In Chicago a few benevolent men are supporting a home called the Parting of the Ways. Its expenses, which are extremely modest, are met by the annual contributions of a small number of firms and individuals. The object of this benevolent home is to get jobs for men who are down and out through indulgence in strong drink. A majority of its beneficiaries are graduates from the prisons and might be classed as the bums and outcasts of society. They are given a chance to reform, for it is the charitable opinion of the founders that no man is so far gone that a helping hand might not lift him out. One would think that in such a list the probabilities are that but few are worth saving. If a man evidences a desire to reform, he is given a chance. To the credit of even fallen humanity in the course of the past two years, in which the home kept track of them, at least half the candidates have made good. Should the unfortunate fall by the wayside, he is given another chance, and even the forgiving spirit is exercised by the board of directors and the manager even to seventy times seven. It is worth all the effort if now and then only one is saved. Its constituency range from the college professor and graduate down through all classes, even to the common day laborer., but many years ago, one of the Parting of the Ways converts was United States minister to one of the South American republics. He had served as secretary to the United States legation to Berlin, and was a university graduate who had earned the right by scholarship to write at the end of his name, M. A. and M. D. . From his high estate as a representative of his government in foreign countries through the use of strong drink, he had got so low as to be a prisoner in the Chicago bridewell. He was admitted to the home and for some months hopes were entertained of his reformation. He served as an official in the home to help pay his expenses, but one unfortunate day, he fell by the wayside. What hope for his escape from the booze when nearly every other door in the business part of the city leads to a saloon? He was not the only unfortunate to fall, but the managers again threw him the lifeline, and at the latest report, he had again taken his seat on the water wagon. A railway telegrapher was put on the blacklist for tossing up with the company for the odd change in the daily receipts at his office. The company proved it on him, and he served time. After his release, he was down and out. He sought refuge in the home, where he was cured of the drink habit. Notwithstanding that his name was on the blacklist of every railroad office in the country, the men connected with the home interested themselves in his behalf, got him a job on a western road, and today he is a divisionsuperintendent on one of the railwys entering Chicago. Booze ade him dishonest in the first place, and his craving for drink so overpowered him that he could not tell the difference between the company’s money and his own. One who is now a prosperous merchant in Chicago travelled the booze route till he had got so low in the sacle that his family had to leave him. He became literally down and out, and the bridewell was his home for many a term. Some friends interested themselves in him, and one day when he was released from the bridewell, after having served one of his periodic terms, they obtained admission for him to the Parting of the Ways home. It was a long fight with old John Barleycorn, but the man entered upon it determined to win out. Now he has a prosperous business of his own, he made a home for his reunited family, and he makes frequent visits to the home, taking his family with him in his own motor car, and he always makes a speech of encouragement to his old comrades in the down and out class, and in pointing to his own case asks if it is not worth staying on the eater wagon for. The men who have reformed through the influence of the home are among the most liberal contributors to its support.
Don’t understand from what was have written that any large percentage of the inmates of the home are college graduates or business men who have gone down through strong drink. The majority of them are professional bums who are apparently beyond any hope of saving. The superintendent of the home keeps track of the inmates for two years after leaving the home, and effort is made to keep them on the jobs. Somewhere we are told that Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do, and if you want to convert a man from his habits, keep him busy. A discharged prisoner from the bridewell is always welcome so long as he gives evidence of a desire to do better, but the manager is wise enough to know that such people are not saints and are not proof against the allurements of the warm barroom and the free lunch counter. They are never turned from the doors of the home hungry, and if their clothing is threadbare, they are furnished with warm suits to protect them from the winter’s blasts. The bums keep out of the city in the summer months, but when the chilly days of October come, they hike to the city and the warmth of the police station at night. The generous men and women of Chicago keep the superintendent of the home well-supplied with warm second hand clothing, so that there is but little need to call for help. No man is kept in the home any longer than is necessary to get him a job. When a man is sent from the home to work, his employer is furnished with a full history of his record. The superintendent of the bridewell says that a fully 75 per cent of the graduates from the Parting of the Ways home make good under these circumstances. So long as they stay on the water wagon, they are safe and there is hope for their reformation. It is a question that has bothered the benevolently inclined, what is the best thing to do? Nearly every day unfortunate women are raided and hailed before the magistrate because of their impure lives. They are fined and turned loose to replenish their depleted pocket-books, to be arrested over and over again. The fine does not reform them nor does a term in prison have any effect. It used to be told that away back in the ‘60s, whenever the city exchequer got so low that there was no money to pay the policemen, a raid would be made on the houses of prostitution, and kind-hearted olf Captain Armstrong would make the fine as light as possible and tell the unfortunates inmates to go and sin no more. There is a suggestion in the Parting of the Ways home of Chicago for Hamilton temperance workers to consider.
