It was a fund-raising event, a ball to remember.
The site was the Grand Opera House on James Street North. The organizers of the evening were the members of the local amateur dramatic society, the Garrick Club.
The recipients of the funds raised were the residents of the Girls’ Home, the orphanage on George street.
The Spectator reporter assigned to cover the event observed the evening from high in the gallery, his word pictures published the next day were superbly written, capturing the beauty of the ball:
“It is a very long while since the Grand Opera House looked so bright and gay as it did last night, a long while since its staid, old walls have held so much beauty and listened to so much mirthful and silvery talk and rippling laughter.
“National flags and strips of other bunting decked the boxes and gallery; the scenery on stage led by easy gradations from a garden through an ancient forest to a conservatory, the back door of which opened on a charming landscape; diamonds flashed in the gas light; the strains of lively music filled the air; faint perfume mingled with the laughter and music and the eternal hum of hundreds of voices, and scores of feet tripped gaily to and fro from on a substantial floor that ran the full length of the stage to the dividing rail between the orchestra chairs and the parquette.
“The decorating of the opera house was done with great taste, and the scene from the gallery was a beautiful one. The orchestra was placed at the head of the stage and the large space for dancers was literally alive with the whirling forms that swept over it.” 1
1 “The Garrick’s Ball : A Great and Successful Event in Hamilton Society.”
Hamilton Spectator. November 07, 1885.
In the end, the reporter speculated that the purpose of the ball was undoubtedly accomplished:
“The occasion of all this was a ball under the auspices of the Garrick Club, and inasmuch as whatever the club does is done as well as mere human beings can do anything, it is perhaps somewhat superfluous to remark that the ball was a complete success. It was given in aid of the Girls Home, and as the attendance was very large, a substantial sum was probably netted for that deserving institution.”1