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Kingston Historical Society
Kingston Historical Society
P.O. Box 54
Kingston, Ontario



Write On Kingston!

1886 Daily Whig - The City As It Was

In December 1886, The Daily Whig produced a two section, eight page Special Feature. It was well-illustrated with wood engravings and the price was only five cents.

The paper was largely the work of a Carl Fechter. Carl Fechter, however, was a “nom de plume”. The author’s true identity is a mystery.

In a paper presented to the Kingston Historical Society in March 1963 (Historic Kingston Vol. 12), H.P. Gundy made compelling arguments that Carl Fechter was, in fact, Kingston poet Charles Sangster.

Prior to Carl Fechter’s arrival on the scene in October 1886, Gundy notes that “Turning over the files of the Daily Whig for 1886 one is struck by the preponderance of British and American over native Canadian news. The minds of the readers were directed away from national and parochial affairs to Home Rule for Ireland, the Bulgarian crisis, the scandalous behavior of Lord Lonsdale and his glamorous stage mistress, the American carpet baggers, the extravagance of Jay Gould , and the 9th wonder of the world the Statute of Liberty, officially unveiled on October 28th.” Fechter changed this with the appearance of his column in October 1886. But just as quickly he disappeared after the “Special Number” two months later.

Sangster was born at Point Frederick in 1822 where his father was employed as a shipwright in the navy yard. He grew up and worked in Kingston before moving briefly to Amherstburg. He returned to Kingston where he served as sub-editor of The Whig and later joined the Daily News. In 1868 he obtained a civil service appointment in the Post Office in Ottawa where he stayed until his retirement, at which time he returned to Kingston. Sangster’s intimate knowledge of Kingston fits well with the stories that Fechter produced in The Whig from October to December 1886.

This month we will give you a small taste of the Fechter features with an edited version of his description of Princess Street. In the original, Fechter takes the reader the length of the developed section of Princess Street and provides insights and gossip behind the businesses and residents of the street as he remembered them. At each location he identifies the current establishment (1886) and discusses the history of the site since the 1840s.

The challenge for today’s readers is to place the descriptions that Fechter makes into today’s streetscape.

Peter C. Gin

A Change In Years: A Glowing Description of the City as it was in '46-50

Landmarks Gradually Disappearing - The Remarkable Changes Which Have Occurred Within a Couple of Generations - Pioneering Experience in the Past.

It occurred to me that, as a means to an end - in order to show most clearly the great changes that have occurred in the business community - some description should be given of the principal streets and those trading upon them as late as 1846-50. I knew these changes are numerous, but I had no idea that they were so significant. Let the reader, mentally, walk with me up Princess street, beginning at Ontario, and note (1) the stands of present business men and firms, and (2) those who occupied them at the remote dates heretofore stated:

Stevenson’s piano factory -- Formerly Hale’s auction rooms, founded by Edward Hale, who while parliament sat here, built cottages on King street west nearly opposite to Morton’s distillery.

Mrs. Glassup’s residence -- The savings bank of the late Thomas Glassup, and the post office prior to its removal to the city buildings, north end, in the present police court.

Quigley’s flour store -- The grocery of Hendry & Blacklock, the senior member of the firm being the father of the Hendry brothers, now numbered among the most successful of our wholesale and retail merchants.

G.M Weber & Co’s piano factory -- The headquarters for the midland district of the old Commercial bank. Its manager was F. A. Harper, who lived in the house (Lady of the Lake) now used by the nuns for school purposes. Mr. Harper was, after leaving the bank, appointed the commissioner of the Trust & Loan company. His successor as the bank manager was Charles S. Ross, who was head of the institution for some time before and after it was removed to the handsome building erected for it on the corner of King and William streets.

Patterson’s grocery store (corner of King & Princess streets) -- The former dry good store of W.J. Godieve. a leading light in the masonic order.

