Saturday, 18 January 2014


In those memorable old free trade days in Canada, when a first-class mechanic could earn from six to eight dollars a week, and then be glad when Saturday night came to get half of his pay in cash and half in orders on a store. Hamilton had no less than a dozen small foundries and machine shops, a couple of planning mills, two shoe factories, owned by P. W. Dayfoot and R. Nisbet, employing about a dozen hands each. That was in the days when boots and shoes were made by hand. There were the usual number of small workshops to be found in a town of eight or ten thousand population. Take a backward glance at those days and compare them with the Hamilton of today, with its five hundred manufacturing industries, its thirty to forty thousand working men and women, and then for a moment looks what fools the toilers of the land would be enjoying good homes, plenty of work and good wages, to want to go back to the old free trade days. Now, Hamilton has a population of over 100,000, with assessable property worth well on to $100,000,000. 24,000 houses that are owned by the men and the women living in them. Hamilton is a home city to many with but few landlords, and this is what keeps it free from strikes and labor disorders. Let a man own the home that his family lives in and there you will find a contented citizen. Here we have not less than eighty-five churches, with twenty-five of the best public schools in North America and ten separate schools for Roman Catholic children, with 20,000 bright and happy youngsters planning to take the place of we old Hamiltonians who must sooner or later answer the last roll call. We celebrate the blessings the people of this dear old town enjoy.
          This introduction is merely suggestive of what Hamilton was in the old days of free trade, and what it is today under the National Policy, founded by that heroic old patriot, Sir John A. Macdonald. Thousands of young Canadians left home and native land in the old free trade days of forty and fifty years ago. The large majority of them were skilled workmen who could not afford to live on $8 or $10 a week and keep their families in respectability and comfort. Today it is the other way, and the skilled workmen are coming into Canada, building up our towns and cities, and bringing with them branches of industries that are bringing work and good wages to thousands, where hundreds could hardly find a paying job. Take a day off and go east, out through industrial Hamilton, and then thank the Lord that the National Policy induced large corporations to get on this side of the Niagara and Detroit rivers to get a share of the great manufacturing trade of Canada, and that Hamilton looked so good to them as a thriving town in which to settle that they invested their millions here. And still those Yankee industries are coming to Hamilton, and almost every day that old newspaper reporter that the city council had the good sense to appoint as commissioner of industries and publicity is casting out his drag net and bringing in new manufacturers. It will only be a question of time till the farmers east of Hamilton will sell their farms at a big price to corporations in search of locations for large industrial concerns. Hamilton will bid defiance to the soft coal barons, for its two great electric power companies will be able to furnish “white coal” to turn every wheel.
It was only the other day that the city had to call upon old Barton to join up so as to accommodate a young man of about fifty years who wanted to come here and start a rubber industry to manufacture pneumatic tires for automobiles. This young man, named Firestone, sixteen years ago started a factory in Akron, Ohio, with about a dozen men, a clerk and a bookkeeper. Today, he has to employ fifteen thousand men and women – all getting rich, and ninety-five per cent of them partners in the business as stockholders. The writer can remember the town of Akron, Ohio, when its only industry was an oatmeal mill and a Universalist college. It had a small population then. Mr. Firestone was only a lad working on a farm, and he followed the plow until he was about eighteen years of age. He discovered very early in life that nature never intended him to be a farmer, so he threw up his job and went travelling to demonstrate the uses of hard rubber in the making of buggy tires. This gave him an idea, when automobiles came into use, of the possibilities of rubber pneumatic tires, from which he has no only made a handsome  fortune for himself, but also the men working for him have made good wages, besides the dividends on their stock. Every employee in the Firestone factory can become a partner in the business by purchasing stock.
The firestone factory has substantially built up the town of Akron, and it will do the same with Barton township. What is now farm land will soon be dotted over with homes for the workmen. Residences are built by the company and sold to the men at actual cost. In the town planning for the Firestone factory addition in Arkon, the highest sanitary conditions have been provided, the water system is perfect, the streets are paved and miles of sidewalk built. That is doing pretty well for only sixteen years of effort, and that, too, for a boy only fifty years old.
The board of trade gave a banquet at the Royal Connaught the other day to a number of newcomers who have brought new industries to Hamilton, and one of the speakers spoke in generous terms of the part C. W. Kilpatrick, commissioner of industries, has had in telling of the advantages this old town offers to men who want to get rich. During the past year no less than thirty-two industries, representing a capital of over ten million dollars, have been induced to locate here through the efforts of that cub newspaper reporter, Mr. Kirkpatrick. Not a bad year’s work for one man. It is not often that a young man has been pelted in Hamilton with thirty-two bouquets when he is still alive; as a usual thing, if he does anything out of the common to help build up his how town, it is stones instead of bouquets with which he is pelted. As an old newspaper editor, the Muser encores all the nice things that Controller Jutten said in his speech complimenting our friend. Some of these days when the commissioner of industries will tell the story of what he has done for Hamilton since he assumed the duties of that office, you will be astonished to learn how the old town has grown in the past few years.
