Dundurn Castle – 610 York Boulevard
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Toronto To Hamilton
Yesterday, I received an email from a resident of Toronto who told me that she is thinking of moving to Hamilton with her boyfriend. She wanted to know more about the neighbourhoods and the happening places within the city. This was my response:
Moving to Hamilton is a big step, but totally worth it.
Hamilton is evolving rapidly, a progressive social, political, and physical change is happening in this city. There is a bike lane network that is ever-expanding, as well as a bike share program set to launch this spring; a push for better transit (including an all day GO station on James St North slated to be complete by next year); more walkable neighbourhoods to raise a family; a reviving core; developments popping up daily; shopping districts worth visiting; historic buildings worth admiring; and bountiful satellite towns for getaways, just to name a few things.
I’ll start off with the streets that we know: Locke Street, James Street, and Ottawa Street.
Locke Street is a beautiful, lively street. It has everything: antique shops, coffee shops, thrift stores, a grocery store, delicatessen, cheese shop, flower shop, gym, book store, bars, salons, and numerous restaurants that are worth visiting. Not only does this street have just about every ingredient a Toronto resident is accustomed to on their commercial streets, but it is also surrounded by some of the nicest neighbourhoods this city has to offer. Kirkendall North and South are home to quiet, quaint streets with heritage houses, condos, apartments, churches, schools, and beautiful parks (you definitely need to check out the H.A.A.A grounds).
James Street is vast. From North to South, both areas offer distinctively different experiences. James Street North is undeniably the hottest street in the city. It is the “go-to” street when visiting. Home to Supercrawl and monthly Art Crawls, you could argue that it’s the artistic hub of the city. It connects to our urban shopping mall, Jackson Square, the friendly Farmers Market, the beautiful Hamilton Public Library Central Branch, and has a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. In relation to Toronto, this street is a lot like Ossington. The neighbourhoods that surround it (Beasley, Central, and the North End) are some of the most diverse and liveable neighbourhoods in the city – another great area to start a family.
James South is quieter, if that’s what you’re looking for. It has some of the city’s best restaurants and a strip of bars on Augusta Street that are always worth frequenting. The James South area is surrounded by amazing neighbourhoods to wander: Durand, Corktown, and Stinson. These neighbourhoods are full of architectural riches. Neo-gothic, Tudor Revival, Colonial, Georgian, French Revival, Neo-Romanesque, Queen Anne, Modern, Post-Modern, Brutalist, Art Deco, Contemporary, and just about every other style of architecture imaginable are on display throughout their historic streets.
Did you know Ottawa Street is home to the first Tim Hortons? They are currently building a new two-storey Store #1 complete with a museum. This street was once the textile street of Hamilton, but has evolved into a lively shopping district. New commercial tenants are moving in all the time and it’s quickly becoming one of the most happening streets in the city. Crown Point and Delta are also great family friendly neighbourhoods and they aren’t too far from Gage Park, a lush park designed in the City Beautiful style.
Westdale Village really is a village within a city. It’s a great escape that is a short bus, bike, or car ride away from the core. Westdale offers a lot in the way of amenities and is home to Westdale Theatre, a historic theatre that turns dinner and a movie into something magic. The area has a lot of history (like all of Hamilton, really). The neighbourhoods are sprinkled with young families, established families, and student housing. If you’re in the area, McMaster University is definitely worth visiting. Architecturally, this University has some breathtaking buildings and scenery. It’s also compact and offers a real communal campus feel, which you don’t quite get with the vastly sprawling University of Toronto.
King Street, one of Hamilton’s main arterial roads, is a street on the turnaround. From Wellington Street to Dundurn Street this area is sprinkled with just about everything. While in the International Village, swing by J.H. Gordon Books, browse the racks for vintage clothes at Girl On The Wing, and grab a coffee at Cafe Oranje before continuing West to Gore Park. Situated at the James and King corridor, the park is a slice of tranquility, where cultures meet and Hamiltonian’s co-mingle. On the way, stop at The Royal Connaught and take a peak at its newly renovated grand lobby. Once an illustrious hotel, this condo development will completely alter Hamilton’s core for the better.
Also be sure to visit The Art Gallery of Hamilton. It always has incredible installations and exhibitions that are worth the price of admission. Currently, they have a Cézanne exhibition that runs until February 1st. From there you can head to Commonwealth Square. This public space offers a beautiful vista of our masterful City Hall and Hamilton Place, where the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra regularly serenades patrons with beautiful, moving music.
