P.O. Box 54
K7L 4V6, CANADA
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
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. Ginn
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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