Saturday, 27 October 2012


On Tuesday December 30, 1858, the Rev. William Ormiston was inducted into the pastoral charge of the United Presbyterian congregation in this city. The little stone church on Merrick street, which was on the lot upon which the Savoy theatre is now built, had had several changes in pastors from the time it first became a temple of worship and the small congregation had passed through many vicissitudes. One of the fundamental doctrines of the United Presbyterians was opposition to secret societies, so it is safe to say that there were not many Masons or Oddfellows connected with it. Mr. Ormiston’s theology was cast in a broader mold, and when he came to Hamilton, he identified himself with the Sons of Temperance and the Good Templars, both orders having a ritual and a semblance of secrecy. Prior to the coming of Mr. Ormiston, the Rev. Mr. Hogg had pastoral charge of the congregation. He was a man of fine scholarship, and while he was in Hamilton, he published a monthly magazine entitled Waymarks in the Wilderness. The articles in the magazine dipped so deep in theology that ordinary minds could not fathom it, and the result was that the magazine had but a small subscription list, and when Mr. Hogg left Hamilton the Waymarks was consigned to the wilderness of the literary graveyard. Probably some ancient United Presbyterian brother may have preserved a copy of the magazine. It would be a literary curiosity now. A. T. Freed, now inspector of weights and measures, had charge of the type setting and make-up of the Waymarks, and this, probably, accounts for the severe religious hue of his daily life. After reading Mr. Hogg’s articles, Bro. Freed’s mind was prepared for any severe study, as he took to Masonry and has just landed in the highest seat in the synagogue.


          How many men or women now living in Hamilton, who were connected with the United Presbyterian church, can remember the interesting occasion of half a century ago? Dr. Ormiston was then in the first flush of manhood, having received all the honors that the university from which he graduated could bestow upon him. He was a natural orator, and he never appeared before an audience that he did not leave his impress upon it. The Hamilton church pulpits were filled with brainy, educated men – “there were giants in those days” – and when the congregation of the little stone church called Mr. Ormiston to the pastorate, they had no fear of the result ; he could hold his own with the brightest preachers of that day. It is doubtful if any of the ministers who took part in that induction service are living now. On the platform were Methodist, Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian ministers besides the elders of Mr. Ormiston’s church. Men of note in Canadian pulpits – Robert Burns, David Inglis, Robert Irvine, Wm. McChary, Edward Ebbs, Mr. Christie, Ephraim B. Harper, Alfred Booker, Robert Poden and many others – were there to extend the glad hand to the young minister. At 11 o’clock in the forenoon, the ordination services began, the Rev. Mr. Lee, of Ancaster, preaching the sermon, and the Rev. Mr. Christie propounding the questions of the formula and offering up the ordination prayer. In the evening was held the banquet in the hall of the Mechanics’ Institute, at which more than 600 sat down. The hall was tastefully decorated by the ladies of the church, and everything was done to make the occasion one long to ne remembered. Mr. Roy, an elder of the church, was the chairman, and a choir of 25 ladies and gentlemen, under the direction of Mr. Wallace, made sweet melody, to sandwich in between the speeches. Uncle Billy McClure, the grand old pastor of the New Connexion church, was the first speaker, his theme being Religion Cultivates and Purifies the Social Affections. The Rev. David Inglis, the pastor of Macnab Street Presbyterian church, talked on A Praying Church, A Peaceful and Prosperous One, and Mr. Ebbs, of the Congregational followed with The Church, a Sphere of Duty for All. Then came the new minister, the Rev. William Ormiston. His reputation for eloquence had preceded him to Hamilton, and this was the first opportunity that a large number of the assembled guests had the opportunity to hear him. Mr. Ormiston was in his happiest mood as a storyteller, and he introduced his subject by relating a parable. One lovely afternoon, in the month of June, a young maiden, scarcely in her teens, fresh and fair, approached her mother with a request that she might be permitted to go out and gather some of the loveliest flowers that bloomed in a meadow close at hand. Permission being obtained, she went through the fresh fields, basket in hand, caroling gayly as she picked the blossoms and placed them in her basket., thinking all the while how graceful a garland she would twine around her mother’s brow. And so she wended her way to the lower end of the meadow, where a rivulet flowed amid the grass, rippling gently over its pebbly bed. She dropped a flower in the brook, and, pleased to see it dancing before the current, another and another until, in her excitement, she tossed them all away. Then, the transient pleasure over, looking at the empty basket, she sorrowfully cried. “Bring me back my flowers,” but echo alone mockingly replied, and the rivulet carried them away forever. The story loses much of its charm in cold type. The application was in one of Mr. Ormiston’s most impressive moods. So, young people, your God has given you a long summer, a fragrant mead, and a large basket to contain the many precious flowers scattered around. Beware lest in the gay and giddy delirium of mere sensuous delights, you squander the precious moments, the golden opportunities for personal improvement, heart culture, home usefulness, church monumental labor. A few more years and you may in vain wish to recall your misspent youth. Echo alone will mock your care as it did the maiden as it did the maiden’s who had thrown her flowers away. Had we space in these Musings to quote more extensively from the address of that night fifty years ago, they would be an inspiration to the young men and women of the present day. Speaking on patriotism and love of country, he stated “What a large, wide, happy home is the land we live in! We have found it a goodly land, and have no sympathy with those who love it not. There is no piety, no genuine Christianity, in the heart of him who does not love his country, native or adopted. He cannot be a true, real-hearted man who, looking through the vista of coming years, does not hope to see his own country grow geater and more glorious.

