Friday, 10 February 2017

1886 - Baseball Changes


There were some major off-season changes being made to Hamilton’s professional baseball, and the grounds where that team played their home games.

On March 3, 1886, readers of the Hamilton Spectator learned that a team name was about to be ratified formally:

 “At the next meeting of the shareholders of the Clipper company, it is altogether likely that the name of the organization will be changed to the Hamilton Baseball association, and the Clippers will be called the Hamiltons. As a matter of fact, the change has already been decided upon, although the formal meeting will have to take place before it can be actually made. The headquarters of the association will be held downtown to be secured for Secretary Sterling.”1


Hamilton Spectator.   March 03,, 1886.

The name change would involve new uniforms to be made for the team:

“The Hamiltons’ suits for the coming season will differ from those worn last only as to the color of the cloth. The flannel will be battle green, trimmed with red, and with red stockings as before. The material will be purchased at once.”2

2“The World of Sport.”

Hamilton Spectator.  March  06, 1886.

The previous baseball season, in 1885, the baseball grounds which had been created in Dundurn Park, just east of the Castle, were found to be less than fully desirable in a couple of aspects:

“Many changes and improvements will be made in and around the ball ground at Dundurn this spring. The seating capacity of the grandstand will be increased, and a high screen at the top will installed to prevent balls from careening over into the rear, in the wild and reckless manner effected  by them last season.

The trees immediately to the west of the outfield, that were responsible for several home runs last year, will be removed, and various other changes of minor importance will be made. It might not be out of place to mention incidentally that nothing will be left undone to make this the finest ball ground the sun winked at.”2

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Salvation Army in Hamilton - February 1886