The men and women workers in Hamilton are to be congratulated on their prosperous condition. A few weeks ago they were asked to subscribe $13,000,000 to buy Victory bonds to help the Dominion government to square up its share of the war debt. What did the industrial workers and the men with capital laid by for a rainy day do? Why, they just turned out their savings bank books and bought $7,000,000 more than they were asked to do, and still almost every one of them left a few dollars as a nest egg in the banks, so as to be ready to buy more bonds whenever the government gets hard up. The local savings banks have still a few millions on deposit belonging to the workers of Hamilton, which the banks would be glad to loan to their customers at the old time low rates of interest. There is no profiteering in the banking business like that in the hog and whiskey businesses, out of which a couple of men have been able to retire lately with fortunes of over three million dollars each, and it did not take them many years to accumulate their riches. During the past four years of even partial prohibition, there has been little poverty in Hamilton; comfortably dressed men, women and children are to be seen in the streets, and rarely ever a drunken man. Part of the millions that Hamilton invested in Victory Bonds are the savings of the men who used to spend their earnings for booze. The savory smell of roast turkey and goose will furnish the Christmas dinner in hundreds of homes where dry bread and a bit of liver were once considered luxuries. Thank God for prohibition, and may the new farmers’ government draw the cords still tighter.
Charles A. Dana, the veteran editor of the New York Sun, and one of the ablest men in his profession, dropped politics for an evening lecture on Journalism, and told an intellectual audience in New York his opinion of the Bible as a valuable book to study. Here is a paragraph from that lecture that may be an inspiration to the readers of these Musings to turn to the Old Book now and then as a safe guide. “There is no book from which more valuable lessons can be learned. I am considering it now not as a religious book, but as a manual of utility. There is perhaps no book whose style is more suggestive and more instructive, from which you learn more directly that sublime simplicity which never exaggerates, which recounts the greatest event with solemnity, of course, but without sentimentality or affectation; none which you can open with such confidence and lay down with such reverence; there is no book like the Bible. When you get into a controversy and want exactly the right answer, and when you are looking for an expression, what is that that closes a dispute like a verse from the Bible? What is it that sets up the right principle for you, which pleads for a policy, for a cause, so much as the right passage of Holy Scripture?”
Birthdays should be abolished. After a man reaches forty he should forget how old he is, and up to the time he is fifty he should forget how young he is. You never hear of a woman boasting of her age; she forgets dates, and can hardly remember the first year when her first boy, Jack, was born. Some eighty-five years ago, an Irish boy was born in a French village down on the banks of the St. Lawrence. Both the father and the mother said that it was on a certain day in November. The boy never discovered that there was any dispute about the important event until a few years ago, when he paid a visit to his town of birth and called upon the padre for a certificate of that important event not knowing but that it might come in handy. What was his surprise when from the certificate he made out in first-class French, which he had translated by a local padre in St. Patrick’s parish in Hamilton, he learned that he was born in October instead of November. He was the third child of that father and mother, so there was no mistake on that point, and he came into this world about three months after his parents arrived in Canada from Ireland. Now the question naturally arises, which is the best authority, the dear mother who was certainly present on that important occasion, or the padre that baptized the boy some days later. Which is that man’s birthday, October or November ?
We know men in Hamilton who are seventy years old who are doing as much work as men of forty ever dared to undertake; and we know men of fifty and sixty who are assuming responsibilities that would cause the average board of directors to lie awake at nights. Age generally denotes experience, and that is the only index which gives us as to ability.
Conditions may be such, however, that experience, ordinarily distributed through a lifetime, is acquired in a single year. For instance, there are thousands of young men today in Hamilton who know more about warfare than the average veteran did five years ago. The young fellows learned more in the trenches overseas in one year than most of the old boys who served an enlistment of twenty-one years in the British army. Age, therefore, does not always measure experience. The positive quality which is usually associated with youth against age is enthusiasm. Few would say that Ed. Morrison, the one-time cub reporter of the Spectator, who won his spurs in two wars and is now the general commanding the Canadian artillery service, or Edison, Marshal Foch, Sir Douglas Haig or Pershing, were lacking in enthusiasm in the great war. Enthusiasm is founded in bodily vigour which is conditioned on health. Ill-health is no longer regarded as a necessary companion of old age, and there is no deadline in enthusiasm.
The trouble with birthday is that they remind us of our youth or old age, and thus prevent us from undertaking tasks or assuming responsibilities that rightfully belong to us. The old grandmothers and granddads, when they reached the age of three score and ten, began to say that they never expected to see many more birthdays, and yet we can see dozens of dear old mother tripping along King street, with their gowns short at top and bottom, and as gay as the girls of twenty-five.