          “Scotland. I love thee well,
             Thy dust is clear to me;
           This distant land is very fair,
             But not like thee.

           They say thy hills are bleak,
             They say thy glens are bare;
           But, oh! they know not what fond hearts
              Are nutured there.”


          It is sad to think that a mind so stored with all the beauty and imagery of the English language should finally end in a cloud. The last time Mr. Ormiston passed through Hamilton he was a physical and mental wreck. Years of pain and suffering had brought low the intellectual giant.


          There were other speakers at that notable banquet who are pleasantly remembered by the friends of the good old days of yore. The Rev. Ephraim B. Harper spoke cheery words o greeting for the Wesleyan Methodists of Hamilton, and the Rev. Dr, Irvine closed the speaking program with one of his breezy, characteristic speeches.


          Women are just as eligible as men for harps, halos and wings claim the women of Hamilton. And they go farther than that, for they emphatically declare that many of them are already enrolled on the angelic list, and they may be seen any Sunday occupying the reserved seats in Hamilton’s costly temples of worship. Let women take a back seat in the churches and leave the men to run things spiritually and Hamilton would become a veritable Sodom and Gommorah. Fancy the class of angels that can be found at the club or the lodge long after the St. Paul’s chimes peal forth the midnight hour! As a general thing, men have a pretty good opinion of themselves, which makes them rather selfish. They have an idea that wings are almost ready to sprout from their shoulders at any moment, and that it is only their native modesty that keeps them from bragging about their angelic qualities. They are like the fellow in church who promptly rose to his feet when the preacher, in his sermon, exclaimed : “Mark, the perfect man!” The club women in Chicago are resenting the claim made by men that their sex is the only one eligible for wings. It seems that at a meeting of Methodist ministers at Chester Heights, Pa., several of the brethren argued that there was no such thing as female angels, and gave as a reason that no record could be found in the sacred scriptures of any such angels, and therefore they did not exist. Then to prove their position, one of the brethren asked the question as to whoever saw a picture or a bit of statuary representing a female angel. Angels are chosen for their good works and this being the test of eligibility, where could one put their finger on a masculine angel in Hamilton?


