Sunday, January 27, 2013

Asylum Walk (27)

Stages of settlement:

Hamilton is built on the Niagara escarpment and on the narrow plain, 2.5 to 5 kilometers wide, running between the base of the escarpment and Lake Ontario. The inner and outer bays of the harbour are protected by two huge bars, Burlington Heights and Hamilton Bar, both almost 6 kilometers long but of very different heights (Burlington Heights being formed first is much higher), deposited by the movements of wind and current over the earlier and much larger Lake Iroquois.

c. 1780: The first European settlers, United Empire Loyalists, moved into the area west of the Niagara River previously inhabited by the Mississauga Indians.

1789: The mountain site of the future asylum was settled by Michael Hess, a farmer from Pennsylvania.

20 July 1814: Eight men convicted of treason in the 1812 war were hanged on Burlington Heights. In fulfillment of the sentence passed, they were cut down while still living, disembowelled and their bowels burned before their eyes, before being beheaded and quartered.

1816: George Hamilton, formerly of Queenston, founded the city currently bearing his name.

1836: Barton Lodge, the estate home for the Whyte-Gourlay families from which the asylum grounds would later be purchased, was constructed for Lieutenant-Colonel James Matthew Whyte. It was a square-towered Italianate stucco villa, with casement windows, fine china and rare paintings among its many attractions. Many rumours allege connections between the inhabitants of Barton Lodge and the British Royal Family. Aristocratic luminaries—Edward Prince of Wales; Princess Louise, Victoria’s daughter; the Duke of Devonshire, Baron Rothschild—are said to have signed their names with a diamond on a library window. Fire gutted the house in 1930.

10 June 1960: The retirement of Old Flo, the last milk wagon horse on city streets.

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