Saturday, 26 October 2013


          Sixty-seven years ago a delegation of temperance workers from Cleveland, Ohio, connected with the Independent Order of Good Templars, invaded the province of Ontario for the purpose of organizing lodges, and in the month of May, 1854, they unfurled the banner of temperance in the city of Hamilton. It did not require much effort to interest a few prominent men and women in the work, and a list of about fifty member was secured and Hamilton Lodge, No. 9, was organized with Dr. William L. Case, E. D. Cahill, John W. Bickle, Joseph Faulkner, Joseph Hoodless, Thomas C. Watkins, Rev. William McLure, C. H. Ather and Dr. J. M. VanNorman, Milton Davis, Rev. John Hebden, nearly all the ministers in the city, and others whose names have passed from the memory of the writer, as the leading spirits in the revival of temperance. The Sons of Temperance had been organized a few years before, and had done a grand work in Hamilton in reclaiming men from the alcoholic habit. Through the instrumentality of the Sons, a lodge of the Cadets of Temperance had been organized, the membership consisting of boys under eighteen years of age. Hamilton then had a population of about fourteen thousand and not less than two hundred licensed taverns and a number of what they called in Ireland “shebeens,” the proprietors of which failed to call on Tom Beasley and deposit the necessary $50 for a license. John Barleycorn was certainly at the head of affairs in Hamilton, as he was in almost in every town in Canada in those days. The grand division of the Sons of Temperance had about four hundred subordinate divisions under its jurisdiction in Ontario, and the Hamilton division had about fifty members. It was the hope of the Sons of Temperance that the boys from the Cadets of Temperance would join their ranks when they reached the age of eighteen years, but they were disappointed.
          The same conditions existed in the United States, and to save the boys from the temptations of the saloon, the temperance workers decided that some new organization where the boys and girls could be brought together might do more effective work. The Cadets of Temperance was a good place to start the boys, but when they graduated from the cadets they did not seem inclined to enter the lodge with the older men.
          The Sons of Temperance had done a grand work in persuading men to give up the use of intoxicating liquors, and scores of homes were made happy by the reformation of husbands and sons, but with a drinking saloon in nearly every part of the city, the temptation was too strong to be overcome and many a man fell back into his old habits. With the organization of the Good Templars in Hamilton in the month of may, 1854, there was a revival in the temperance work, and the young people were attracted to the lodge room. The girls had an influence in persuading their boy associates to become members of the order, and it was not long before Hamilton lodge had a membership of four hundred, and every Friday night saw the lodge room in Temperance hall on King street crowded to its fullest capacity. This necessitated the finding of a larger quarters in which to hold the meetings, and the second and third stories in part of the Elgin block on John street were purchased and transformed into a capacious hall, the members of the lodge contributing the money to pay for the building.
          On the 21st of November, 1854, the order had increased in membership to warrant the organization of the Grand Lodge of Canada, when the grand officers from Ohio again invaded Canada, and in Hamilton was instituted the Canadian Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars, with Dr. Case as grand worthy chief Templar. The order grew apace, not only in Hamilton but also in Upper Canada, there being a lodge in nearly every village. At the meeting of the Grand Lodge in 1857, two hundred and twenty-five subordinate lodges responded to the roll call, representing a membership of about 12,000. At that meeting, Dr. Case retired from the head office, feeling that the burden was too much for his advancing years, and Dr. J. M. VanNorman was elevated to the office of grand worthy chief.
          Don’t fancy for a moment that all the young and old men whose names at times appeared on the rolls remained faithful to their pledge. Even with the old-fashioned lodge meetings of the Sons of Temperance and the Good Templars, many weak brothers had to be held up and encouraged. And it was in the Good Templars that the influence of woman had good effect. Many happy marriages occurred in the old Hamilton lodge, and many a bright young fellow became a valuable citizen to the community. On the ocean of life one encounters, at rare intervals, men, and even women, whom it is unfair to characterize as derelicts. Hamilton, unfortunately, had had its share.
          Thus works great changes. Of the hundreds of young men and young women who were members of old Hamilton lodge when it was organized sixty-seven years ago, so far as we can call to mind, there are but three living in Hamilton today – and two of those have lived together as man and wife for nearly sixty-four years.

          The writer of this bit of temperance history was a charter member of the first grand lodge of Good Templars that was organized in this city on the 21st of November, 1854, and as we review the past, it has its pleasant memories. One good thing resulting from the Good Templars was the provincial law closing drinking saloons at seven o’clock on Saturday nights. The annual session of the grand lodge will meet in the city of Toronto on Tuesday next, May 24, in Willard’s hall. Tom McNaughton, of Hamilton, will preside as grand worthy chief. The session will be represented by all of the subordinate lodges in Ontario. Toronto, London, and Hamilton are expected to send large delegations, as much important business is expected. It is believed that there will be many changes in the official list, as among the officers who will not seek re-election in Tom McNaughton, who has been the very efficient grand Templar for several terms. A. H. Lyle, of Hamilton, who has been grand secretary for the past nine years and a member of the order for twenty-two years, feels that he has done his duty and will go back into the ranks. Mrs. Tom McNaughton has served in the office of grand vice-templar and she feels like taking a rest. Both Tom McNaughton and his good wife are natives of Scotland, and began in the temperance ranks in the city of Glasgow in the juvenile templars. Since 1907, they have been actively engaged in temperance work in this city.
          Among the active temperance workers in Hamilton who have devoted many years is F. S. Morison, a past grand chief Templar, who was the organizer and first chief Templar of International lodge, in this city, which shortly celebrates its thirty-seventh anniversary, and has maintained its position as the premier lodge in Ontario. Hamilton has always been the headquarters of the Good Templars, for it was in this city that the first grand lodge was organized sixty-seven years ago, and from among its founders were the head officers selected for a number of years. For many years interest in the order died out, till thirty-seven years ago, when S. F. Morison became interested in temperance work and organized International lodge, which has been a blessing to many young men who might otherwise have gone astray had they not seen the influence of the weekly meetings. A second lodge has been organized, and is growing in numbers. A. H. Lyle and Tom McNaughton and his good wife have been active members in the lodges, and with the Morison family have kept alive an interest in Good Templarism. Sixty-four years ago, Hamilton had two strong lodges, numbering over one thousand members. For ten years or more, the lodges were on the top wave of prosperity, but, unfortunately, designing men began to use their connection with the order to give them a hoist in politics and then it gradually dwindled down till finally the members began to lose interest and the result was dissolution.


