Thursday, 13 November 2014


        The meeting of the Congregationalists in annual conference in this city calls back in the memory of this Old Muser events of forty-five years ago, when we published the Oberlin (Ohio) News. Oberlin was then, as it is now, the head and font of Congregationalism in the west, while Andover, Massachusetts, represents the east. Oberlin college represented the culture of the Congregational denomination, and a student graduating from it was fitted, intellectually, for the ministry or other chosen calling. In the early seventies, Oberlin college had a roll of from 1,200 to 1,500 students, men and women, and a large majority of them worked their way through college. There was no royal road in learning for them, and as a consequence when graduation day came and they went out into the battle of life, they were fully equipped by reason of the self-denial practiced during school days. Oberlin was founded on the principle of self-sacrifice. Its history dates back to the early days of the last century when a colony of devoted men and women from the eastern states funded a school that would be open to both sexes, and where no distinction in color was recognized. Though as no time was there more than twenty-five colored students in attendance during any one year, yet the fact that a boy or girl with a black face should be allowed the privilege of an education gave the school the opprobrious term of ‘Nigger College.’ Before the days of the war, it was considered unpardonable, even in the Northern states, to educate a Negro. However, Oberlin fought it out on the dark line and it shows a proud record of a number of educated colored men and women among its list of graduates. Today no town in the United States stands higher as an educational center than does Oberlin. The whole population is interested in it. No one was tolerated as a citizen of the town who was not a dyed-in-the-wool Congregationalist, and it was more than fifty years after the college was started before a church of any other denomination was allowed to be built in the town. The first man who attempted to beard the lion of Congregationalists was an Anglican minister who had been a printer in his earlier days. He not only built the first church, but in the vestry at the rear of the building, he had a printing office from which he issued a weekly religious paper in the interest of his own denomination, doing the editing, typesetting and the presswork himself, with the help of a tourist printer who now and then dropped in. And then on Sunday this printer-preacher held regular service, and he was so eloquent and learned that he drew to his church quite a congregation. He had a small allowance from the general church fund, and he pieced out a living for himself and family from the circulation of the paper. He was the first man to break into Congregationalism in Oberlin and being a genial gentleman got into the good graces of President Finney, the head and front of the town, and this finally smoothed his way so that in time his church was recognized by the faculty of the college, and students were allowed to attend public worship there. We found him in Oberlin when we first arrived, and about the last one we bade adieu to was our printer-preacher friend.


          The Rev. Charles G. Finney was one of the first presidents of Oberlin college. In his younger days, he was one of the greatest revival preachers in America. Fifty and seventy-five years ago, he made frequent visits to England in the interests of the college, and was able to secure large bequests to carry on its work. While nominally president of the college, he did but little teaching, his time being devoted to conducting revival meetings and raising money for the college. He ruled Oberlin with his iron will, and yet he was one of the most gentle of men. When at home on Sunday, he always preached the morning sermon, and his congregations filled the large old-fashioned church that hedld at least three thousand people. His sermons were usually an hour in length, but he made them so interesting that the hearers would gladly have the time extended. His audiences were often moved to tears and then laughter, and at times would greet some burst of eloquence with handclapping. The venerable president appreciated and encouraged the moods of his audience. President Finney, in his younger days, before entering the ministry, was an enthusiastic member of the Masonic fraternity. The Congregationalists in those days were very bitter in their denunciation of secret societies, and after Mr. Finney was converted and entered the ministry, he withdrew from the Masonic order. In an hour of weakness, he wrote an exposition of Masonry, but in his later years he expressed regret that he had done so. Oberlin was noted for its hostility to secret societies, yet at the time we lived there, a flourishing lodge existed in the town.


          There was no sacrifice too great for the Oberlin people to make for the cause of education and religion. That was the foundation on which the town was built. They were frugal in their manner of living that they might be able to give more to the college and to missions. They were educated along those two points and they did their part religiously. They lived on the plainest food, and their raiment was in keeping. They had well-built houses, comfortably furnished, but in everything the utmost economy was practiced. They went to bed at the tap of the college bell and arose in the morning at the same signal. Such a thing as a loafer was not tolerated, nor was a liquor saloon allowed inside the corporate limits. The drug stores sold what liquor was necessary for medicinal purposes – and quite a number were always calling on their doctor for prescriptions – and the druggists had to keep a record which was examined by a committee at stated times. Every business man in the town was expected to be a member of the Congregational church and contribute to its support. The old Muser did not join the church, therefore it was intimated to him that he had better sell his printing office and try some more ungodly field. At the suggestion of the head of the theological department, we sold our office to a student, taking a chattel mortgage as security on part of the price, and when the last two notes were due, the student had gone out as a missionary, making no provision to pay his notes, and we were out $1,000. The theological department of Oberlin college was one of the best in connection with any college in the United States. Here they trained men and women for the church and for missionaries. As a general thing the students were poor and they had to work their way through college. They were furnished with lodging free, but they had to earn their daily bread. In a number of residences in the town that were used as boarding houses, a theological student would get his board free, he had to conduct family worship and ask blessing at the table. The training at Oberlin for young people was excellent, and to the credit of the college, its students were free from many of the vices of other colleges. The use of tobacco was prohibited, though sometimes indulged in by a few of the students on the sly.  It was considered unbecoming for a man to appear in the streets smoking pipe or cigar, and those who loved the weed enjoyed the pleasure in the solitude of their homes.


          Last evening, Rev. Henry Churchill King, president of Oberlin college, was the speaker for the hour at the Congregational church. We had not the pleasure of meeting him when this copy was being prepared for the Saturday Musings, but at a venture we would say that it was an able organization, for Oberlin professors have kept up the reputation of its first illustrious president, Rev. Charles G. Finney. Prof. Henry Churchill, after whom President King was named, was in his days one of the great orators of the college, and during the time we were editor of the Oberlin News, he was an editorial contributor at a certain stipend for each article.


