Taken from the 11 Mar 1925 Port Hope Evening Guide
Correspondent Writes In Old Telegraph Regarding Harbour
An Interesting Letter Discovered Among Mass of Correspondence
Addressed to William Furby, Editor of Port Hope Telegraph
One of the most interesting articles discovered among the mass of material brought to light by The Guide during their investigation of the old residence on Brown street, reputed to be the original printing shop in Port Hope, was a letter addressed to the editor of the Telegraph dated September 16th, 1831.
The Telegraph was the progenitor of Port Hope's newspapers, and was originally published in 1831, by William Furby, in partnership with a Mr. Woodhouse. This paper was a small, five column affair, many times only printed on one side of the sheet. Advertising occupied 75 per cent of the space, the remainder being devoted to long reports of the doings of legislature and European occurrences. Very little local news was included, much of the material being editorial in nature.
Publication of this paper was begun by using an antique wooden press, purchased by the partners from Mr. John Vail. Soon after, however, an iron press (one of the first introduced into Canada) was installed, and with the increased facilities The Telegraph became the leading journal in Upper Canada at that time.
Signature Not on Letter
The communication which we discovered was extremely well preserved considering its great age. Written in black ink, now badly faded, on heavy, hand-made paper, it is still sufficiently legible to be read with ease.
Addressed to William Furby, editor, and captioned "To the Telegraph," the letter bears no signature with the exception of the name Alfred. The writer appears to have been exceptionally well educated, for that period, as the hand-writing is even and well balanced. The spelling is correct in every detail, and the wording, although old-fashioned, is precise and carefully constructed.
The letter is of great value, historically, as one of the first steps toward progress made in Port Hope through the newspapers. Concerning a subject of portent at the present time, the letter is of great interest to our readers. We reprint it below exactly.
To the Telegraph
If anyone can convince me that I am wrong in any point of sentiment or practise, I will alter it with all my heart. For it is truth I seek; and that can hurt nobody. It is only persisting in error or ignorance that can hurt us.
Mr. Editor,---I was much pleased with the remark contained in your last paper, relative to the improvements which have recently taken place in Port Hope. Such praiseworthy exertions as we have lately witnessed for the embellishment of this town, merit the commendations of every public spirited man, and it is truly pleasurable to observe the sudden transition from gloom to cheerfulness effected by the magic touchings of the painter's brush. The buildings now constructing shew the skill of the architect, and afford evidence of the taste and wealth of the proprietors.
Happy I should consider myself, were it in my power, to continue the pleasing picture, but it is too true that the marsh near the mouth of the creek is a deplorable nuisance and a stigma on the character of the County, for it is not Port Hope alone that would experience the beneficial effects of a convenient harbour; it would extend its advantages to the whole County. Port Hope is far from being an unhealthy place, but there can be no doubt that the draining of the marsh would render the air in its vicinity infinitely more pure, and it is the opinion of every man with whom I have ever conversed on the subject, that it might be converted into an excellent harbour at little expense, by the use of the dredging machine. It is of material consequence to the commerce and agriculture of the County Durham, or indeed of any County along the Lake, that it should have a safe harbour.
And where, I should like to know, can there be found a spot so eminently calculated for one, or affording so many natural advantages for the formation of an artificial harbour, as the aforesaid ugly-looking, foul-scented marsh? Any person walking along the sides of the marsh will readily admit that the smell arising therefrom is anything but odoriferous, and must be prejudicial to the health of the inhabitants for a considerable distance around. It is, therefore, in every respect much to be deplored that the parties who differ on matters connected with the management of affairs of the Harbour Company, should only be seeking for the mote in their adversary's eye, instead of endeavoring to remove the beam from their own. Those who are half blind are bad oculists. I am sure that any man of taste who views the beautiful hills to the west of Port Hope shining in contrast with the ill-favored marsh beneath, must regret that asperity of feeling which retards the prosperity of this town, and prevents it from giving "a long pull, and a strong pull, and a pulltogether."
I do not expect that these remarks will have much, if any, effect; it will, however, give one great pleasure to find that the respective parties have taken them in good part, and they are certainly not interested in any unfriendly point, my object being merely the welfare of the community. How much better it would be if some more talented person would devote himself to the task of endeavoring to persuade the conflicting parties to meet half-way and sacrifice their private feeling for the common good --- such conduct would indeed exact the esteem of the inhabitants of the County at large. If they would but earnestly set about reconciling their differences they would not find it such a difficult task as they now imagine. In conclusion I beg to observe that---
"The wise and prudent conquer difficulties
By daring to attempt them."
I remain, Mr. Editor, yours,
W. Arnot Craick wrote in his 1901 book, Port Hope Historical Sketches
Though Port Hope was constituted a port of entry as early as 1819, no effort was made to secure harbour or wharf accommodation until 1829. In that year was incorporated the Port Hope Harbour and Wharf Company. According to the terms of its Charter the Company was bound 'to construct a harbour which should be accessible to and fit, safe and commodious for the reception and shelter of the ordinary description of vessels navigating Lake Ontario and to complete the same by May 1st, 1844,' under penaly of loss of their Charter.
While the Company was in process of formation, John D. Smith, Esq. offered ten acres of land for harbour purposes, with the understanding that all the villagers should become shareholders, but unfortunately a difficulty arose at the first election of officers, which disfranchised a majority of the shareholders. Much ill-feeling was thereby aroused and the prospects of the Company were seriously impaired. Mr. Smith withdrew his offer and the property was subsequently purchased from him in 1835.
Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario