Saturday, 29 April 2017

1885 - Coasting

“Harry Lawry had his horse seized by the head and turned around, greatly endangering the horse and occupants of the cutter. Mr. Lawry himself was assaulted by the ruffians. The coasters kept up a torrent of foul and blasphemous language. If the coasting cannot be stopped, the police certainly have the power to stop such rowdyism.”

Rowdyism and Coasting”

Hamilton Spectator.    December 17, 1885.

It was an editorial that was prompted by an incident which had occurred on a hilly portion of John street south. A recent heavy snowstorm had left the Hamilton streets in perfect shape for tobogganing, or, as it usually called, in 1883, coasting :

          “A resident of Barton township undertook to drive up John street road to his home on Tuesday evening, but fell among coasters on the way. These not only blocked his way and frightened his horse, but fell upon him, attempted to beat him, stole his whip, assailed his wife with vile and brutal language and compelled the pair to return to the city. The gentleman applied for protection to the police, but there were none to protect him, and he was forced to remain in the city.”1

1 Coasting”

Hamilton Spectator.    December 17, 1885.

The editorial strongly declared that the public streets were not for the exclusive use of coasters:

“The streets are for the use of all – for those who ride or drive for pleasure, as well as for those who have business on them.

“Those who make use of the streets must not monopolize them. They may use them freely, but they must not interfere with the right of others to do the same. And they must observe certain rules necessary for safety.

“Experience shows coasting on the streets to be dangerous. It is dangerous not because one or more persons ride on a sleigh, but because they ride at a furious rate, and because the sleigh is not under their control. They cannot stop it when under full headway, and they cannot always guide it. Many accidents have happened in consequence of this sport.

“The SPECTATOR is not opposed to sport. It heartily approves of harmless enjoyment. There is plenty of work, plenty of care, plenty of sorrow in this world : let us get all the pleasure we can. But it does not follow that we must break people’s necks in the pursuit of pleasure.

“The rowdyism, obscenity, violence and robbery resorted to by the roughs on John street on Tuesday evening are not necessary incidents of coasting. But the fact that they were resorted to supplies another reason for enforcing the law and securing  to travelers on our streets free course and safety.”1

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