It is always darkest before the dawn, and let us hope that with sunrise will come the brighter day for Canada, and for own city of Hamilton. Already the darkness begins to disappear, and the apparent hard times will soon be forgotten when once the wheels of industry begin again to revolve. The biggest factory in Hamilton, the International Harvester, that has been closed for many weeks, has again opened its doors to five hundred of its former employees and the prospects are that in the near future, the doors will open a little wider to admit other hundreds. The managers are very generously providing on the start to give employment to men of families, and when that class are all back in their old places, then the single men are to have a look in.
The Westinghouse company has been doing the best it possibly could do for its workmen, and on the principle that half a loaf was better than no bread , it has kept the workers going on shorter hours. But things are getting better, and an hour or more is added to the day’s work. The same condition exists in other large factories, and the hope is that the winter will not be so dreary to the workingmen and their families as was feared a few weeks ago.
The cotton mills and the knitting mills are running nearly full time, and thousands of girls depending on those mills feel quite cheerful at the prospect that the government demand for the goods made by them will increase. The army must be supplied with clothing of all kinds, and Canada will get its share of the orders from the government. The wholesale clothing manufacturers are working overtime to fill their orders, especially for military clothing, and the thousands of men and women at work in these factories don’t know the meaning of the words, Hard Times. The shoe factories of Canada are rushed with work to supply army contracts. Marching men wear out a deal of leather.
The board of control and the city council are doing everything possible to provide work for the unemployed laborers; and the danger is that outsiders will take advantage and slip in between the actual residents of the city. Ample provision is being made so that there will not be a man, woman or child go hungry during the winter. The benevolence of the people of Hamilton is proverbial. The hoboes and summer tourists have already learned of the provision being made, and they are marching on to capture the good things provided for the deserving ones.
Those whom the gods would destroy are the first to put their foot in it. Germany was prosperous in its manufacturing industries and its chemical researches, but all has been knocked into a cocked hat, and other nations will now benefit by Germany’s loss by way of business. It is now Canada’s opportunity to come to the front., and instead of its moneyed men investing their capital in Mexican and South American schemes, if they will put it in machinery to cover what Germany used to make, this may yet become a great manufacturing country. The other day the writer asked one of the proprietors of a Hamilton knitting mill why Canadian knitters did not enter into competition for Germany’s hosiery trade, and his reply was that they would have to change the make of their machinery at a big expense, and then when the war was over, Germany would again recapture the market. Certainly that is poor policy for a country like Canada that is now making its way to becoming an industrial center. Strike while the iron is hot.
We repeat again that it is always darkest before the dawn, and while the sun is now beginning to peep from behind the cloud, let those who are longing for the promised land and the whirring of machinery take courage that from indications the time is not far distant when the welcome sound of the seven o’clock whistle in the morning will be the summons to a full day’s work and a fat pay envelop at the end of the week. It’s a long, long way to Tipperary, but Hamilton will get there.