          The idea that women are not born angels is ridiculous. Here in Hamilton are plenty of women who are angels – all the men have to do is use their eyes and brains to see that. Very young men and very old men are willing to concede to women their proper place in the angel choir. It is only the crabbed and sour fellows who are made to toe the mark for their neglect of home duties in the evening, or who spend the midnight hour at a game of draw where four ones always beat four twos, who declare that the long-suffering mother of their children has passed the angelic stage. One good women in this blessed city of Hamilton says that there may be no record of female angels in the Bible, or in the pages of books written by such crabbed old dyspeptics as Tom Carlyle, but that is not proof that female angels do not exist. One thing is certain, that when the roll of angels is called in the other world to which we are all tending, there will be more hearty and prompt responses from the gentler sex than from the masculine. This great family journal takes its stand with the women on this important question. In the religious world women make all the sacrifices is to keep the churches running; and were it not for them there would be little use for the sexton to open the churches running; and were it not for them there would be little use for the sexton to open the church doors tomorrow. The pastors would preach to empty pews if the men were depended upon to furnish the congregation, and there would be no missionary funds to send the gospel to convert the heathen. If the question were left to the young men to decide, especially those who took advantage of the month of roses to join hands and hearts with Hamilton’s fair ones, they would insist that women are angels, and doubtless would declare that women have so many angelic qualities that a very slight metamorphosis would be necessary for them to become full-fledged angels.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Isaac Buchanan was at the head of one of the leading business firms in Hamilton, and in the early fifties took a prominent part in securing the building of the Great Western railway. He established the Banner newspaper in 1854 in order to have a personal organ through which he could present the claims of the Great Western to the people of Hamilton as well as to the government for a measure of support in building up the interests of the road from the Falls to Windsor. It was a big undertaking in those days to finance a great line of railway for the government had not yet gotten into that liberal mode which it has since shown in gridironing the whole of Canada. The Great Southwestern railway was projected as a rival line for through freight and passenger traffic from the Falls to the Detroit river, and the friends of the Great Western were pulling every string to head off the other road. Mr. Buchanan was very much in earnest in his opposition, for he looked upon the rival road as a competing force to the Great Western. In order to help Hamilton, Mr. Buchanan was induced to use his name on a check for a large amount, the money to be used to pay the first installment on a number of shares of the Great Southwestern railway sufficient to enable Hamilton to control that line. The Great Western company proposed to double track the through line from the Falls to Detroit, and thus secure control of the railway business of the peninsula. It was never dreamed for a moment that the signing of the check should embarrass Mr. Buchanan or that he should be called upon to pay a dollar of it, but parties in the London money market got hold of the paper, and in order to injure the Canadian enterprise, placed Mr. Buchanan in a very embarrassing position. To save the members of the firms of which he was the head, Mr. Buchanan felt it his duty to withdraw from the partnership in the different firms till such time as the railway matters could be adjusted. In due course of time, everything was arranged, and Mr. Buchanan emerged from the financial cloud with honor to himself. He never expected to be benefited a dollar by signing the check. How many business men or others, are there in Hamilton today who could take the chance Mr. Buchanan did to help the city in which he was so much interested?


          Speaking of the Hamilton Banner brings to mind some of the trials and tribulations had to undergo half a century ago.  . Nicholson, McIntosh and Hand, the practical men who managed the paper at the start, had not a dollar invested in it, the original capital being furnished by Major Bowen to give his son, William, a business start, Mr. Buchanan, advancing money to keep it alive. Billy had no knowledge of the printing business, but he was soon taught how to run a hand press, at which he became quite skillful. Alexander McKinnon, a young lawyer, brother of a former chief of police in this city, was the editor, and, for a time, he wrote not only the editorials, but also the principal in tems of local interest. William Nicholson took part of the local work, and used to report the public meetings. The Banner was an aggressive paper in some respects, and a number of members in the council did not always approve of the uncomplimentary things said about them. It did seem in those days as if the taxpayers in Hamilton were easy in selecting some of the men they elected to manage city affairs, and while there were some good men on the board, there were enough unscrupulous ones to make a hot time in the old town on the nights the council met. Bill Nicholson knew the gang from the ground up, for he had spent his life in this city. One night he was attending a meeting in St. Andrew’s ward, of which Terry Branigan was one of the members in the council. Terry had been a target for the Banner, and having indulged copiously ay his own bar before he went to the meeting, he was just in the mood to square up accounts with Nicholson, and while the latter was writing the proceedings of the meeting, Terry approached him and let Bill feel the weight of his heavy fists. Bill was no coward, mind you, but he had too much self-respect to strike an infuriated drunken man. The next day Terry was invited to a séance with Captain Armstrong, who was the presiding judge of the police court, and then turned his tongue loose on Nicholson, and as Terry was very free of speech, and could not be held down once he had started fairly, he gave a very glowing picture of Nicholson’s life. Bailiff McCracken and the police magistrate tried to head off Terry in his oration, but they might just as well have endeavored to stop the water from flowing over the Falls as to check him. Nicholson wanted the case continued to the recorder’s court, but Terry was too smart for that, and changed his plea to guilty. Captain Armstrong thought as Terry had had so much fun out of it, he should be willing to pay for it, so he assessed him $20 and costs. The next year the council elected Terry market clerk in order to get rid of him at the council board. It was dangerous in those days to criticize the actions of some of the men in the council, for they were fighters from the word go.


