Saturday, 21 September 2013



          With the thermometer  running away up in the nineties, one might be forgiven for forgetting that the readers of this great family journal were expecting their penny’s worth on Saturday even though the muser might prefer lolling in the shade instead of hunting up ancient history about Hamilton and Dundas and Ancaster. Dr. Thomas Rolph’s interesting observations of what he saw and learned when he settled in Ancaster and the Dundas Valley  86 years ago tempts one to forget that there is such a thing as a thermometer, and insteading of “dreaming the happy hours away,” grab the typewriter and sweat it out on that line.
          Let us take a peep at Dundas as it appeared on the map one hundred years ago, when the Upper Canada Phoenix, one of the first papers printed in the Gore district, had its being. The Gore district was originally composed of the counties of Halton and Wentworth taking in twenty-five townships, of which eighteen townships were in Halton county, and only seven in Wentworth. Originally Dundas was part of Halton county, as were East and West Flamboro, but in the reconstruction of the district they were transferred to Wentworth county, and one hundred years ago were more prominent on the map than the town of Hamilton, which was then known as the Head of the Lake. Then Hamilton had only 841 acres of cultivated land, 1,357 of uncultivated, with a population of 2,153, while Ancaster could boast of 14,752 cultivated acres, 23,174  uncultivated, and a population of 2,664. The assessed value of Ancaster was the largest in Wentworth county, being $89,076. Hamilton in those days could only boast of an assessed value of $8,676.
          In the days when the Dundas Phoenix was published, advertising in newspapers was an unknown art, the people depending on town criers like Paola Brown to make known their wants. Evidently the sheriff was kept busy selling the farm lands of the unfortunates who were unable to pay their debts, for that officer monopolized the columns of the Phoenix, no doubt to the great delight of the publisher, for a glance at the advertising rates shows that the prices were pretty, being one dollar for a ten linesquare of nonpareil – the sheriff’s sales being generally set in long primer and charged up at nonpareil rates. Had such rates prevailed in Central Illinois when this old muser published the Clinton Public, we would now be able to spend the hot summer months dreaming by the sad sea waves at Macassa beach, instead of thumping out Saturday Musings on a Remington typewriter. But such is life.
          Of the twenty columns contained in the Phoenix, barely a column was occupied with the advertisements of the businessmen, and very few of them Dundas men. We will give you the names as we found them in the Phoenix, and if any of them have relatives still living, they will recognize the successors. Tomlinson and Kerr were the village blacksmiths, but, not getting along harmoniously together, they dissolved partnership, Tomlinson taking over the business and paying the debts. Abraham Smith and David Beasley  were partners in business in Hamilton, but in the month of August 1818, one hundred years ago, decided to separate, Smith settling up the affairs of the partnership. Richard Beasley had large landed interests in the township of Walpole, county of Norfolk and in Blenheim, county of Oxford. The lands in Walpole had a frontage on Lake Erie, and in the rear on the Grand river. George Calvert owned a farm on the south side of Dundas street, in the township of Nelson, a few rods from C. Hopkins’ tavern, containing 150 acres, 60 of which were under cultivation. Calvert was trying to sell that farm, and he advertised in the Phoenix of its desirable qualities. It had a comfortable house and barn and several fruit trees. He wanted to turn that farm into cash, and was willing to give it away at half its worth.
          The government had 280 lots of 100 acres each, which were open for settlement at a low price, and as an inducement the government offered to throw in two fine mill-seats to the first purchasers of lots, the conditions being that the lucky men should build, respectively, a saw mill and a grist mill. John Binkley had a horse stolen one night from his pasture lot, and after waiting patiently for four or five weeks to see if the thief’s conscience would trouble him and return the animal, he had recourse to the columns of the Phoenix, offering a reward for the return of the horse, and an additional reward for the capture of the thief. William and Matthew Crooks had a mortgage on a farm of 119 acres owned by William Fonger, which William was unable to pay when it became due, so the Crooks turned the job of collecting to the sheriff, and poor Bill Fonger had nothing left when the debt and costs were paid. William Markle had a fine farm of 300 acres on which he secured a loan from Richard Hatt. When payday came, Markle was as poor as ever and unable to even pay the overdue interest. Sheriff Simons came down to Hamilton, and sold the farm at sheriff sale, and away went poor Bill Markle’s fine farm of 300 acres to pay debt and costs. William Hutchison announced to the Phoenix that he had started a store in Ancaster, where would always be found an elegant assortment of straw and fur bonnets for ladies, and an extensive stock of hats of every description for men, women and children. Merchants desirous of obtaining good bargains for their customers were invited to call. Hutchison was willing to take furs, wheat and other products in payment for his goods.
          Before the Phoenix was dreamed of, Ancaster was a prosperous village, but it did not aspire to the ownership of a newspaper, the honor of publishing the first paper being left for the Valley City; but all the towns used its columns in common, paying $4 subscription for its weekly visits, and $1 for a ten-line square of nonpareil if they had any advertising to do. In those early days the publishers did not depend on the mails to circulate their papers, but sent out their own boy carriers on ponies to deliver it. Each boy was provided with a tin horn, and as he rode along the highway, he tooted it betimes to let the subscriber know that the Phoenix was coming with all the latest news. As late as the early ‘50s, when Robert Spence was owner of the Dundas Warder, he sent out his own delivery boys on ponies, with the tin horn accompaniment, so that the farmers could get the paper while it was still fresh; and later still, when Jones and Harris bought the Warder, the same custom was continued. (John W. Harris was the father of the boys who now own the Hamilton Herald, and S. I. Jones, the Hamilton agent and correspondent of the Toronto Globe was their uncle.) To get back to the Phoenix and its advertisers. As they had no paper in Ancaster, Matthew Crooks was obliged to go to Dundas to do his advertising, and he did quite a lot, for Matthew had money to lend and the farmers in the Gore district were liberal borrowers. A man named Cox built a woolen mill on the Yuba creek, near a place called the Devil’s Elbow. Why they gave it such a name can only be accounted for by the fact that there was a distillery near at hand, and the men employed the building the mill were a thirsty lot, so they kept a boy on the go from early morn to dewy eve “rushing the growler,” with the result that they returned to their homes at night crookeder than the devil could crook his elbow. Issac Kelly once owned the old Red Mill, and so did Mr. Gillespie. Finally Matthew Crooks got a mortgage on it and the sheriff made the last sale. History tells us that Robert Smiley, then editor of the Spectator, then owned this mill for a line time. The ruins of the mill are still standing as a memorial.
          Richard Beasley was another of the regular advertisers in the Phoenix. He informed the public that he had repaired the warehouse at the headwaters of Burlington bay, for the reception of flour, merchandise, etc. at his usual low prices. He only charged one shilling and sixpence per barrel for the storage of pork, potash, salt and all kinds of merchandise, and made a special cut down to sixpence a barrel for flour. Richard Beasley was the Hamilton agent of the Phoenix.
In a descriptive article of Dundas, written by John E. Woddell for the Wentworth Landmarks, published by the Spectator company in the year 1897, John, in a facetious paragraph designated the Desjardins canal as “the God-given right of the Dundas man.” About the year 1816, the Canadian government granted a royal charter for the cutting of a canal through the Beach, and another through the Burlington heights, across the marsh and up to the town of Dundas. The latter was called the Desjardins canal, after the name of the promoter. Young Desjardins was a Frenchman, who came to Hamilton from the town of Simcoe, with Capt. Durand, in the year 1805, and later was a clerk in a store in Dundas. He conceived the idea of a canal to connect the valley town with Burlington bay, and his enthusiasm on the subject enlisted a few men who were prominent in business, who dreamed that all that was necessary to build up Dundas, and make it the head of navigation, was this canal. The original outlet of the canal into the bay was at a point behind the Valley Inn. It was a circuitous winding was, but the easier from an engineering point of view than the route adopted later when the Great Western railway wanted to get into Hamilton.
The record in the town lands office tells the story that King’s Landing, or Coote’s Paradise, was the original name of the Town of Dundas and that Anne Morden and Michael Showers, both U.E. Loyalists, were granted patents in 1798, to the first lots on record. To Ann Morden was granted the patent for lots 16 and 17 in West Flamboro, and the adjoining lots 14, 15, and 18, were granted to Daniel Rolph, and John Morden respectively, and lot 13 to Michael Showers. These parties owned the land on which the Town of Dundas is built today. Mrs. Morden’s lots included the land on which the town hall of Dundas is built. Mrs. Morden’s husband had given his life in the royal service in Pennsylvania. In 1780, when the widow, with her two orphaned grandchildren, Jane and Mary Long, came to Canada, they settled in Coote’s Paradise. The girls became the wives, in the course of time, of two brothers, William and Jonathan Davis, who were U.E. Loyalists. Michael Showers served as a soldier in Butler’s Rangers, said to have been “one of the most loyal and brave regiments that ever marched under British colors.” He came to Coote’s Paradise about the year 1797. History tells us that Ann Morden and Michael Showers were the original settlers of what is now the Town of Dundas.