          The board of education of this city is planning to build two new schoolhouses. Now that every member of the royal family has had a city school named in his or her honor, and even Strathcona and Rev. Mr. Ryerson have not been forgotten, would it not be a good idea to reserve one of the new buidings as a memorial to the first principal of the public school system, Dr. J. H. Sangster? Sixty-one years ago, Dr. Sangster was elected principal of the Central school, and he planned its course of study along such lines that it was adopted throughout the province of Upper Canada. Prior to1853, when the Central school was opened, Hamilton had no regularly defined public school system, for about that time, the private school was just passing out. Several men were recommended by educators in Toronto for the principalship of the Central, but none of them felt equal to the work. J. H. Sangster, then a recent graduate from the university was offered the position, and notwithstanding older and more experienced men had declined the task of organization, he accepted a laid the foundation of a system that needed but little change. All of the Hamilton old boys were educated under him, and even to this day, the children of later generations hear from father and mother the beloved name of Dr. Sangster. At the reunion of the old Central school graduates and scholars held a few years ago, Dr. Sangster was the guest of honor. Since the he has passed on to his reward. Lieutenant-Governor Gibson was one of his pupils, and Hamilton has honored the the governor by christening a school building with his name. Now let the school board think kindly over the suggestion, and when next a new school building is to be christened, call it in honor and memory of Dr. J. H. Sangster, the first principal and organizer of Hamilton public schools.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


An old Hamilton printer who has had in his possession for many years, the minutes of the first Typographical Society organized in Hamilton, and of subsequent revivals of the society, has kindly furnished the writer with the manuscript, which we will hand over to the present organization as an historical record of what the printers of sixty-eight years ago did to give respectability to the trade. This manuscript is evidence that to the printers belong the organization of the first labor union in Hamilton.  This brief sketch may not interest the general readers of today’s Spectator, but it will no doubt be appreciated by the one or two hundred printers who are now employed in the city and who are members of the present typographical union. To begin with, the first printer’s society was organized in Canada about one hundred years ago., and sixty-eight years ago (July 1, 1846), the first society was organized in Hamilton. Probably some of the old-timers may recall the names of the few journeymen printers who worked at “case” in the long ago for the princely wage of $6 and $7 per week, and a majority of them were not skilled in the typographical art, so we will give the list : William Nicholson, Edward Mills, John Hand, John Christian, John W. Harris, William Colloden, James Mullen,    McLaren, James Lumsden, Freeman Austen, William Smith, Thomas McIntosh, Dickenson, Pearson. Of these old-time printers, William Nicholson, John Hand and Thomas McIntosh eight years later started the Daily Banner. John Hand was the fastest typesetter in America, yet in those days he was only paid $7 a week. The majority of typesetters did not fare even that well, and they were glad to get whatever the employer pleased to pay them. No wonder that they organized for the purpose of getting a uniform scale of rates, and that they adopted as their motto, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” The night the first officers were elected the meeting adjourned to a convenient tavern, where the health of the officers was drunk with all due ceremony, and the officers renewed their pledge to the members that their confidence in electing them should never be betrayed. The scale of prices was fixed at $9 per week of sixty hours and 25 cents per thousand (? - illegible) for piecework. As very little piecework was done in those days that part of the scale was hardly taken into consideration. There were “rats” in those days, and it kept the society busy watching them. A few of the most enthusiastic fellows were the first to fall by the wayside, and rather than lose their job made private contracts with their employers. Before the end of the first year, the foreman of one of the offices was hauled before the society to answer to the charge of “jolting” with quads and winning the money of the boys who worked under him. The society made short work of him, and his expulsion soon followed. Then the boys in the office refused to work under him and the proprietor was compelled to discharge him.


          The organization above referred to struggled along for a couple of years and then finally gave up the ghost. On the evening of the 21st of July, 1852 another attempt was made to reorganize the old society when it was resolved “That in view of the very unsatisfactory state of the profession in the city, it is decided essentially necessary that an understanding be arrived at in relation to the scale of prices to be charged, and otherwise by united and concerted action to place the businessmen on a footing that must result in the mutual benefit of the employer and the employed , and to this end we whose names are herewith annexed resolved that a meeting be called on Monday the 26th instant, for the purpose of drafting a constitution and bylaws , and forming ourselves into a society for the mutual protection of each other and interests of the profession in general.” The names signed to this call were : John Christian, John Lyons, James Seymour, W. H. Cliff, J. T. Barker, Edward Orr, John F. Power, John Patton, Wm. Nicholson, John Gunn, William Stewart, Wm. Shepard, John Wells. This society had but a short life, and it departed into innocuous desuetude.

          We come down now to the third effort to be a permanent organization. On the evening of March 6, 1854, just sixty years ago last night, twelve journeymen printers and four two-thirders – boys in their last year of apprenticeship – met in the afternoon at the Temperance hall in White’s block, on King street, and an organization was perfected that has continued down to the present society. Those were Thos. Rolston, John Love, John Christian, James Nixon, Thomas Hynde, Andrew Linklater, Thomas Butters, William H. Cliff, Dan G. Mitchell, Walter Campbell, A. Ruggs, Richard R. Donnelly, Robert Gay, Reese Evans and Richard Butler. At a subsequent meeting, Charles Kidner and Augustus T. Freed were admitted as members. The first meeting was preliminary, and at the second meeting, the following officers were elected : William H. Cliff, President; Charles Kidner, vice-president; R. R. Donnelly, secretary; R. L. Gay, treasurer; D. G. Mitchell, W. Campbell, and Richard Butler, committee. It took a little time to get the organization perfected, the adoption of a constitution and bylaws, etc., and then came the tug of war in the making of a scale of prices. Between the death of the preceding society and the resurrection of the new one, there was no established wage list, and it was every man for himself as to how much the “boss” would pay him. Finally a scale was adopted, being $8 for work by the week and 27 cents per thousand (?-illegible). There were only two daily papers in Hamilton by this time – the Spectator and the Banner, and the composition on all of the papers in the city was done by piecework. The other two papers were the Gazette and the Journal and Express, both published semi-weekly. Besides these were the Canada Christian Advocate and a monthly religious magazine published by Rev. Robert Peden.



