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.”