          The fashion in eating changes as it does in everything else. Some say that civilization came in with the candle. In the olden times, people laid down with the lamb, rising up with the lark, but it has always been a mooted question whether early rising made one healthier. The fable about the early bird catching the worm may be good in theory, but it is not comfortable in practice. The old Hamiltonian will remember when he had to turn out in winter, with the mercury down below zero, eat his breakfast by candlelight, and be at his workshop sharp on the stroke of seven. We have learned better in these twentieth century days than to waste candles. Therefore we put off the beginning of work an hour later. A newspaper writer has been dipping into the past and tracing the changes in custom down to the present. In the fifteenth century, the habit was to rise at five, dine at nine, sup at five in the evening, and back to bed at nine o’clock, thus divesting ten hours to the god of dreams. A century earlier man rose with the daw, and when the curfew bell rang at eight, he was ready for bed. There were only two meals a day then, dinner at nine in the morning, and supper at four or five. No much chance at dyspepsia through overeating. The first mention of breakfast was in 1463, which was a trifling meal of bread and ale or wine. Queen Elizabeth and her court rose at six, quenched their thirst at 7 with gorgeous draughts of ale, and at eleven in the forenoon ate a hearty dinner. At one o’clock, the theatre was opened, and the performance filled in the afternoon till supper time, which was between five and six o’clock. Shopkeepers dined at noon and supped at six. They ate no breakfast, and were at their desks never later than seven in the morning. Very few merchants or businessmen of Hamilton think of getting down to store or office before nine or ten o’clock in these luxurious days of the twentieth century. Cromwell changed the dinner hour to 1:30, and it was then that the gentlemen of his days settled themselves down to gratifying their bibulous appetites, ending their debauches before the early hour for retiring. The fashionable world in Queen Anne’s time were late risers and did not bestir themselves till nine o’clock, and till eleven all levees were held. The dinner hour was changed to two, and the gentlemen tarried with the wine till six, after which they were ready to spend the night at the gambling table. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, on account of the dinner hour being run too late in the afternoon, breakfast parties began to be given at noon, at which fish and cold meats were served with bread and butter and radishes, and a plentiful supply of ale. Tom Moore, the genial Irish poet, was in his happiest vein at the noon breakfast, and sang some of his sweetest songs for the hostess and her guests. Beginning with the nineteenth century, there were three meals a day, breakfast, dinner and supper. This good old fashion is the prevailing one in the workday world; but the business class and the idlers who rise late and retire very early in the morning, eat light breakfasts at nine in the morning, lunch at one, and dine at six. That class of people have only two salutations – good morning and good night. It is morning with them until six o’clock in the evening, and after that it is night. However, common people will stick to the old way of morning, afternoon, evening and night. The six o’clock dinner is getting to be more of a custom with workingmen, especially in the large cities, who take a cold lunch for the noon hour, and then with their family enjoy a hot, substantial meal at the close of the day’s toil.


Not that we would recommend a revival of the free-and-easy clubs that met on Saturday night in Hamilton fifty years ago, but merely to call attention to an old country idea that became quite popular here, do we call an old custom. The free-and-easy clubs met in large upper rooms over saloons, and probably there were half a dozen of them in Hamilton. Down the center of a room, from thirty feet and upwards in length, was a table along which was a line of armchairs on either side. Everybody was freely invited, the only qualification required being that visitors must act decently and in order. If one became boisterous through overstimulation, he was quietly invited to retire, and if he declined to go, the bouncer of the house took him in charge. The landlord of the tavern furnished bowls of cut tobacco and long clay pipes (church wardens) free, and the customers made up for the accommodations and the smoke by liberal orders for liquid refreshments, each man paying for himself, for it was an established rule that there should be no treating of each other. The company would select a chairman for the evening, and everyone present had to either sing a song, or give a recitation. The session of jollity would begin at an early hour in the evening, and on the stroke of twelve all proceedings stopped, even though someone was singing, reciting or telling a story. Don’t fancy that it was only beer drinkers or those indulging in something stronger who were the only ones attending the free-and-easy – they call them smoking concerts now – for the music and the recitations made it attractive to those who drank only a weak decoction of lemonade or a glass of Pilgrim’s fluid compounds. One thing to the credit of the free-and-easy was the tabooing of smutty stories. Jolly fellows, generally, were the chairmen, and they had the happy facility of keeping up a lively interest from beginning to close. Now and then the managers invited a glee club as a special attraction. Saturday night free-and-easies were not a good school for the youth of Hamilton, and it is just as well that they have not been perpetuated. Probably the seven o’clock closing law had much to do with breaking them up.

Saturday, 20 October 2012


For the next three or four weeks Hamilton will be a beautiful picture to catch the eye of the lover of nature. The trees are budding, and the wealth of foliage and green lawns add to the beauty of the scenery. Painters are hard at work brightening up residences and business houses with fresh color, and the householders are doing their part in cleaning alleys and gathering up the rubbish that collect in the streets and back yards. These vernal days “belonging to youth, the spring of life,” makes the old young again and fill all hearts with gladness. How easily one jogs through life when spring flowers fill the air with perfume, the song birds make sweet music, and the weekly income is a guarantee that the comforts of home will be provided. There is another side to the picture, when sickness or misfortune hides the sunshine from the heart, and the outlook is anything but cheering. But we will not dwell upon that phase of life; rather look at the brighter.