Don’t think that it was all sunshine for the new society, for the largest office in the city refused to acknowledge the authority of the union to say what price the proprietor should pay for his work, while admitting the justice of the claims of the union. The result was a strike in that office, and every man and boy went out. He managed to get out his paper, short of matter, for nearly two weeks, and then gracefully submitted and paid the scale. The union did not harass the proprietor of the paper, only so far as to coax away any strangers that came to work in the office, by paying their fare to Buffalo or Toronto. That scale of prices prevailed for many years. Money in Canada was a scarce article in those days, and instead of receiving a full week’s wages in cash, the hands were glad to take a part in orders from the stores. Especially this was the case when the panic of 1857 struck Hamilton. Often this old Muser went home on Saturday night with a couple of dollars in cash and the promise of more in the sweet bye-and-bye. To make matters worse during the early days of the panic, not only printers, but every class of workmen were glad to go on half time, half a loaf being better than no bread. Talk about the present hard times in Hamilton, the conditions do not hold a candle to the dark days of 1857. During that year and the next, no less than three thousand young men left Hamilton to seek employment in the United States. There were no alien labor laws in those days to restrict a workingman to seek employment wherever he could find it. The old Muser struck out for Cincinnati, arriving in that city one bright summer morning after travelling all night, and before nine o’clock, on the presentation of his travelling card from the Hamilton union, was fortunate in getting a job immediately, and we say with pleasure that since that morning, we have never been idle for an hour when able to work. There is no labor union that takes better care of its members than the printers’ union, and a card signed by the proper officers is always a passport to employment, either temporary or permanent.


In the old days, the editors and reporters on the papers were usually graduates from the printing office, but nowadays things have changed in that respect, and it is only now and then one comes across a reporter who knows anything about the interior workings of an office. The fellow who could set type and write up a local story was always in demand, but his salary never helped him on his way to becoming a millionaire. It is only of late years that the typesetter has become a nabob, for today the men who run the linotype machines can make more than double the money the ancient typesetter by hand ever dreamed of receiving. Some of those old reporters were independent fellows. Away back in the early days of the Daily Spectator, two brothers, both printers, came to Hamilton to seek their fortunes, for at that time the union had raised the scale to $9 a week and 27 cents per thousand (?-illegible). Both of them got situations on the Spectator and were making good. The reporter was a bright fellow and made his department readable, but at times he did not fill up quite as much space as he ought to for the fabulous sum of $9 a week. Mr. Smiley called the reporter down one day and insisted that he must do better or quit the job. The result was that the reporter told Mr. Smiley that he could go to Hades with his job, for he had another opening in which there was more money and lots of fun. The reporter rented a room over a saloon, fitted it up as a first-rate gambling resort, where he made money hand over fist.

Four members of that union which was started sixty years ago last night are living in Hamilton, though only two were present as charter members – the writer and Reese Evans. Reese was then in his last year of his apprenticeship, and joined as a two-thirder. A. T. Freed joined a couple of months later, and toward the end of the year, William J. McAllister came from Toronto to work in this city and was admitted to membership. Mr. Freed was promoted from the “case” to the position of reporter on the Banner and a couple of years later started the Literary Garland, of which he was editor, in partnership with Richard Donnelly and William Piggott. Mr. Piggott was a country printer in the state of New York who came to Hamilton. For a time he was also the owner of the Dundas Banner. A majority of the boys who joined the union sixty years ago drifted across the border, a number going to Chicago and as a general thing made good. Dick Donnelly had at one time one of the best printing establishments in Chicago and it is now owned by his sons. When the civil war between north and south began, many of the old boys joined the union army, some of them never returning. Tom Fleming, known by the name “Tom Pluff” died a few years ago in Boston. Tom was at one time publisher of the Growler, a humorous paper in which Terry Branigan was made famous as the author of Branigan’s Chronicles, of which he never wrote a line. The author of those humorous Chronicles was John Aliso, a porter to Buchanan & Harris’ wholesale house, who was afterward promoted to a better job in the Great Western railway offices. It is a long look backward to sixty years ago, and the recalling of this bit of history will be at least interesting to the printers of the present day. It may also add a little interest to tell in brief the story of the newspapers printed in Hamilton sixty years ago.


Dundas has the honor of being the home of the first newspaper published in the Gore district. It was called the Upper Canada Phoenix. Richard Cockerill was its printer and publisher, and its first issue was in the year 1818, nearly one hundred years ago. The next newspaper of which we have any record was printed in Ancaster some eight or ten years later. One or two attempts were made to start a newspaper in Hamilton, but without success till George P. Bull, a young Irishman who had been working in Toronto, came to town and started the Gazette. At first it was published weekly, then changed in time to a semi-weekly. When Mr. Bull died, his son Harcourt, who had learned the printer’s trade with his father, became the publisher. The Gazette was taken over by the Spectator sometime in the very early sixties.

The Journal and Express was started about the time of the Gazette was, and it too, became a semi-weekly. Solomon Brega, a printer, and the son of a printer, was the editor and publisher of the Express. He was a rigorous writer, but did not have much business tact. The result was that the Express was always hard up, and the boys who worked in the office rarely ever got their pay on Saturday night; and it was no uncommon thing for them to strike nearly every other week and refuse to go to work on Monday unless the pay was forthcoming. Mr. Brega was an Irishman, genial and sociable with the boys, and more than once this characteristic stood him in good play in winning the boys back to work on Monday even without the cash being forthcoming. He finally sold the office to a couple of men who had an uphill time till the press departed to the graveyard in which many of its predecessors had found rest from the cares and vicissitudes of a thankless world. Mr. Brega was translated from the editorial chair to a fat government job, in which he passed his remaining days free from the cares and anxieties of newspaperdom.


