The Evening Guide Friday October 24, 1924
Born in Bude, Cornwall, England, on Oct 24, 1849. His father, the late William Skitch, came to Port Hope in 1850. Mrs Skitch followed later in the same year
with the children, Harry being the youngest. When Harry first came here they
lived in one of a row of tenements on Brown St on the ground now occuppied by Dr Clemesha's house. At that time there were several small shops on
Walton St on the same lot. The basement of one of these buildings was used as the town lock-up. There was no town hall. Later the family moved to the
house on the west side of Englishtown fire hall, Harry's first school was the Round House, on the lot which is now the Commons or west end play ground.
The teacher was Mr Spotten and the children all took a shilling (25 cents) to pay the teacher for strapping them and, incidentally, for educating them.
Pounds, shillings and pence were then current. Harry graduated from the Public School on Mill St, the building now owned by Mr Hagerman, at the
foot of Ward St.
In 1862 Harry began his commercial career as a parcel boy, working for J & R O'Neill, whose departmental store on the corner of Mill and Walton
streets, was then most flourishing, in fact it was doing so well that later the proprietors determined to push out in the big city - but there came to disaster.
The wages were fair (for the times) $2.50 per month. Later in 1862 he started learning the tailoring trade with the same firm.
In those days the Hydro did not operate, nor gas; lamps and occasionally candles were used. Sewing machines had not appeared and all sewing was
done by hand. There were no railways, no autos, no bicycles, few rigs or horses, most people walked. The first money Harry earned at his trade was
for making three pairs of pants, which took a week to manufacture, for this he received 25 cents a pair and he squandered the whole weeks salary,
75 cents, for a little coal oil lamp, one of the first used in Port Hope.
In those days the clothes worn by most people, especially in the country, were made from a full cloth, a material made by the people from wool and
cotton, rough, great to wear.
The tailor and shoemaker went to a home, measured up the family, camped right in the house until the job was done and then on to the next. The
cordwood came to town drawn by oxen and no coal was in use.
In 1857 the Grand Trunk was opened, the stone for building the abutments for the viaduct was quarried from the square just west of the Town Hall.
Later, the Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton railway (now the Midland) was opened. Port Hope was at the zenith of her prosperity in those days
between 1850 and 1865; fully half of the houses here were built during that period. In 1860 the Prince of Wales, the late King Edward VII visited
Port Hope. Mr Skitch was among the children singing patriotic songs of welcome.
In the spring of 1863, Mr William Skitch began business for himself in the shop now occupied by Mr John Ryan. The first grand review of the
volunteer Militia took place in Toronto on the present exhibition grounds. Capt A T H Williams (later Col) commanded the Port Hope company
and Mr Henry Skitch was bugler.
The Quinlan Block was destroyed by fire in 1866 and the Skitchs lost all but the tailor's irons, having no insurance. The same year the Fenian raid
took place and the Port Hope Company was called out and served six months in defence of Canada, being stationed at Sandwich, opposite Detroit.
The Royal Hotel was the first brick building in Port Hope, erected in 1823. The Town Council met in the town room in the building opposite the Royal.
The St Lawrence Hall, Catholic church and the First Presbyterian church were built in 1853.
Mr Skitch is glad to be alive today. He would probabaly give enquirers a number of reasons beyond the mere fact of this being the anniversary
of his birth (75th).