In Dr. Thomas Rolph’s interesting Observations of the Gore District, we find a description of the valley town as it appeared to him in the year 1832.
“The village of Dundas, now about to be incorporated, is situated in a most picturesque ravine, between the opposing mountains of Ancaster and West Flamboro, fronting a luxuriant valley through which the Desjardins canal passes, connecting it with the waters of Burlington bay. This village, though situated more advantageously, both for external commerce and internal communication than any other place at the head of Lake Ontario, has not advanced with the same rapidity with other laces possessing not a tithe of the same natural advantages which appertain to Dundas. Now, however, that the completion of the canal has been determined upon, the money obtained, and the expenditure confided to active individuals residing in the village, and interesting in its welfare, it is to be hoped that its commercial enterprise will meet with no further impediment. There is a delightful stream of water, running from the Flamboro mountain, and supplying the very extensive works of James Crooks, called the Darnley mills, consisting of grist mills, paper mills, distillery, etc., and other mills on its route passing through the beautiful grounds of Dr. Hamilton, where it rushes over a bold, rocky precipice, nearly 100 feet in depth, into a rich woodland glen, then supplying more mills, and continuing its course through Dundas, where it empties into the basin at the head of the canal. The streams from the Ancaster mountain are also received into the same canal, after pursuing their tortuous windings through some exquisite meadows belonging to Binkley, a tanner.
“Dundas itself has surprisingly improved during these last three years. Many large stone and brick buildings have been erected within that period. The Catholic church with its white spire, surmounted by the holy symbol of Christian faith, forms an interesting object which seen, as it is, from all the high grounds around the village. The Presbyterian, Episcopal and Baptist congregations make use, alternatively, of a small free church in the village, but this scandalous opprobrium is likely soon to cease, as the members of the Scotch and English churches are about erecting separate places of worship for themselves.
“The grounds of George Rolph, in the very center of Dundas , are extremely beautiful, finely timbered, presenting the appearance of a noble park. A handsome terrace of the richest verdure extends across them, overlooking the whole village, at the back of which, at a little distance is a bold range of mountains, almost perpendicular, beautifully wooded, occasionally intersected by gullies, and forming a noble rampart and screen from the north. The entrance to his domain is particularly striking from the lofty iron gates, handsomely finished, enclosed and surrounded by walls of fine, free stone, resembling and quite worthy the entrance of a nobleman’s mansion. Indeed there is nothing I have seen or heard like of it in America; but, Oh, what a disappointment! Splendid as is the entrance, it is like that mentioned in Goldsmith’s Citizen of the World, a splendid entrance into nothing. I believe, however, that it Mr. Rolph’s intention to build a stone bridge, and ultimately a stone mansion in corresponding style of magnificence. If so, it will be an honor and an ornament to the country. In the grounds of this gentleman is a saline spring, just in rear of his office, near the brow of the mountain. I am satisfied from its strength  that any quantity of salt could be manufactured on thew flats below by solar evaporation. The water is quite as powerful as any of the waters at the various salt works to be met with in the State of New York.
(The lofty iron gates mentioned above, at the entrance to Mr. Rolph’s grounds, are claimed by some to be the gates at the former entrance to Dundurn Castle. This may be true, but there is a string to the story. When Sir Allan Macnab bought the grounds of Dundurn, it was said that the handsome iron gates at the entrance were made by a firm in Scotland, who had a hard time to collect the price, if they ever did get a final settlement.)
“There are abundance of store, several taverns in the town, and much business is transacted. Indeed, during the winter season, while the sleighing lasts, it is a curious and gratifying scene to witness the trains of sleighs conveying produce to this market from the flourishing and fertile townships of Waterloo. Dundas is in the extensive county of Halton. The road, called the Governor’s road, from Toronto the London and western district, passes through Dundas. The descent from the mountain at East Flamboro to Dundas is gradual and through a rich and picturesque country; the road then continues between Ancaster and Flamboro mountain to Paris, a village on the banks of the Grand river, over which a bridge has been erected, and from thence to London. The country on the Dundas street, between the village and Toronto, is generally well-settled At East Flamboro there is a small settlement called Waterdown – some hills, houses and taverns. A. Ferguson, of Woodhill, has a large farm near it, beautifully situated, commanding most extensive views, richly varied with wood, water, hill and valley. Indeed, it is difficult to do justice to the beautiful country seen from his residence, extending toward Niagara, and embrace a view of the lake and Ancaster mountain. Its waters, woods and verdant hills, the numerous and most prolific orchards of apples, pears, plums and peaches, and of the glens which lead from the hills down to the creeks, rendering it the very perfection of rural scenery. At nelson, there is a village, and houses and taverns along the road.