Tories of those days did not think that Harcourt Bull was belligerent enough to fight their battles for he was a kindly soul who had no bitterness in his heart and a pleasant word for everybody. Robert Smiley was then working as a journeyman in the government printing office in Montreal, and he was recommended as an Irishman who was belligerent enough to suit the most aggressive Tory in Canada. Smiley took kindly to the invitation to become editor of a paper in Hamilton, and as he had saved a little money, he invested it in a bankrupt printing office in Toronto and brought the material to Hamilton. That was in 1846. When the material reached Hamilton by boat, Smiley did not have money enough to pay the freight and carriage, and Edward Dalley, father of the late F. F. Dalley, came to his assistance. Mr. Dalley at that time owned a combined drug and general store on York street and he furnished a place in his back warehouse to store the material until such time as Mr. Smiley could secure a room up town. Finally, a room was found on James street, near the town hall, and in July 1846, the first number of the semi-weekly Spectator was issued. The paper was a financial success from its first number. Mr. Smiley did not live many years to enjoy his prosperity as an editor, for in the year 1853 he died of consumption. During the nine years of his business life in Hamilton, he amassed an amount that was considered in those days an independent fortune. The man who came to Hamilton in 1846 and had to borrow money enough to pay the freight and cartage on his printing material died the owner of the Spectator building on the corner of Main and Hughson streets, an interest in a woolen mill in Ancaster, and one of the best printing and bookbinding establishments west of Toronto. The Spectator had the second steam press in the province, the first being established a few months before in the Toronto Globe office. A short time before Mr. Smiley’s death in 1853, he built a house on East avenue, now owned by T. H. Pratt, which was generally known as “Smiley’s castle.” When it was built, it was substantially out of town, for there were no other residences nearer to it than on the west than Victoria Terrace, corner of Victoria avenue and King street; and the next large building was the St. Thomas church, on the corner of Emerald and Wilson streets. At the time, the church stood in the middle of a field. All of this valuable property Mr. Smiley had accumulated in less than ten years, and when he died, he wife got a meager allowance, the balance going to his brothers.


After the death of Mr. Smiley, the Spectator became the property of John Smiley and William Gillespie. The latter gentleman had been an associate editor under Robert Smiley, and he became the managing editor, with Alexander Robertson as business manager and book-keeper. This combination did not last many years, nor did the paper make any money, and the final result was dissolution of the partnership, Mr. Gillespie becoming a deputy collector of customs at Dundas, John Smiley going to Chicago. Mr. Robertson conducted the paper for a short time until a purchaser could be obtained for it. Then Thomas and Richard White, who owned a newspaper at Peterboro, became the publishers, and with their energy and business ability threw new life into the management and editorial department. After a time, the Whites were induced to go to Montreal and buy the Gazette in that city, which gave promise of much larger returns. Under their management the Spectator became a moneymaker, and when they turned it over to their successors, it was prosperous.

While the Whites owned the Spectator, David McCullough was an editorial contributor, and when the Whites sold out, McCullough & Lawson became the owners. Prior to his entry into newspaper work, Mr. McCullough was employed in the upholstery department of the Great Western railway car shops. From boyhood he was a vigorous debater, a reader of the best literature, a student of history, and he had always the courage of his convictions. In his younger manhood days, he was classed as a reformer in politics, and as a student of political economy, he inclined to the doctrines of free trade, but as he grew older and came more in contact with the world, like Saul of Tarsus, his eyes were opened and he espoused the doctrines of protection. When he became editor of the Spectator, he associated with him as managing editor, A. T. Freed, who was a vigorous writer and student of political economy. For years, the Spectator took a leading part in educating its readers along the lines of protective policy, and was an earnest supporter of Sir John A. Macdonald. In time, Mr. McCullough tired of the strife incident to daily newspaper life, and he gracefully glided from the editorial chair into the peaceful waters of a seat in the customs house, where he ended his days.


Then came Messrs. Southam and Carey from London, Ont. as purchasers of the Spectator plant. Mr. Carey being a practical office and business man and Mr. Southam as an expert printer, the combination worked successfully in giving life to the present prosperous condition of the Spectator. Mr. Freed became the leading editorial writer, and under him were Herbert Gardiner, Jones L. Lewis and John Cameron, all vigorous writers. Since the death of Mr. Carey, the entire management has been directed by Mr. Southam and it goes without saying that no business property in Hamilton has kept pace with it in its increase in value. Mr. Freed continued as editor for a number of years and then finished his active business life as inspector of weights and measures, filling in his leisure hours as grand master of the Masonic order for two terms. John Cameron was the last of the old regime of the Spectator staff. He was one of the best paragraph writers on the Canaian press, bright and witty, and without malice. He rests from his labors in the Hamilton cemetery. Following Mr. Cameron came John Woddell, who was the editorial writer for a couple of years; and then came William Muliss as managing editor, T. J. Shanks as editorial writer, and J. A. McKenty as city editor, the three latter forming the present staff. For 63 years the history of the Spectator has been so interwoven with the history of Hamilton that it would be hard to separate the one from the other. The Spectator came into existence one year before Hamilton was incorporated as a city, and it has seen it grow from a very small town of cowpath roads to be one of the leading industrial cities of Canada From a town of unlighted streets, mud roads, no sewerage and no waterworks, it is now one of the best-lighted towns in Canada, with two electrical plants to draw from, two gas companies to furnish light and heat, and another natural gas company in the borning. And all this, and more, too, has been accomplished since the night sixty years ago that the printers started their union.


