Hamilton History - To Confederation

George Hamilton, a settler and local politician, established a town site in the northern portion Barton Township after the war in 1815. He developed a road grid, using the original Indian Trails, and named original streets for his children, including James, John, Catherine and Mary. Gore Park, at King and James Streets, became the public square for the new settlement and Gore District of Upper Canada and Wentworth County were created in 1816, and Mr. Hamilton's settlement was the seat for both.

Gore Park statue of Queen Victoria During the early 1800s, Hamilton's settlement in Barton Township steadily grew, and was aided by an 1827 channel linking Burlington Bay to Lake Ontario for marine transportation. In 1833, the settlement was incorporated as a village. As railway fever raced across North America in the 1830s, there were several false starts but the community got its first rail line in the mid 1850s connecting to Port Dover on Lake Erie. This line was built by Allan Napier MacNab, who completed Dundurn Castle as his stately home in 1835, and led Gore militia to crush insurgents in the Rebellion of 1837, for which he was knighted the following year.

Ferguson Station Hamilton received its city charter in 1846. That same year, Robert Smiley and a partner began publishing "The Hamilton Spectator and Journal of Commerce". The Great Western Railway had their maintenance and marshalling yards in Hamilton, and the city got its start in the steel industry re-rolling rails imported from Britain. Expanding from this relatively minor process, several small workshops and craftsmen banded together to begin smelting steel. They had easy access to limestone in the Niagara Escarpment, coal from Appalachia, iron ore mined from the Canadian Shield and export markets (both overseas and to the US) through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence. Quickly, Hamilton became an important iron and steel producing city. The city also grew as a manufacturer of tobacco, beer, textiles, and other consumer products.

The Irish immigrants created a "Corktown" around John and Hunter Streets. Many early patriotic Britons erected public monuments to honour John A. Macdonald, Queen Victoria and the United Empire Loyalists. These new immigrants encouraged the trade union movement among skilled craftsmen, which gave birth in 1872 the "Nine Hour Movement," which urged the government to limit working hours to nine per day.

Robert Smiley, the founding publisher of ''The Spectator'', sold the newspaper to William Southam in 1877 as the first link in the Southam newspaper chain.

While staying at his parents' Brantford home in 1874, Alexander Graham Bell conceived of the idea of the telephone and in 1876 made the first long distance call to Paris, Ontario. In 1878, Hamilton opened the first telephone exchange in the British Empire.

ED Smith Plant, today Stoney Creek fruit grower Ernest D'Israeli Smith was frustrated by the cost of having his fruit transported, and in 1882 founded a company to market directly to wholesalers and eliminate the middleman. E.D. Smith & Sons Ltd. is today still a top brand for manufactured preserves and jams.

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