We might continue this story about the original town of Dundas, called King’s Landing or Coote’s Paradise, till there would not be space left in this issue of the Spectator, for the men who use so freely and with profit to themselves, but the managing editor calls “Time” and for the present we call a halt. However, the story of these ancient towns in the Gore District is so full of interest, especially to old-timers, that we will continue to use Dr. Rolph’s interesting observations and the Wentworth Landmarks from time to time as a basis for our Saturday Musings.

Monday, 16 September 2013


        In our last Saturday Musings, published in the Spectator on June 28, under the title of When the Dundas Valley Was The Outlet For Niagara Falls, we gave a bit of history gathered from the reports of Prof. J. W. Spencer, to the Canada department of Mines, printed in 1906, on the evolution of Niagara. It was an interesting subject for Hamilton and Dundas readers of the Spectator, as it brought the two old towns into the limelight of history. The story becomes more interesting, as Prof. Spencer was a teacher in the Hamilton Collegiate Institute nearly forty years ago, and is remembered by his pupils as an interesting teacher on scientific subjects. We are indebted to P. L. Scriven, a wood engraver, who has made his home in Hamilton, for a long number of years, for a pamphlet read before the Hamilton Association on the evening of December 8, 1881, by Prof. Spencer, which the author opened by asking the question “Did Lake Erie ever discharge its waters through the Dundas valley,” from which  the muser intends to quote freely, as it gives much that will be of general interest to Hamilton and Dundas students of the origin of the Great Lakes, especially relating to the head of Lake Ontario.
          While working out the origin of the Dundas valley, at the extreme western end of Lake Ontario, later known in history as the head of the lake (now the city of Hamilton), Prof. Spencer says, in his paper, the discovery that the present great rock bound valley is only one of insignificance compared with the buried channels of preglacial date led to the broader study of the origins of the lake basins themselves, as the buried channel in the Dundas Valley appeared to form a portion of the preglacial outlet of the basin of Lake Erie into that of Lake Ontario. On this subject Prof. Spencer read a paper before the American Philosophical society in March 1881, while he was yet a teacher in the Hamilton Collegiate institute, which paper was published in the reports of the Geological  Survey of Pennsylvania. This was quite an honor as a recognition of the valuable research made by the professor.
          “The Niagara escarpment encloses the western end of Lake Ontario (the head of the lake) by its hills, which face the lake just beyond its southern and western shores. Through this escarpment, at the western end of the lake, the Dundas Valley is excavated. In the expanded valley, the western portion of Burlington bay and the city of Hamilton are situated. Westward, however, of the latter place, the excavation through the escarpment closes to a width of rather more than two miles. Of these hills, the lower 250 feet are composed of Medina shales, and over these there are thin intercalated beds of Clinton dolomites and shales, surmounted by a still greater development of compact Niagara dolomites. The general attitude of the rocky boundaries of the valley is rather more than 500 feet above Lake Ontario (516 feet north of Dundas, and 510 feet south of Ancaster.
          “After the escarpment closes to form a valley of about two miles in width, just beyond the limits of the city of Hamilton, it extends westward for six miles, but at Copetown, it becomes covered with drift, while on the southern side of Ancaster, less than four miles distant, it abruptly ends. Westward of Copetown, on the northern side of the valley, the escarpment continues; but it is more or less covered with drift, through which there are occasional exposures of a rocky floor.
          “The deeper portion of the valley in which Dundas is situated is separated from the lake by Burlington heights, a ridge of stratified gravel, that rises 108 feet above the lake, being an old beach composed of Hudson river pebbles. Behind this ridge is the extensive Dundas marsh, and farther up is the town itself., but which is traversed by deep ravines. At the upper end of the Dundas Valley proper, the character of the country differs from that in the valley. There is a large basin, which may be defined approximately by drawing a line from Ancaster village to the Grand river on the west. Thence along the hills southward of the Grand river to near Brantford, thence northward to the main line of the Grand Trunk railway, and thence eastward from near Harriisburg to Copetown and the north side of the Dundas Valley. Much of this basin is from 50 to 100 feet lower than the country outside of it. The depth of the drift in the basin is said to be very great. In the Dundas valley proper, the depth cannot be much less than 1,000 feet. This being the case, the depth of the drift in the basin west of Ancaster, not more than seven miles distant, in all probability reaches a similar depth.
