I’ve been doing research around 227 Murray Street East, in Hamilton, for quite some time now. My great grandfather, John Haddow, lived in this eight room dwelling for most of his 43 years in Hamilton. For over 30 years, John was a valued employee of the Steel Company of Canada and was a member of the Unity Lodge, S.O.E. For any of my readers interested in reading about the establishment of this industry, see Working In Steel: The Early Years in Canada 1883-1935 by Craig Heron. The content of this writing supports the narratives I have come across regarding my Haddow family, in regards to the influx of Italian immigrants to the area and their ‘english’ bosses. It also confirms the actualization of ‘union’ life and the reasons for it. Murray Street was an easy walking distance from both the tracks and industry. This past summer, I was able to walk the paths my relations may have walked.
Born in Daltongate, Ulverston on the 25th of March, 1853, John was the son of William Haddow and Agnes Poole. He married Mary High in 1875. In 1874, John joined the Royal Navy and served for just a few short months. He had a good farm on the outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario at Ryckman’s Corners, but sadly all was lost in a fire. This is when John, the father of my great grandmother, Mary Eleanor Haddow, started to work for the Steel Company. He was in charge of all immigrants who worked there, a crew of about 60 men. John, an engineer, became superintendent of the steel company on Wellington Street and it is said that on the day of his funeral, the shop was shut down in order to honour his life.. John paid $15.00 a month to live on Murray Street. His beloved Mary died in February of 1919, but John and some of his children continued to live at the residence until his passing.
John Ames of the City of Hamilton, Growth Planning department was initially very helpful with my research. I realized early on that there would be no residence left where 227 Murray Street once existed. So, John and others provided me with some important links to the history of the location.
This section of Murray Street disappeared during the First World War and the 1920’s as a number of industries occupied this area. According to Registered Plan 287 (July 1879) Murray Street extended from the existing street (at Mary St.) all the way to Wellington Street. The existing Murray Street house at Mary Street is #115, so your great-grandfather’s house at #227 was on the eastern edge of a complex which included the City Jail, two railway lines, and growing industries which were displacing the original homes. #227 Murray St was Lot 132, RP 287, right beside the railway line.
In 1929 there was a remnant residential area on the north side of Murray Street east of Ferguson which included #227 (223, 225, 227). The resident was Edwin J. Walker. By 1930 all the houses were gone. If you can, see http://library.mcmaster.ca/maps/airphotos/zoom/1934_A4871_15 to see what that part of Hamilton looked like in 1934. Use a ruler to visually extend Murray Street four blocks to Wellington Street; this is the part of Murray Street east of Mary which has disappeared. The Food Basics store was built in 1980 on the foundations of the Dominion Cotton Mills circa 1903, which is the large T-shaped building along the east side of Mary Street. With the old Barton Street Jail, a large city asphalt plant behind the house, and other heavy industry all around, this was not a very liveable area.
and further to this communication…
As a correction to my last e-mail, the cotton mill on the east side of Mary Street at Murray Street was not Dominion Cotton Mils but was in fact the Hamilton Cotton Company. There were at least seven cotton mills located in Hamilton, hiring as many people as the steel plants in the early part of the 20th century.
I have included a typical “birds eye view” of Hamilton in 1893, looking south. Hamilton Cotton Co. is marked as No. 5. Most of the alignment of Murray St. further east is not laid out, but there is a small group of houses to the east (left) which does mark the intersection of Murray St. and Wellington St., and I am positive that one of them is 227 Murray St. My earlier estimate of the location of 227 Murray St. in a little bit off: it should be closer to Wellington St.
As you can see from Google, most of the site has now been cleared and serves as parking lots for the Hamilton General Hospital and associated clinics.
I did a bit of cropping in order to create a snippet of a map dating back to 1934…pin pointed the area where the Murray Street house would have stood. I am very grateful to the Hamilton Public Library and for John Ames of the City of Hamilton for their awesome help in my research.
It has been a blessing to explore the places where my ancestors settled, worked hard, and enjoyed the joys of family.