Sunday, 30 December 2012


        On the 27th of April, 1852, James Marshall announced himself for the first time in an ancient log house on the mountain top, overlooking what has since grown into the great electrical and manufacturing town of Canada. Hamilton had just started to grow, having a population of ten thousand, and it has kept on growing ever since, till now the assessors have figured it up to over 100,000, and then some. Nature platted this old town with the mountain as a background, and a gentle rolling declivity down to the bay, that has no equal on the map of North America. It was a picturesque town, where every house had a lot of half an acre or more, with fruit trees in the backyard and climbing roses and vines, and flower beds in the front, bordered with mignonette, sweet Alyssum, Portulaca, candytuft and other bright and fragrant flowers. The growth in population and the increase in the number of houses has destroyed all the rural beauty, for now the houses are so closely built together that there is neither breathing space nor light. Thirty feet front lots are considered to be an extravagance where land is measured by the foot instead of by the acre. James Marshall came into this beautiful world in a location of broad acres and trees, and he has abided within a stone’s throw of the old log home in which he was born through youth and years for sixty-five summers and winters. His home is on the 7th concession, lot 16, northwest corner of the township of Barton. His parents came from Ireland in the year 1834, and were united in marriage in the town of Ancaster, having been pledged to each other before leaving the old home across the sea. The elder Marshall began life in Canada on what was known as the Tiffany farm, near the Tiffany Falls. Alexander Marshall was the name of the head of the generation of Marshalls. He was the father of eleven children, seven boys and four girls, of whom James Marshall, the one we are writing about, was the youngest boy. Nine of the family married, and all had families, the dear old grandmother being blessed with forty-five grandchildren. She was left a widow, her husband, familiarly known as “Sandy,” dying in the prime of life as the result of an accident. He was riding to his home on a bobsled with a neighbor, the horses running away when about a mile and a half from Hamilton, throwing him against a pile of stones on the roadside, injuring him so severely that he died within three months.


          James Marshall worked the home farm on the mountain during the life of his mother, and at her death in 1897, he bought the interests of his brothers and sisters in the family homestead, and this secured for his future home the place near which he was born. Since 1897 he has added acre by acre to the old homestead, till now he is the owner of 325 acres of as valuable land as there is in Wentworth county. Three hundred acres are kept up to a high state of cultivation. Limestone ridge runs through part of the farm, which has furnished rock for lime burning since 1847, his father being one of the pioneers in the lime business, having sold lime in Hamilton over seventy years ago.


          James Marshall’s father began life in Canada like many a poor young Irishman who came to this land of promise eighty and ninety years ago. About the year 1840, he was working as a day laborer out at the Albion Mills, excavating a cellar for the foundation of an addition to the mill. Then natural gas was first discovered in Canada, according to an account given in the Historical Conquest of Canada, published in 1849. Evidently the writer of the history did not give much thought to what has proven to be one of the greatest discoveries of the age, for he dismisses it with merely a brief mention.
          “There are many strong mineral springs in different parts of Canada, the most remarkable of these is the Burning spring above Niagara: its waters are black, hot and bubbling, and emit, during the summer, a gas that burns with a bright flame; this sulphureted hydrogen is used to light a neighboring mill.”
          That was the discovery of the first vein of natural gas in Canada, and it was used from the year 1840 to furnish light to Albion Mills. There was a sufficient flow of gas to run the machinery, but the owners of the mill did not think it worth the expense of changing the furnace and boilers, which were only used occasionally, as the water power was of sufficient force during the greater part of the year. It was many long years afterward that natural gas was discovered in paying quantities in the Niagara district and along the mountain top to the oil regions in western Canada. Fortunes have been made by a lucky few, while other fortunes have gone into holes never to yield gas enough to boil a tea kettle.