          Half a century ago Hamilton was a theme that inspired the pens of old-time dreamers. The Great Western had been completed from the Falls to Detroit, but we had no railway between here and Toronto, traffic and passengers from this city to Montreal and Quebec and the intermediate points depending on the daily line of steamboats for transportation. It was in the days before the waterworks, and when the gas lamps in the streets were turned down at the hour of midnight, the belated night owl having to grope his way home when the moon was off duty. Read what a fancy pen was drawn then by a writer : “Hamilton, from its geographical position, its peculiar natural advantages, and through the indomitable energy and enterprise of its citizens, has, within the past few years, made rapid advances toward becoming the chief commercial city in Canada.” The town had less than 12,000 population, and its principal business was supplying the retail market in the country west and south. Hear the dreamer again: “But a few short years have passed away since the site on which now stands the crowded city, with its stately edifices and its elegant residences, its thronged streets, and its marts and factories teeming with life and business activity, was a dense forest, the hunting ground of the Indian, and the home of wild animals and beasts of prey.” What a vivid imagination it was that drew that picture, for there had not been anything wilder than a squirrel in this vicinity for at least a quarter of a century before that description was written. “It was not many years ago that the waters of our beautiful harbor, which now bear upon their bosom magnificent steamships and vessels of every grade, bringing to our port the treasures of other lands, and conveying to eastern markets the products of the west, were calm and unruffled, save when the red man launched his bark upon the blue expanse, or when lashed to fury by the angry tempest.” Now there is a bit of rhapsody that should be perpetuated in our school books that the youth of coming generations may know what the early historians thought of the sparkling waters of the bay, that in after years furnished ice to make ten cent cream soda for a densely populated city. Fancy the stately edifices on King street half a century ago, when the now beautiful  Gore park a mud hole and the old town pump at the west end of it. The history before us was equal to the pen of Munchausen.


          But here are some solid facts the writer has handed down that will interest the old-time Hamiltonian. “Hamilton was laid out in the year 1813,” – the same year the battle of Stony Creek was fought, the memory of which has been resurrected from oblivion by the ladies of the Historical society – “but for many years it progressed slowly, so that we find, in the year 1837, the inhabitants only numbered 3, 567. From 1837 to 1841, it made no progress, the census of the latter year reporting a population of 3,446, a decrease in the four years of 121. During the succeeding four years, the population nearly doubled, and by the census of 1850, we find that the number of inhabitants had increased to 10,248. From that period, the city progressed with almost unexampled rapidity. The commencement of the Great Western railway gave an impetus to all kinds of business. New and substantial buildings took the place of those no longer sufficient for the increased amount of business, and merchants and mechanics, who had accumulated ample fortunes, employed their surplus means in improving their property. New streets were opened and handsome edifices sprang up as if by magic in all parts of the city. The population, which had reached 10,000 in 1850, had considerably more than doubled,” the writer putting the figures at 25,000; and he held out the hope that by 1860 the number of inhabitants would reach 40,000.
          Hamiltonians were modest half a century ago in their desires, and a two ot three story stone or brick business house was a palace in the eyes of the old stagers. If those old boys could come back from the misty past and see the handsome blocks owned by the Thomas C. Watkins company, the T. H. Ptratt company, Oak Hall, the bank of Hamilton, the G. W. Robinson company, the Spectator company and many others that might be named, they could talk of palatial buildings. Those referred to stand out in remarkable contrast from those by which they are surrounded. But times are different now to what they were in the fifties, and business men can afford to build finer blocks. Hamilton has become a great manufacturing city, with its 55,000 inhabitants, mainly dependent on brains and muscle, making good wages and having plenty of money to spend on the comforts and even luxuries of life, there is encouragement to merchants to pull down their old stores and build larger and handsomer ones to accommodate the increased traffic.