February 1886 was a big month in the history of the Salvation Army corps in Hamilton. Only in existence in the Ambitious City for a few years, the Salvation Army had created a sensation with its outdoor services, street processions and hugely-attended services in its barracks.
So popular had the services become at the Army’s first barracks on Ferguson Avenue North, that a larger building on Hunter street was under construction and nearing completion in February 1886.
On the 1st of February 1886, the Hamilton Spectator carried the following description of the new barracks:
“The new barracks of the Salvation Army are just about finished and are ready for occupation. The building is a substantial brick one, somewhat ornate and comfortable. It has a capacity for seating 1,200 people comfortably, and has besides a platform consisting of five or six rows of seats, arranged one above the other, with a seating capacity of about 300 people. This is intended for the members of the army.
“The interior is exceedingly tastefully though plainly furnished, the ceiling being pure white and the walls grey, in imitation of stone. The floor has inclination of four feet from front to rear, so that the platform can be seen and the speakers heard from every part of the hall. The ceiling is supported by slender wooden pillars on which the gas fixtures are arranged. The rooms for the officers are equally comfortable and convenient.
“The opening services will held on Sunday next.”1
1 “The S. A. B..”
Hamilton Spectator.   February 01, 1886.
On Saturday February 14, 1886, the members of the Hamilton division of the Salvation army vacated their old building. The new barracks were dedicated the following day :
“On Saturday evening, the Hamilton division of the Salvation Army took leave of its old barracks on Ferguson avenue, and yesterday there was a big time at the new Barracks on Hunter street. The corps turned out in large numbers at all three services on Hunter street, and were as enthusiastic and demonstrative as usual.
The building was ‘formally dedicated’ at the afternoon service
“There was, however, little formality about the ceremony. The members of the corps joined hands in a line around the interior of the building, and sang a hymn written for such occasions; there was some prayer and a big address from the commander, who declared the building dedicated to the glory of God in the salvation of souls.
“The principal feature of yesterday’s service was the singing and the collections.”2
2 “The New Salvation Barracks : Dedicatory Services Under the Direction of Commissioner Coombs.”
Hamilton Spectator.   February 15, 1886.
The Salvation Army certainly had its followers in February 1886, but it also had its detractors. One of the criticisms of the Salvation Army, that the Spectator reporter who attended the dedicatory service noted, was the pressure made to contribute money
 “It is hard for any person attending the army meetings to get away without contributing something. You have a plate thrust before you at the door, there is a collection taken up, and War Crys and hymn books are peddled among the audience during the services. As for the singing, it is usually very hearty, and sometimes stirring and effective, the peculiar hymns being nearly all set to popular tunes.”2
The service to dedicate the Hunter street barracks was the first of a few special events that the Salvation Army in Hamilton had planned for February 1886, both at the barracks and out on the streets:
““Salvation was energetically boomed in Hamilton yesterday. All day, the hallelujah lads and lasses tramped about the streets, and the sound of their voices mingled with the steady roll of drums and the brazen bursts from blaring brass instruments. The noises were oftimes discordant, but they were made with right good will, and when people heard them dodging around street corners, playing hide and seek among the snow flakes and going where they wished on the wandering winds of heaven, they knew, without any telling, that they came from throats and hearts sincere and earnest in their work. Several bands and a large number of officers and soldiers arrived during the day and were welcomed by Hamilton corps.
“A holiness convention was held during the afternoon, followed by a banquet in the old barracks. After the banquet, the army held what it calls an ‘indescribable jubilation.’ The crush was very great, and the hall was crowded long before the procession arrived. Shortly after 8 o’clock, the auditorium was so crowded that it was next to impossible to get in. Over 300 soldiers occupied the raised seats at the end, and more were scattered through the auditorium. It is estimated that between 1,500 and 1,700 people were present. It was noticeable that nearly all the officers were young, appearances indicating that their ages ranged from 18 to 35.”
Regarding collections – “The religious fervor was strong upon some women present whose pocketbooks were not particularly extensive. One of them took a pair of gold earrings from her ears and handed them in; another gave a ring; a third, a chain.”3
3 “Saved Soldiers : the Salvation Army’s Big Jubilee in the New Barracks Barracks.”
Hamilton Spectator.   February 16, 1886.
On Tuesday, February 18, 1886, for the third day in a row a special service was held in the new barracks:
“Their Monday’s all night of prayer did not appear to have exhausted the spiritual or physical energies of the local or visiting soldiers, as their council was continued yesterday and the hurricane of war was yesterday publicly demonstrated in the new temple last night.”
“Visitors included Captain Freer and wife “the officers who first planted the flag here.”4
4 “Waging Wild War : Salvationists Sit on Satan, Who Suffers Severe Scorching.”
Hamilton Spectator.   February 17, 1886.
A new music piece introduced at that service, titled “Oh, I Am So Happy.”
“It is a piece of swelling music, alternatively fast and slow – and the handclapping accompaniment has a peculiar effect. During the singing of the piece, the officers were greatly moved, many jumping and gesticulating in a manner rivalling that of the most excitable of modern revivalists. At the height of this excitement, the English officers leaped from the platform and marched around the building shouting the song as hundreds on the platform roard forth the chorus. It was an extraordinary scene of wild excitement, and no one knew what to expect next or what inconceivable turn the meeting might take, except that there would be lots of hallelujah noise and excitement and innumerable volleys.” 4
At the close of the month, Hamilton’s anonymous columnist, The Kicker, turned his critical eye on the Salvation Army in Hamilton. His article on the subject appeared on February 25, 1886:
 “The Salvation Army in Hamilton has got a big temple on its hands, and I am awaiting with some curiosity to see what new sensation it will spring on the public to draw people into it. The barracks itself is not a sufficient attraction, neither did the noisy and sensational demonstration with which the building was inaugurated prove to be a permanent boom, for I looked into the place a night or two ago, and found a mere handful of people huddled together in the big building. One great principle of the army is to keep itself conspicuously before the public, and it is considered justifiable to go to very extreme lengths in order to accommodate this end. I would humbly suggest a hallelujah ballet. A profane ballet never fails to crowd the opera house with the class which the Salvation Army wishes to reach. Why not fight the devil with his own weapons?
“By the way, I was talking the other day with one who used to be a strong friend of the Salvation army, but has come to take a rather despondent view of its permanent influence for good.
“ ‘The army,’ said he, ‘relies too much on emotion, and not enough on reason and common sense. Many, very many, of the so-called ‘conversions’ which take place at army meetings are nothing more than an exalted emotional condition which susceptible persons are worked up to by the contagious religious excitement which prevails among the soldiers at these meetings. Only a small percentage of these ‘conversions’ prove to be permanent. Between two and three hundred persons professed conversion under Happy Bill’s instrumentality; I looked in vain for a single one of these among the soldiers who gathered on the platform during the dedicatory services a few days ago.
“Well, the army has done some good. There are many men and women in Hamilton who are living better lives today than they were living before the army came here. They have passed from the ranks of salvationists into the churches, but the churches would never have gained them if it had not been for the salvationists. The army acts the part of a recruiting sergeant for the churches.”5
5  “The Kicker.”