          About the year 1864, John Finton, whose farms adjoins the Marshall land, bored for oil on his farm, and, at a depth of 450 feet, a good flowing vein of gas developed. Finton, not thinking of the value of the gas, bored down to a depth of 870 feet in hopes of finding the precious oil. There was no oil. Twenty years later, Finton uncapped the pipe to see if there was any gas, as by that time there were indications of natural gas in many places between the mountain top and Lake Erie. To his great joy, the gas came rushing up, and he had it piped to his house and has used it ever since for light and heat. James Marshall thought he would try the experiment of boring for gas on his farm, seeing the success that had crowned the efforts of his neighbor, and was rewarded with an abundant supply to light and heat his home.
          The gas worked so well in his home that Mr. Marshall bored wells at Tynside and on the farms near Caledonia, where he had lime kilns, using the gas from fifteen wells at a great profit in the making of lime, and a greater saving in labor, for it did away with the necessity of keeping men at the kilns during the night to watch the burning. Mr. Marshall has been engaged in the lime business from his childhood, beginning as a helper to his father, and the past forty years being engaged in it for his own profit to himself and his sons, who are at home. The boys work and manage the farm during the season and fill in their leisure time at the limekilns.


          These two farmers were the pioneers in developing the gas fields in the vicinity of Hamilton, yet Hamilton waited for a few enterprising Americans to come in and occupy the land and supply the city with cheaper fuel and light than it ever dreamed of possessing. Before the advent of the natural gas system, Hamilton paid as high as $4.00 per thousand feet for its light, and then don to $2.00, and from $1.50 to 90 cents for its fuel for gas stoves. The natural gas company started in at 45 cents a thousand feet. When i was that the gas wells were giving out, and that no dependence could be placed on them for future supply, the company made a proposition to the city that it would built a battery of coke ovens, and thus insure a never-failing supply, but to do this would cost an investment of $2,000,000 or more for which they would have to increase the price of manufactured gas to 60 cents per thousand feet. The wise board of controllers declined the proposition. During the last winter, and at the present time, the supply of gas was so low that the people suffered. The company renewed its offer. The controllers still refuse, but instead talk of having the city invest in a local coke oven plant at an expense of $2,000,000 and over. As the future supply of gas is in doubt, the mayor suggests that every householder go to the expense of buying a coal cooking stove and pay from $9 up a ton for coal, and thus lay aside hundreds of thousands of dollars that the householders have invested in gas heating and cooking ranges. “And there were giants in those days.”


          For seventeen years Mr. Marshall has been experimenting in peach culture, and with great success and profit. The farmers on the mountain who had attempted to raise peaches did not have much success, as the trees did not live long enough to come into profitable bearing. They became discouraged and abandoned all efforts in that line of fruit culture, so that when he began to plant an orchard there was scarcely a peach tree in that neighborhood. Mr. Marshall fell into the mistakes of those who failed, by not selecting a suitable site for his orchard. He discovered that by planting the trees in low-lying land where fog and heavy dew is seen in the morning. The site was not suitable, no matter how rich the soil. He made that mistake when he first started, and the only peach trees that are alive yet and bearing well are those which he planted on the higher land, sloping toward the north. He changed his tactics and began planting each year on higher land, and now he has his peach trees on the highest fields on his farm. Mr. Marshall has the distinction of being the first successful grower of peaches on the mountain top. He has in his orchards not less than 9,000 healthy bearing peach trees, and 2,000 plum, pear and cherry trees. He is cultivating over fifty varieties of peaches, the first coming into the market in July and ripening on until November. He usually has the first load of peaches on sale in the Hamilton market, two years ago being as early as the first week in July. The hot weather last fall had a bad effect on a large portion of his orchards, owing to the exposure to the wind currents, and he thinks it doubtful if he will have more than one-third of a crop this year. His pears, plums and cherries are usually a prolific crop. Last year his plums went to waste, thousands of baskets not being picked, there being a poor market for them. From 2,000 trees, planted six years ago, they gathered about 12,000 eleven-quart baskets of as fine peaches as ever were sold in the Hamilton market. His youngest orchard has about 5,500 peach and 500 plum, pear and cherry trees. If the season is good this year, he expects great results from this orchard. The spring frosts do little or no injury to the peach trees or fruit buds. The time when they are injured is in the winter, chiefly in February. Ten or twelve degrees below zero does not seem to injure them, and even if it goes fifteen below, there may be a good crop. In 1914, when the temperature was twenty degrees below zero, the peach crop was a failure and the only failure in eight years.
          Mr. Marshall manages his large farm on scientific principles, and he finds that it pays him to do so. He has twenty-five miles of drainage, and while it costs a lot of money and labor, he gets his profit every year in abundant crops. It doesn’t pay a farmer to own wet and siggy land, for in wet seasons it cannot be worked as in the proper season, hence crop failure. Every mile of tile drainage adds twice its cost to the value of the land. Mr. Marshall has studied and tested the tiling system, with the result that he has little, if any, waste land, and he never fails to raise a paying crop.