          The visit of Lord Minto to Hamilton reminds the writer of a former Governor-General of Canada. In 1846 Lord Elgin was appointed Governor-General and for some cause the people did not take kindly to him. Politics in Canada were in a chaotic condition, and an angel from heaven would have stood a poor chance in some towns unless he suited the local political element. The writer does not remember what political party Lord Elgin leaned to, nor does it matter in connection with this story. In 1847 or 1848, Lord Elgin made a tour of Canada, in order that he might learn the conditions and prospects of the country. The rebellion losses and clergy reserve question created sore spots in those days, and there was a deal of bitterness. Lord Elgin assumed the duties of Governor-General with a determination that he would be a just ruler, and with the hope that by firmness in the discharge of duty the discordant elements might be soothed and a better feeling exist. The writer then lived in London, and remembers the preparations made by those in loyal sympathy with the Governor-General to give him a royal welcome. London was a small town then, but it was surrounded by a well-settled country, and the farmers came by hundreds to see the representative of royalty. That was in the days before railways, and the royal party made the trip in private carriages, and the exact hour of arrival was uncertain. Long before the expected time the crowd had gathered out by the turnpike gate on the plank road, and there seemed to be an uneasy feeling that did not portend harmony in the reception. Finally the Governor’s party arrived and the detail of regulars received him with military honors and escorted him into town. After the formalities of reception by the mayor and council, the party adjourned to the house of Postmaster Goodhue for luncheon. In the afternoon the Governor and Mr. Goodhue went out for a drive around town, and then pandemonium broke loose. The taverns had been doing a prosperous business, and as a result all respect for the royal representative was drowned in whiskey, and the maudlin crowd began hooting and yelling at the Governor and using all kinds of epithets. To this time the Governor’s trip through Western Canada was an ovation, for he had been treated with the courteous consideration due his office, but this sudden and unexpected turn of affairs completely took him by surprise, and orders were given to the coachman to drive to Mr. Goodhue’s house at once. The crowd followed and a riot was imminent, the better element of the town protesting against the cowardly acts of the mob. In the hope of calming the exited people, Lord Elgin presented himself on the front porch of Mr. Goodhue’s house and tried to make a speech, but they would have none of it, and they yelled and hooted all the more. Some level-headed man in the Governor’s party saw a Highland piper on the outskirts of the crowd, and the thought came to him a diversion might be made by getting the piper on the porch alongside of the Governor. He acted promptly, and the piper was taken in at the back door, ushered through to the front, and to the astonishment of the Governor as well as the crowd, the skirling of the bagpipes was heard. In less than five minutes, the anger and hooting of the mob was turned to cheers, and then all wanted to shake hands with the Governor. Lord Elgin was a diplomat, and readily accommodated himself to the changed conditions. He made a short speech, and the crowd separated. The next morning when the vice-regal party was leaving London, the people cheered and thus redeemed the town from the disgrace of the day before. That was not the first time that the wild notes of the bagpipes had turned defeat into triumphant victory.


          Lord Elgin’s term of office in Canada was a stormy one, and no doubt he was rejoiced when the hour for his departure came. On the 25th of April, 1849, terrible riots occurred in Montreal, terminating in the burning of the Parliament house. The parliament had passed the rebellion losses bill, which was the cause of the disturbance.


          In the summer of 1856, there came to Hamilton from Michigan a good-looking shoemaker by trade. He was of pleasant address and good habits, and soon became a general favourite among the young people. The Good Templars was a strong organization in those days, and its membership comprised both sexes. Henry was introduced and became a member of the lodge. He also joined No. 2 fire company, and it was not long before he was well-acquainted with the young people in town. Henry was of dark complexion, dreamy eyes and a good dresser, and it was not to be wondered at that he became a favourite with the girls. The truth of the matter is that he cut quite a swath, and he did it in a modest way, so that he generally carried off the prize, and the other poor fellows had to take what he left. Henry was so popular that the boys envied him just a little bit, but they did not let the green-eyed monster of jealousy weaken their friendship for him. When he was dressed in a red shirt and a fireman’s helmet, he was an ideal firefighter, and the girls had only eyes for him when No. 2 company was out on parade. But he met his fate in the person of a sensible girl who was assistant forewoman in a leading manufactory of the city. She had been looked upon as one of the prizes that some lucky fellow would draw in the matrimonial lottery, and when Henry became her recognized “steady” he received the hearty congratulations of his friends. Time rolled on till 1857, when the happy pair were united in marriage. Life’s dream was soon over for the bride, for one day Henry announced that he would go over to New York and get a job where he could make better wages, and in time he was able to start a shop of his own. That was the last his wife saw or heard of him for months. Through some channel word came back that he was about to be married to a handsome and wealthy young lady, the daughter of one of the leading business men of the town. None of his friends, least of all his wife, gave credence to the story, and it was not till it was confirmed by further evidence that any steps were taken to head off Henry in his gay career. A friend of the family was sent to the New York town, and fortunately arrived on the day set for the marriage of Henry to the merchant’s daughter, and when he told his story to the father, in the presence of Henry, the outraged father would have put Henry out of the matrimonial business for all time to come had it not been for interference of the friend and others. As it was Henry looked as though he had passed through a threshing machine by the time the father was taken off him. Henry was arrested, but as no crime could be laid to his charge, he was set free, and he quickly fled to parts unknown. Inquiry was made in the Michigan town whence he came to Hamilton, and another wife was living there. By the time Henry’s history had been hunted up, it was found out that he had three wives and two or three children to his credit, and all were living. He never went through the formality of being divorced. His Hamilton wife applied for legal separation, which was easily secured. She never married again. Some of the old boys and girls who belonged to the Good Templars will remember the story.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


