Thursday, 14 August 2014


The passing of Edward Bethune, on Friday of last week, removed another old-timer from the stage of action. During the latter years of his life, he was a comparative stranger in a town where he once was active. Sixty years ago he was a partner in the confectionery business of Ecclestone & and Bethune, the firm conduction two of the leading shops in Hamilton. From the first knowledge, the writer of these musings had of Mr. Bethune, he was always interested in religious work. In 1855, he joined the volunteer fire department and was a member of No. 1 company, having a his associates George Tuckett, Charles Newberry, Harry Harding, Joshua Phillips, all prominent in business circles. In looking over the old roll of the company, the only one now living in Hamilton is James Phillips. How time rolls around! Of the 135 names of No. 1 in 1855, how few are left! The minutes of the old fire company are full of quaint doings. For instance, Edward Bethune presented, at a meeting, a bill of 17 shillings, 6 pence for beer, and after some discussion, it was allowed. The boys of No. 1 often indulged in beer and crackers and cheese at their meetings, but not to a hilarious extent. Charley Smith, the oldest living fireman in the city, celebrated his eightieth birthday a week ago last Sunday. He was born in New York city and came to Hamilton when a boy. He joined the old department in 1847, and was captain of a boys’ company, the engine being a present from John Fisher, of the firm Fisher and McQuesten, and was made in their foundry. Of No. 3 company, there are but few left. It was a temperance company, and no one was eligible for membership who smothered his face in the foam of a beer mug. The few survivors of the old department are men now ranging along about the eighties, exempting Colonel John Stoneman, and he was only a boy when he first began as a torchbearer.


          Probably one of the oldest men in Hamilton, and without a doubt, the oldest business man, ended life’s journey on Friday of last week. David Galbraith was in his ninety-sixth year; he was born in Stoney Creek and lived there till arriving at man’s estate, when he moved into Hamilton and engaged in the grocery business. When Mr. Galbraith was born, on the 18th day of February 1819, Stoney Creek was a more important point than was Hamilton, or Head of the Lake as it was then called. Being raised on a farm, his inclinations led to a farming life, and he became a student of fruit raising, which was then in its infancy, especially the cultivation of the peach, starting the first peach-tree nursery in this section. When he first came to Hamilton, there was but one brick cottage in the village, and that stood on a knoll on the corner of King and John streets. On the first of October, 1841, Mr. Galbraith opened a general store in a frame building adjoining the Waldorf hotel on the east, and did business there till early in the fifties, when he moved across the street, opposite the Waldorf. He was successful as a business man. He took an active part in politics and represented St. Patrick’s ward in the city council till he was appointed one of the commissioner in 1855, to organize a system of waterworks for the city, in connection with Charles Magill, Adam Brown, M. Wilson Browne and Peter Balfour. T. C. Keefer was the engineer who planned the system, and the commissioners ably seconded his efforts. There were diverse opinions as from whence should the supply of water come, some favoring a canal from the Grand river, others going still farther to Lake Erie, while others thought the bay would be the cheapest. Mr. Keefer decided that the present source of supply would be the purest and best and his plan was adopted by the commissioners. It was no slight undertaking for a town of less than 11,000 inhabitants to undertake, and that, too, at the beginning of one of the worst financial panics that ever visted Canada. The estimated cost of the system was $440,000, and the commissioners completed their at but little more than the engineer’s estimate. For this amount the pumping station at the beach with a complete outfit of machinery was built, the reservoir on the mountain, about180 feet above the level of the lake, was constructed, and thirteen miles of pipe, extending from Wellington to Bay street, and from Hannah to Barton, with one hundred hydrants, was completed. To provide for a population of 25,000, it was estimated would require an additional $40,000. This was the system that David B. Galbraith helped to organize. Adam Brown is the only survivor of the first board of water commissioners of Hamilton. They planned wisely and well. After Mr. Galbraith retired from business, he was appointed to a position in the customs service, which he held till superannuated. He was always in the front rank of those who loved the city and was ready to make sacrifice for its advancement.