          “The Grand river valley is characterized by a broad depression two miles or more in width. The lower portion of the river is through a broad, marshy country. At Dunnville, a few miles from the lake, piles had to be driven to a greater depth to get a foundation for an embankment across the river.”
 Prof. Spencer arrived at the conclusion that the preglacial outlet into Lake Erie into Lake Ontario was along the buried portions of the Grand river and the Dundas Valley, hence the burden of proof is in favor of his view, that before the present Niagara Falls had an existence, the waters from the upper lakes and river had their outlet down through the Dundas Valley through the Burlington bay, and over the sandstrip, which is Hamilton’s great summer resort.
          Hamilton school teachers some 40 years ago were men and women who deovoted much study to the ancient history of Canada, especially to home surroundings. Take a circle of say fifty miles, with the Head of the Lake as the central point, and what more interesting places could be grouped together! Forinstance, take the history of our own county of Wentworth, so pleasantly told in the booklet entitled Wentworth Landmarks, the contributions of local writers, and it carries back to the early days of the pioneers who laid, broad and deep, the foundations of one of the richest sections of Canada. Benjamin E. Charlton was one of those old-time schoolmasters, and we are privileged in having the reading of a paper which he prepared and read before the Hamilton Association at a meeting held in the council chamber on the night of January 12, 1882. The report of the meeting says that there was a large attendance of members and visitors. It is different nowadays. The announcement of a lecture before the association by some of the best scientific minds hardly interests the members, let alone visitors.
          Two and a half centuries ago, said Mr. Charlton in introducing his subject, which was certainly of local interest, being The Discovery of Burlington Bay, a glance at this portion of the continent of North America finds the French re-established at Quebec, and in a small way at Hochelaga, now Montreal. Some four or five Jesuit missionaries had for several years been laboring among the numerous towns along the east coast of the Georgian bay, then known as the Great Fish sea, with very indifferent success, but with zeal and courage under hardships and cruelties worse than death, and even martyrdom itself, that won respect even from their tormentors. They were in the habit of sending home to their superiors in France reports giving the most circumstantial details of every event which came under their notice. These Jesuit reports give the earliest glimpses of the birth of Canada. The missionaries to the Hurons, though accustomed to make excursions in various directions, do not seem to have penetrated nearer to the ground upon which we now stand upon than Lake Simcoe. Some unpublished manuscripts, having reference to explorations in America, was one giving an account of an expedition in 1669 by La Salle, whose name stands at the head of the intrepid explorers of this continent, and two Sulpicans, who started from Montreal in canoes, passed up the St. Lawrence, along the south shore of Lake Ontario, and made a short stay on the shore of Burlington bay. Mr. Carlton gave quite a lengthy history of the explorations of the Jesuit missionaries along the shores of Lake Ontario, coming to an Indian village on the borders of a small lake, in the township of Nelson, about ten miles from Hamilton, known as Lake Medad. The lake is a pretty sheet of water some eight acres in extent, fed by abundant natural springs. On one side beneath an abrupt rocky bank, and from a rocky basin which may have been widened and cleared of loose stones ages ago, bursts out a spring of cold water, sufficient in quantity to supply a small city. A steep pathway cut deeply into the rock and earthy embankment by the feet of botyh wild animals and Indians in prehistoric times, leads from the spring up to a sloping plain of considerable extent, on which but little modern cultivation has been accomplished. Scattered over this slope were heaps of ashes, containing fragments of Indian pottery, bones of animals and broken weapons. On a portion of the plain, the natives had probably cultivated Indian corn. Evidently at some distant period, there was an important Indian town of the Neutral nation. This tribe occupied the country between the Niagara and the Detroit rivers. In their wars with the Indians of Michigan, the Neutrals acted withy more ferocious cruelty than even the Huron or Iroquois, eating their prisoners of war of both sexes. Mr. Charlton gave a lengthy description of the highest point of the plain in the in the vicinity of Lake Medad were at one side a cluster of ash heaps were discovered – the ossuaries. In the year 1678, La Salle and Father Hennepin built the schooner Griffin, the first vessel which floated on Lake Erie.