          What changes have the Spectator and the writer of these Musings seen in Hamilton in the past seventy-one years! Both of us were young in years away back in 1850, and Hamilton had but recently become an incorporated city, with a population of about 10,200. The town had six newspapers – the Gazette, the Journal and Express, the Spectator, and the Canada Christian Advocate, the Wochenblatt, three of the papers representing two of the political parties, and three the religious element. The Spectator was not quite five years old, but seemed to have the inside track from the start. The newspaper business in Canada, and especially in Hamilton, was not on the fortune-making side, and the publishers had to do some close scratching to make ends meet and pay the hands a part of their week’s earnings when Saturday night came. But things are different now, and it is of the present we are going to talk this week. Old Spec, we remember you when you were struggling to keep your head up in the newspaper world. When Edwin Dalley kept a grocery store, with drugs as a sideline, on York street, a few rock-bottom Tories used to meet in his shop at night after the business of the day was ended, and talk over the future of Hamilton, especially its politics, and they finally got to the point of determining that the Tory party needed an editor who could hold his own with Solomon Brega, who was editor of the Journal and Express, and Mr. Dalley was delegated on his next business trip to Montreal to hunt up such an one. And Robert R. Smiley was recommended. Mr. Smiley belonged in Kingston, but was fortunate in getting a situation in the government printing office in Montreal. To make a long story short, Mr. Smiley accepted the position. He had but little capital to begin with, but Mr. Dalley became a godfather to the new enterprise. In July, 1846, Mr. Smiley and his young bride came from Kingston to make their home in Hamilton, and on the 16th of July, the first number of the Spectator came into being. The only living person in Hamilton who has any knowledge of that event is the fair young bride who eleven years later became a widow and is now living on the mountain top, at the head of James street. What changes has that dear woman seen in Hamilton the past seventy-one years! Old Spec, you and I have seen great changes.
          Then the Spectator was printed on a second-hand Washington hand press at the rate of a “token” an hour. How many of the printer boys today know how many sheets of paper it took to make a “token?” It took ten quires of paper of twenty-four sheets to the quire. The venerable and honored president of the Spectator no doubt remembers it well, having played “the devil” at the old Washington hand press in the Free Press office in London, when he was but a lad taking his first lessons at the printer’s art. The writer of these Musings had played “the devil” at the same hand press in the Free Press office some years before, with Charles Kidner as his tutor. Just fancy the time it took to run off four “tokens,” on one side only of a four-page paper. It took a pretty active pressman in those days to run off a thousand papers on both sides for that day’s work. Compare that old Washington hand press that cost about $250, on which the Spectator was first printed, with the $100,000 Hoe press on which today’s Spectator is printed. It was a good day’s work for the old-time hand-pressman to print one thousand copies of the paper. Today the new Spectator’s $100,000 Hoe cylinder press printed and folded the edition of over 25,000 copies of 28 pages to each copy, in less than an hour, and then the press was not run up to nearly full speed. The full capacity of the new press is 75,000 per hour for thirty-two pages per paper, folded and ready to be handed out to the carrier boys or the mailing clerks. When the souvenir number of this Great Family Journal is printed the reader will get a better idea of the change that has taken place since seventy-one years ago.


          Every little while you get some fellow who explains his failure by saying that opportunity no longer exists. He takes some successful man as an example, and gets off such stuff like this : “Look at Smith; he’s got money, of course; but how did he get it? His father was so poor when he first settled along the banks of the Grand river that it was nip and tuck how he was going to support his family when he first settled in Canada; but he put every penny he could raise and scrape into the cheap land that was to have been had seventy-five years ago for almost a song. He just naturally held on to it, and in time the natural increase in land values made him rich. When the old man died, the estate was divided up, and Smith got his portion, some of which he sold at a fabulous price. It was all bull luck.” Smith was not the only man who got rich in Canada out of the increase in land values, and he had his father to thank for it. He never would have made a dollar if it had not been left him. A good many have grown rich in Hamilton through the careful habits of their fathers who bought lots when land was cheap and held on to them.
          But opportunity is not dead, nor is the chance to make money confined solely to real estate operations. Luck plays a very small part in the affairs of a successful man. The ability to look ahead, to work hard while one is young, and to save, are still the important factors in laying by a competence. Nor is opportunity a matter of geographical location. The chances are as good here in Hamilton as elsewhere.

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