          Not alone in lime has he been a success, but he was the first cement maker in this part of Canada and the discoverer of the first cement rock. In the year 1874, when he was the assessor for Barton township on the mountain range, he was out in the neighborhood of Albion Mills and got caught in a heavy rainstorm. He sought shelter under an overhanging rock, and while there noticed the peculiar proportion of one of the rock. Being somewhat a student of geology, he examined the rock and came to the conclusion that it might prove to be of value in making cement. This land belonged to John Rousseaux, and was part of 150 acres that Mr. Marshall was negotiating to purchase. He made known his discovery of the cement rock, and suggested to some of his neighbors that it might prove to be a valuable investment, but none of them had the courage to risk so much money on an untried experiment. Mr. Marshall, having faith in his judgment, and believing that it would be a paying investment, bought the land, having to go into debt for a large part of the purchase money. He has always looked upon that day’s work as one of great value in his study of geology in his study of geology in the old collegiate institute in Hamilton. This was the beginning of the cement industry in this section of Canada, and it has grown to be one of importance.
          Mr. Marshall built his first cement mill in Dow’s wood and coal yard in Hamilton, and thus got the contract for the first supply of cement used in constructing the city drainage system when Mr. Haskins was the city engineer. After twenty-five years, the same sewers were opened for repairs and the cement was found to be as hard and firm as the day on which it was first used. The demand for cement came in so fast from other places that the capacity of the mill in Dow’s yard proved too small to fill the orders, and Mr. Marshall decided to build a mill out near Albion Mills, capable of turning out one hundred barrels a day. This mill he sold to F. W. Schwendiman, who was an industrious fellow, but not much of a manager. Fortunately Schwendiman had a sister of good business ability, and when she assumed the management, it paid big dividends. The sister married a lawyer out in Minnesota, and the brains of the business was lost to the mill, and finally Schwendiman sold out. Mr. Marshall is still in the lime and cement trade, and is piling up a bank account for future generations of the Marshall family.


          We started this bit of history by telling that James Marshall was born in a log house on the mountain top, and that his father and mother were natives of the Emerald Isle. His father laid the foundation of the home farm that now belongs to James, and it has proved to be a mine of wealth. But it has taken hard work and steady habits, and cultivated brains. Mr. Marshall attended country school during the winter months, with P. C. Blaicher, a former mayor of Hamilton, as his teacher. When not in the schoolroom, he was at the lime kiln assisting his father. In time he came to Hamilton and attended the old collegiate institute, on the corner of Main and Caroline streets, where he had as a few of his companions; Mr. McLeod, the assessment commissioner; A. C. Turnbull, the book shop man; William Wood, head of the hardware firm of Wood, Vallance & Co.; E. D. Cahill, Major Chisholm and R. A. Pringle, disciples of Blackstone. When his schooldays were over, like all sensible young fellows, he fell in love with Miss Agnes Ann Heard, a native of Rainham Centre, on the Lake Erie shore, to whom he was married on March 12, 1879. Seven children were born to them, of whom three boys and three girls are living. The oldest son, Robert E., has a farm near Miami, Man; Marcella G. is a teacher in the collegiate institute at Ingersoll; two sons and one daughter are at home, and one daughter, Edna V., is married and lives in Binbrook. Mrs. Marshall died Oct. 7.1913. Mr. Marshall is a total abstainer, and never drank a glass of intoxicating liquor in his life. He has worked hard most of his life on the farm, in quarries, at limekilns, and pruning fruit tees. For twenty-two years he was a regular attendant at a Presbyterian Sunday School, and for thirty-six consecutive years was superintendent of the Methodist Sunday school, rarely ever being absent. He is a hale and hearty man for one of 65 years, and attributes his good health to careful habits and working in the fresh air in all kinds of weather.
          For thirteen years, he has served the people of his township and county in public office, beginning as assessor and ending as Warden of Wentworth county. His work as a public officer has been a benefit not only to his township, but to the county. He is an expert bicycle rider, and rarely ever drives a horse. Four times within the past few years he has wheeled from his home to the great west, visiting Brandon in Manitoba, and other points, making his last round trip in seventeen days. He has often wheeled to Sarnia, 147 miles, in twelve hours.