The Great Western railway was opened in the beginning of 1854, and the managers wanted to have an organ of their own, although there did not appear any pressing necessity for such a luxury, and this desire resulted in the Banner being ushered into the newspaper world. Dr. Bowen must have had a surplus of money, for it was he who financed  the literary infant, the condition being that his son William should be a member of the company. William Nicholson and Thomas McIntosh, two master printers, were at the head of the enterprise. As a starter the Banner was published semi-weekly until such time as arrangements could be made for a daily issue. The Backbone of the editorial department was the Hon. Issac Buchanan, who was a voluminous writer on railway matters and whose check provided the weekly payments to the hands. A young lawyer named McKinnon, brother to the one-time chief of police in the city, was the chief editorial writer, and A. T. Freed was the city editor. The Banner did not fly more than four years, when a new company bought it. Tom Grey was the business manager and Hugh B. Willson was the editorial writer. It had but a sickly existence for years until it came into the hands of C. E. Stewart, who made it a business success; and after his death, John Eastwood and Reginald Kennedy took hold of it and placed it on a permanent and solid foundation.

Along in the fifties, the Canada Christian Advocate, The Church, The Canada Evangelist, and the Canada Garland were all successful publications. Thomas McQueen came down from Goderich and started the Canadian, which had only a brief existence. It would be a hard matter to name the newspaper funerals that have taken place in Hamilton in the last seventy-five or eighty years. The Daily Herald is the youngest of the newspaper family, and from the date of its berth, it has been a successful business venture. We have tried to glance briefly at the history of the newspaper business in Hamilton for the sixty years since the organization of the Hamilton Typographical Union on the evening of March 6, 1854.


The man behind the gun is the important fellow, whether on the field of battle or in the workshop. It is all very well to tell the story of the success of a newspaper, and of the men who furnish the scathing editorials and the police court reports; but there is another element in the counting room and back in the workrooms that must not be forgotten when one gets down to bald history. For instance, what would a great daily do without its advertising solicitor? It takes money to get out a newspaper, and the advertising pages must do their part to bring in the cash. Now, there is James R. Allan, who began more than forty-four years ago as a “printer’s devil” in the Spectator office. Everybody in Hamilton knows Jim’s smiling face when he enters a business house to tell the proprietors that their future prosperity depends on a full-page ad in the Spectator. The ad man is the power behind the gun on a daily paper. Another important man in the earning department is the manager of the job room, and when you pass through the counting room, there sits John O’Neil, figuring out the estimates on the cost of a visiting card or a job that will run up into the hundreds of dollars. John has been so long in the Spectator job room that he has become one of the fixtures. But when you get into the newsroom, there you find the autocrat of the whole establishment and the terror to editors and reporters. George R. Allan, the mechanical superintendent, began as a boy in the Spectator office away so far back that only Jim Allan could really tell, for they were apprentice boys together. When the hour comes to close up the forms for press, George Allan cuts and slashes into the galleys, dropping out here and there some pet editorial or local story, and over it goes until a ore convenient season, no matter how earnestly the managing editor may pray for its appearance that day. Too much matter has been set, and the autocrat of the “make-up” says what must go over. Well, these three – Jim, John and George – deserve special mention in this anniversary occasion, for they are all veteran union printers.



Sunday, 5 October 2014


  War is a developer of the ingenuity and resources of a country. It may be hell to the poor fellows on the firing line, but those who remain at home reap the profits that come from the furnishing of army supplies, munitions of war, and food for the fighters. Till the present war broke out the majority of the world was ignorant of how much it depended upon Germany for many of the chemicals and dyes that enter into daily use in almost every industry. The cotton and cloth mills of Canada, and the knitting mills will have to come to a standstill when their present supply of dyestuffs gives out unless the ingenuity of Canadian or American chemists comes to the rescue. Analine dye, a coal tar product, is made in Germany and is admitted to the United States and Canada free of duty.  Germany has a monopoly of this important dye simply because it manufactured it cheaply and had no competition. The formulas for the manufacture of these dyestuffs are generally known to chemists, and coal tar is plentiful wherever there are gasworks, yet the manufacturers of cloth and cotton felt so indifferent that so long as they could get them cheaply and in abundance they gave no encouragement to Canadian or American chemists to produce them. The secretary of the interior of the United States, thinking this is a first rate opportunity to start a new industry, invited some twenty-five of the chief dealers in the coal tar products to Washington for a conference. Those representative American manufacturers did not think it worthwhile to go into the business, as it might not be profitable to compete with foreigners for the trade. Why do not the Canadian chemists try their genius in the production of dyestuffs ?


Before the Hamilton Gas company found a market for its coal tar refuse, it used to dump the stuff into the Caroline street gully, and it is there yet, mixed with the rubbish of nearly sixty years. Less than twenty years ago, a Mr. Butler came from England and stated a distillery for the conversion of the refuse of the gas works into a merchantable tar product, and it is now doing a profitable trade. At the present time, the gas works furnish from six to eight thousand gallons of tar a month, which is sent to Toronto for distillation. The local gas works has a still of its own, which is now out of use for want of repairs. When the coke works are established here, there will be an almost unlimited quantity of coal tar for distillation. The same condition exists in every town in Canada where there are gas works. It would certainly seem to the common lay mind that the chemists of Canada should be able to convert this valuable product into dyestuffs instead of shipping it to foreign countries to be worked up and then have to buy the finished product at an advanced price. The same is true of other waste, such as tin cans, bones, old rubber shoes and tires – everything has its use and nothing is now wasted. For more than fifty years, the soap factories in Hamilton sent down through the sewers to the bay the wastage from the lye used in soap making. Some ingenious chemist discovered a use for this spent lye and converted it into what is known as crude glycerin. One soap factory in Hamilton for the past four or five years has been shipping from five to eight thousand dollars’ worth each year of this crude glycerin to a firm in the United Staes that uses it in the manufacture of dynamite and other explosive material. The Hamilton firm has been in business in this city for fifty years or more, and in that time sent through the sewers into the bay spent lye that would have paid them at least a quarter million dollars had they known its value. There is not anything now that goes to waste, not even the cores or peelings of apples, for science and chemistry has converted them into delicious jellies and jams of any flavor to suit the taste of the bonvivant.


