Saturday Musings Spectator October 08, 1904
The second annual provincial fair in Upper Canada was held in Hamilton on Thursday, Oct. 7, 1847, just 57 years ago yesterday. As usual, the weather was in an unsettled condition, being cool, rainy and stormy, and the officials of the society were in anything but a happy mood. Visitors were in attendance from all parts of the province, and as the hotel accommodation was meager, private citizens had to open their houses to entertain the strangers. In those days, the fair was only of short duration, lasting not more than two days, so the visitors came the day before. On Wednesday afternoon, the steamer City of Toronto arrived at the wharf at the foot of James street, and as it entered the bay, the people uptown were notified by the ringing of bells, and many went to the bay to meet his Excellency the Governor-General and the distinguished retinue with him. Col. Gourlay was marshal of the day, and on arrival of the steamer at the wharf, a procession was formed to escort the governor-general and his party to the fair grounds. And what a procession it was! Nowadays it would take something greater than a provincial to get such a turnout. It may be interesting to present the list of societies and the eminent bodies represented, and we give the order of procession as we find it in an ancient copy of the Spectator:
Constables of the Gore District
St. Andrew’s Society
St. Patrick’s Society
St. George’s Society
His honor he mayor, with His excellency The Governor-General and Lady Elgin.
His Excellency’s suite in carriages.
The honourable, the Speaker of the house of Assembly
The chief justice.
The president, vice-president and members of the Agricultural society
Members of the executive council
Members of the legislative council
Members of the house of assembly
The district judge and members of the bar
The high sheriff
The warden of the district
Grand marshal on horseback
The Abolition society
Lord Elgin, being a Scotchman of the Highland society, was accorded the honor of a personal escort to his Excellency. By the time the procession was formed, the rain poured down in torrents, and continued until Young’s property was reached. On the corner of King and James streets was a triumphal arch, erected with evergreens, reading “Welcome to the Earl and Duchess of Elgin” On Thursday, welcoming addresses from the city council and the Mechanics’ Institute were presented to the governor-general in the council chamber by the mayor, Sir Allan Macnab and Dr. Billings. The afternoon was spent at the fair grounds, and at five o’clock supper was served by the late George Inch in a temporary pavilion on the court house square at which more than a thousand persons were guests. As the governor-general entered the pavilion, he was heartily cheered. Later, when Lady Elgin arrived, she received even a more loyal welcome. After the feast came the toasts and speeches. Lord Elgin made a rattling good speech, in which he was complimentary to this blessed city and made every Hamiltonian his sworn friend from that moment. The Hon. Robert Baldwin, who was one of the most reviled men in public life in those days, heaped coals of fire upon his enemies by proposing the health of the Press, in which he said very nice things about the fourth estate. He exhibited a copy of the Canada Gazette, published in 1796, being the first newspaper printed in Upper Canada. It was about the size of a sheet of foolscap. George Brown, of the Toronto Globe, and Robert Smiley of the Spectator, were called upon to respond, but by the time that part of the toast list had been reached a number of the guests had partaken of more than their share of the drinkables and they became so noisy that the distinguished editors could not be heard. Friday closed the festivities and the fair, and His Excellency held a levee in the city hall, where the notables of the town and others were presented to him.
It may be of interest to give the names of a few of the ancient Hamiltonians who took part in the second Provincial Fair held in Upper Canada: Capt. Stewart, M. O’Reilly, Col. Gourlay, W. A. Harvey, Rev. J. G. Geddes, George W. Baker, Mr. McKinstry, Daniel M. Gilkinson, Archibald Gilkinson, Capt. McDougall, George S. Tiffany, Edmund Ritchie, J. T. Gilkinson, D. C. Gunn, D. Nelligan, Rev. Dr. Ryerson, E. Stinson, Dr. Duggan, Dr. Craigie, W. E. Murray, Col. Robert Land, Dr. G. O’Reilly, David Thompson, Hugh B. Wilson, Hugh C. Baker, G. Duggan, J. Larkin, D. C. VanNorman, Capt. Armstrong, William Gage, Thomas Lottridge, Mr. McKeand, E. Batersby, Phillip Sphn, Jacob Bastedo, C. H. Stokol, John Applegarth.
There was not much money given away in prizes, for all of the awards filled less than four columns of the Spectator, set in large type. Among the successful competitors, Hamilton had a few. John Smith took two second prizes in Durhams, and Mr. Peleg third in brood mares, a Hamilton firm was awarded the first premium on a horse-power thresher and separatory; Gurney & Carpenter had the best corn and cob crusher; William Davidson and Edward McGiverin, the old-time harness makers, took all the prizes in that class of goods, and Clement & Moore made the best sides of upper and sole leather and tanned calfskins; Joseph Mills topped them all in fur hats; J. B. Dayfoot was awarded all the prizes in shoemaking, and James Reid had the finest display of cabinet ware. In garden products Hamilton’s amateur agriculturists made a fine display, and got their share of the prizes. Robert Bleazard was evidently one of Hamilton’s pioneer manufacturers in woodenware, for he is credited with quite a number of awards. Gurney & Co. made the best cooking stoves. Juson & Co. took all the prizes in cut nails. In the ladies’ department, Mrs. J. Martyn and Miss Ryerson had the best raised worsted work; Mrs. S. Whipple, woolen socks and mittens, and Mrs. D. C. VanNorman embroidery and wax flowers. In fine arts, Mrs. VanNorman and Miss Thornton excelled, and our old friend, Joseph Faulkner, made perfect bricks. In the extra department, Robert Ecclestone took the cake in confectionery, and Mrs. Galbraith had the finest handmade lace veil and worked lace bag. Hamilton’s old-timers were proud of their handiwork, and its mothers and daughters were not only skilful in the management of domestic duties, but also in fine arts and in the useful and ornamental.