Friday, 28 December 2012


What a rural old town Hamilton was away back half a century ago, and indeed it was well into the ‘60s before it began to lose its bucolic simplicity. The picture which we present today, taken in the early 60s, when the Gore was transferred from a mud hole into a beautiful park, shows a number of buildings facing on King street, east of James. Indeed there has been no great change in the appearance of the street save here and there an old store has given place to a handsome and modern business house. It may be that the owners of business houses appreciate a large income from a small initial investment to a tearing down of the old places and building costly palaces that would yield a smaller revenue in proportion to the amount invested. Here and there some of the old buildings have been handed down from the accumulator of the last century to the spender of the present generation. Take a look at the north side of the street, and the old wooden awning is much in evidence from Lawson’s corner down to the corner of Catharine street. The south side of King street for the same length is more aristocratic, being occupied by wholesale houses. About the only improvement in buildings on the north side in the past fifty-five years have been made by the Thomas C. Watkins and Stanley Mills companies.


          The picture shows a quaint old street. Until within the last dozen years or so, Hamilton did not get much of a hustle, its citizens being content to jog along in the good, come easy, God Send Sunday style, something after the manner of old Dr. McQuesten, who could not see, away back in 1843, why the Gurney brothers should start another foundry in town when the doctor and John Fisher already had a one horse affair down on the corner now occupied by the Royal Hotel. With all the natural advantages, even Bytown has beat Hamilton in the race for population, but Hamilton has the manufacturing industries, and new ones are coming in all the time since the boom started half a dozen years ago. Indeed, a few are optimistically looking toward the near future when John Hall and his corps of assessors will be able to figure a population of 80,000 without padding the rolls. Probably that will come when Col. Gibson can hypnotize the city council and make that body believe that it would be for the best interests of Hamilton to do away with that bit of park between Hughson and John and turn it over to the Street Railway for a terminal station. It would be an ideal location, and the gallant colonel has doubtless often turned the question over in his mind as to the sin and extravagances of keeping such an available bit of land for a flower garden, when the Cataract company could turn it to such profitable purpose. He could almost be persuaded to take another dollar off the price of arc lamps for street lighting for the ownership of that piece of the Gore.


          The new blood in Hamilton may look favorably on the growth of population, but the old stagers sigh for the days of the town pump on the Gore and the Arcadian simplicity that prevailed when it was the custom of a certain class of business and professional men to get as drunk as lords early in the afternoon, and after an hour of refreshing sleep, get up and at it again till the daylight did appear. Hamilton in those days had no millionaires, nor great factories, but the men worked for $8 or $9 a week, payable half in cash and the balance in orders on the stores. The wheels of prosperity for Hamilton began to revive slowly about the time that Sir John A. Macdonald declared for national policy, and it took a good many years to get accustomed to the clatter of machinery and the occasional factory that would beam up in spite of those who believed in free trade ideas, but it was not until the last half dozen years that the people began to realize that there was a bright future for this grand old town. When the Deering company from Chicago asked for a bonus of $50,000 to buy land on which to locate its shops here, the workingmen rallied at the polls and voted it down. However, there were a few wise men in the city council who prevailed on the Deerings to cast their lot with Hamilton, and they would see to it that the $50,000 was more than made up to the company. The Deerings came with their millions of capital, and thousands of Hamilton men have been making good wages for the past two or three years. The Deerings broke into the city, and today, where farmers raised what and garden truck four years ago, the land is covered with great factories, and more men are employed down there every day than comprised the entire population of the city half a century ago. The wheels of prosperity are now revolving with a velocity that makes the old stagers wonder what is to come next.