The Dominion Tar and Ammonia company is also profiting by the war in the sale of at least one of its by-products, creosote oil. Heretofore Germany could ship this product into the United States for half the price the Hamilton company could afford to produce it at a profit. The German price was three cents a gallon; the Hamilton price six cents. Now that the war has put a stop to the importation of oil from Germany, it has opened a market for the Hamilton product. The Dominion Tar and Ammonia company has its works in Belin, Ont., where it converts coal tar into aqua ammonia, disinfectant, moth balls and naphthalene flakes. It also distils anhydrous ammonia for cold storage and ice freezing machines. The residue of the coal tar is creosote oil, which is used in shingle and wood stains, and other purposes, but the demand for the residue was not sufficient to exhaust the supply, and thousands of gallons went into the sewers of Berlin. With this new market opened by the war, the Dominion company will have an increased outlet beyond the demand for the Canadian trade. Creosote is now largely used instead of maple and other wood chips for smoking hams and other meat products.


The city of Hamilton is now a large user of tungsten incandescent lamps for lighting the streets. This lamp is said to be the most economical one in use for household or street purposes. A few years ago the Ontario Lamp and Lantern company began the manufacture of the tungsten lamp, and built a factory on Cannon street east, occupying almost an entire block. The company employs a large force and pays good wages to their men and women employees. When the Hydro system came into operation in this city, the company naturally expected to furnish the lamps, but the manager could not even get a look-in. Germany and the other German principalities were able to ship into Hamilton the tungsten lamps at a lower price than the lower factory could manufacture them and make a living profit. The girls working in the foreign factories engaged in the manufacture of tungsten lamps were paidtwenty-seven and one half cents a day, while the girls employed in the Hamilton factory were making an average of $1.35 a day. Then the duty on this class of goods is so small that the foreign makers had no difficulty in overcoming it. The Hamilton Hydro commission bought their lamps on the foreign market instead of at home, thus creating more unemployment for the Hamilton men and women. Would it not be part of good business for the city government to give to a local manufacturing company not only its influence, but to throw everything in its way that will furnish work for the home industry? In the case of the tungsten lamps, the money the city pays a foreign company for them goes to enrich another company and Hamilton only gets the lamps; but if the city buys the lamps from the local factory, it has both the lamps and the money. The Ontario Lamp and Lantern company is a large tax payer and every hand in their employ is in many cases, not only a taxpayer, but every dollar paid out in wages is spent with the local business men. And this rule might be profitably observed not only by the corporation but by the citizens generally. Patronize home first, because it is here you earn your living.


In the year 1857 – just fifty-seven years ago – Canada and the United States passed through one of the worst commercial and manufacturing panics. Hamilton then had an actual population of not more than 15,000. The compiler of the city directory of 1858 took a more roseate view of the figures and increased the population of about 27,500; it was an editor’s dream. Canada then had a population of less than 4,000,000, and the united States could only muster 30,000,000. So you see this great American continent was not suffering from a surplusage of population. Neither Canada nor the United States were oversupplied with mechanical industries, but jogged along raising food to feed the world and buying the greater part of their supplies from the old world. It may be interesting to know that the cloth to make the uniforms of the first soldiers that enlisted in the northern army at the outbreak of the civil war in the United States had to be bought in England, and even the bunting of which the stars and stripes was made had to come from England. When the war broke out, the United States had to arm its soldiers with the old-fashioned Belgian musket, there not being factories at home to furnish them. Well, when that panic in 1857 came along, both countries were not in a condition to stand much of it. Canada got it bad. The only industries in Hamilton were the Great Western railway shops, three or four foundries and machine shops, a few planning mills, and some small affairs that did not furnish much employment to labor. For the next three or four years things looked blue in Hamilton, and all of the young fellows who could pluck up courage to leave home and had enough money to pay their fare hiked across the Detroit and Niagara rivers. Talk about the hard times that prevail now ! They are not in the same class with those of 1857. Now the people patronize no end of picture shows twice a week, and subscribe money by the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A. and patriotic and unemployment funds, and think nothing of it. To meet the men and women in the streets dressed in the best of comfortable clothing, and especially the handsomely dressed women, one would never think of putting Hamilton in the hard times list. It was not so fifty-seven years ago; instead of growling about hard times now, we ought to feel thankful that it is as well with us as it is. There is sunshine hidden behind the dark clouds, and it will break through ere long and we will forget all about the past. It is true that Hamilton industries are running at a close margin just now and that hundreds of men are idle; yet in some of the factories they are not only working full time, but are running overtime. When Hamilton could furnish a job for every man things were prosperous, but when the people got the craze for a hundred thousand population, when there was not work enough for those who were here, men across the seas heard of this wondrous city and country and came flocking in till there were three or four men for every job. They came, unfortunately, at the wrong time, for in Europe they were getting ready to loose the dogs of war, and that paralyzed not only Hamilton but the whole world. And there you are. “When this cruel war is over,” as the boys used to sing during the dark days of 1861-65, then the sun of prosperity will shine once more, and the factories of Hamilton will be running day and night to supply, in a measure, the wastage that is now going on.