Hamilton Spectator.   February 20, 1886.

Monday, 6 February 2017

1886 - Coasting Accident Aftermath.

It was a common sight in the winter months of Hamilton. Particularly after a heavy snowfall, the streets which went up and down steep hills would be crowded with young people coasting, sharing the public thoroughfare with all other traffic..

          On January 25, 1886, a coasting accident on James street south nearly coast a young Hamilton boy his life.

          At the time, those who liked tobogganing were generally young adults and members of one of Hamilton’s toboggan clubs. They used the clubs’ own slides, constructed to keep the toboggan on the course, no matter how quickly it was going.

          “Coasting”  was far less structured, and usually was a sport pursued by young boys and girls, using sleighs for individuals or slightly larger ones which could transport tow or three ‘coasters.”

          Norman Counsell was the twelve year old son of prominent city lawyer, C. M. Counsell. Along with his brother and some friends, he was coasting down the steep portion of James street south near the mountain :

“As they came down the last trip, Norman, who was steering, turned off the center of the road to pass a wood rack which was going slowly down the hill in front of them. As the bob sleigh got opposite the rack, from four to six feet away from it, one of the horses suddenly jumped clear out of the traces, and made a kick at it. Little Norman Counsell received the full weight of the kick. The other two boys were thrown off, but picked themselves up unhurt. Norman remained still and unconscious. The accident occurred very near the lad’s home and just as Mr. Counsell was coming from his door …. The apparently lifeless form was taken into the house.”1

1 “Terrible Coasting Accident : A Little Son of C. M. Counsell Has His Skull Fractured.”

Hamilton Spectator.   January 25, 1886.

Norman was later taken to the nearby St. Joseph’s hospital where an emergency operation removed about 2 ½ inches of his skull which had been pressed against his brain by the kick.

Police Chief A. D. Stewart, once again, made a call for a city bylaw to be passed to prohibit coasting on Hamilton’s public streets. Uncharacteristically, the city council moved quickly, and such a bylaw was within a day.

The anonymous Spectator columnist, known only as The Kicker, had the following to say regarding his own memories coasting and regarding the new bylaw:

“I sympathize with the boys who have been just deprived, by bylaw, of one of the greatest delights of boyish existence, to wit, coasting on the public thoroughfares. Well do I remember the ecstatic pleasure of riding down hil, either singly or on my own steel ‘belly whacker,’  or in company with three or four congenial spirits, rushing along on the delectable bobs. The glory and freshness of that intoxicating sport on the hilly streets live only in remembrance, but, even yet, I never see urchins rushing past on their sleighs without feeling a strong impulse to ‘pile on’ and complete the journey with them. I don’t sympathize with the tobogganers. They have their artificial slides, and are able to maintain them; but if you banish the boys from the streets, where are they to go?  You can’t expect them to go to half-broken, unfrequented country roads., where they have not the delicious danger of running close to the legs of horses, nor the supreme delight of scaring unwary pedestrians, nor the occasional luxury of upsetting some stately dame or reverend senior. I don’t kick against the action of city council in legislating against the boys; I merely wish to express some sympathy with the young folks.  They are being taught a lesson in social science – that the interests of individuals must often be sacrificed to the interests of society in general. It was right for the city council to pass the bylaw, and it is a pity that those guardians of public interests did not think of they were suddenly reminded of it by the recent painful accident on James street.”2

2 “The Kicker”

Hamilton Spectator. January 25, 1886

1886 - A Newly Released Prisoner Gets Advice

The man had just been released from the Barton Street jail on January 22, 1886. Having no money, no employment and feeling very low about his situation, he encountered a man on the street hoping for some sympathy, the encounter, as published in the Hamilton Spectator on January 23, 1886, did not end well:

“He had just been released from the Barton street home for delinquents and met a well-dressed man on Mary street. He poured out his wrongs and misfortunes to the citizen and wished advice as to what he had best to do. He thought that probably Toronto would be the best place for him to strike for. But he wished he was dead.

“The citizen heaved a sigh from away down beneath his vest and asked him if his muffler was of good texture.

