Friday, July 6, 2012

Dominion Day

A few days later than I wanted to post, but here goes...

This July 1st was the 145th anniversary of the founding of Canada in 1867.  In 1982 the holiday, known as Dominion Day, had its name changed to Canada Day.  I decided that I would check the Huron Expositor, a local Huron County newspaper, to see what sorts of activities happened 120 years ago on Dominion Day, 1892, in Huron County.

A fair range of items were reported.  Two laws came into effect in Ontario on Dominion Day of 1892.  The first was a law that prohibited the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.  The second was the inheritance tax.  Some things never change.

News reports came from Bruce and Peterborough Counties.  In Peterborough County on July 1st, a boy was attacked and mauled by a bear, but was able to successfully escape with the help of a friend.  In Wiarton, Bruce County, the Reverend George Yeomans made the mistake of displaying an American flag over his residence.  The reeve of Wiarton sent three constables to remove the flag, and after reaching the ground, the crowd took the flag from the constables, tore it to ribbons, and then paraded the ribbons through the streets on poles.  The report goes on to state, "It would appear that the matter is not going to stop there.  Legal proceedings are threatened, and justly so, against those who destroyed the flag."  Hopefully the vandals were charged, and Rev. Yeomans learned his lesson.

There were of course many events.  In Hamilton the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipe and Drum Band took part in the festivities.

In Huron County proper the following happened.  In Howick there was a "Pic-Nic" gathering held "in the bush" that included dancing for the adults and teenagers, a playground for the children, and food and refreshment stands.  It was so successful that all concerned decided to do it again in 1893.  Bayfield reported many visitors including a large pic-nic from Zurich.

In Exeter, only a few miles from where most of the Halls family lived, there were many different events reported, mostly Exeter residents doing things out of town.  One individual, A.J. McTavish, took first prize in the 100 and 220 yard race, and second prize in the 110 yard hurdles.  The Exeter cricket team played in London, Ontario.  A local harness racer was injured on Dominion day when his sulky was upset during a race.  The Exeter running races on Dominion Day were not a financial success.

Many localities had football games on Dominion Day, though the Blyth match was apparently notable for the bad conduct and obscene language of the boys on the Blyth team.

Finally in Seaforth, where the Huron Expositor was (and still is) published, it sounds as if half the town left to go somewhere else, as nearly 550 people left town, mostly to go to Goderich.

Dominion Day 130 years ago sounds much like ours.  People having fun by going out to celebrate their country by getting together with family and friends.

You can read the July 8th, 1892 issue of the Huron Expositor in the Google News Archive.

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