In the Emerald Isle, a fortune was hunting for heirs not many years ago, and by good luck, the man for whom it as intended lived in Hamilton. He was one of the few survivors of a name with an estate and a bank account attached to it; and it was through the kindly offices of a lady living in Ireland that the solicitors, who had charge of the estate, discovered him. She was of the same name, but not near of kin, and when she saw in the native papers of her town that heirs were wanted, she traced it out that off here in Canada, where the Lady of Snows tramped over the dreary waste on snowshoes, lived a man who bore the same honored name. Communication was opened with our Hamilton man, and very wisely he made a trip to the old sod to put in his claim and prove that he was in direct line from the rich man whose spirit had passed the boundaries of the other world while his body was lying in the family vault with his forefathers. As in duty bound, our Hamiltonian called on the lady who had opened his pathway to the heirship of an old and honored estate. It cost money to prove his case in the chancery court, and as he had not taken much money with him, he was about running short when the lady, who was blessed with more than ordinary business sense, suggested that she would act as banker till he could get remittances from Hamilton. In due course of time, and after the lawyers had worked the heirs for all that was possible, a decree was entered and the estate was transferred to its new owners. There were some old mortgages to be paid off, and it was arranged that the income should be applied to the liquidation of the debts. The Hamiltonian returned home richer than when he crossed the ocean a few months before, and being a widower, he missed the kindly Irish face of the lady who had been the means of bringing him his good fortune. Of course, it was all to end as it does in the fashionable novel, but it didn’t. The Hamiltonian and the Irish lady became engaged, and she left home and native land to cast her fortunes with the man whom she had met under such strange conditions. He was in fair circumstances, being the owner of three or four brick houses that were paying a fair rental. Besides, he was making good wages at his trade, and then he was a man of more than average culture and bore an excellent reputation among those who had known him for years. The lady was accomplished and attractive and had some means of her own, so that the match was desirable on both sides. The day was set for their marriage, and a Hamilton minister, who had met the prospective bride a year or so before when she was making a tour of the part of Ireland where she lived, was engaged to perform the ceremony. Even a widower may have his romance, and certainly there was a dash of it in the coming together of this couple.


          The day before the time fixed for the wedding, the man had business down in the Grand Trunk freight yards. He stepped from the track on which a train was coming toward him to the next track, not noticing that another train was backing down, and in a moment the life was crushed out of him. What a shock to the woman, in a land of strangers, who on the morrow was to have been a bride!


          After the funeral was over, the relatives of the dead man put in a claim for the property, completely ignoring the rights, if any, the almost wife had. The man had promised that she should be provided for in case of his death, but it was not though possible that he had made a will and not have said anything about it to the woman who was most interested. However, she had confidence in the man and fully believed that he had left some paper recognizing at least his indebtedness for the money she had advanced when he was prosecuting his claim to the estate in Ireland. In a few days the minister whom she had met in Ireland, and who was to have performed the marriage ceremony, called to pay a pastoral visit of condolence, and to him the lady told the promises made to her by the deceased. The whole house was turned upside down, but not a scrap of paper that would help her case could be found. The heirs-at-law had already begun proceedings, and unless some paper could be discovered that would throw light upon the expressed intentions of the deceased in favor of the lady he was to marry, the chances were that she would not get a dollar. While the settlement of the estate was pending, the minister made another visit to the house, for he was strongly impressed that the deceased had left some paper that would do justice to his promised wife. Another thorough search was made, and they had about given up in despair when the minister saw the end of a folded paper sticking out between the clock and the wall. The lady’s faith in the man she was to marry was rewarded: this paper was a complete statement of the disposition to be made of his property in case of his death, and everything was left to the lady. The paper was a memorandum of what property he owned, and instructions to his attorney to draw up a will, and was regularly signed by his own name. There was no question as to the signature being genuine. The deceased had prepared the paper and had shoved it behind the clock till he would have time to take it to the lawyer. That time never came for death intervened. The settlement of the estate was amicably arranged between the lady and the other heirs, and when the debts due on the estate in Ireland are paid off, which is now being done by applying all the income from rents etc., the lady will have a handsome provision for her remaining years. She is now living in one of the houses owned by the deceased and has the rents coming in for present needs. There might be a moral attached to this local story. If you have property to leave, do not put off making a will. Life is very uncertain.