The salesman of twenty-five need not wait until he is fifty before he aspires to the job of sales manager. Let him forget how young he is. The job might as well be his while in full vigor of manhood, as to wait till he is so old as to dread the periodic attacks of rheumatism that come from sleeping in cold rooms in country taverns.
Let us ignore our birthdays and see if the years will not pass more lightly.

A good little boy went to church on Sunday with the neighbour’s and other children, his own parents being unable to go. Daddy took him in his arms and bade him goodbye and told him to be sure and remember the text and repeat it to daddy when he came home. The little fellow was all attention when the minister gave out the text , and he kept repeating it to himself till he got home. With joy in his little face, he ran up to his father on his return and began repeating what he supposed was the text “Don’t worry and you get the quilt.” “Tut, yut.” said the father, “there is no such text in the Bible.” “Yes there is,” said the boy and called on the neighbour with whom he went to church to prove it. The little fellow was not much out of the way after all. The minister’s text was “Be not dismayed, I will send the Comforter.” The boy’s idea was that in life was are too apt to be dismayed (worried) and what was more natural than a quilt for comfort, to make one feel comfortable.     
It is many a year since we heard a minister tell that story in his sermon and we have always remembered it when occasionally worries come into our daily life. What is the use of worrying anyhow? If you cannot control the thing that is the cause of annoyance, worrying over it will not help to mend matters, and if you can control it, go to work and do it and stop your worrying.
We are all worrying over the high cost of living, but has our worry reduced the cost of butter five cents a pound, or persuaded a farmer’s wife that she ought to sell her eggs for less than a dollar a dozen? General Sherman was not far out of the way when he said that war was hell; and the people of the present generation are finding it out. We remember the days of the American civil war when it substantially took a basket of greenbacks to purchase a basket of provisions. It took time and production to bring down the scale of prices, but down the stuff had to come; and history will repeat itself if we will only stop worrying – the quilt will come in good time. Hamilton never had as much money as it has today; and never was the laborer paid as much for his day’s work. Think of those twenty million dollars the wage earners of Hamilton have recently invested in Victory bonds, and then talk about worrying over the future. Sufficient unto the day is the blessing thereof. “Don’t worry and you will get the quilt.”
Back in the old days granddad went to market with a basket on his arm. He didn’t have to stop at the bank and cash a Victory bond or negotiate another loan on the old home in order to fill the basket. He just took a dollar bill from the family stocking, and, after buying a complete layout for the Christmas dinner, from soup to nuts, he had enough to pay for a twenty cent haircut and a dime shave, and then drop in at John Martin’s market saloon and gargle his throat with a beer or two. In those ancient days there was so much bacon lying around the kitchen that they used it to grease boats with. You could almost buy a whole hog from F. W. Fearman’s port shop for what you have to pay now for a few slices of ham. And as for lamb and roast beef, they got so tired of those things that granddad used to take his old army musket, a nickel’s worth of powder, and a few home-made bullets and go down to Land’s woods and kill a turkey for dinner. Turkey got so common that the family would only eat the white meat, and throw the dark meat to the dogs. Quail was so monotonous that there was a standing bet in Davidson’s city hotel that a man couldn’t eat a quail a day for thirty fays. Old Tom Lawry, the butcher, always got peeved if a customer wouldn’t take home with him a pound or two of calf’s liver for the cat, just to get it out of the way. And it is said that the only time granddad lost his temper was when a religious profiteering sonnovagun charged him an outrageous price for a side of bacon that was stuffed with water. When a man goes forth now with a ten-dollar bill in his pocket to buy a Christmas dinner for the family, he might as well look for the corner of Bowery street, that used to run south from King street west.
In those days, everybody owned a plush cow or two, and if anybody talked about raising the price of milk over five cents a quart he was told to go where the tallow cat chased the asbestos dog. If anybody had intimated that milk would be selling in Hamilton today for sixteen or eighteen cents a quart, or that cream would be twelve or fifteen cents a half-pint, granddad would have said they were crazy. In fact, they got along so well without automobiles that everybody lived to a ripe old age, and it looked like some of them would have to be shot on the day of judgement just to get rid of them. The telephone and telegraph were hardly known, so that people got their bad news a week or so late, which helped to prolong life and stave off nervous prostration. There were hundreds of diseases that even Dr. Dr. Roberts never heard of, and they knew nothing about, and appendicitis was only a colic. Every morning granddad had to call the family roll to see that none of the children were missing, for there was seldom less than a round dozen to gather around the breakfast table. A man who could rake in one-tenth part of a hundred dollar Victory bond a week piled up a fortune and retired at the age of forty-five to live on the interest. Why waste pity on our ancestors?
“Don’t worry and you’ll get the quilt.”

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