Hamilton has been enjoying a grand musical treat during this week, the Creatore band and the local choir of half a thousand or more furnishing the programme. It will be a pleasant memory for the long winter nights, but we fear that the Patriotic fund is not going to be enriched by the hoped-for surplus. Thursday evening was especially enjoyable, for there was a larger audience than on any of the preceding nights, and both singers and musicians caught the spirit of it. When the first part of the programme had ended, Lieut. Robinson was escorted on the stage and Prof. Creatore ceremoniously handed him the baton. It was a compliment from the younger to the veteran bandmaster. The audience cheered and the choir waved a handkerchief salute. Then with his usual modesty, the veteran lieutenant waved the baton, the band played O Canada, and the music of Canada’s national song never sounded better. At the close of the piece, Prof. Creatore threw his arms around the neck of the veteran bandmaster, and with his most graceful bow handed him off the stage. The new marching song of the British army, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, was sung by Roy McIntosh, and Mrs. McCoy-Hamilton roused the audience with Rule Britannia. As the new song is hummed and whistled by everybody, we give herewith the words that they may learn to sing it.


Up to mighty London came an Irishman one day,

As the streets are paved with gold, sure ev’ryone was gay;

Singing songs of Piccadilly, Strand and Leicester Square.

Till Paddy got excited, then he shouted to them there


Chorus :

It’s a long way to Tipperary,

It’s a long way to go;

It’s a long way to Tipperary,

To the sweetest girl I know;

Goodbye Piccadilly;

Farewell Leicester Square.

It’s a long way to Tipperary,

But my heart’s right there.


Paddy wrote a letter to his Irish Molly O,

Saying, “Should you not receive it, write and let me know;

If I make mistakes in spelling, Molly dear,” said he,

“Remember it’s the pen that’s bad, don’t lay the blame on me.”


Molly wrote a neat reply to Irish Paddy O,

Saying “Mike Maloney wants to marry me, and so

Leave the Strand and Piccadilly, or you’ll be to blame

For love has fairly drove me silly

Hoping you’re the same.


It's a long way to Tipperary,

It's a long way to go.

It's a long way to Tipperary

To the sweetest girl I know!

Goodbye, Piccadilly,

Farewell, Leicester Square!

It's a long long way to Tipperary,

But my heart's right there.

Monday, 8 September 2014



    About sixty-five years ago, the Hamilton Field battery was first organized. About the same time, there were three rifle companies and one cavalry company, which comprised the military establishment of the town. Hamilton had part of a regiment of regulars stationed here, the barracks being the old stone building on the bluff at the foot of Macnab street. That old barracks was afterwards used as a glass factory, and it stands today like a castle deserted. Later the old hospital at the foot of John street, originally built for a hotel, was used as a barracks before it was converted into a hospital. When the regulars moved away in the early ‘50s, the only military organizations in Hamilton were the volunteers, of which the artillery company was the leading one. Its armament was one field piece owned by the company and one gun loaned to the company by a private citizen who was interested in, though not actively connected with, the organization. Alfred Booker was the first captain of the company. W. H. Glassco, J. Harris, J. P. Gibbs, W. J. Copp, lieutenants. Dr. J. H. Ridley, surgeon. The battery was the pride of Hamilton, especially on the Queen’s birthday, when it always led in the annual parade and fired the national salute at midday. Beside the battery of two guns, Hamilton could boast of a rifle brigade composed of three companies. The officers of No. 1 company were Thomas Grey, captain, Thomas Bain, lieutenant, George James, ensign. No. 2 company, W. H. Macdonald, captain, T. Samuel, lieutenant. No. 3 company was composed of Highlanders, and was officered by J. F. McCuaig, captain, J. Munro, lieutenant, J. A. Skinner, ensign. There was also a cavalry company, mainly made up of young farmers living in the vicinity of Hamilton. G. M. Ryckman was captain, Harcourt B. Bull, lieutenant, H. J. Lawry, cornet, W. Applegarth, cornet, H. S. Strathy, cornet and adjutant, A. Alloway, veterinary surgeon. How war-like appeared these young soldiers with their glittering swords by their sides. Not one of these old defenders of Hamilton is present now to answer the roll-call.


          In the year 1855, there was a reorganization of the militia of Canada when the government organized the First Field battery in Quebec; the Second in Ottawa, the Third in Montreal, the Fourth in Hamilton. Where practical, the officers of the old organizations were commissioned. Captain Booker and his company enlisted as a unit, and the organization remained as it was. In the older days, the men generally paid for their own uniforms, but when the company enlisted in the regular volunteer service, the government for a complete new outfit and an equipment for the battery. The old Methodist Episcopal church building on Nelson street, near King, was bought by the government and the brick building now occupied as a machine shop, was erected for the gun sheds. Sergeant Brown, an artillery sergeant from the regular army was sent out from the old country as drillmaster for the company, and under his tutelage the battery became one of the best drilled in Canada. Sergeant Brown remained as instructor of the company for a number of years and then resigned to enter into business for himself. He is yet living in Toronto, and makes Hamilton a visit at rare intervals. After the reorganization had been perfected, Captain Booker was promoted to major, and Lieutenant Glassco became captain, the lieutenants going up in rotation. The old Fourth battery has always been the pride of Hamilton from the date of its organization down to the present, and when the call from over the seas to go to the help of the mother country came, officers and men responded promptly and are now in Camp awaiting orders to go to the front. That the battery will give a good account of itself no one questions. In Wednesday’s issue of the Spectator was published the provisional list of officers of the three brigades of field artillery that will represent Canada on foreign battlefields. Commanding the First brigade is Lieutenant-Colonel E. W. B. Morrison, D. S. O., an old Spectator boy who went to the front and commanded a battery in South Africa, winning laurels for himself and for his command. The Eighth battery is a part of the Third brigade, and is composed of our Hamilton boys. The officers assigned are : H. G. Carscallen, major; H. G. D. Crerar, captain; J. D. Hoodless, W. I. S. Hendrie and C. S. Craig, lieutenants. The company is recruiting up to its full strength, and dozens of brave boys are disappointed because they were not accepted.