McNaughton & Co’s -- The large dry goods of Bryce, Ferguson & Co. Mr. Ferguson is now a resident of Napanee, and his sons are prospering in the hardware trade.

Carnovsky’s cigar store and over it -- The law offices of Sir Alexander Campbell, afterwards of Campbell & Mowat.

R. Newlands’ cigar store -- The barber shop and fancy goods shop of Bowne, and Englishman Jackson & Co’s. bottling establishment -- The drug store of J.W. Brent, whose brother formerly preached on Barriefield, and is now located at Newcastle. Mr. Brent sold out to Dr. Baker, and he, in turn, disposed of the business to Dr. Skinner.

Muckleston & Co. -- The business carried on so ably by John Watkins, of whose firm the late Samuel Muckleston was a member.

Shanahan’s restaurant -- E. & A. Chown’s first business stand. They served their apprenticeship with James Powell, father of the photographer of the same name.

Orange hall -- Mr. Fair’s boot and shoe store, and the barber shop of Mr. W. Taylor, who long afterwards, removed next to the Carson estate, and died there.

Galloway’s fur store -- Dickinson removed here about 1850. In his old stand Dunlop & Gibson opened a grocery store. Mr. Gibson is still to the front a few doors west of St. Andrew’s church; and near where he now is was E. R. Welch’s marble works, where for a number of years he did business and was the most noted chiseller (of marble) in Kingston. He is the senior partner of E.R. Welch & Son. After Dickinson died Arthur Chichester, a relative of the Platt family, of Hay Bay, kept a dry good store in Galloway’s. His sister, I think, taught a private school in the city. He did not remain in business long on account of ill health.

W. Middleton’s book store -- Here A. & D. (Col.) Shaw did a dry goods’ trade. They concentrated their business afterwards at the Ontario hall (in the market building). At Middleton’s also Dr. D. C. Hickey commenced business in the dry goods line in company with a son of Mr. Sellars the Queen street veteran. The firm was known as Sellars, Hickey & Co. It did not long remain in business. Sellars went to Chicago and the doctor studied for his profession.

James Gowdy’s -- Here in the old Macauley building, Dr. H. Yates had his surgery, and here he attended to the wants of his patients prior to his leaving for the West Indies for the benefit of his health.

M.W. Drennan’s (old building) -- A military hospital for the line regiment. When abandoned by the military the wing, facing the street, was used as the Mechanics’ Institute and Sons of Temperance hall; in the wing in the rear the public and Mr. O’Donnell’s schools was conducted.

Near the corner, on the site of Waddell’s saddlery and McCormack’s liquor store -- The harness shop of C. Wilkinson and the confectionery of John Elmer.

F. Shaw’s store -- the old Glasgow warehouse (same building) -- Macnee & Waddell dry-goods store, and close to it (but not started till later) the store of J. Hickey.

Dunbar’s corner (new) -- The salon of T, Willing and the tinsmith shop of Mrs. Ross (afterwards Rowe, the name of her second husband), a story and a half high, with gables to the street. Willing built the stores on Wellington street occupied by Mr. Johnston, jeweller, and Vandewater, piano and insurance agent, and moved to one of them himself. He was succeeded on the corner by W. Smith (father of the watchmakers) and next door R.M. Horsey, who had only commenced business.

Walsh & Stacey’s -- The business stand and office of Daniel Rourk, sr. owner of the asheries.

E. Moore -- Glen, watchmaker and jeweller.

R. Gardiner -- The dry-goods store of Le Estage & Crawford, whose successor was W. McCracken.

Mrs. Ferns -- The same store and the same occupant.

J. Richmond & Co;s -- R. McCormack’s grocery and a good one. McCormack was for a time captain of No. 1 company fire department and chief engineer. John Ferris, for many years one of the city auditors, and George Anderson, a forwarder, were clerks in Mr. McCormack’s employment.

J.A. Rockwell’s -- James Dickenson, tinsmith and dealer in stoves before he removed to Galloway’s stand.

