Reminiscences of the Early Settlement of Port Hope

and the Township of Hope

________________

No. XI.

 

It will be said we are writing about little things in our narrative of events transpiring in those early days; as some of them seem almost too insignificant to have any notice taken of them, were it not that they portray the contrast between the place as it was at the period we are writing about, with that which it has now attained; and therefore we shall continue in the same course. Indeed, apart from the great achievement our pioneers accomplished in subduing the howling wilderness, it is not to be expected that any great events would take place either in politics, philosophy, or deep and abstruse lore, at the commencement of the settlement of a new country, and the commercial business and mechanical arts must necessarily have been very limited.

Even in 1822 our old townsman Mr. Brogdin , was in need of the very requisite sand-paper to finish a piece of cabinet work he had on hand, when to his astonishment he found there was none to be obtained. It was an article that had never been in use. What was to be done? He got one of the leading merchants to send to Montreal for a supply, who, thinking the article would be unsaleable, sent for six sheets (the quantity asked for) which were received after a lengthened time. What would our cabinet makers think of such a stock? In the early part of the winter of 1829, the same merchant had disposed of his fall stock of tea, and had it replenished by two chests from Little York, which he deemed sufficient for his trade until navigation opened in May, when he would receive his supply from Montreal. How long would this stock last any one of our grocers now?

In 1835, Mr. T. W. Hastings, unobtrusively settled in Port Hope, and engaged as superintendent for Mr. Arniott, at the Durham House, corner of Walton and John Streets, where is now erected the Queen’s Hotel, kept by Mr. Brodie. Mr. Hastings is entitled to more than a passing note at our hands, as he certainly did more to enhance the standard of Hotels in this town than any person who preceded him, which his subsequent career fully manifests. He may truly be designated the father of the necessary places of accommodation for the wayfaring community.

In 1837, he opened the "Queen’s Arms" Hotel, belonging to the late Mr. Carlton Gifford, situated on that part of Messrs. O’Neill’s Block in which their Grocery store is.

The people were not prepared to receive Mr. H. in any other character than an ordinary tavern keeper; but it was soon observed that he was "the right man in the right place". The St George’s Society, organized about this time, engaged Mr. H. to get up their first public dinner in honour of the Tutelar Saint of old England. In this his initiative effort, it was obvious that our host was no common caterer on such occasions. All present were agreeably surprised to find, among many other delicacies they had not been accustomed to, since their arrival in this, their adopted home, fresh lobsters, for the first time were served up in Port Hope. Mr. H. was the first Hotel-keeper that conveyed passengers baggage to and from the wharf. The vehicle, propelled by two boys, used on these occasions, was that descriptive and renowned one known by all the English speaking community from infancy as "the carriage of the famous Jack Spratt" – the wheelbarrow – until his cab, in the shape of a one horse wagon was finished, when he conveyed the passengers and their baggage to and from his hotel on the arrival of the steamboats at the wharf. He was also the first who established a livery …….. in this town.

The reputation that Mr. H. had now, in a few years gained, was not merely of a local conventional character, but was so universal, that "Hastings’ Hotel" had become a household word, among the travelling community and commercial men, not only in Canada, but those of the principle cities and towns in the United States who had business transactions with this country, as being the wayfarers home, where he could rest as well as in the best regulated private residence. It was, in truth, more like a private, than a public house in this respect. No midnight orgies were allowed; at ten o’clock, as a general rule, the bar was closed and all was quiet. This great achievement was one of the means of gaining for him the well merited reward from an appreciating public. The example set by Mr. Hastings has borne fruit, by the steady progress of competition in Hotel accommodation for the increasing travelling public; and at the present day, Port Hope has as well regulated Hotels as any city or town in the Dominion.

The invention of the endless, or belt saw, that has recently been brought to perfection in France, is accredited to an inhabitant of that country; but we are inclined to the opinion that the invention of this great and important improvement of what cabinet makers designate the fret or gig saw, belongs to an inhabitant of this town.

In 1834 or 1835, the late Mr. Loveland, of Port Hope, chair maker, conceived the idea that if a belt were constructed of saws, and tightened on two drums, the one perpendicular to the other, it would far supercede the gig saw in getting out his chair seats, &c.- For this purpose, he had several buck saws welded together and fixed up as above in the shop, on Cavan street (burnt down last year) now the property of Mr. William Barrett, but at that time owned by Mr. Hawle, who erected it, and the dam, where that of Mr. Barrett’s now is, on the property leased by him of the late J. D. Smith.

Though Mr. Loveland, like many other inventors of important improvements in machinery, failed in perfecting his machine, he was sanguine the time was not far distant when his principle would be matured, which is now fully consummated, it being in general use in the cabinet and other factories in Canada.

We may be allowed the digression, by stating here that the Messrs. Jacques & Hay, of Toronto, Ontario, had the first of these machines in use on the continent of America, which they imported direct from Paris as soon as they were brought into use there, and before they were manufactured in Great Britain.

 

Notwithstanding Mr. Loveland’s partial failure in perfecting his design, the principle was exhibited, and there is no doubt that he conceived the idea before the principle was cogitated in France, and his experiment was the archetype, and he the first inventor of this invaluable innovation to the usefulness of the saw for the purposes to which it is adapted.

There are still some living witnesses in Port Hope that will bear testimony to what we have stated respecting the achievement of Mr. Loveland, of whom Mr. Brogdin is one, to whom we refer our readers of the town, or any others for a corroboration of our statement.

We claim another important improvement as belonging to Port Hope, which, like the preceding one, is of more than mere local character. In this instance it is a very judicious innovation in the architecture of what was formerly designated the Methodist Chapel, or Meeting house; but which has since, in Canada, received the more appropriate name of church. In 1836, through the energetic exertions of the late William Barrett, to whom its conception is attributable, the present edifice was completed, being the second place of worship belonging to this denomination in the County of Durham. At the suggestion of the late Alex Davidson, a steeple was appended. This, we believe, was the first edifice belonging to the Methodist society that had this very appropriate appendage attached.; therefore, we may safely assert that Port Hope set the example in giving the House of Worship of this branch of Christians the semblance of its sacred purpose, rather than the appearance of a secular character, which it too generally resembled. All the edifices belonging to this body which have been erected in Canada, subsequent to that in Port Hope, have been built on this plan.

One of the most important institutions, the Durham Agricultural Society, had now surmounted all the difficulties with which it had been surrounded, which were attributable to the aversion a great majority of the farmers manifested for a lengthened time to support it; but, the acquisitions to its membership of a number of farmers arriving from England, infused new energy into its almost despairing friends, which was also the means of our farmers, who had hitherto kept aloof, coming forward to join the society. Thus strengthened, it was progressing steadily in its usefulness, when, in 1850, the Darlington members, who had increased their numbers for the purpose, came down to Port Hope at the general annual meeting for the election of office bearers for the ensuing year, and took the members here by surprise by electing all the officers and Directors from their own section and established the institution at Bowmanville, where it remained until 1852, when the County of Durham was divided into two Ridings – East and West. The old Society was then dissolved, and each Riding formed a separate society, under the name of the East and West Durham Agricultural Societies, both of which, are in a flourishing condition. With the exception of the last two years that the Darlington members held full power, the old society had but two treasurers ………….Jacob Choate, and Mr William Sisson, who succeeded Mr. Choate on his resignation. When the East Durham Agricultural Society was organized, Mr Sisson was elected Treasurer, and still continues to hold the situation.

In 1841-42 Messrs Barratt & Butterfield manufactured the first buggy with steel springs in this town. The business heretofore was confined to double and single wagons and cutters of the plainest description were the only vehicles for pleasure.

 

The origin of the name "City of Bricks" awarded to Port Hope: its author, &c.

The slow progress Port Hope made in improvement for a number of years, and the even tenor of its sluggishness was noticed with surprise by all transient visitors and those foreigners whose business called them here; from whom the universal question was asked – why a place, endowed with such natural facilities for making a city, continued in this languid and monotonous state! The answer to this it is not necessary to mention here; but when the late J.D. Smith sold the grist mill and the water privlege with the land on Mill, Walton and Queen Streets to Messrs. Gilmour & Co, Port Hope took a leap from its hitherto inertness, and the brick building near the bridge of Messrs. Waddell, Gillot, Ritchie, Barrett and L…. rose like magic, the substantial …. Mill by the above Co., together with many other brick buildings, following in quick succession, so that the old inhabitants thought they were translated to some foreign without their own will or consciousness.

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