“ ‘Yes,’ said the unfortunate, ‘it is the best article I own.’

“ ‘Then,’ said the citizen, ‘you are all right. There is a nice little cell in the police station down in Toronto where a prisoner asphyxiates himself about once a week. They have bars properly placed, so that a person can, with the aid of a good muffler, hang himself comfortably in about ten minutes.

“The recent languisher in captivity fired about a dozen new styles of oaths at the citizen and started for the market.”

Sunday, 5 February 2017

1886 - A Tramp's Story Confronted

Tramps were very common in the Hamilton of 1886, particularly during the winter months.
On January 23, 1886, the Hamilton Spectator published the following encounter between a tramp and a savvy citizen :
“In the olden days, when rattlesnakes were pretty thick along the side of Hamilton mountain, there was an Indian who, when he wanted to go on a periodical spree and get comfortably full, would hunt around for a full-blown rattlesnake that felt a little fresh, and get upon unpleasantness with the snake until he was satisfactorily bitten. He would then go down to John street, show where he was bitten by the snake and get any amount of donation whiskey as a cure. He had repeated the game so often that the Good Samaritans went back on him; and the Indian was compelled to die from want of medicine.
“The Indian story is pretty stale now, but the reminiscence was revived yesterday by the scheme of a tramp. He was coming up James street and had a large bread poultice glued to his arm. A tear was in one eye, and a streak of red meandered down the side of his nose. He had been evidently reading the papers, and told a man he had been bitten by a mad dog and was trying to raise enough money enough to reach Paris to get cured. The citizen addressed read him down one column and up another, and then cross-fired him with his eagle eye from starboard to port.
“ ‘Are you sure you were bitten by a mad dog?’ said the citizen.
“ ‘Certain,’ responded the tramp as he pointed to the poultice.
“ ‘Then, I’m awfully sorry for the dog,’ said the Hamilton man. ‘Any hydrophobic canine that would bite you would be taken off with acute alcoholism before he could reach the nearest drug store. I’m powerfully sorry for the dog!’
“Then the citizen stepped off with the left foot, and the tramp’s new invention got a considerable setback”


Saturday, 4 February 2017

1886 - Molly, a sad figure in Hamilton

She was a familiar figure on the streets of Hamilton in 1886.  Not many people knew why she had become so poor as to be begging for any and every passerby, not many even knew her name.
But a Spectator reporter did find out what her name was, and the story of her life. His column, with the headline, Molly, appeared in the Spectator of January 18, 1886:
“People about town see frequently on the streets a tottering, feeble and bent Irish woman, who in rain and snow, in cloud or sunshine, trudges along with a basket on one  arm, a tattered shawl drawn about her head, a quilted black petticoat doing duty for a skirt, and her stockingless feet thrust into gaping boots. Where does she come from, where does she live? Few know. More know how she lives, for the seamed, wrinkled, careworn face, and faltering tongue that asks for charity, move many hearts to pity, and oftimes, something better than the odd scraps from yesterday’s dinner finds a way into her basket. For years, she has walked around the streets apparently in the same clothes and looking the same then as she does today. Time lately seems to have touched her with a gentle hand. Someday she will disappear from the streets, and back doors will see her no more. A few will miss her. They will wonder vaguely what has become of Molly, but the Potter’s field will hold its secret, and they will soon forget her.

“A quarter of a century ago, she gave where she now begs. In early life, she married a prosperous Irish mechanic, and when a couple of years had passed and one child had come to them, they came to Hamilton and settled in the more or less aristocratic precincts of Corktown. He husband was skilled in his business and got on well, and, if not rich, they were in prosperous circumstances and able to put something by for a rainy day. The child grew to be twelve years of age, and died of diphtheria. Her death almost broke her parents’ hearts. The husband grew more morose and unsteady. He forsook his work for the sake of liquor. It did not take him long to squander the little money they had saved, nor did it take him long to break up his constitution. Violent and steady drinking brought on delirium tremens. He was taken to the police cells, and from there to the city hospital. And there he died.

“Thrown on her own resources, she did washing and scrubbing, and being a faithful worker, managed to keep herself well. Failing health, however, made it necessary for her at last to restrict her operations. Age was creeping on, and she was getting feeble. She struggled on as long as she could, but the strain was too much. Typhoid fever called on her and stayed with her for weeks.