There’s also the Strathcona neighbourhood. The area is affordable, with Victoria Park (which includes tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, a pool, and a community garden) close by, and within proximity to just about everything. You could go to De La Sol for yoga, The Mustard Seed Co-op for locally sourced groceries, and Dundurn Castle to tour the grounds of a remarkable piece of Canadian history.
One of our hidden treasures is the Bayfront. Travel North on Bay Street and you’ll find it. The Waterfront Trail is a beautiful walk, wrapping west around the bay towards Westdale. You’ll see the city from many wonderful vantage points. If you decide to travel east at the Bayfront, there’s Pier 4 Park, a great place for a picnic or a casual stroll. In the summer, it’s always nice to sit and watch sail boats gracefully sail about the bay or walk to Pier 8 and grab a coffee from Williams and take the West-Harbour Trolley, rent some bikes, or enjoy the roller rink and live music at Sarcoa Restaurant.
But it’s about more than just neighbourhoods. Hamilton is brimming with a creative class. There is a palpable energy within the city that is contagious. Shops are well supported, streets are inviting, and friends are easy to make when you’re downtown. Hamiltonian’s are enamored with their city and it shows. Hamilton is going places and it’s not City Hall that’s driving this city, it’s the people.
I’ve barely scratched the surface. I could go on and on. It’s easy to ramble about ones love affair with this city. However, the best thing to do is grab the GO train or bus, walk outside of our GO Centre on Hunter Street and explore. The brightest gems are the ones you discover yourself. Leave all the pre-conceived notions of Hamilton at home and you’ll quickly fall for its charm. It has it all and then some. There’s so much heart to this city. You should give it yours. It will welcome you with open arms.
My apologizes for any grammatical errors. This post is verbatim.
Photo Of The Day – November 14th
Tours With An Architect: The Dundas Museum & Archives
Nestled amongst a quiet residential neighbourhood on Park Street West, sits the newly renovated Dundas Museum and Archives.
Completed in November 2013 at cost of $1.4 million, the new expansion features a double-height atrium connecting the Dundas Historical Society Museum to the Pirie House, expanded galleries, additional storage, and greater accessibility.
“The north and south entrances (of the atrium) and the original exhibit space are all at different heights,” said Drew Hauser, Principle Architect at MSA Architects, the firm commissioned to design the expansion. “The atrium brings them all together, accessibly.”
Dundas Museum and Archives Curator Kevin Puddister said the original entrance of the Dundas Historical Society Museum (completed in 1956) was a nightmare. “You had to go up two sets of stairs that were both steep. We had a chair lift, like on the [infomercials],” said Puddister. The exterior of the old entrance is currently enclosed in glass, which the museum plans to use to promote their events.
Now there is an elevator in the atrium, added with the help of the Federal Government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, connecting to the original exhibit space. The entrance to the exhibit space is open and shared, with the stairs and elevator side-by-side.
Hauser and his team expanded the galleries. The feature gallery “used to have something like a stage, but we got rid of it,” said Hauser, giving the gallery space more available square footage. The ceiling tiles have been removed, leaving the ceiling exposed and pot lights were installed on sliding tracks.
The double-height atrium, named Robert & Eva (Betrum) Cole Atrium (after the family of the Dundas Museum founder H.G. Bertram), features exposed beams, celestial windows, corrugated steel cladding, and an area to display artifacts like the machine lathe that was built by John Bertram and Sons Co. in 1896. “I bought it on Kijiji!” boasts Puddister, with a smile.
Puddister says the atrium was inspired by Dundas’ industrial past. “What many people don’t realize is that Dundas was an industrial town, and the atrium has that industrial look to it.”
The atrium also connects to the Pirie House, bought by the museum in 1974. The walls separating the rooms inside the house have been removed and the area is open, yet intimate, and has become a popular event space.
There is ease to the museums layout. A flow that is both sociable and transparent. “It’s a better space for security and engagement,” said Puddister. “We have staff throughout the museum. It’s more fluid.”
The Doctors Office, a Gothic Revival building built in 1848 and moved behind the museum in 1974, is also connected via concrete pathway. “I love that we linked the museum to the Doctors Office. This space (the north lawn) would be a great place to throw events in the future,” said Hauser.
Both Hauser and Puddister are pleased with the renovation. “This was one of my favourite projects,” said Hauser. “The Board of Directors was really great to work with. They were really understanding.”