John Wannamaker, formerly postmaster-general of the United States, does not take kindly to long Sunday services. Now no one can accuse Mr. Wannamaker of a lack f reverence for the Sabbath, for he has been an earnest worker in the church and in the Sunday school from his youth up, but he has the courage of his convictions and is not afraid to speak out in a meeting at the mid-year conference of the Pennsylvania State Sabbath School association held in Philadelphia last week, he said, “You spend too much time fussing with programs, speeches, meetings and movements. You will win greater success if you adopt some of the methods used by Billy Sunday, the evangelist. Religious services are too long and too dry anyhow, and the church or Sunday school that expects to meet with success must deliver the goods the people want.” Some people object to Billy Sunday’s language. It’s pretty hard to break away from the language a fellow has been using since childhood, and we should not overlook the harvest to examine the harrow too closely. Mr. Wannabaker added that Sunday schools should try to follow the principles of vocational training by discovering and developing the inclination of each pupil.


The present tightness of the money market and the consequent depression in business does not seem to make any appreciable difference in the value of real estate in Hamilton. While the transactions are not as many, yet prices keep advancing steadily. The scarcity of inside property stiffens up the price. There may not be as much building within the next few months, but this will not reduce the value of houses, rather tend to an increase in price. The prospect for the building of new churches and of improving the old ones is going to set a good many thousands afloat during the coming summer. If money is as scarce as it is claimed for it, then it is certainly not among churches, for the Easter reports indicate a liberal giving that is unprecedented. Seventeen years ago, a newcomer to Hamilton was in search of a lot on which to build a house, and he was offered about seventy-five feet on the corner of West avenue and King streets – the corner just east of the First Methodist church – for $2,000. The site was all that was desirable, but being from the country, he had the horror of the noise of the street cars passing by, so he let it pass. There are three brick houses on that lot, which pay an annual rental that would have been a big interest on the $2,000 invested. However, he let the opportunity pass. A couple of years ago, the trustees of the Methodist church offered $15,000 for the lots, and would have gone a little better rather than miss getting them. The owners turned up their noses at even $20,000, and now are holding them at $30,000. This is but one instance of the increasing value of property in this city. We might cite several cases where large sums have been paid for desirable lots even within the past couple of years, but this one takes the bun. We presume the assessors have not yet learned the increased value of that property, but somehow or another residence property keeps on increasing in value according to the assessors.


Those get-rich-quick advertisements we read in the daily papers certainly offer tempting inducements, and thousands of dollars pass from the pockets every year of the gullible ones into the pockets of the sharpers. For instance, an advertisement which has grown gray in the service is that which offers to furnish literary employment to those who want it, where they can make a good salary writing for the newspapers, and it does not cost the applicant a cent. Generous souls, to give free information to those ignorant of newspaper work! But when the applicant writes for a position then the advertiser gets in his work, and bleeds the unfortunate one so long as there is a dollar to be had, and at last to find out that there is nothing in it. Then there other advertisements of a similar nature offering free information that will make the fortunes of the applicants, and all one has to do is write and have the good thing handed out to them without fee or reward. When one writes for information, then a small fee is required, and so it goes on so long as the innocent one can be gulled. These sharks live on the ignorance and gullibility of those who are always who are always on the lookout for some means by which they can get rich without work. Pay no attention to such advertisements and you will save money.


How are you this morning? Fine and dandy, are you? Want to know how to remain in that condition? Then listen to the advice of a governor of an eastern state: “Take a good long walk every morning; eat wholesome food; refrain from alcoholic liquors; refrain from excessive use of tobacco, and particularly from inhaling the smoke; and, having attended in all these matters, pray hard, for nothing can keep you healthy and strong except the Grace of Almighty God.” Here is a recognition of the Supreme Director from a man who finds time in the midst of the cares of a great office in a great state, to remember the things that be of the spirit. He has learned that the restful spirit makes for bodily health and strength – an easy lesson to learn for which no particular cult is needed – just calm, common sense. Some of us learn it early, some late, but to all the fact some day comes home that the troubled, vexed spirit makes much of pain and ill for the outer man, doesn’t it?

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