“A poor, but tender-hearted physician, and kind neighbors, brought her around again all right. Her bodily health came back, but her mental health went on a long vacation. Trouble and sickness turned her brain. For a time she lived with the people who had known her in her days of prosperity. They could not keep her forever. It came about at last that she either had to beg for a living or starve. The instinct of self-preservation told her to beg. Some good-natured soul gave her the use of a tumble-down shanty, and put such odds and ends of furniture in it as her humble requirements necessitated. There she lives. There is nothing particularly strange in the story of this woman, yet perhaps the recital of what has been and what is may make some people kinder when this gray-haired human wreck comes begging for scraps.


1886 - A Spectator columnist, The Kicker, kicks

The Hamilton Spectator, in 1885 and early 1886, had an anonymous, occasional columnist, known only as The Kicker.

After an absence of several weeks, The Kicker and his current kick in the Spectator issue of January 16, 1886:

“I beg to assure my multitudinous admirers that I am still alive – and kicking. The reason that I have not kicked in print for several weeks is not that I am out of subjects , or that I have lost my inborn inclination, but because  there has not been kicking room for me in these columns lately. I have been roughly elbowed out by election matters, and long lists of secret society officers and similarly exciting reading, until I begin to despair of ever having the opportunity to pour my complaints into the bosom of a sympathizing public which has been yearning to commune with one.


Did it ever occur to you that there is actually no place of public resort in Hamilton, outside of saloons, hotels and billiard rooms, where young men can go and spend a pleasant hour or two in the evening. I will not even except the free reading room of the Young Men’s Christian association, for, excellent as the work which is being done by that organization, it does not offer sufficient attractions to draw any but spiritually-minded young men into its fold. I visited the Y. M. C. A. reading room a short time ago, and examined the magazines and pamphlets scattered over the table. They were, with one exception, either of a religious or a technical character. I asked the person in charge if no secular periodicals were kept for perusal, and was informed that they were in the parlor and were intended for the use of members. Now, religious and technical literature will not prove efficacious in drawing the youth of our city off the streets or out of questionable resorts at night. But the Y.M.C.A. reading room is the only institution in Hamilton which as all resembles a public resort for men of all classes, where the can improve their minds and rest their bodies after a day’s work. There are hundreds of young clerks and mechanics here who are comparative strangers in the city and live in boarding houses. After working hard all day, they go to their temporary homes. What are they to do? Their surroundings are often uncongenial and they do not feel “at home.” Usually there is too much noise and interruption for them to read comfortably. Where can they go? The only places where they can go in out of the cold and sit down are the hotels and saloons and billiard rooms – and into them a large proportion of the young men wander. There are two kinds of active Christian propagandism – the exhortative and the practical.  Every Sunday, the preachers use the former method, they warn young men against the snares which beset their path and exhort them to make good use of their time. This is very good as far as it goes. But practical Christianity should go father, it seems to me. It should not only warn and exhort; it should also help. Assuming that there is such a personality as the devil, and that saloons and billiard rooms and questionable resorts in general, are his temples and resting places, is it not a reflection on the practical Christianity of our citizens that there is no effort made in this city of 40,000 inhabitants to establish a public resort which will prove a rival of those under the control of his majesty of sheol ? The free library, if it had not been voted down in such a pig-headed manner, would have met many of the requirements of such a place. But the agitation should not have been allowed to collapse like a pricked bubble as soon as the bylaw was quashed. There are not a few public-spirited and big-hearted men of wealth among us who would gladly subscribe towards the establishment of a free library and reading room and gymnasium if the scheme were properly laid before them. If some energetic persons would push it, I believe that even yet private philanthropy would give what public stupidity and stinginess refused.


          There is plenty of work in Hamilton for an energetic society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. One day last week, I saw a poor old horse, which should have been superannuated years ago, drag a heavily-laden cart up James street where the steep ascent begins. His eyeballs stood out, his lean old sides reeked, and he fairly groaned with his efforts; but the load was too heavy and the cart stuck. Then the big, brutal driver, who had been whacking the animal over the bones with the butt end of his whip, dismounted, and deliberately kicked the poor creature in the belly. I was delighted to see that the old horse had spirit enough in him to try to kick his master, and so resented his wanton cruelty that he would not budge an inch until the load was lightened