          History tells us that La Salle entered Burlington bay in September 1669, and landed on the shore about where the Grand Trunk railway station is now situated. That the first white settler was Robert Land, who chose the head of Lake Ontario for his new home in Canada, having left  the United States when that country proclaimed its independence. His farm consisted of 300 acres in the territory bounded by the shores of the bay on the north, Wellington street on the west, Main street on the south and Wentworth street on the east. In 1823, Colonel Land sold the lot on the southwest corner of his farm to Richard Springer, John Aikman, John Eaton, Peter Ferguson and Charles Depew, for twenty dollars, on which was erected the first church built in Hamilton. It is now the site of the First Methodist church.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


        Some years ago the writer of these musings read in an ancient encyclopedia that once upon a time Niagara Falls was not heard of, for the simple reason that they not exist, but instead the overflow from Lake Erie came down through the Grand river into the Dundas valley, through what is now the Dundas marsh, out over the beach, and on to the sea through Lake Ontario. Of course, there was no beach then, for it was buried out of sight by the waters. There was no Hamilton then, but the Head of the Lake was there, with sufficient water power to turn all the electric machinery to make Hamilton the great industrial city of Canada, and furnish light to brighten the darkness that now prevails when the moon retires to rest. Ever since that time we have been searching for that old encyclopedia, intending to surprise the readers of the Spectator with a bit of ancient Canadian history that is not to be found in the archives at Ottawa. Hamilton has made a pretty good record of presenting to Canada the origin of many important industries, of which we will name only a few in this connection. For instance, the first matches known to have been made in Canada were the product of an English family who came from the town in which they were first produced in England. The husband and wife and two or three children occupied a little cottage near the corner of Cherry and Main streets, away back when Hamilton was but a little bit of a town and there they tolled day after day making matches, and for a rest from their labors used to go out in the evening and sold matches to the housewives, who were thus relieved from the worry of lighting their fires with the old flint and steel and a bit of punk. Then when the first great railroad was built from the Niagara river to the Detroit river, D. C. Gunn, who had a small machine shop down at the foot of Wentworth street, enlarged his facilities and manufactured the first railroad engines made in Canada. We might tell about the first dining and sleeping cars that were known being manufactured down in the Great Western shops, the invention of the master mechanic in the woodworking department, and of the discovery of acetylene gas by a young drug clerk in a shop on York street. But what is the use of going over the old story, now that we have the proof that it was down through the Dundas valley, which is an original suburb of Hamilton, being connected with it by the ancient marsh and what was called Lake Geneva when the geologists started out to discover the whereabouts when the overflow when the overflow waters from Lake Erie came rushing down the Grand river to the Dundas valley instead of over what is now known as Niagara Falls. Of course, this gives the muser the right to claim Niagara Falls as one of the original inventions of Hamilton. And here is the proof.
          In a booklet by J. W. Spencer, A.M., Ph.D., F.G.S., entitled The Duration of Niagara Falls and the History of the Great Lakes, we find proof that “down this (Dundas) valley the waters of the ancient Erie basin was drained by the Grand river and Dundas valleys in the western end of Lake Ontario (Burlington bay), for the Niagara river did not them exist.” “With reference to the supposed old channel between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, by way of the Grand river and the Dundas valley, by which the Grand river now came down to the lake … In the formation of beaches, there is a tendency to straighten crooked coast lines by the construction of bars in front of inlets, which are thus converted into bays or lagoons. Burlington bay, at the western end of Lake Ontario, is an illustration. Here a narrow beach cuts off a bay five miles long, whose depth is considerable, reaching to 78 feet. This is a well-chosen example, for at the head of the bay is a spit – named Burlington heights rising to 108-116 feet above the lake – cutting off an older bay, now represented by the Dundas marsh.”
          In the geological survey, the original outlet of Lake Erie is given at about forty miles west of the present outflow at Niagara Falls. In J. W. Spencer’s geological report on the Evolution of the Falls of Niagara, on the Grand river-Dundas valley’s ancient drainage, we read : “Western of the meridian of Dunnville, the land rises to a greater height with more varied features, though underlaid by the Salina formations, over which the Grand river generally flows. About Brantford, there is a deep, broad re-excavated valley forming a strong surface feature. The northern watershed of the Grand river approaches the margin of high country faced by the Niagara escarpment as south of Hamilton where it is 492 feet above Lake Ontario. Near the southern margin of the valley, at Onondaga, is a buried valley to 110 feet, or to a level 20 feet below Lake Erie. To the northward, the rocks are absent for a greater depth, as at Jerseyville, about twelve miles from Lake Ontario, where wells are 150 feet deep to rock, or to the level of Lake Erie. Then to the buried Dundas valley, the depth is known to be very great. Near Ancaster, the rocky wall of the southern side of the Dundas valley occurs under the drift, which also forms hills in the upper part of the valley. Its breadth, cutting through the limestone escarpment, is two and a half miles, but it partly expands so as to include the plains of Hamilton in an enlargement at the head of Lake Ontario. At Hamilton, the buried Dundas valley reaches 292 feet below the lake level. Here is to be found a deep buried depression through the Niagara formation extending to the buried Salina valley and Lake Erie, with a tributary from the upper part of Grand river district also joining it …. Before the recent explorations, the buried Grand river-Dundas valley was the only known depression between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie capable of lowering the upper lakes provided the drifts were removed.”