          But let’s get back to the picture of ancient Hamilton and pick out a few of the men who occupied the stores on the north side of King street. We may have gone over this route before, but in this growing city people come and go, and posterity can look back with pride on the names of the business men of half a century ago. On the corner of King and James stands out the sign of Lawson Bros. importers and manufacturers of clothing. When that firm first introduced sewing machines into their tailor shop, the men went out on a strike. Machines, they said, would ruin the tailoring business. The Lawsons occupied the corner room and the one adjoining it. T. Bickle & Son kept the drug store now occupied by John P. Hennessy. In the next store, John Courteney kept the Albert House – merchants in those days had some high sounding titles for their places of business. It was a dry goods, millinery and house furnishing establishment. The next store was occupied by Ecclestone & Bethune, confectioners. Mr. Bethune is still living in the city. The next was A. Murray & Co.’s dry goods store, and adjoining it was Paul T. Ware, watchmaker and jeweler. Following eastward was D. B. Macdonald & Co.’s show store; Watkins Bros, & Co., wholesale dry goods; T. B. and J. Harris, dry goods; W. Boise, wholesale dry goods; Winer, Moore & Co., druggists; Dick thorn occupied the store on the corner of King and Hughson streets, and in that block between Hughson and John, were Campbell, Holt and Angell’s book store; A. T. Wood, hardware; McGiverin & Co., carriage and saddler hardware; Charles Magill, dry goods; Charles Warmoil, dry goods; Mills and Wright, furriers. Many of the names have passed from memory. The south side of King street, from James eastward, was principally occupied by wholesale warehouses. The corner store was Adam Brown & Gillespie; then the Bank of British North America, the oldest bank in Hamilton; Kerr, Brown and Co. and Gordon and McKay, wholesale dry goods; Albert Bigelow, James Cummings & Co. S. G. Patto and Co., James Skinner & Co., all wholesale dealers in crockery, china and glass. Albert Bigelow was an old bachelor, and at his death, he left a fortune of about $60,000, to be divided to three benevolences, one of which is the Boys’ Home. His name should be kept in remembrance by the people of Hamilton, as he was about the only one that remembered the unfortunate in the final disposition of his property. On the corner now occupied by the Provident and Loan building was a two story frame building. The corner room was Joseph Kneeshaw’s book store and bindery, and next door was W. T. Glassco, hatter and furrier. A number of wholesale houses filled in the gap between Duncan A. Macnab’s grocery and Murphy’s checkered store. On the corner was D. McInness & Co., wholesale dry goods. There was no W. E. Sanford Manufacturing company, but the buildings between the corner of John and the Anglo-American Hotel were occupied by stores. A. W. Gage & Co., jewelers and D. B. Galbreaith & Co., grocers were in that block.


          How many of the names mentioned are even known at the present day as having been the leading business men on King street half a century ago.? How soon forgotten, even the most prominent in business and public life! It does not come amiss, even at the lapse of a half century to now and then call the roll of the men who gave business life to the city when it was struggling for existence. Fortunes were not made as easily then as now, and there was no such thing as a department store. But they were a lot of loyal old boys for the interests of the city, and they laid well the foundations for the present day prosperity. Hamilton was purely a city of shopkeepers, and its wholesalers, in every department of trade, drew business from the entire territory.

