Local Focus – Hamilton
Before European settlers arrived to the area, the Neutral Indians used much of the land for agriculture, but were drive out by the Iroquois, who were allied with the British against the Huron and their French allies.
In about 1784, about 10,000 United Empire Loyalists settled in Upper Canada (Southern Ontario), chiefly in Niagara, the Bay of Quinte and along the St. Lawrence River. They were soon followed by more Americans, some of them attracted by the availability of arable land. At the same time, large numbers of Iroquois loyal to Britain arrived from the U.S. and were settled on reserves west of Lake Ontario (Six Nations).
The town of Hamilton was founded by George Hamilton, shortly after the War of 1812, when he purchased the farm holdings of James Durand. Nathaniel Hughson, a property owner to the north, worked with Hamilton to build a courthouse and jail on Hamilton’s property. The town’s first jail was constructed in 1832 at Prince’s Square, one of two in the town. The first police board and town limits were established in Feburary, 1833, and the town received official city status on June 9, 1846.
In 1877-78, the first commercial telephone service in Canada, and the second telephone exchange in all of North America, was established.
Hamilton’s population doubled between 1900 and 1914 and two steel manufacturing companies, Stelco and Dofasco, were opened in 1910 and 1912, respectively. Procter & Gamble (1914) and the Beech-Nut Packing Company (1922) opened, their first plants outside of the U.S.
The economic growth continued until the 1960s, with the 1929 construction of the city’s first highrise building, the Piggott Building, the move of McMaster University from Toronto, the airport in 1940, a Studebaker assembly plant in 1948 and the Burlington Skyway in 1958. Tim Hortons opened its first store in Hamilton in 1964.
Since then, many of the large plants have shut down and the economy has moved toward the service sector, including transportation, education and health services.
On January 1, 2001, the new City of Hamilton was formed from the amalgamation of Hamilton, Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek, making it the 10th largest city in Canada with a population over 500,000.
Hamilton is no stranger to historic housing or large estates, but also has a large selection of housing at any price, including an influx of new condominiums. There are many new housing developments
Hamilton is the centre of industry in the Golden Horseshoe. The Hamilton airport has grown to be the leading facility in the country for courier, cargo and freight shipments. The Port of Hamilton is the busiest port on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
Hamilton also has a busy agricultural industry, which generates more than $1 billion in trade annually. It is also becoming a leader in brownfield redevelopment and has recently begun an initiative to revitalize its downtown core.
Numerous TV and film productions have been filed in Hamilton and a growing arts and culture community anchors the many local art galleries, recording studios and independent film production companies.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholid School Board administer schools in Hamilton. The Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest operates one elementary and one secondary school in Hamilton and there are a number of private schools in the area, including the Dundas Valley School of Art.
Hamilton is home to several post-secondary institutions, including the renowned McMaster University, which has over 22,000 students. Brock University in St. Catharines has a satellite campus in Hamilton used primarily for teacher education. Other schools include McMaster Divinity College, Mohawk College and Redeemer University College.
The award-winning Royal Botanical Gardens is a 2,422-acre nature sanctuary considered the plant biodiversity hotspot of Canada. It is also an important bird area, according to Bird Stuies Canada, and is part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. the RBG has more then 1,100 species of plant, including the Bashful Bulrush and the Red Mulberry, both of which are listed as endangered in Canada under the Species at Risk Act.
The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum houses over 40 aircraft, including a Lockheed CF-104 Starfighter, Avro Lancaster, de Havilland Canada Chipmunk Supermarine Seafire, Corsair, Harvard and Tiger Moth, and an extensive aviation gift shop and gallery. In the summer of 2014, the museum undertook one of its biggest ventures, flying the Lancaster across the Atlantic to England to join the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster for a two-month tour. The trip was filmed for a documentary, Reunion of Giants.
The Scottish Rite Castle/Masonic Centre, onetime home of Hamilton’s 27th mayor, is one of Hamilton’s most magnificent structures.
Dundurn Castle is an 18,000-square-foot neoclassical mansion that was completed in 1835 by architect Robert Charles Wetherell. It took three years to build at cost $175,000. The 40-room castle featured all the latest conveniences of the times, including gas lighting and running water. Built for Sir Allan Napier MacNab, the City of Hamilton has carefully restored the rooms to illustrated life in the 1850s. The grounds and its associated green spaces are home to many gardens and open spaces that are open to residents.
Parks & Rec
If you are an active hiker, this is the area for you. The Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, runs 890 kilometres along the Escarpment from Tobermory in the north to Niagara in the south. The section of the trail from Milton to Grimsby runs along the ancient shoreline of Lake Iroquois.
The Hamilton Conservation Authority operates several parks, including Westfield Heritage Village, Dundas Valley (home to the Hermitage Ruins), Fifty Point on Lake Ontario with marina facilities, Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls, Christie Lake, Confederation Park (with a go-kart facility, batting cages, mind golf and Wild Waterworks, Eramosa Karst (filled with underground caves and streams) and Valens Lake campground.
Hamilton Health Sciences is a family of seven hospitals, which includes Hamilton General Hospital, Chedoke Hospital, the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, McMaster University Medical Centre and Children’s Hospital and West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. Police and fire service in Hamilton is provided by the city.
Hamilton has a lively downtown with a large selection of boutiques, restaurants, cafés and salons. Jackson Square is Hamilton’s largest downtown shopping mall, which is also connected to FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum). The City Centre Mall and Lime Ridge Mall, Hamilton’s largest shopping destination with over 200 shops and services, round out the large shopping districts. And, of course, big box outlets are handily located.
Transit is a viable option in Hamilton. The HSR (Hamilton Street Railway) runs throughout the city and connects with Burlington. Its name is a legacy of the days when most of public transit vehicles were streetcars. The area is served well by highways, including the QEW and Highways 403, 6, 8 and 20, the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway and the Red Hill Valley Parkway, making commutes into the Niagara Region or the GTA simple. GO Transit also goes in and out of Hamilton daily.