The Daily Intelligencer of September 23, 1873 gave the following report:
On Sunday morning last (September 21), at about 8 o’clock, the dead body of a man was found on a wheel barrow in the yard in rear of Mr. P. H. Hambly’s saloon on Front Street…
On Saturday afternoon the man, who appeared to be perfectly sober, was seen about Hambly’s saloon, and witness learned that, seating himself at one of the tables in a room in rear of the bar, he drank one or two glasses of whiskey and a glass of ginger beer. When the hour for closing (7 o’clock) arrived, he was found to be still sitting at the table, and a summons failing to arouse him, Mr. Hambly and a man in his employment named Neal, thinking he was drunk, placed him upon a wheelbarrow and wheeled him into the back yard, where it was supposed he would awake and take himself off. It was his intention, Mr. Hambly said, to look after him in an hour or so, but he was so busied that he forgot all about the matter, and thought no more of it until the man was found on the following morning…
Deceased, whose name was E. J. Castree, was an Englishman apparently about fifty years of age, and was engaged in selling wire toasters. He was a large, stout man, apparently a fit subject for apoplexy or heart disease. He leaves, it is said, a wife and three children, who reside in England.
The saloon where Castree died was at 258 Front Street (later occupied by Greenley’s bookstore). There is an advertisement for Philip Hambly’s business in the 1869-1870 directory for Hastings County which shows that it sold an interesting range of goods:
P. H. Hambly
Bread & Biscuit Baker
Pastry Cook & Confectioner
Would say to his friends and customers from all parts that he is now prepared to furnish
HOT TEA AND COFFEE
Wholesale and Retails at prices defying competition.
CAKES, BISCUIT AND PASTRY,
Of all descriptions made to order
OLD WINES, &C, &C.,
The dead man, Edward James Castree, was born in the city of Gloucester, England, in 1830 to Josiah Castree, a land agent, and his wife Mary. He was baptized at the parish church of St. Mary-de-Lode on June 29, 1830. On October 7, 1856 he married Emma Wells, in a double wedding with Emma’s sister, Maria, who married Richard Rice on the same day. Emma and Maria’s father was Thomas Wells, a farmer of over 1,000 acres who employed 65 men.
Edward and Emma had two children, Sarah Wells Castree (born 1857) and Edward Henry Castree (born 1859). At the time of the 1861 census the family were living in the village of Elmstone Hardwick, Gloucestershire and in the Post Office directories of 1853 and 1863 Castree was listed as being a farmer at Uckington Farm.
But then, for some reason, Castree’s life took an intriguing turn and we next find him in the records in 1871, when his home address is given as 256 Queen Street West, Toronto, and his occupation is ‘Commercial traveller’. At the time of the 1871 census of Canada, Castree was a patient at the Toronto General Hospital.
His commercial travels took him to Belleville in 1873, when he breathed his last in Hambly’s Front Street saloon, thousands of miles away from his wife and children. The saloon is the two-storey building in centre of this photograph from the 1860s:
The Daily Intelligencer of September 24th reported that the post-mortem carried out by Dr Robert Tracy and Dr James Curlett showed Castree had died from internal bleeding after the rupture of an artery. They could not tell whether he had died when he was inside the saloon or after he was placed in the wheelbarrow.
A look through online records tells us a little more about Castree’s abandoned family in England. His wife Emma did not remarry: she went on to work as a housekeeper and we find her in the household of ‘gentleman farmer’ George Fletcher at Radley Farm in Avington, Berkshire from 1881 to 1901. She died in 1905.
Edward junior died young in 1884: he is described as an invalid in the 1881 census, when he was 22 and boarding in Margate, Kent (possibly he was suffering from tuberculosis and living there in the hope that the sea air would do him good). Sarah Wells Castre was living with her aunt, Mary Wells, in 1871 and by 1881 was working as a private governess for the Chapman family at Manor Farm, Shipton, Gloucestershire. After 1881 she seems to vanish from the records: we could not find a death or a marriage for her.
Unlike his unfortunate customer, saloon-owner Philip Hele Hambly lived a long life. He was also born in England, in 1836, six years after Castree. In 1841 the Hambly family were living in Baker Street, Plymouth. They moved to Canada in 1845 when Philip was aged nine. By 1855 they were living in Belleville and Philip was working with his father as a baker at the time of the 1861 census. He retired from the baking business in 1880 and in 1886 was forced to sell the Front Street property to pay his debts. In 1887 Hambly was appointed to be a customs officer in Belleville. He died in his home at 237 Ann Street on January 14, 1930 at the age of 94.