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Ah! Christmas ! Christmas ! How welcome thou art to those whose pocketbooks have golden linings. They smile now in their pleasant homes. Mince pies and cranberry marmalade are getting ready on the upper shelf, out of little Bobby’s reach, and mother is chopping the suet, picking the currants and raisins, slicing the orange, lemon and citron peels for the plum pudding. What times of rejoicing and preparation in anticipation of the Christmas homecoming, when the absent ones will gather around the dinner table and the family will be complete for at least one day in the year. Some may not return; they have wandered too far from the old home and made new homes for themselves; but, if absent in body, they will be present in spirit. Oysters on the whole shell, the half shell or any way you want ‘em, for stuff in the turkey; or, if you prefer it, goose stuffed with sage and onions, with apple sass on the side. Regular old-fashioned cider, of pure apple juice without any chemical stuff in it, and five-year-old grape juice of which you might drink a gallon and not feel any bad effects, to wash down the dinner instead of stronger beverages that induce headaches and bad temper, and make you wish that Christmas would never come again. My! How it makes one’s mouth water in anticipation of the luxurious treat a-coming. Well, all prudent and thrifty Hamiltonians have reason to be grateful, for it has been a year of plenty for everybody able to work, and there has been work for all to do. The rich can guzzle their wines and gobble their venison, green turtle and canvasbacks for gold has poured into their coffers : the man who labors with hands and brain will have his humble fare and thank God that he has health and is able to provide for his family. But how is it with the widow, the orphan, the sick man at death’s door, and all the wretched paupers who throng the highways and byways? To them Christmas seems a bitter sarcasm. Depending upon themselves, it will be a dark and dreary day, for the light of hope had fled from their homes. The benevolent societies will to some extent brighten the homes of the less fortunate; still, hundreds even in our city will be passed by. Each individual reader of the Spectator can do his or her part in making it a glad Christmas by doing a little missionary work in looking up and providing for someone who might otherwise be forgotten. Do it not as a charity, but in the spirit of the golden rule : “Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” Your own Christmas will be brighter and happier when you have done one good act.


          Christmas is coming along in seven-league boots, and the eyes of the children are bright and their hearts are beating high with expectation. Christmas is essentially a holiday for the little folks, and they grow out of their dreams of the ruddy-faced old myth with sled and reindeers all too quickly. To many of those who have grown up and put away childish things, the glad time is often more of a struggle between a slim purse and a big heart than anything else, and yet they get their reward out of the sacrifices they are called upon to make in the pleasure they get out of making the children happy. Once upon a time we were all young ourselves, though you might not think it to look at some of us, and the pleasantest recollections of life, almost, hang around those memorable mornings when little barefooted, night-gowned forms stole cautiously from the snug, warm bed to the mantelpiece to see what Santa Claus had brought. The children don’t stay children very long, and it is worth a good deal to make them wholly happy once a year during the few years they are children, even if their little stomachs are hopelessly out of order for a few days afterward. Make their childhood bright and pleasant, and in after years, they will remember with gratitude and thank God that they were blessed with affectionate parents.


          Hamilton is certainly entitled to the bun for the number of fraternal societies and their membership. You can rarely meet a man who has not his name enrolled in one or more lodges, and nearly every society has at its foundation the beneficiary feature. Friendly, or benevolent, societies are a British institution, inaugurated among the poorer classes at the beginning of the eighteenth century for mutual insurance against the distress arising from sickness, death, accident or other causes of destitution. There were, at first, merely a banding together of a few persons on unscientific principles, but, in later years, became subjects of parliamentary action, and are now limited by law to operation on a basis founded on the experience deduced from the actuaries’ tables of insurance. Two hundred and eighty years ago, the Fund for Mercer’s Widows was started in London. In 1765, Dr. Price, an English scientist, and Benjamin Franklin, printer and philosopher, perfected actuary tables which still form the basis of life insurance by stock companies, and have been adopted by many of the fraternal societies. Hence fraternal benefits and commercial insurance owe their beneficence and their success to British and American brains and philanthropy, and the world is indebted to English-speaking people for working out the problem of saving for the benefit of the widow and orphan. The first railway accident insurance company was organized in London in 1849, and out of it has grown that splendid system of insurance against accidents of every kind that is now generally adopted.


