Fenian Raid Veterans' banquet
From the 15 November 1935 Evening Guide
Days of 1865 Are Recalled at Fenian Raid Veterans' Banquet
Twenty Years Ago To-Day, Port Hope Veterans Had Re—Union Banquet——Accidental Discharge of
Guns at Midnight Alarm Townsfolk.
Norman E. Mitchell, Guardian of the Files of the Evening Guide, came across several interesting facts today in scanning several back issue of The Guide. He compiled the data regarding the Fenian Raid and the men leaving Port Hope 70 years ago today and the banquet for the veterans which was held at the Queen's Hotel just twenty years ago today. The article will be eagerly read by old Port Hopers and former residents of the town. — Editor's Note.
On the 15th of November, 1865, seventy years ago to-day, the Port Hope Light Infantry Company, composed of 65 men and 3 commissioned officers, under command of the late Col. (then captain) Arthur T.H. Williams, was called out for active service, proceeding to Sandwich (opposite the city of Detroit) where they were quartered in barracks for five months, returning in April, 1866. The pay at that time was twenty-five cents a day.
On June 1st, 1866, this Company, with the Rifle Company, under command of Captain Fraser, also of Port Hope, were again called out for active service at Cobourg, Toronto and Kingston, where they remained for several weeks as an attack was expected in the east. The Queen's Own crossed the lake on the steamer, City of Toronto, on Friday, June 1st, starting at 6.30 a.m., for Port Dalhousie and entrained there for Port Colborne, on Lake Erie, which they reached at noon. The 13th Battalion of Hamilton also reached there that same day.
The battle was at Ridgeway, on Saturday morning, June 2nd. The invading foe numbered about 2,000, the defenders about 850. Of the invaders 19 were killed, several died from wounds after reaching the other side and 59 were taken prisoners and taken to Toronto jail. The defenders, Queen's Own and 13th of Hamilton, lost, killed and died of wounds, about 21. One of the wounded, who survived, was Alexander Muir, author of Canada's National Anthem, "The Maple Leaf."
Sunday evening, June 3rd, the churches were crowded, everybody being anxious to learn all they could from the front, arrangements being made to get all the latest news to the pastors for their flocks. Later the church bells of the city could be heard tolling, when word was received of the loss to Canada of her brave defenders.
The Port Hope Guard (or Night Patrol) for many weeks did active duty at home and were ready for the call to go to the front and defend our fair Canada.
This was one of the most dangerous and critical periods in the history of Canada. It was a period of great peril which might possibly have ended in the severance of Canada from British Dominion. Happily this was prevented by the quick response that was made by the resolute Canadian volunteers.
Port Hope Reunion
The veterans of Port Hope district arranged to have a reunion in Port Hope on November 15th, 1915, twenty years ago today. The banquet was given in the Queen's Hotel by the Veterans of 1865 and 1866. The men who went out in defence of their country gathered around the banquet table and told many interesting stories of those bygone days. Mine Host Bennett provided a bill of fare that would satisfy the most fastidious. Lieut. Col. Ward acted as Chairman and after the Toast to the King had been honoured by all, the toast to the Empire was proposed and was responded to by Rev. Elliott and Col. Benson.
Judge Ward told the Veterans that they were the pioneers of the Militia of Canada.
Captain Snider in replying to the toast "To Our Country," said he felt like the poet when he wrote
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my sweet, my native land;
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign land."
Judge Ward read the address that was presented by the town to the veterans on their return from Sandwich. The Port Hope company remained in Sandwich for six months under Col. Williams. Mr. Leach told the purpose of the banquet. H. Skitch told of his experiences in 1863, 1865 and 1866 as bugler of the Port Hope Company at the age of 14 years.
Sergt. Laurie told of his company being called to Toronto. This company had a band. Going up Yonge street, the band played "Protestant Boys," but the Mayor of the city told the officer commanding the company to change the tune, as there were many Catholics going to fight the Fenians. The band did change the tune and played "Boyne Water." The mayor came again to the Captain and told him that was as unsuitable as the other one. Then the officer said that the band knew but two tunes, and he could have which he liked.
"Chris" Hagerman said that he and Sam McBride did patrol duty from Walton street bridge to the harbour. One night they suddenly discharged their guns at midnight and scared the people in the town who thought the Fenians had arrived. Mr. Hagerman's speech was short on account of an over-indulgence of turkey.
The following veterans were present
A.B. McGuire, Stratford; W. Rundle, Toronto; R. Bell, Lindsay; S.J. Williams, Hampton; H. Rogers, Enniskillen; A. Sainsbury, J.R. Smith, J. Britton, A. McMahon, H. Skitch, G. Martin, T. Wakely, J. Leach, J. Laurie, R. Hamilton, Port Hope.
The absentees included His Honor Judge Benson, J. Brockenshire, W. Craig, T. Halliday, J. Wilson, J. Palmer, J. Vint, G. Retallick, S. Spry and W. Greenaway.
The guests were Col. Ward, Col. Farrell, Col. Benson, Lieut. Roper, Capt. Snider, Capt. Philip, Capt. Reeve, J.A. Elliott, R. Giles.
Selections on H.W. Mitchell's Victrola added much to the pleasure of the evening.
Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario