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Belleville Bylaws 1.1

First in a series of bylaws as they were written over 140 years ago. Some will make sense for their era, others will be odd and many downright bizarre. It will give a look at what it was like to live in Belleville over 140 years ago.

Bylaw No. 122 - Nuisances

Persons depositing building materials on any public ground, upon being notified to remove it by the Street Surveyor, or any member of city council, shall do so with 24 hours; provided it be not required for immediate use, and the space occupied by such material shall not be more than half the width of street opposite the building.

Makes sense, but half the street? Really?

Carriages, hand carts, or barrows, not permitted to stand on any footpath or crossing, so as to incommode travelers.

You cannot teach common sense, even 140 years ago.

Bathing publicly within the city limits between the hours of 6am and 9pm, prohibited; and no person permitted to indecently expose his or her person, or conduct himself or herself in an obscene manner.

I assume they are speaking about having a bath and not going for a swim. Leading up to this bylaw, they must have had a problem with persons bathing on their front lawn at 1pm in the nude.

Dead animals, carrion, or other nuisance, not allowed to be placed in any street or public place, river or bay, or on the shores of the waters.

Much like the 100's of fish carcass left along river banks after spear fishing during spawn season today.

No person shall suffer drinking, gambling or fighting on his premises, to the annoyance of the public.

Some things never change. I assume it was much worse 140 years ago.

Fishing, shooting or the use of firearms on the Sabbath day, prohibited.

I remember attending a camp in the 1970's where swimming on Sunday was not allowed. For this reason, I do not find this odd. Heck, it wasn't all that long ago, that shopping was not allowed on the Sabbath.

Bawdy Houses, or houses of ill fame, prohibited.

100 years later, Belleville still had this problem. One was rumoured to be above Mark's Fish and chips on Front Street and another above the variety store (M&M Variety?) on Bridge Street West, where the new court house sits.

Persons prohibited from frequenting houses of ill fame.

I guess if you only went once in a blue moon, this would have been okay.

Persons who shall by any means cause to flow any water, filth or matter on any Street, or on the premise of any other person, shall be liable to a fine.

I assume washing ones horse, like one might wash their car, wasn't allowed.

Horses standing in any street or public place, must be tied or properly secured.

Makes total sense to me

Persons prohibited from riding or driving at an immoderate rate through the streets, or faster than a walk on any bridge.

Wow, speeding was a problem 140 years ago....on a horse even!

Horses not permitted upon any sidewalk, except for crossing the same.

Reminds me of when I was a kid riding our bikes...just not on the sidewalks, because it wasn't allowed.

No person shall discharge any fire-arms, or set off fire-balls, squibs or rockets in any street or within 200 yards of any building.

200 yards? In other words, no wear within the city limits. What the heck is setting off a fire-ball? Bonfire, perhaps? As a kid, it sounds like it could have been fun.

Every occupier of a house or shop, and the owner of any vacant land on Front Street between Dundas and the upper bridge, shall remove any snow upon the sidewalk directly in front thereof.

It was some years later Belleville created the Public Works Dept.

Fighting or challenging to fight, prohibited.

At least 140 years ago they got passed dueling pistols... I think.

Persons prohibited from making a disturbance in, near or contiguous to any place of worship, or to utter or employ any profane swearing, oath, obscene, blasphemous or grossly insulting language and other immortality in the streets, highways or public places.

Some profane language from this era include: Balls, short for Ballocks; Bootlicker, same as ass-licker; Cherry, vulgar term for a young women; Quim, female genitalia; Strumpet, a whore; Blazes, hell or the devil; Cussed, cursed or mean; Dratted, expletive or used for damned; Lick-finger, kiss ass; Tarnation, used for damnation; Mary, homosexual; Dickens, term for devil. "what the dickens"

No person shall encourage any dog to fight or worry any other dog in the city.

I assume, "worry" is another word for "anxious" in this case.

No person allowed to injure or destroy any tree or shrub in any public space for shade or ornament, injure or deface any sign, window or building, or to paint, draw or inscribe any indecent words, characters, pictures on any building, wall or fence.

Graffiti was a problem even then. In fact, graffiti has been around since the Roman Empire.

Persons driving with a sleigh, obliged to have two or more sleigh bells affixed to the harness of the horse, or horses.

If electric cars become too common, we will have to institute this bylaw again.

No person shall slide down any hill on any street or sidewalk, upon any hand or other sleigh.

Even 140 years ago they found ways of spoiling kids fun. When I was a teenager, we bumper jumped cars and buses. Wonder if their was a bylaw against this?

Penalty for the infraction of any of the provisions of this bylaw, not less than fifty cents, nor more than twenty dollars and costs, in default, imprisonment not exceeding twenty days.

$20.00 in 1880 was the equivalent to $463.54 in 2018.

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