          The Good Book commands up to lay up treasures in heaven. Fraternal societies and old-line life insurance companies teach us that the way to lay up treasure on earth is to enroll our names in some order and by the payment of weekly or monthly assessments secure our families when we have finished this earthly pilgrimage, a fund that will afford at least temporary relief. When a member of one of these fraternal societies in Hamilton dies, his family is paid, within a few weeks, from $1,000 and upward, depending upon the policy carried. In a majority of cases, were it not for the wise forethought in providing the insurance, the family would left with little or nothing – barely sufficient to pay funeral expenses and for the medical attendance during the last sickness. The fraternal societies not only furnish insurance, but during life their members receive a weekly allowance in sickness and a re provided with a doctor. And all these benefits cost merely a nominal sum. The money some men spend in self-indulgence in liquor and tobacco alone would pay all demands of any one of the fraternal societies and lay up a treasure that would be handy to draw upon when incapacitated for labor by sickness or accident; and, in case of their death, leave a couple of thousand dollars to their families. Has it ever occurred to you, dear reader, that thousands of dollars are paid out monthly in Hamilton to members of the fraternal societies who are stricken down by sickness or accident or death? Without that help there would be great distress in many homes. Hardly a month passes in the year that from one to a dozen men die who leave to their families only the life insurance policy they have carried in some old-time company or in some fraternal society. The average man, with a family to support, does not earn much more than pays current expenses. When sickness comes, the wages stop. Here is where the fraternal society comes to the rescue. Should death ensue, after a long illness, the family exchequer is exhausted and there is no money left to pay the doctor or funeral expenses. Here is where the insurance policy does its blessed work. A policy of life insurance in some fraternal society or old-time company is the best Christmas gift a man can give his wife.


          The old boys and the old girls of Hamilton who have rounded up their threescore years and ten, and who, perhaps, have not spent a year in all that time away from the sound of the clock on the city hall or the chimes in the Church of the Ascension have seen wonderful changes in the city of their birth. The winter began earlier half a century ago and lasted longer, and in the Christmas holidays there was sleigh-riding with the temperature down below zero, to make the face and ears tingle. Probably the cold snap of the past few days comes nearer to an old-fashioned winter than many we have had in years. Ah! those were bright and cheerful days for the young, and as memory carries us back at these Christmas times, let us lay aside the cares and anxieties that come with years and responsibilities of daily life and enter with zest into the pleasures of youth. Do you want an object lesson to call back your youth? Take a walk in our business streets and see the groups of children in front of the large plate glass windows and hear their exclamations at everything on exhibition. There is nothing too small to escape them and each one has a choice. Santa Claus is a reality to the little tots, and the longer the illusion can be kept up, the happier will be the dream of youth. You didn’t have such show windows to look into, my old boy, when you were young, for the merchants and the toymakers had not advanced that far in catering to the pleasure of childhood. You were born in a practical generation, and old Santa Claus had not then left his native Germany to room with the reindeer in the wilds of Canada. The confectioners’ windows during holiday times are the delight of the children, especially of that class whose homes are not the most cheerful. Listen to two or three of them as they look upon the filmy candies, in every color of the rainbow, and impart to each other just the choice they would make if some good angel would only let them enter the shop and turn them loose on the mountains of the chocolates and taffies and the great mouthfuls of sugar and coconut-coated balls of sweetness. Poor little waifs! They have to gratify their desires in imagination only, for that plate glass stands between them and their heaven.


          The candies and cakes in the confectioners’ windows appeal, not only to the waifs, but there are people of a larger growth who have not the means to buy such delicacies for the little ones in their homes. Christmas, after all, is a tantalizing season, and while mothers may pass by the same windows at every season in the year, they hardly give them a thought. Good bread, with or without butter, is manna to a hungry kid, except at Christmas, when he or she wants  currant buns and tarts and fruit cake – anything that will put their little stomachs in disorder for the next week or two. But what cares childhood for a sour stomach so long as the eating delights the palate? The old boys and the old girls of a past century forget all these things, and they only renew their youth in seeing the children of the present enjoy them as they did in the long ago. When you are looking around, my old boy, and come across a group of God’s poor kids in front of shop windows, especially confectioners,’ blow in a quarter and learn that it is more blessed to give than receive.