          “Home again, home again, from a foreign shore.
           And oh! It fills my soul with joy to meet my friends once more.”

          That will be the refrain of the glad song of rejoicing that will resound in Hamilton next August, when the Hamilton Old Boys and Girls return to the dear old city in which their childhood and youthful days were spent. What a charm there is in the words, Home Again! And what rejoicing in so many homes to which the wanderers will return, though the visit may be brief. But in other homes there will be sorrow, for the loved ones who went out full of hope for the future have dropped by the wayside, the burden of life being too heavy for them to bear. What an army of boys and girls has Hamilton sent out into the world, and what gratification it is to those who remained in the old home to know that a large majority of them had a fair share of prosperity. Some have failed because they were not equal to the opportunities presented. However, Hamilton has occasion for pride in the records made by so many of her sons. Two who held seats in the United States senate were born in this city. Scores of them proved their valor on the field of battle during the civil war in the United States, in the Spanish-American war, and under the Union Jack in South Africa: and when Canada was threatened by Fenian invasions and the revolt in the Northwest, Hamilton boys were at the front to defend their native land. Some of the Old Boys who responded to the roll of the war drums will never return. There is a vacant chair in the home circle: their names will never be forgotten by mother or wife. Hamilton has made great advances even in the past quarter of a century, and the boys who went out since then will be happily surprised when they note the changes: but how much greater will the Hamilton of today seem to those who turned their faces southward forty or fifty years ago? One who is familiar with the names can go over to the Chicago and Detroit directories and there pick out scores of native Hamiltonians and of those who spent their boyhood days here who are prosperous in business. Of course all did not succeed, that is not to be expected; but a sufficient number got up toward the top to be an honor to their old town from which they emigrated in their youth. They are now organizing for the homeward trip, and unless all signs fail, Hamilton will be the center of attraction during the carnival days in the middle of August, There is wealth enough in this city to provide for a fund that will make the welcome a hearty one. Those Old Boys and Old Girls will come with full pocketbooks of their own, and every dollar the city spends in entertaining will be returned fourfold. “Home again, home again,” will be the glad song, and a right hearty welcome will Hamilton give its sons and daughters.


          A handsomely dressed woman is always attractive to the eye, and when the crowning piece is a dream of the milliner’s art, the picture seems to be complete. But when those broad-topped hats, with their wealth of trimming and plumes, come between you and the preacher in church, there is aroused a spirit of condemnation that if expressed in plain Anglo-Saxon would not sound well in the sacred edifice. Why is it that ladies will persist in wearing their hats in church or at lectures when they have the good taste to take them off when they go to the Opera house? The obligation to be courteous in church should be s binding as in the Opera house. Last Sunday night two lady-like young girls, with very broad-topped hats, sat in one of the middle pews of a church. It was impossible to see the preacher or even the choir at times for the heads of the girls kept bobbing around and then would come together as they whispered to each other some tidbits of gossip about others in the audience. Probably they never thought for a moment what discomfort they were to those who sat behind them. When the delegates from the United States and Canada to the Epworth League convention were in Massey hall, Toronto, some five years ago, the broad-topped hats of the ladies spoiled the pleasure of a large part of the audience, even of those who were adding to the discomfort by wearing hats themselves. The chairman at one of the meetings was a man of practical good sense, and from his position on the platform he could see the audience craning their necks to see as well as hear the different speakers. He asked a speaker to stop for a moment while he made a request, and that was for the ladies to take off their hats. Everyone gladly responded and the change was immediately felt by all. After that there was no call for the request, for the ladies took off their hats before the exercises began. In all theatres and concert halls, it is recognized as the part of good breeding for ladies to sit with their heads uncovered. Why should not the churches adopt the same plan? If the prominent ladies in each church would decide to remove their hats during the service, and act in unison, the custom would become popular, and the ladies themselves would be benefited as much as the men. Try it, ladies, and see how the plan would work.