          During the hundred years of peace that Canada has enjoyed there has been little use for soldiers, if we may except the rebellion of ’37 and the Fenians raid. It is true we furnished thirty or forty young fellows to the Hundredth regiment and about the same number to South Africa; but Canada has never had real occasion to learn the art of war. The present call came as a surprise, but it found the Canadian boys prompt to respond. The Fourth battery never had the pleasure of pointing a hostile gun at an enemy, but all the same they were ready should the trumpet sound the call to duty. Not one of the original members of the battery is now connected with it even in an honorary way, and it is doubtful if many of them are living. In 1856, the city band, with Peter Grossman as its leader, was the first military band in Hamilton, when it became the Fourth Artillery band. Bandmaster Grossman had served for fifteen years as bandmaster of an artillery band in the German army, and I his day was one of the finest musicians in Canada. But one member of the band is living, so far as the writer knows, and he is Julius Grossman, the youngest son of the old bandmaster. On the 12th of November, 1866, the artillery band was merged into the Royal Thirteenth band with Mr. Grossman as bandmaster. Three years later Lieutenant George Robinson became the bandmaster of the Thirteenth and is still at the head of that organization.


          In 1866, when General O’Neil, the commander of the French army, made his celebrated raid to capture Canada, and the Thirteenth was at the front learning the art of war and driving back the invaders, one night a mysterious craft was sighted creeping along the north shore. The alarm was given and the men of Hamilton rallied to protect their homes and firesides from the invaders. Here was the first opportunity the Fourth battery had to show what it could do. The company rushed to the armory, and in their haste to get at the enemy did not wait for horses, but dragged its two guns down to the bay front. For hours the mysterious craft creeping along was watched, and a man was sent around the bay on horseback as a scout to report what he could learn. There were no boy scouts then, for if there had been the little fellows would have been on to the movements of the mysterious craft before it had got out of the canal. After long and anxious waiting, the scout returned, and his report was that the mysterious vessel was laden with lumber and was making for Cook’s wharf.


          The disgruntled artillerymen returned to the armory with their formidable battery, and thus ended the only opportunity that ever presented itself for the boys to show off of what stuff they were made. But it will be different with the present company in camp in the Jockey club grounds. The chances are that they will see active service and a good deal of it, and that they will give a good account of themselves on the field of battle. ‘War is hell,’ and they will know the truism of General Sherman’s saying before they return to the peaceful pursuits of the workshop and factory. Hamilton is proud of its brave boys who have answered their mother country’s call, and this old Muser hopes that the men who are at the head of the city affairs will see that the dependent mothers and the wives and children of the men who have volunteered will be generously provided for, not in charity, but as a debt the people at home owe to the men who are going to the front. The raising of funds should not be left to the haphazard of collecting by private subscription, but should be made a tax levy by the authorities on the wealth of the city, so that every man and woman who own or control property should pay their just share for the defense of the homeland. To leave the collection of a war fund to private individuals means the giving by the generous ones, and the tightwads escape altogether. A war tax for the support of the families of the soldiers should be levied by the city, and a generous sum paid weekly or monthly by the city treasurer to every woman and child.



          “Ubique’ means that warning grunt

             The perished linesman knows.

           When o’er is strung an’ sufferin’ front

             The shrapnel sprays his foes;

           An’ as their firin’ dies away,

             The ‘usky whisper runs

           From lips that ‘aven’t drunk all day:

             “The Guns ! Thank Gawd, the Guns !”

-        Kipling.      



The battery has been well-connected with the history of Hamilton from its organization sixty years ago. Its first commander, Captain Booker, was one of the leading business men in the city in his day, and was the son of the Rev. Alfred Booker, the pastor of the First Baptist church organized in Hamilton. He was succeeded by Captain W. H. Glassco, and others who were identified with the early history of the battery. Coming on down to a later day, Colonel John S. Hendrie and Colonel Tidswell were commanders of the battery and Lieut.-Col. Morrison, now commander of the first brigade, and Dr. Osbourne, who won their spurs on the field at South Africa, and Lieut.-Col. Rennie, commanding the Army Medical corps, learned their first lessons in the gunnery in the old battery. The present officers of the old Fourth are: Major Carscallen, Captain Field, Lieut. Taylor, Major E. E. O’Reilly, surgeon, and Sergt.-Major Peace. Three ex-majors, Wholton, McDonald and Horner are residents of this city.


Major R. H. Labatt, of the Thirteenth, went into camp at Quebec with the contingent from his regiment. He is a grandson of a brave soldier, who won his promotion from a sub-altern in the Twenty-Fourth regiment of infantry to become the commanding officer. Colonel Hodgetts began his military career early in the last century when British soldiers were in the thickest of the fight on every battlefield. The Twenty-Fourth was an Irish regiment; in 1833 or 1834, it came to Canada, and for a time a detachment of the regiment was stationed in an underground fort at Coteau du Lac, where the writer of these musings was born, my father being a soldier in that regiment. Captain Roberts, who will be remembered as the pay master of the pensioners in Hamilton was a member of the same company, so was John Nickerson, the old theatrical manager, who owned the theatre on the corner of John and Merrick streets, sixty years ago. Major Labatt must have been born with the warlust as an inheritance from his grandfather, Col. Hodgetts, for when Great Britain decided to enter the war, the major was one of the first of the Thirteenth officers to tender his services. He was active in raising the first contingent, giving up his large business to the care of his office manager. When he arrived in camp at Valcartier, he was appointed commanding officer of the Seventh battalion of 1500 men, of which the Thirteenth contingent was a part. Major Labatt has the reputation of being one of the best tactically in the old Thirteenth, and the Seventh battalion under his command will give a good account of itself on the battlefield. Hamilton seems to be getting recognition from the government for two more of its young officers have been detailed for duty. Lieut. H. G. Storme and Lieut. J. V. Young have been commissioned in the heavy battery of artillery in the overseas force.