          “The uniformly narrow Burlington beach, with a length of five miles across the end of Lake Ontario, is thus easily explained as having originated as a small barrier, in front of the narrow river flowing down the Dundas valley and across the now-submerged floor of Burlington bay. With the more recent backing of the waters of the lake, this bar grew to the proportions of the modern beach, built out of materials derived from the older shores and not from the river deposits. At the time when Burlington beach, then beneath the lake, was being formed, the waters had receded for only from three to five miles from what are now the western shores of Ontario, but they extended farther landward than at present along its northern side, as shown by the raised beaches, and by the absence of submerged channels.
          In the numerous writings upon the Niagara river, one ancient topographic feature has been overlooked and another exaggerated into importance which it does not possess. The ancient drainage of the Erie basin was not by way of the Niagara, but by a channel forty miles to the west. This certainly settles the point claimed in the old encyclopedia, that the original overflow from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario was by the way of the Grand river and down through the Dundas valley, through Burlington bay, and thence into Ontario. At the nativity of the Niagara river, there was no fall. One writer says that allowing one thousand years for the duration of the river before the advancement of the falls – for that its commencement was not characterized by a cascade is shown by the terraces on the edge of the escarpment and at the deserted mouth of the river – and adding the duration of the four episodes, which have been calculated at 31,000 years, the age of the Niagara river would be about 32,000 years. It is further roughly estimated that the lake epoch commenced about 50,000 or 60,000 years ago, and there was open water long before the birth of Niagara in even the Ontario basin.
          This ancient muser has done his best to give credit to Dundas and the Dundas valley as being the original outflow of what is now Niagara Falls, and if we have failed, it is not because we have been derelict in hunting up the geological surveys and getting from the books of writers on those subjects their best thoughts and conclusions. As a loyal Hamiltonian, we were bound to see that this old town got due credit for being at the head of the class when this part of the world was being created.
How many of the old-timers remember the year 1854? That was the year of the cholera. We have had it recalled by a little bit of cardboard, which is owned by Faulkner, the real estate and insurance agent, on which was printed an invitation to a Fourth of July picnic, held in Land’s woods, when it was a real woods, for the old forest trees were thickly huddled together, and on very hot days it was a delightful place to hold a picnic, and the young and old took advantage of it during the summer months. The churches and the Sunday schools spent many joyful afternoons eating sandwiches and singing hymns, while what might be called the ungodly picked out a clear spot in the grove and danced to the sweet music of George Steel’s orchestra. My, what happy days they were! The old-timers will never see the like again, and the boys and girls of the present day have little or no idea of what real pleasure their fathers and mothers enjoyed.
Next Thursday will be the Fourth of July, and it will be just sixty-four years to a day that the Yankee citizens of Hamilton decided upon duly honoring the birthday of their native land. Hamilton was sort of a cosmopolitan city in its younger days – English, Irish, Scotch and about three thousand Yankees to fill out the census roll to make up the population. The Irish controlled the city hall, and not a man could get a job on the police force unless he wore a shamrock on St. Patrick’s day. A Scotchman to get a job clerking in a store had to be able to sing Annie Laurie, and the poor fellows had to practice singing in the alleyways and byways till they were perfect in the song before applying for the job. The Englishmen and the few native Canadians had to take what was left, and be thankful that they were permitted to live under the shadow of the mountain; while the Yankees lived on the fat of the land. And there you are. If anybody asks you nowadays what is the controlling element in the city, just whisper in his ear, the foreigners.
But let us get on with our story of sixty-four years ago. On that Fourth of July, the Yankee brethren decided to have the time of their lives, and it was to be a picnic down in Land’s bush. To do honor to the day, it was decided to invite the mayor, aldermen and councilors, and all the members of their families. Here is one of the invitations :
                 FOURTH OF JULY DINNER
Admit Councillor Faulkner, wife and children.