A.P. Chown’s -- Holland & Jenkins, hardware merchants. Jenkins was a son-in-law of ex-mayor Counter, and retired from business to accept a lucrative position in the civil service. He was superannuated some years ago.

Miss Doran’s -- the store of Haines, Foster & Co., dry goods. Haines was father of the senior member of Haines & Lockett. T.J. Claxton, the well known merchant of Montreal, was a clerk in this establishment.

A. Ross’ (old building) -- The dry goods house of E.H.Hardy, who retired from business wealthy and built the house on Earl street, now the residence of Mrs. George Robertson. Mr. Ross succeeded Mr. Hardy in business, but before that he had opened as a merchant, and in a store on the site of that occupied by Mr. W.J. Byrnes, and in the building now occupied by Mr. Dunbar the late S. T. Drennan had a dry goods store.

Spence & Crumley’s (old building) -- The hardware store of John Fraser. F.J. George, Mr. Fraser’s partner in after years, kept a dry goods store on the corner of the old Lambton hotel and sold out to James Davis, the most energetic merchant in his day.

Macnee & Minnes’ -- The Lambton house, afterwards the Hastings house. While the old building stood Mr. Gillespie (afterwards a custom house officer) kept a dry goods store at Rigney’s, and between it and the corner was the store of Chisachi, the hatter. The upstairs of it was occupied (when given up to commercial purposes) by Messrs. Morton & Keddle, contractors for convict labour and manufacturers of cabinet ware. The late S. T. Drennan occupied the same quarters subsequently, while in the same business, after retiring from the dry goods business, but at the time of which I particularly speak he was a clerk in the Glasgow warehouse. In 1850-1, in the assembly room of the Lambton House, the Crerar brothers taught a dancing school and had assembly parties. Among those who used to trip it there, on the light fantastic toe, I remember Gus Thibadeau (now Dr.), Alexander Gunn (our present member), little and long Willie Gunn, James and G.W. Creighton, Jas. Macpherson, Samuel Chambers, Daniel (Col.) Callaghan, David Kemp (now of Toronto), Samuel Phippen, R.M. Horsey, Caniff McIlravy, J,J, Whitehead, and others.

Seven cent store (raised a story) -- Abraham Fisher’s grocery and liquor store.

A. Sutherland’s -- In little low wooden buildings, the plane factory of E. Crane and the inn of Fran Weyms, also the surveyor whose mistakes involved Archdeacon Stuart in so much trouble.

V. Oakley’s -- New block, built by George Hardy, the successful watch maker, whose daughter married Rev. Prof. Fenwick, and with whom Mr. J. Johnston, a leading jeweller for many years, served his apprenticeship.

City Hotel (new also) -- First kept by Mr. T. Bamford, who removed to it from the Anglo American corner. He was succeeded by Mr. Cornelius Stinson and Mr. R. Irwin.

Mr. Tweedell’s -- The site of his father’s store.

D.F. Armstrong’s -- The store of Samuel Morley, brother-in-law of ex-mayor Counter and hardware merchant. Building burned and replaced.

N.K. Scott’s -- Where the office and wholesale department is R. Morrell had a boot and shoe store. Afterwards he removed to Sydenham and James Hope took his business, engaging as clerks W. Kirk and E. Rose, both of whom developed into successful merchants. The corner store, Scott’s retail grocery, was occupied as it is now, by John Mowat, father of the attorney general and Ref. Prof. Mowat.

G. S. Hobart’s -- Formerly the Chequered House, occupied by Murphy & McCuniffe, grocers, and subsequently burned. McCuniffe was a most active and useful citizen. He entered the firemen, and on the retirement of Sir Henry Smith became head of the department.

Between the Chequered House and Powell’s -- A number of one and a half story houses, with gables to the street. In one of these Thomas Cridiford, confectioner, carried on business. He had four daughters, and they became the wives respectively of W. Howe, Ottawa, (with whom he lives); T.J. Claxton, dry goods merchant, Montreal; George Offord, and W.B. Dalton, Kingston. He had one son, located in the east.