A friend handed us a copy of an old Canadian directory of 1851-52, in which is a complete list of every village, town and city of the old-time designated Upper and Lower Canada. A brief description of Hamilton is given when it is just emerging from the dog kennel days, and when Wellington street was the limit on the east and the Bowery on the west. Here it is : “The city of Hamilton is situated on Burlington bay, at the head of Lake Ontario, and of the river St. Lwrence and Lake Ontario navigation, in the township of Barton, county of Wentworth, C. W. Hamilton is the county town nof the united counties of Wentworth and Halton, and is also an electoral district, returning one member to the provincial parliament. The city has been greatly improved within the past few years, and is most favorably situated for trade, being in the center of one of the finest agricultural districts in Canada; and when the Great Western railway, now in process of construction, is completed, it must necessarily conduce to the still greater prosperity of the city. Hamilton is distant from Kingston 226 miles – usual steamboat fare 7s 6d. London, 84 miles – usual stage fare 17s 6d. Population by the census of 1850, 10, 312.” That was before the days of railroads, the only road in Canada being from LaPrairie (opposite Montreal) to St. John, a distance of about fourteen miles.
In those days, Hamilton was governed by a mayor and two aldermen from each of the five wards – John R. Holden was then mayor. It may be interesting to know the number and kind of business houses in the city in 1851-52. To begin with there were ten academies and private schools. The first public school, the Central, was not opened until 1853. There were four architect firms, three building societies, 7 auctioneers, 7 bakers and 2 confectioners, 8 book and stationary stores, 19 boot and shoemakers, 1 brewery and 1 distillery, 14 cabinet and upholstery establishments, 21 carpenters and builders, 6 drug stores, 5 carriage factories, 10 commission merchants, 4 dentists, 10 wholesale dry goods firms and 19 retail dry goods firms, 7 foundries and machine shops, 32 wholesale and retail grocers, nearly all of whom made liquor a specialty, 10 hardware stores, 4 hat and fur stores, 10 jewelry stores,2 tanneries and 5 dealers in leather, 16 merchant tailors and clothiers, 6 milliners and dressmakers, 5 newspaper and job offices and 2 independent job offices, 15 doctors, and only one of the number a homeopath, 10 tinsmirths, 2 cigar factories, 13 painters, 2 organ builders, and 2 daguerreotype artists.
Buchanan, Harris and company and C. J. Ferrie and company did business under the title of general merchants, and ranked in the list of the largest wholesale houses in Canada. Albert Bigelow and James Cummings were the principal wholesale dealers in china, glassware etc.
It took 46 dealers in books to quench the thirst of the ten thousand Hamiltonians of those days, besides the 32 grocers who made liquor a leading part of their trade.
Fourteen ministers, representing five denominations, looked after the spiritual wants of Hamilton, and the churches were generally well filled on the Sabbath. The whole family went to church in those primitive days, father, mothers and all the children, even to the baby.
To cleanse and light the ancient Hamiltonians, there was but one soap and candle factory, of which John Judd was the owner. There may have been a few smaller industries, but nothing of great value as a work producer. There was not much demand for labor and very small pay for what was done. Hamilton of today has over 100,000 population and over 400 industrial establishments to employ labor. For more than fifteen years, there has been work and good wages for everybody till within the last few months. The population has doubled within that time and the area of the town has extended east and west for miles in both directions.
Sixty-three years ago, Canada depended upon steamboats and stage coaches as the modes of travel. Hamilton had its fleet of steamboats arriving at the docks morning and evening, and its lines of stage coaches running in every direction. Even Brantford was connected by water with Buffalo, for twice a week the steamer Experiment made the round trip to Dunnville and Cayuga, and then the steamer Queen took the passengers on to Caledonia and Brantford and other villages on the Grand river. The fare from Buffalo to Brantford was $3 for the cabin and $2 on the deck. Dundas, then a population of 2,500, had two breweries, and a general assortment of business houses, some of them quite extensive. Jones and Harris were the publishers of the Warder, the only newspaper in town.