Hamilton, 1854.
                   Chatterton’s Card Press.
The card was countersigned by “B. P. Leland, Treas.”
There you have the card in full, even to the name of the printer. In those days the city council was composed of two aldermen and two councilors from each ward, and from the number the mayor was elected. Charles Magill had the honor of presiding over the city council that year, and by virtue of his office sat at the right of the president of the day and made the speech of tendering to the Yankees the compliments of their fellow-citizens. As Joseph Faulkner’s son has preserved the card of invitation for sixty-four years, it gives this ancient muser pleasure to recall Councillor Faulkner and tell who he was. Joseph Faulkner was a citizen to be proud of. He was a contractor and a brickmaker. His brickyard was in the west end of the city. His influence was on the side of right, and the citizens of his ward always knew that while he held a set in the council their interests would be honestly guarded. He took an active part in church and in temperance work, and in the days of the old volunteer fire department was a member of the Cataract company, and treasurer of the department. The writer of these musings knew Joseph Faulkner well, and it is a pleasure to bear testimony to his worth as a citizen.
          Mr. Leland was the manager of Phinney n& Co.’s book and stationery store, No. 44 King street east, about where A. Mackay’s large department store is now located. Phinney & Co. was a Buffalo firm of booksellers who saw the prospect of a good business in this city, and they took advantage of it, and sent Mr. Leland here as manager. He was a clever gentleman and an intense American. It was through his love for his native land that he rallied his American friends to celebrate the Fourth in that eventful year of 1854. It was a fatal day for him. All that morning he dvoted to preparing for the celebration, and he was one of the most cheerful of the workers. He did not live through the day, and as the following paragraph in the Spectator of the 6th of July tells the story :
“Died – In this city, on the 4th of July, 1854, B. P. Leland, agent for Phinney & Co., booksellers, Buffalo.
“The deceased gentleman was highly esteemed, and his death is much regretted. He had been engaged all the forenoon in Land’s bush, making preparations for the picnic party to celebrate the Fourth of July, and the day being excessively hot, he over-exerted himself, and drank very copiously of iced water, which caused a cramp in the stomach, and which carried him off in a few hours.”
Mr. Leland’s was the first pronounced case of cholera in Hamilton. He died during the night, and his remains were buried in the Hamilton cemetery the next morning. That 4th of July was a day long to be remembered in Hamilton, for in the same week an epidemic of ship fever broke out among the immigrants who had been housed in sheds down at the steamboat wharf. From the 4th of July to the 22nd day of August, there were 524 deaths from cholera in this city, the first being Mr. Leland and the last case being an immigrant child, five years old, who died in the sheds on the wharf.
It was a sad two months in Hamilton, for every fternoon, lines of disconsolate mourners followed loved ones to the cemeteries. Hamilton had only two undertakers in those days – John Blachford and Arthur E. Snelgrove – and but few of the mourners could secure the services of an undertaker or of a hearse to convey their dead to the cemeteries. Carpenters were kept busy making cheap coffins, and every man who owned a horse and cart or wagon was pressed into service. That some were buried alive was the general belief, for almost as soon as life seemed extinct, the board of health insisted on burial as a protection to those free from the epidemic. We remember one case of premature burial. A woman died within a few hours after being seized with cramps, and that afternoon she was taken to the cemetery for burial. Owing to the large number of deaths that day, the grave diggers were unable to bury the dead, and the coffins of those not interred were piled in a shed till the next day. The woman’s son, after returning home, began to feel uneasy, thinking his mother had not died, and he went back to the cemetery, and asked the superintendent to let him open his mother’s coffin so that he might be satisfied. The superintendent who was a personal friend of the young man, told him that if his mother was not dead when she was placed in the coffin, that in the few hours since her supposed death, she certainly would have been smothered. The young man pleaded so earnestly to be assured of his mother’s death that the superintendent finally consented to open the coffin. To the surprise of both of them, the mother opened her eyes, although unconscious. The mother was conveyed back to her home and a doctor called, and in a few hours, she was resuscitated back to life. The old lady lived for fully three years afterward.
Daily meetings of the board of health were held till the 22nd of August, with Mayor Charles Magill as chairman, and there being no more cases reported, the board adjourned after passing a resolution “congratulating the citizens of Hamilton on the entire disappearance of the epidemic and on normal restoration to a healthy state and condition. The daily reports were then discontinued.