J.W. Powell’s -- The stand of his father, engaged in the hardware and tinsmithing, succeeded by W. Rudston.

Mrs. P. O’Reilly’s -- H. Haldenby kept a tailor shop, patronized by the swells of the town. A daughter of his is now a student at the women’s medical college and promises to win distinction.

Skinner &Co’s. -- Frame building in 1830, and used by Mrs. Hurrill for the manufacture of ginger beer. Mrs. Hurrill subsequently married a Mr. Mart, and John Sangster (brother of C. Sangster, the poet), took the store and set up business as a tinsmith.

W.R. Routley’s -- Replacing a small brick building erected by John Dawson, and tenanted by R. Walker, a saddler.

F.R. Rees -- The building before the big fire of 1877 was erected by C. Heath, and (1) was a drug store and by him; (2) as a hardware store was used by Briggs and Lasher; and (3) as a hardward and tinware store by W. Rudston, who succeeded Powell and purchased his stock.

W.J. Wilson’s -- The second building erected by C. Heath and occupied by himself. In this building was the office of Dr. Sheriff, the botanical doctor, a daughter of whom married W.G. Ford, eldest son of ex-mayor Ford.

T. Robertson and R.M. Horsey -- The frame building in which Mr. Douglass, dry goods merchant, did business for many years. His daughter, in the white frame dwelling -- which the third and fourth generations must remember, since it is less than ten years since it disappeared -- taught school and with wonderful success. Miss Douglass was a sister of Mrs. W. Gunn, Mrs. George and Mrs. Hawley, mother of G.H. Hawley, the local member for Lennox.

A. Strachan’s corner -- The site of the old Carroll building, in which E.&A. Chown had a branch of their store for a long time. Later on the late William Martin, a man of method and singular business uprightness, had a general store, making specialties of groceries and leather.

Hendry & Thompson’s -- Replacing the store erected by G. Truax, and tenanted by A. Thibodeau, now retired, but in his day a grocer, a Grand Trunk station master and a collector of inland revenue. Thibodeau was followed by R.U. Powell, dealer in stoves and tinware, an uncle of J. Powell photographer, and by R. Oakley, grocer and crockery merchant.

The ground now covered by the Windsor Hotel block was occupied by several less imposing structures. Next to Hendry & Thompson’s was a stone hotel, kept in turn by Benj. Alcott, Heatherington, H. Pultz, Saunders and Geraldi. Then came the small frame building where John Rutter had his hat store, and finally the premises afterwards burned, occupied by Mr. McCrae, father of Thomas McCrae, the carriage maker. After the fire Thibodeau put a fine brick building in place of the last named house.

J.M. Sherlock’s -- Marriatt, of the Dragoon Guards, here commenced a blacksmith shop. enlarging the building subsequently and going into the manufacture of axes. Edward Wilmot followed Marriatt. He went into the Council, became a member of the Chewitt & Co. firm of iron founders, and contracted for convict labour.

R. Montgomery’s -- Hobbs founded a blacksmith shop. He is now doing business at Sydenham.

The Greenwood and Chadwick marble works -- The location of the “Pig and Whistle,” or hole in the wall saloon, kept by William Lawrence. This was a celebrated rendez-vous for the members of a free and easy club. No place of the kind in the city was more popularly regarded.

H. Brame’s -- The present building was put up by P. Vanalstine, who had a dry goods stock. After him came Holgate, cabinet maker, with whom H. Brame served his apprenticeship, and to whom he sold his business.

W. Pipe’s soda bottling factory -- The same in which Samual Sleith did business for many years. Adjacent to it was the Ritter house, build by a retired sergeant of the 60th rifles, and tenanted at different times by Dr. George and Prof. Smith of the faculty of Queen’s college. The residence of W. Pipe was built by the widow of H.C. Thompson, of the Hearld. She afterwards married the Rev. Dr. Townley, and the residence was known as the Townley house ever since. Samuel Morley lived in it for awhile.