The Dundas Museum and Archives is located at 139 Park St West and is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
For more information visit http://www.dundasmuseum.ca/
Filed under Architecture
Divergence 8: Exhale Events presents Dilly Dally at The Casbah
November’s chapter of Divergence is Exhale Events eighth installment and will feature Fat Possum Records latest signing, Dilly Dally. The show takes place at The Casbah on November 12th and will also include Hamilton’s very own, The Tallest Tree opening the show.
The night will also consist of a pop-up shop from Nebula Artwear, selling new and unique items from their out-of-this-world collection.
Self-proclaimed “epic-grunge-pop” quartet, Dilly Dally, have been rocking stages across the GTA for the last few years. According to Pitchfork, vocalist Katie Monks has been said to “sing in the way that drunk people do at weddings – loudly, messily and with absolute conviction”. Her mumbles and shouts, along with the band’s particular sound create an appealing, harmonious stage presence.
The night will also feature an official launch of Exhale’s new monthly playlist. Doors open at 9PM.
Filed under Entertainment
PHOTO OF THE DAY: October 2nd
PHOTO OF THE DAY: September 27th
Filed under Photo Of The Day
Exhale Events presents The Wilderness of Manitoba at The Casbah
Exhale Events is excited to announce the Wilderness of Manitoba will be taking to the Casbah with Grey Lands and the Medicine Hat on October 2nd, 2014 for a special leg on their Ontario tour.
The Wilderness of Manitoba is in constant evolution. The band has taken a creative leap with their newest release, Between Colours, holding each one of their albums is it’s own colour that redefines their music between every album they create.
Between Colours hosts a myriad of talent and energy. With multi-instrumentalists Will Whitwham and Amanda Balsys exchanging lead vocals, and Wes McClintock providing up-beat bass line, the album provides the audience with a unique auditory experience.
This incredible line up will also include the captivating sounds from the Medicine Hat and Cuff The Duke Wayne Petti’s new project, Grey Lands. Ben Munoz of New Hands will also be hosting short DJ sets between live sets. Doors at 8PM.
Tickets available at door or here.
Filed under Entertainment
PHOTO OF THE DAY – September 23rd
Filed under Photo Of The Day
Architectural Spotlight: Atrium@MIP
Atrium@MIP (formerly Westinghouse West Plant)
William P. Souter and Associates/Lintack Architects
175 Longwood Road South
Kickstarting the renovation projects on Longwood Road South, the premier multi-tenant building at McMaster’s Innovation Park was The Atrium@MIP. Updated in 2009 at a cost of $17 million, it continues to be a strong model of adaptive reuse for the many vacant industrial buildings throughout West Hamilton and beyond.
Formerly the Westinghouse (and later Camco) West Plant office building, it was completed in 1950 as a classic example of modern industrial architecture. Although it has been described as International Style architecture, this should be considered conceptually as a blanket term, rather than an example of a particular style. Designed by William P. Souter and Associates, the building shares similarities with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building and Albert Kahn’s Burroughs Adding Machine Plant.
The floor plans of The Atrium@MIP interior shadow the classic Larkin Administration Building – in particular, extensive spatial unity and natural light. The newly renovated framework closely resembles Wright’s Larkin masterpiece, including an innermost light court providing natural luminosity to all floors of the buildings vertical layout.
Though much smaller in scale, the surface of the building shares a similar composition to the Burroughs Adding Machine Plant. The red brick façade, stringcourses, tower-like entrance, and symmetrical windows echo the modern influence of the 1930s that inspired Khan in Plymouth.
In 2005, extensive site reclamation of The Atrium@MIP began under the watchful eye of Lintack Architects. Immediately, the mechanical and electrical systems were replaced to increase energy efficiency throughout the entire superstructure. Then, interior partitions were removed to adjust to the new layout, providing better accommodation for a multitude of new offices and the addition of three new elevators.
At the same time, advanced energy efficient and cosmetic upgrades were applied to the exterior of the edifice. Modern insulation, state-of-the-art windows, and an R valve roof coupled with two L-shaped aluminum clad canopies flanking the entrance provide a necessarily contemporary component to the sweeping facelift performed.
Leading the way, the Atrium@MIP was a rewarding project that may provide important lessons to further generations of reuse pending on various uninhabited yet promising sites in Hamilton. These idle but auspicious locations represent the spirit of Hamilton, centralized in an ambitious city and the history it carries forward.
Filed under Architecture