THE QUEENS PLATE
Elizabeth Gage, daughter of James Gage and Mary Davis Gage of the Stoney Creek Gages married Lewis Birely in 1826. Their daughter Kezia Adeline (1856-1917) married Robert Russell Waddell in 1850. Therefore Robert Russell Waddell and Robert Russell Gage were second cousins.
Robert Waddell was a Lawyer and lived on Rothsay Avenue where #40-42 stand today. It eventually became a boy’s home for “Home Boys”. This use continued for a number of years before it was torn down and the new housing build. This is the reason the two houses do not fit in with he other houses built at an earlier time when the street was developed.
Robert Gage’s home was not far away at what is now the Hamilton Children’s Museum.
Robert Waddell owned the west half at Gage Park and built what was called a Driving Park or horseracing track opening it in 1865.
The track was an oval and the west leg ran parallel to Gage Avenue from Main Street to the mountain. Lawrence road did not exist at that time. A portion of the walking path north of Cumberland is part of the original track.
The Queens Plate was run on the track in 1866 as part of the celebration for Queen Victoria’s birthday and the starter of that race was the well-known Hamiltonian William Hendry. The name of the winning horse was Beacon.
The second race was run in 1874. The winning horse was The Swallow and was owned by Hamiltonian Robert Thomson.
It was the only time that a Hamilton owned horse has won the Queens Plate.
Robert Waddell closed the park in 1874. It was re-opened in 1893 by the Hamilton Jockey Club. He died in 1894 and Robert Russell Gage purchased the land.
The Jockey Club then built a new track where the Centre Mall is located today.