On the corner of Clergy and Princess streets the late Robert Carson built one of the first houses, and it stands until this day.

Laidlaw & Son -- Branch of E. & A. Chown’s tin shop; afterwards the saddlery of Mr. Wilton, father of H. Wilton, engaged in the same business.

It is now necessary to retrace one’s steps and take a view of the south side of Princess from Bagot street upwards.

T. Mills & Co.’s -- The present building was erected by Sir Henry Smith and first occupied as a dry goods store by the Boyds, brothers of Mrs. M. Flanagan, the wife of our genial city clerk. Then came, in succession, the Canton T House, conducted by McKay & Wade; and the grocery of Paul & Laidlaw.

A.J. Lee’s barber shop -- Mr. Bradley had his hat shop here.

John McKay’s leather store -- Hither E. and A. Chown removed in 1847, and added hardware to their business. The “Eagle” foundry was then the property of John Owens. He sold to Hamilton & Duncan, and the firm changed to Hamilton & Chown and then to E. Chown, he becoming a stove maker exclusively and A. Chown a hardware merchant. A. Chown’s store on Bagot street, was the business office of Christie Miller’s foundry, and E. Chown’s store was that of John Horsey, one of the earliest and best tinsmiths in the city.

Miss Hickey’s -- The remodelled premise in which one Penny had his leather store. In 1850 he went to Australia.

R. Spencer’s tailor shop -- The substitutes for Chester Hatch’s chair manufactory. Mr. Hatch began business in or about 1817 and some of the chairs made by him at that remote date are still to be found about the city. The front of the building was peculiarly arched and the back of it rose to a height of six stories.

W.J. Dick’s shoe shop -- The same place in which John McNeil did a grocery and crockery business. One of Mr. McNeil’s daughters was married to Mr. Dick and another to Mr. Stinson.

W. J. Lindsay’s shoe store -- Formerly Malden’s saloon. Here also John Horsey afterwards moved from Bagot street, succeeded by his son, R. M. Horsey. also Geo. Chown with whom John McKelvey finished his trade and formed a partnership.

The Pantry -- In1850 a rough-cast building, tenanted by Benjamin Meadows, chan[d]ler.

Murray & Taylor’s -- A small frame house to which John Elmer, confectioner, removed from the foot of Princess street.

Ferguson’s block -- The site of the stone store in which McArthur and H. Armstrong had grocery and hardware stores respectively.

Haines & Lockett’s shoe store -- In 1847 a frame building in which John Sangster & Co. began business. Fisher’s drug store -- Blacklock, after dissolving partnership with Hendry, moved an old building here and went into the grocery business extensively.

Montreal street -- Partly covering the land wanted for a highway, and partly on the land on which Shore Loynes’ store stands, was the Frontenac hotel, kept by H. Martin, and uncle of W.C. Martin.

Opera House block -- The building occupied by Joseph Bruce, grocer, until it passed into the hands of the artillery for a mess room. This was after they were required to vacate the house of providence.

Dr. Sparks’ residence -- Erected by the late Edward Horsey, architect and public building contractor, but occupied first by Sir Henry Smith. This was shortly after his marriage.

James Reid’s cabinet shop -- Known as Edinburg castle. Where the wooden buildings were on fire a day or two ago, next to Mrs. Brannigan, there was a blacksmith shop, kept by R. Forsythe.

Mrs. Stratford’s store -- On the site of the old T. Overend residence, surrounded by a very conspicuous verandah.

K. R. Welch’s marble yard -- John Greenwood tailor, had a shop here, and also Smith, father of the Smith Bros., watchmakers, and extending from Princess street to Brock street, ran a row of cottages, the property of E. Horsey. On the Brock street corner Mr. McManus kept a saloon, and “kept the best liquor under the sun.” --CARL FECHTER
Kingston Historical Society, est. 1893